dog play, they like dogs betterThis is part two of the dog play story.

Another difference is that a dog is MUCH more likely to present its owner with a toy to play tug of war with or to throw or in some way interact, than it is to give a toy to another dog. Does this mean the dog trusts us more or thinks that we don’t have as much interest in the toy, that we will give it back, or is it trying to please us?

Now there are a lot of books out there telling us not to play tug-of-war with a dog and allowing it to win, but this is often with an aggressive dog or a fighting dog, or one that is regularly challenging you to alpha dog status in your house. If you are still in control of the rope at the end of play and you let the dog know that the game is ended, that is usually sufficient.

So one interpretation of the findings of this dog study might be that dogs play with humans more because it is fun and a bonding experience, more than a direct competition. They can never get this form of play with another dog, so you continuing to play games with your dog provides an vital part of their continuing development that they won’t get from just running with other dogs in the dog park.

So what other evidence may back up this claim?

Well in the same study by Rooney, their team gathered data on how dogs play in single dog households versus multi dog households. It was found that regardless of the number of dogs in a home, dogs from multi dog houses are MORE likely to play with their owner, than a dog from a single household. The dog actually chooses another species, you, and usually its alpha dog (if you are quite disciplined), over a member of its own species!

It’s funny how in this busy world that we can quickly forget to exercise our dogs, and if we manage to get out the front gate, its often for a short on lead walk. Definitely off lead walks and plays, everyday are important to a dog to make it happy, but this new evidence shows how you or family members continuing to play with your dog as they age, may be just as vital to their happiness.