Saturday, April 12, 2014

Play Groups are Plenty of Fun

Sometimes I think people get the wrong idea about Play Groups for dogs. The fact is that dogs get as much exercise during a Play Group as they do on a Trail Run or a visit to the dog park.  Sometimes, a Play Group is more fun and more tiring than any other option!

How could a Play Group beat a trail walk for fun?  Well, there are a few reasons.  Some dogs are overwhelmed by the number and size and sounds of large groups of dogs, and you run across large groups of dogs on the trails, in the fields, and just about anywhere.  These encounters can stress out some dogs, or even frighten them so much that having fun is the last thing on their mind.

Betty, for example, seems to fear male dogs with loud or aggressive voices.  In a Park, my only option is to comfort her, which may lesson her anxiety but cannot eliminate it as long as there are male dogs barking within earshot.  In a Play Group I can distract or eliminate aggression-like sounds entirely, and I can do it without adversarial punishment.  The end result is that Lexi and Betty can chase each other around till they drop, while the boys play ball or do tricks to earn treats. Everybody is relaxed and happy!
Usually, everyone get alone famously.  If there is one issue we are still working on, it's keeping Socrates from getting dejected.  He has not quite mastered the art of playing silently . . .

and so he sometimes ends up alone for a moment or two.  He always remembers the trick to getting Buddy to play, though.  Just pick up a toy, and Buddy will be happy to join in a merry chase to get it away from Sox.

Buddy is a toy aficionado.  It doesn't matter who has it - he wants it!  The end result is that everybody runs, and everybody runs HARD!  Safe, stress-free happiness.  I think all dogs deserve some of that!


  1. Yup. The trick is to match the dog's temperament and activeness, as well as play style to each other I think. Betty lurrrrves Buddy now. She ran away from her daddy to hang out with Buddy today. I only wish Togo could join the fun but he's too big/not neutered. :(

    1. Yeah, Buddy's her good buddy now! I'm so proud of Betty I could burst. But Togo is a real working dog, and he is FOCUSED on his job of catching that ball. They are all lucky he is so gentle and restrained with them, even when they are annoying him.

      We really have to reschedule that photo shoot of Togo. I just have to get a shot of him running on water! :)