Tuesday Topics 4 - Prohibit or Play Date?

Thanks to everyone for making Tuesday Topics so well received. My little blog gets the most hits on Tuesdays, so keep the comments coming! I always learn a lot from the other puppy raisers, and hopefully, other folks out there are benefitting as well.

My bosses (who are married to each other) have three dogs. The office is at their house, so Cabana gets to see these dogs a couple times a week (I work from my own home the other days). Here's Lily, a French bulldog. She's a chubby little thing, but she's the unequivocal queen of the compound.

The other dogs are Leo, the English terrier, and Olive, the boxer. Leo is a jittery nervous fellow almost all the time, whether Cabana is around or not. But Olive and Cabana are great friends. Closer in size (more so every day), they love to romp around with each other.

Cabana knows it's their house and not hers, and especially because Lily tends to growl and get her hackles up (the little ones gotta show their superiority somehow), Cabana does a great job of being submissive. She calmly lets the other dogs sniff her, and if Lily is in a particularly ornery mood, Cabana goes and sits quietly in a corner (that's how the Still Life with Dog photo came about).

Here they are, out playing by the pool. In the top photo, you can actually see Cabana's jowls flying upward. They're all moving pretty fast!



Here's my question. How much do I control Cabana's play with these dogs? Should I just let Cabana be a dog, or do I need to keep her under control, as a PIT? In the photos above, I did let Cabana romp around the pool with the other dogs, but under very close supervision and only for a few minutes. I get nervous about letting her do too much.

Also, these dogs lack manners--they're not like career changed dogs who've been trained. My bosses' dogs bark a lot, jump all over you, sit on the couch, have food available in their dishes all day, and run around loose in their 5-acre "yard". Are puppies like kids, where you want to keep them away from dogs that might be bad influences on them? Not that I can keep Cabana away from them entirely, since that is where I work, and it is their (the other dogs') house. I can't very well tell my bosses to keep their dogs away from mine.

Since we don't have any other dogs at home, these are the only dogs that Cabana is allowed to play with. And I'd hate to take that away from her. She loves going to the office with me and can barely wait to get out of the car when we drive up. But I also wonder if it sets her up for confusion and disappointment when she can't play with the other dogs at our puppy training group, which is always a big challenge for her (she's just so happy to see the other guide dog puppies and can't contain herself). It's a quandary!

raiserally  – (March 24, 2009 at 9:33 AM)  

It's actually good that she has dogs she can play with as they need to learn appropriate play. Appropriate meaning no humping, growling, barking should generally be discouraged, no hackling, no mouthing, etc. Crazy, nuerotic dogs can come very handy when working with PITs. You can have Cabana do her commands while the other dogs are being crazy (Very advanced distraction for many pups) and practice her recall while playing (if you can reinforce). Pools can be very dangerous for pups, especially with the cover on it as they can get tangled, so it's good you're being cautious about that. Remember, in formal training the dogs can be crazy, yet the ones that are being worked with are still expected to behave and do the behaviours asked of them. Some practice is good!

Kelsey, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (March 24, 2009 at 2:52 PM)  

Like Ally said, controlled play is very effective in teaching our puppies a lot. They do need that dog on dog interaction, and it's beneficial for them to get it with many different types of dogs. It does need to be supervised, and if Cabana or the other dogs get out of hand, you'll know that it's time to take a separation break and maybe work on obedience. You can let her be a dog to an extent. There are some things that they need to learn as dogs and not puppies in training. Don't be too afraid of letting her do too much. Too much means that she is going to get hurt, or she is learning bad habits such as growling, barking, biting, or is too dominant. Running around outside very rarely turns into too much play when it's supervised. Another very beneficial thing for Cabana would be setting up a playdate between her and another puppy in training. That way, she gets her fix of her buds at the meetings to. ;) I find that the dogs that are hardest to control around other dogs are the ones that haven't been around other dogs very often. Good luck!

Emily, Burgess, and Tahoe  – (March 24, 2009 at 4:36 PM)  

Kelsey and Ally both had some very good points! Kelsey and I allow Burgess and Tahoe to play quite a bit when they're around each other, and they(for the most part) know that when they are at school or a meeting or anywhere else they go together, it isn't playtime anymore. I think that if you don't allow her to ever play with those dogs, it could create a large obsession of wanting to play, rather then if you allow them to play sometimes with boundaries. Playing is also a great time to practice 'That's Enough' and 'Come' with Cabana. So I would say yes, allow her to play with them and be a dog sometimes.

Madison and Andros  – (March 24, 2009 at 6:22 PM)  

Letting them play with other dogs are very important. Along with what the other people have said it's good for the dog to learn when it's playtime and working time! This helps the dog contrast when to play and when to not. Supervised play is the only way to go, to make sure you're watching behaviors and how rough the play is. Every dog needs to be a dog sometimes...and a tired dog is a happy dog and puppy play helps achieve that!

Cabana's Puppy Raiser  – (March 25, 2009 at 7:16 AM)  

It's a consensus that Cabana should play with these dogs--thank you, everyone! We're going to the office today, so we'll see how much actual "work" I can get done. Lunchtime may be a good set amount of time to let them "have at it", while I can set tighter limits to not allow too much rambunctiousness before and after lunch.

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