Saturday, August 20, 2011

What are the rules?

Lots and lots of photos of young Enzo (with the black collar) and me (with the denim collar) playing bitey face in our back yard, and then my mum would like your advice.

Now for our questions - Mum has never had two dogs before so she would really like your advice. You see ever since the young pup arrived we have been allowed to play bitey face as mum decided that it was unwise to wait until Enzo was my weight before we were allowed to battle.

For the last six months I’ve been gentle with him, and when we fight there is no raised fur, growls or blood. I’m a Golden Retriever, and although I make some silly faces in the photos I have a soft mouth. In fact we’ve never injured each other, and despite the photos showing the occasional mouthful of fur it is very rare that either of us yelps. If this was a movie it would probably be a silent movie!

But mum said there is something called “pack order” (in our games I always manage to knock the young one over, and so far he’s only done that once to me so at the moment I'm claiming I'm at the top of the pack), but  Enzo is almost eight months old and is getting more and more male hormones as he is still a full dog (whereas I was taken to my nice vet just after my first birthday for what I thought would be a fun visit!) so mum wonders if there is anything that she should consider or do differently when we play so that our play remains fun and we stay friends. 

At the moment my rules are:

• stand still while the young one runs around and around and around the garden and then around and around me as eventually he gets tired

• never let him bowl me over

• always try to have the upper paw

• show him there are no hard feelings after our fights by being friendly, sleeping together and generally being good together around the house

and Mum has these rules:

• we are not allowed to fight inside the house or in the back of the car

• we have to stop immediately when she says "Enough" until she says it is "OK" for us to play again (or if we are getting too energetic or tired, she gets us to do something else like a few sits or some heal work and then we all go inside)

• we have to wait for at least two hours after eating before playing like this because of some strange fear she has of the word “bloat” while we jump and twist, and

• we only get play fight if she or dad are home. When they are both out, for now, we are in separate areas of the house or garden.

So what do you think about how we play together? Do you get to play bitey face, and do you have any wise words about pack order. How did your humans know it was safe to leave you home alone together? Is there anything else we should know or consider as Enzo gets older and bigger?