Still Walking The Same Road

A comment from tonight really got me thinking.  Is it ever a goal for an aggressive/reactive dog to play with other dogs?  

Co-exist, yes!
Tolerate, yes!
Ignore, yes!

But... play with?  No.

Did I ever expect Bailey to play with another dog?  Not really.  If you had asked me last year right before I left for camp in June, I would have given you a blank stare and asked if you were talking about my Bailey, the black and white English Springer Spaniel, born on January 24, 2000... had you asked me if she wanted to play with another dog.  Eat another dog, why, yes, she would love to... but play, you must be joking.

I trust Kristen a lot, maybe too much, but she hasn't given me reason to believe otherwise (yet), so when she told me to let Bailey loose with Griffin; I actually did without too much convincing.  I don't know that it can be called playing, but it was definitely happy and relaxed socializing with another creature of the canine variety.  They responded appropriately to each other and I relaxed, just a smidge.

Do you see that other dog standing close to her?  She was enjoying racing around the property with him.  They never played but this is the first dog she has done more than tolerate.  Griffin is a pretty special guy, to earn that award... and it's because he's most excellent at reading other dogs and reacting appropriately, really great!

The moral of this story is I have MORE pictures of Bailey playing with Fritz from Sunday.  THREE times they played.  One, she actually initiated, and the other two I started by running around with a rope toy.  Three times she acted more like a normal dog than I ever thought possible.  

What or who can I thank for this?  
Good training--thank you Karen Pryor above all
Medications--treating for a "low normal" thyroid and getting her into the "normal" range/utilizing a SSRI (fluoxetine) to help fill in the gaps in her brain
Friends--willing friends with wonderful dogs

(I soooo wish this was in focus!)

I can't get over how HAPPY she looks here.  This is the game of chase she initiated!

I have a couple more great photos from Sunday that need a bit of editing, so I'll work on getting those up but... I still can't believe she's playing with another dog.  Barking, arroooooing, and being well-playful!


Kristen said...

It won't be a goal for all dogs/owners. Apparently there are a few reactive dog programs with the end goal being play and interaction. I was surprised to hear that.

It can be a goal, and is much more achievable if.. --the dog has a history of appropriate interactions with other dog/s. --the dog has play behaviors in his repetoire --the dog has a history of play with other dog/s. --You can set the dog up with appropriate matches that will abide by Dog Social Rules.

Not all dogs need to play with other dogs. Not all people want to put in the work to get to that point. Not all dogs have play behaviors established, and people don't always want to work on that enough.

Obviously Griffin is the best dog!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

way to go Bailey!!!

Lauren said...

Woo! Go Bailey!

I agree that it isn't something that should be used as a goal for most reactive dogs, especially because it's such a let down when they end up not ever being able to actually play with another dog.

With Frodo I don't expect it, and I try not to hope for it. At the same time he and Izzy used to play so I tend to tell myself that he DOES possess some doggy social skills and he has learned bite inhibition, so there is a possibility he could one day decide to play with another dog.

I'm envious of your success!