'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Get the Thing.

I've been thinking somewhat about my dogs' different play styles, and why they play like they do. They are fairly compatible when playing, which is good, but sometimes one will confuse or annoy the other. (Thankfully Jess is too tolerant to beat up Lola when Lola is being an annoying little idiot - which happens a lot.)

As shown in the last video, Jess is very into getting her teeth on a thing and holding it. I've only had limited experience with non-Jess staffies, and none with other beagles, so I don't know if that's a "breed thing" or a "Jess thing". To increase Jessie's excitement level and drive to get a thing, I push it in her face, smack her (lightly) with it, and when she has it I yank her away, nudge her with my feet, and generally force her apart from it. Whipping the toy away (a la flirtpole) doesn't work as well, but pulling her away makes her want to get the thing even harder.

I experimented, and when she and Lola were at the tail end of playing tug together, I grabbed hold of Jess and held her so that she eventually lost her grip. She stared hard at Lola, and when I released her she shot forward and almost trampled the pup in her desire to geddit. Not bad for an old dog, eh?

Lola will also hold onto a toy if she gets it (and has done since puphood - at six/seven weeks old, I played tug with her when none of her littermates were interested). But Lola regrips much more than Jess. Lola, when hanging from something, is much more likely to twist around and shake to try and rip/kill the thing. She's very much a terrier in that respect.

Playing flirtpole works amazingly for her because she wants to catch it, rather than hold it. It sounds like the same thing - but if I push a toy in Lola's face, she'll usually move away; if I move the toy away from her, she'll drive toward it. Jess tends more to be the opposite. Flirtpole allows her to rush after a thing, and to dislodge her from it, I pull it hard and whip it away as soon as possible. I think this is why Jess isn't hugely interested in flirtpole - because it moves away too fast, and Jess waits for it to come back to her.

Another note is that if I'm playing with the dogs with my hands (bad!) as opposed to a toy, the difference is pretty obvious. Lola will push her face into the floor, and then lunge at my hands to gently nip them. Jess, on the other hand, will open her mouth and sort of... swing her big head around trying to "catch" my hand. She's very unlikely to make contact with the skin, but she will grab and hold clothes if she doesn't have a toy that she can hold.

For Lola, excitement = chase, nip, shake and hold. For Jess, it's open mouth, grab andhold. I wonder why?


Winnie said...

I'm quite genteel when it comes to play. Just a lot of charging around the garden (in small doses) and a bit of a squeaking session indoors.

In my experience terriers like a lot of tugging - which is all fine as long as they are not tugging at me.

Love and licks, Winnie

K-Koira said...

In my experience with flyball, staffies, pitties, and bully breeds in general are a grab and hold type of a dog. In flyball, regrips from the dog often cause blood, and are pretty routine really, with almost any dog. But, I think the people with the border collies have it the worst- after all, border collies and other herders were bred to nip, grab, let go, try again. Bully breeds were often bred to hold on instead of regripping.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Interesting comparison of your two dogs and their different styles of play! It must be breed-related. I let Ricky play with my hands all the time so I am "bad" too - but it is one of his favorite games and he has amazing bite inhibition.

Sara said...

Very cool comparison!

Oreo is a bit of a resource guarder when it comes to toys (I've read that fearful dogs are usually resource guarders) . Luckily, Chewy is easy going, and knows when to let Oreo have it.