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The Behavior Department: Canine Play: The Good, the Bad, and the Squeaky

Help adopters learn the right way to play with their pooches

  • Dogs often simulate fighting behaviors in play—but they use body signals to let their play partners know they’re just kidding around. India Lawson

No doubt about it, healthy and happy dogs love to play. And we love to watch them do it; all that romping and frolicking feels so carefree and joyful, even when we’re just observing.

But how often do you associate the words “important” or “serious” with the concept of play? Probably not very often. But play is important, terrifically so.

Play is powerful stuff—it influences relationships, social and physical development, motivation, emotions, physiology, communication, and behavior. Wow. But there’s more: How a dog plays (or doesn’t) can tell us a lot about his history, his ability to socialize with others, and his level of emotional control—all important questions to answer when a dog is looking for a new home. It’s also crucial to help new dog owners understand that the way they play with their dog can enhance their relationship, or create serious problems.

 Read the full article.


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