Poodle Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Cleo has been friends with a golden retriever, a male, same age (8 months old) since they met in puppy class. They've been playing together regularly outside of class in our backyards for a couple of months.
They also play together briefly during a supervised playtime at the start of class each week--for maybe 5-10 minutes with short breaks. These are one-on-one play sessions in a class with 6-8 dogs, with dividers set up between play areas in a large training ring.

For the past couple weeks in class, we've had to interrupt their playtime quickly b/c the golden is mouthing Cleo too aggressively--he grabbed her ear too hard and also hung on to her topknot when she clearly wanted him to stop, and he was growling in a way that was not playful and frankly the whole thing was a bit alarming from an otherwise very friendly dog. We separated them and gave them a break on the assumption that the golden was just overstimulated by all the dogs in class (there are a lot of males in the class, though at least one is neutered, the golden is not, and of course Cleo is not yet spayed). I could see that Cleo was uncharacteristically reluctant to play with him again after they were separated. Who could blame her?

Nothing like this has ever happened at our home playdates, they play beautifully for hours! I wonder if it's the presence of other male dogs and all the smells in the training ring. After the first time this happened in class, we were very vigilant during the backyard playdate to make sure nothing like that was happening, and it didn't -- but the next time in class it seemed even worse. Should I worry that the behavior might spill over into our backyard playdates? Or is playing in the training ring just a really bad idea?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,823 Posts
Cleo has been friends with a golden retriever, a male, same age (8 months old) since they met in puppy class. They've been playing together regularly outside of class in our backyards for a couple of months.
They also play together briefly during a supervised playtime at the start of class each week--for maybe 5-10 minutes with short breaks. These are one-on-one play sessions in a class with 6-8 dogs, with dividers set up between play areas in a large training ring.

For the past couple weeks in class, we've had to interrupt their playtime quickly b/c the golden is mouthing Cleo too aggressively--he grabbed her ear too hard and also hung on to her topknot when she clearly wanted him to stop, and he was growling in a way that was not playful and frankly the whole thing was a bit alarming from an otherwise very friendly dog. We separated them and gave them a break on the assumption that the golden was just overstimulated by all the dogs in class (there are a lot of males in the class, though at least one is neutered, the golden is not, and of course Cleo is not yet spayed). I could see that Cleo was uncharacteristically reluctant to play with him again after they were separated. Who could blame her?

Nothing like this has ever happened at our home playdates, they play beautifully for hours! I wonder if it's the presence of other male dogs and all the smells in the training ring. After the first time this happened in class, we were very vigilant during the backyard playdate to make sure nothing like that was happening, and it didn't -- but the next time in class it seemed even worse. Should I worry that the behavior might spill over into our backyard playdates? Or is playing in the training ring just a really bad idea?
Trainers we've had have been against playing anywhere around the training area because if dogs know that playing is an option, it is hard to keep them focused on training. I do not know if this is true, just seems a common belief. So we've never had play sessions like this. But I do think it sounds like overstimulation could be the cause. Dogs behave very differently based on their arousal level. That energy can translate into aggression very easily in dogs that do not have good impulse control. I would suspect that the environment at the training center is much more arousing because there are smells of other dogs everywhere and there are other dogs playing around them. Just so much energy. And so the golden probably has issues with his arousal levels spiking and turning into aggression. It could be dominance play that's just going way too far. The presence of the other dogs could be a trigger. I don't think it's necessarily to do with being neutered or not. I've seen neutered/spayed dogs that had the same problem. You'll notice that the more dogs are playing in a group, the more likely it is that a fight will break out. They get very aroused and it easily turns into dominance and aggression.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,318 Posts
I've been wondering about similar behaviours. A couple of Peggy's classmates have begun treating her this way. Lots of ear biting and body slams, and she's started coming to me for protection (whereas previously she could play for ages if I let her, without so much as looking at me).

It's ALWAYS the males, and the owners appear unconcerned as Peggy looks like she's physically matched to their dogs, but she's actually in all cases much, much lighter. I'm realizing spoos tend to look bigger than they are, especially with puppy fluff.

I don't want to be over-protective or offend anyone, but I also want doggy play to be a purely positive experience at this age.

Will be reading along for any advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
700 Posts
I strongly agree with no playing in the building where you train once you are past puppy kindergarten. It is too confusing for your dog, especially if you start showing and she will have to understand that she is expected to pay attention only to you and ignore all the other dogs.

I don't think it matters why the golden is behaving the way he is. The bottom line for me would be that if my dog is uncomfortable I would not put her in a space with him off leash. If he's being a bully I would be protecting my dog and not worrying about why. If they continue to play nicely at home that's fine, but I would put an end to it in the training building.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I really appreciate this input! I think it is really stimulating for a lot of the dogs, and i agree it was fine in kindergarten but now (2nd grade...) it doesn't make much sense. We are in another class at a different place doing agility, and the trainer absolutely has this philosophy, that they should not come to expect playtime in class or it will get in the way of their focus on learning, etc. In fact, in that class, Cleo is the only puppy, the room is much smaller, and her biggest struggle is coping with distraction of having the other dogs so close by--but i think this is very good practice for her!

I think i'm going to contact the teacher before the next class and just say i don't think it's a good idea for them to be partnered to play in class together. The tough thing is, i don't think there's another dog who's a good match with Cleo in the class, so my choices may be that either she sits out playtime, which would be very hard, or we arrive a few minutes late and miss it...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,823 Posts
I really appreciate this input! I think it is really stimulating for a lot of the dogs, and i agree it was fine in kindergarten but now (2nd grade...) it doesn't make much sense. We are in another class at a different place doing agility, and the trainer absolutely has this philosophy, that they should not come to expect playtime in class or it will get in the way of their focus on learning, etc. In fact, in that class, Cleo is the only puppy, the room is much smaller, and her biggest struggle is coping with distraction of having the other dogs so close by--but i think this is very good practice for her!

I think i'm going to contact the teacher before the next class and just say i don't think it's a good idea for them to be partnered to play in class together. The tough thing is, i don't think there's another dog who's a good match with Cleo in the class, so my choices may be that either she sits out playtime, which would be very hard, or we arrive a few minutes late and miss it...
I think it sucks that the trainer hasn't noticed this happening! I agree there is no way to allow this to continue. You want Cleo to like other dogs, not fear that she will be bullied. I often have to step in and stop play because I take Misha hiking in an area where a lot of people do the same with their dogs, and he often is outsized by other dogs. Some big dogs are fine around smaller dogs, but others play in very dangerous ways, trying to jump on him or body slam him. I have to watch them very carefully and break them up at the first sign that they are not respectful. I just say "woah, looks like he's too big of a playmate!" in a happy tone and pick Misha up and take him away. If we see the dog again I try to avoid them. So don't feel awkward about defending your dog. You should separate them at the first sign that your dog or the other dog is uncomfortable. That teaches your dog to rely on you to be there for them rather than to think they have to defend themselves with aggression. You want them to run to you when they need saving rather than snapping at the other dog.

PeggyTheParti, I would be super annoyed if that's happening regularly and the trainer is not dealing with it. That should absolutely not be allowed. Owners should always closely monitor play and be ready to remove their dog if the other dog shows any sign that they are not enjoying the play. It's usually super obvious. For Misha, his tail goes down and he starts trying to avoid the other dog's advances. It may be that the males are getting their first experiences with testosterone at this age and have no idea how to control their impulses.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,459 Posts
I teach second puppy class.It's for graduates of puppy class who need a little more training before they are ready to move up a level to pre-CGC training. These are older puppies and young adults. In my class, I do not allow playing. I don't allow dogs to greet each other. They come into my ring to focus on their handlers and learn. Tuesday, I had a former student bring her dog back. Her dog's favorite playmate is a new dog in my class. Both dogs started spinning and leaping. I made them exit my ring.

If your dog is getting beat up in the training area, you run a risk of teaching her that the ring is not a safe place. That's the opposite lesson we want to teach. The dogs in my ring come in wild and cranked up, ready to scrap and bounce around. We work on focus and attention exercises for the first 5 minutes of class. Everyone calm down and focus. Perhaps during play time, you can exit the area and just work on focus and attention games. Cleo would enjoy the break from getting beat up, and you'd have less worry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,402 Posts
I'm confused as to why, at that age, you are having play time in class, in the ring?

For young puppy socialization, in that first puppy class - yes play time.

For home, backyard and play dates - yes play time.

But not in any class in a training center beyond that first puppy/socialization class.

I'm with those who don't allow their dogs to play in the ring. My dog can greet other dogs she knows outside the ring and outside the training building (she has some favorites she likes to say hello to and this is more a quick sniff, not playing and it's mutual, both dogs like to greet each other, get excited seeing each other) but never inside the ring. Inside the ring is about focusing on me and working.

Click is right - you don't want your dog to be scared or uncomfortable in the ring because she was beat up by the other dog. I would ask the trainer if during this "play" part of the class, can you sit outside the ring, or have your own private section inside the ring to work on attention. It would be a far more productive way to spend the time. Instead of getting your dog riled up, excited, anxious and upset; you would be training her to settle down and focus on you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,402 Posts
I've been wondering about similar behaviours. A couple of Peggy's classmates have begun treating her this way. Lots of ear biting and body slams, and she's started coming to me for protection (whereas previously she could play for ages if I let her, without so much as looking at me).

It's ALWAYS the males, and the owners appear unconcerned as Peggy looks like she's physically matched to their dogs, but she's actually in all cases much, much lighter. I'm realizing spoos tend to look bigger than they are, especially with puppy fluff.

I don't want to be over-protective or offend anyone, but I also want doggy play to be a purely positive experience at this age.

Will be reading along for any advice.
It's up to us to step in and protect our dog in situations like this and don't worry about offending anyone. If anything you are the one that should be offended and why is the trainer allowing it to occur? You are right, it should be a positive experience. Of course you can do this diplomatically.

I think Peggy is old enough and you both would be better served in the type of class that Click teaches.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,318 Posts
I've been wondering about similar behaviours. A couple of Peggy's classmates have begun treating her this way. Lots of ear biting and body slams, and she's started coming to me for protection (whereas previously she could play for ages if I let her, without so much as looking at me).

It's ALWAYS the males, and the owners appear unconcerned as Peggy looks like she's physically matched to their dogs, but she's actually in all cases much, much lighter. I'm realizing spoos tend to look bigger than they are, especially with puppy fluff.

I don't want to be over-protective or offend anyone, but I also want doggy play to be a purely positive experience at this age.

Will be reading along for any advice.
It's up to us to step in and protect our dog in situations like this and don't worry about offending anyone. If anything you are the one that should be offended and why is the trainer allowing it to occur? You are right, it should be a positive experience. Of course you can do this diplomatically.

I think Peggy is old enough and you both would be better served in the type of class that Click teaches.
Our trainer is excellent at identifying problematic behaviour and asking the owner to step in and give their dog a breather. And when play resumes, it's okay again. But every once in a while, those overzealous males act up again.

We're still in a puppy class until the new year, and I'm finding the free play time mostly beneficial. And thinking about it now, even the bulldozers have taught Peggy a good lesson, which is to walk away and look to me for help. She did it the other day at the dog park, too, very calmly, which is great progress since her first encounter with boisterous dogs, when she ran screaming.

Free play for us is at the end of class for 15 minutes, outdoors in a beautiful field and wooded area. It doesn't conflict at all with our indoor work, which is still mostly just socialization (mock vet exams and grooming, exposure to strange sights and sounds, learning to settle and focus, etc.).

Obedience training is a small part of these classes, which is good for us, as Peggy still has a very short attention span. We get to work on sit, stay, touch, etc. but not relentlessly.

Another upside to keeping her in puppy class for one more month is that she's learning to respect smaller dogs. I love seeing her play style transition seamlessly as she floats between nervous 3 month old pups and bold 5 month old pups. Even running full steam, she puts on the brakes for the little ones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
You all, thank you so much for confirming what my gut has been telling me. I completely agree that at this age they should not be playing in the training ring.
We've gone through puppy k, 1st grade, and now 2nd grade at this school--it's a progression, and the dogs who are not ready to advance repeat 1st grade. In 2nd grade, the dogs are all at least 7 months old. So i think it must work differently from Click's school. In 2nd grade we work on things like obedience while in closer proximity to other dogs, eg, a situation where you're sitting at a small cafe table with another dog sitting by the same table, or an exercise where the dogs have to follow a series of obedience instructions while other dogs are walking by. We're also working on things like going into a down position from increasing distances and with distractions, etc.

The trainer is aware of the situation during playtime with the other dog, and they were interrupted immediately by us and by the trainer when it got rough as I described. What I should have followed my instinct about was, i should not have allowed them to try again after they took a break, because it happened again and that was entirely predictable. At least I was right there to take Cleo away from the situation quickly. I will ask to be in a separate space to work individually, though i do think that will be hard for Cleo as she will want to play when the others are playing, and especially with her friend who is usually a good playmate.

About the body slamming, i've noticed goldens and labs in particular seem to play that way with each other. They're a good 20+ pounds heavier than Cleo, so for a minipoo I would think it's potentially dangerous! Cleo is as tall as the heavier dogs, and she doesn't seem bothered by it--she enjoys hopping over them like a rabbit again and again, and they look around like they don't know what happened. I can tell that she's having fun, when no one is trying to drag her by the ear!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
448 Posts
I'm a trainer of a little different variety so keep in mind what I have spent most of my career in is training obedience for pets, security dogs, K9's, & dogs with behavior problems with a specialty in the dogs with aggression issues. If you train dogs for protection work, people assume you can handle vicious/aggression issues. The pets who came to me came in all shapes, sizes, problems, & owner-problems. When little puppies tussle about we humans attribute this to play (just as we see in our children. We take them on play-dates). While I often tell folks my dogs are my kids however I do not see my dogs as little furry humans. When those little puppies are tussling around they are learning: strength, fighting techniques, exploring what works & what doesn't. I'm better with examples so: If I'm a black poodle pup & I go bite my black & white sister on the ear & she screams & avoids me... cool... that worked. I dominated her. If I bite brown & white sister on the ear but she clobbers me & makes me scream... that didn't work, she dominated me. If you ever have the privilege of handling litters where you can sit & observe this you will also learn they use what they learn on their litter mates with other dogs & with humans. As they grow they get progressively stronger, faster, more successful & when they flub more spectacularly they crash. LOL

So with that in mind they go to their new homes with all this litter knowledge & they learn 24/7. They tend to repeat (good or bad) what works & avoid the unpleasant/uncomfortable that doesn't they usually avoid. So as they mature (think about teenagers & what they're like ((heaven help us)) & how they deal with each other. Things are more dramatic, more exaggerated. "MOM! YOU ARE SO EMBARRASSING!" and all poor Mom did was hug the kid yet you'd think she checked the kid's underwear in front of his friends. All THAT nutty exaggerated stuff is in it's own form in our dogs. So when they go to the training class & are overloaded with smells, they feed off the energy of the other dogs in the class. I have had the most mellow & sweet class of dogs before me, everyone is just excelling & doing beautifully. One student comes in with their punk of a dog who is jacked up about something & you'll see the whole class go to pot. If I am training guardian dogs who do protection work, & we have a new student that we want to test to see if the dog has the internal components to protect human life, we put him in knowledgeable hands & put him in with a class of well behaved dogs that I can trust to come out when they need to & shut down when needed. The dog is in the middle of several veteran trained dogs & they observe. You'd be surprised at how quickly the dog will jump in & participate or show you they want NOTHING to do with this shenanigans.

Now my point in telling you all of this is a bit of insight into the dog's mind. The young male is coming into his boy-ness, he's all jacked up on the energy of the other dogs, he's playing with his buddy & goes overboard. Now she's looking at him much like he's such a jerk, & he is! He's a teenaged disaster waiting to happen :) I'm an odd trainer, if my dogs have free interaction with one another, I am right there. I call the 'fun' off at any time I deem it necessary. I do not subscribe to the 'dogs will be dogs' thinking. I am the leader of my tribe & if I say time to quit... that's it. When I call it off my dogs are trained that 'enough' means it's over. The end. It's not open for discussion. For young boneheads who test this they find themselves Mom's bootcamp or they get scooted into the crate for a teenie bopper time out. When it comes to clients' dogs... none of this because I can't count on the owners to see what I do or to react with correct timing or correct level of reaction/response. Those who wanted to learn were taught but I was surprised at how few wanted to be bothered with that level of learning. It's mentally taxing to be 'on' aware & on 24/7 until it becomes second nature.

Right now my teeny bopper can be wound up over our oldest chi digging in her bed. POUNCE! So it's my job before the pounce to interrupt the thought, redirect his attention. If it over stimulates him to the point he can't think... crate or outside. For him this is a game changer because he loves being with us & in the house so he's quick to figure it out. He goes ga-ga if he got with our older big girls (now my Giant can 'play' with him... she's freaky strong & he's learned not to push her too far because few can handle what she can dish out) however I do not want my large dogs doing this with each other so I interrupt & he's limited to interactions with them. A month or so ago I could allow him to romp with them, now he becomes a jerk & they're not fond of him. So he's stuck with us & the tiny dogs until he can learn better manners.

I'm teaching him to play pa-doodle-soccer (nothing to do with the doodle stuff... it's our game & involves a ball just a touch larger than he can bite & carry & I'm teaching him how fun it is to push it with his nose & chase it). By the time I bring him in, his tongue is hanging out, he just wants to chill... so he'll learn to interact with them when all his nuttiness is run out of him plus he's thinking during this play time so he's tapped out. This is the equivalent of my dad giving my brother some old bumpers & a big sledge hammer. They had all kinds of fun smashing around on that stuff... all Dad was doing was helping to direct his pent up, teenager nuttiness. When he was done he was tired & was easy to be around. Each dog has something you can do to combat the nuttiness & in time you shape it into something desirable or useful & one day they're not so nutty, then one day they're gentlemen & loveable again.

I've rarely had this sort of thing out of my females but on the rare occasion that I have a male that's my personal dog... this is how I combat the teenage goofies! I have tiny small dogs so a mistake can turn deadly.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,318 Posts
After today, I think I've reached my limit, too. Peggy's sweet nature remains unaffected, but she's going to get pushed too far (literally) and I really don't want to deal with dog reactivity. Plus, she could get hurt.

Sigh.

I suppose we could just leave right after class, before playtime. But that would really suck for Peggy ? We've also learned so much about how dogs interact, what is "good" play, what to watch out for, etc. I don't want to miss out on this part of our education. I'll talk to our trainer before next class.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,581 Posts
If the class is a puppy social type class then play breaks are actually very appropriate and very important as a class component since it gives puppies a final chance to learn manners of inhibited bites and things like that.


Once it is a class to teach behaviors like attention to the handler, loose leash walking, sits, downs etc. then THERE IS NO MORE PLAY, at least not at my classes. That is not what a more advanced class for an older group of dogs should be about at all IMO.


In my novice class today there were a couple of male dogs (one intact, one not), several females ranging from adult spayed girls to a nine month old not yet spayed spoo girl and an intact adult CKCS. Nobody played with anybody (even though a couple of newer dogs wanted to). I would never waste the time I have for this class by getting those dogs all charged up and disinterested in their people and then having them struggle to get their dogs refocused. Honestly that is just one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.


ETA I don't even allow Lily and Javelin to play in training specific spaces.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,402 Posts
After today, I think I've reached my limit, too. Peggy's sweet nature remains unaffected, but she's going to get pushed too far (literally) and I really don't want to deal with dog reactivity. Plus, she could get hurt.

Sigh.

I suppose we could just leave right after class, before playtime. But that would really suck for Peggy ? We've also learned so much about how dogs interact, what is "good" play, what to watch out for, etc. I don't want to miss out on this part of our education. I'll talk to our trainer before next class.
You're lucky that the playtime is outside, and not in the training ring. As you pointed out previously this class will end soon. I would definitely talk to your trainer about how to make it a positive experience for Peggy.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top