Sudden Interest in Physical Play | Exploits of an Amateur Dog Trainer: Blog Edition

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sudden Interest in Physical Play

Don't know if he's just 'growing into' his adult dog personality or if there's something I've done that's gotten him suddenly interested in nipping and mouthing and shaking and tearing and tugging and jumping all high on me! I'm not complaining about it in the least, as I'm relishing this enthusiastic play, but it just seems so sudden that he's become this way. Being a bichon-family dog, it's possible he's just now "becoming a dog" as they are know to mature slowly mentally, perhaps because of their long life spans. Cotons are often noted for this, and they life on average of 17 years, so it's a plausible theory.

Usually, he's into a lot of game of chase or fetching, but anything physical was like foreign to him. But now, if I pull his hair or grab him on his belly or his paws and it's an invitation to his game. He'll jump straight into a play bow (or even go to his "playing field" on my bed and play bow and slap his paws) and he'll chase and pounce on and anything I make move, including my hands! It's a joy to see him have that much fun. The roughness isn't enjoyed by his toys, though! His bone that he got for Christmas Eve had a hole in it by the 26th, and another on the 28th. His raindrop squeaky was broken in as he always liked playing with it, but now it's got a small tear in it. So far, his big soccer ball, his rabbit squeaky, and his flame squeaky toy have survived unscathed.

He'll even go on his back and let me rub his belly while I tease him with his rabbit skin (which was been slightly wounded, but is holding up very well). He makes little grrrrrrr sounds if I tickle his paws, and he'll flip over and jump up on me and try to push me down. If I let him, he'll be on top of me, licking me furiously. He really goes crazy if I scratch the back of his neck while he's on his back, he'll be trying hard to get my hands, but I keep moving and he can't get them and he's laughing and play growling trying to get grab my hands.

Even when he mouths, he's gentle (although those nips feel like pin pricks - dang those sharp front teeth!), but if he gets a hold of that big bone or the rabbit skin, he's shaking it with purpose. If it was alive, it probably wouldn't be after that. :)

He can't seem to get enough either - even after all of that, I ask him to get off the bed - which he does easily - and then he's laughing and jumping up wanting more play. If we take it outside, he's running around fast, chasing and shaking, and being super excited - just loving every minute. After we're done with that, he's still wanting more, even though he's panting hard and I can see him slowing down or missing the toy just a bit more.

Tugging happens now, though that's something we're still working on. That seems to be the one bit of physical play that's getting left behind. He'll pull, but, especially at first, he's hesitant and not pulling with his full force, but after a few "good boy"s and maybe some treats, he's grabbing and pulling with more gusto. Just need to get him going from the start.

One thing I did do was praise and encourage any of his play motions he makes. I urge on his chasing and pouncing and let him play with the object or chew it before having to give it back (often he all but throws it back so I can make it move around again) and let him try to grab and pull his toys out of my hand for treats, encouraging him to let himself go and getting him eager and driven for getting the toy again.

It's just wonderful seeing him expand his playing and being much more carefree and excited about life in general.