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Play bows - a question for all about tripawd play
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Madison, WI
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12 January 2012 - 7:05 pm
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Hey everybody!  So I have just paused the first disc of Dr. Patricia McConnell's Dog Play: Understanding Play Between Dogs and Between Dogs and People to ask you all a question.  (Though, first off, I want to say I love all Patricia McConnell's stuff and highly recommend it and so far this is probably my favorite of all the talks I've seen her give.)  I'll probably have to ask my question a couple different ways, cause not everyone has had their dogs as quadpawds, or maybe not for long before they lost a leg…

Have you noticed any decrease in how often your tripawd play bows now, compared with when they had four legs?

If you adopted your dog after or soon after he/she lost a leg, does he/she play bow at all?  How often?

 

The reason I ask is  that according to McConnell, it seems that the play bow communicates that "I'm just playing" and is especially important in play with unfamiliar dogs.  So really, the questions above are much more relevant in the context of your tripawd playing with new dogs or dogs they don't see that often, as opposed to the dogs they live with.

I don't recall ever seeing Gerry play bow and we have had an issue with other dogs not liking something about the way he's playing that's been hard to pinpoint.  (Not that I can necessarily do much about it, even if I can pinpoint it, but I'm curious).  Anyway, this got me curious about is whether possibly tripawds play bow less (either for physical reasons or maybe even insecurity reasons) or if this is definitely an individual thing and Gerry's lack of play bows has nothing to do with his number of legs.  Because, for those who don't know, I only had Gerry a short time as a four-legger and even then the leg that was going to come off was already injured.

By the way, Gerry does do lots of muzzle licks, but I don't know that that makes up for the lack of play bows, if he's failing basic dog etiquette. big-grin

Thanks!  I really appreciate any and all input on this!!

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

The Rainbow Bridge



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12 January 2012 - 8:54 pm
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Great question! I wonder....could it be a dominant/submissive thing?

Because I used to play bow all the time, even before I lost my leg, and I never ever met a dog that I didn't get along with.

While Wyatt Ray , never, ever play bows. As you know, he's a dominant type, and he meets lots of dawgs who think he's kinda obnoxious.

What do you think?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Chicago, IL
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12 January 2012 - 9:12 pm
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I saw Tate do a play bow only once after his amp, because he didn't want to play with other dogs anymore, not because he couldn't physically do one (he was a left rear amp).  His best friend was Loretta and he was so anxious to play with her after his recovery but he couldn't dodge her anymore, he'd fall down.  He tried a few times and then just gave up.  It wasn't fun anymore.  He still liked being with Loretta and other dogs he knew but just to hang out and watch the world go by.  The only dog he'd play with was Little Sister Sam, and he couldn't avoid her!  They had their own way of playing.

Before his amp, his priorities were: water, dogs, sniffing all available surfaces.  After: water, food, sniffing, especially the air.  Before his amp, we'd take him to the dog park and he'd always be right in there, mixing it up with all the dogs, his tail wagging like crazy.  After his amp, he never approached another dog besides Loretta.  Not even the other neighborhood dogs that he knew.  He met the local tripawds with us, and would hang with them when he wasn't in the lake but he didn't play with them.  And he was only 4, it's not like he was old and had arthritis or anything.  I think he just didn't feel secure.

I don't know if he felt bad about it or missed it.  When Loretta and Sam would play, he'd try to participate but couldn't keep up and would just go lay down somewhere.  Broke my heart.

http://tate.tripawds.com/
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

Winnipeg
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12 January 2012 - 9:28 pm
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Hi All

I can't really answer Gerry's questions but that never stopped me from gabbing before, did it.

Play bows are one way that dogs communicate they intend to play, but certainly some breeds (gees, I wrote species instead of breeds, like border collies) do a lot more play bow'ing than other breeds. And dogs or puppies that do play bow a lot seem to be the kind that get along with everyone. But I've had other dogs who never or rarely bow'd, like Tazzie, but got along with every dog they ever met. He never had a posture that was aggressive (never raised hackles, never growled) and never had postures that were overly submissive, which seems to invite some dogs to fight. So his language did not change when he entered tripawddom, except that he then sucked up for human attention even more than before.

Paddles charges at dogs from great distances, especially large dogs, and usually leaps away at the last second. This is usually preceded with about 10 seconds in which he is flattened to the ground to suss up his prey (I think the crouch is non-threatening even if one might associated it with hunting). It amazes me that other dogs do not take his charge as aggressive (even though some of their owners do when they see what they think is a GSD charging at them). So far, no dog has acted aggressively to him for this charge.

 

Does Gerry do *a lot* of muzzle licking? I noticed that some dogs really don't like that. A bit is okay, but it sometimes seems to come across as aggressive in a passive way if they do it non-stop. But I picture that more in some sort of small herder or heeler, crouching up to lick the face of another dog.

Oaktown
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12 January 2012 - 10:02 pm
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Since we now have three tripawd German Shepherds in residence (all missing rear spares), and Codie Rae has been with us the longest, over five years, I can say they rarely play bow. My theory is they must transfer the load to the rear when they play bow, and it is difficult for them to maintain balance when they do it. Codie Rae especially has a bias that she leans forward, and while I have seen her play bow, it is contrary to her normal inclination to shift all the weight to her front legs. The +1 Austin Ray play bows the best, and Travis Ray will do it too, but they have to be very excited about initiating play before they will assume the position.

 

I suspect it is easier for front leg amputee tripawds to play bow than it is for rear leggers because they are already using the rears legs to compensate, and when they shift weight to the rear in the play bow position they naturally maintain a good balance.

 

I think the balance problems are great enough for the rear leg amputees that they will only attempt to play bow when they are so excited they forget about how they have to balance themselves.

 

Ralph

San Diego, CA
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13 January 2012 - 10:07 am
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Abby play bowed all the time. I think probably the same amount before/after her amp. She didn't toward the end of course - because she was not as agile w/ the H.O., but before that she was always up for a game and would play bow. She would do it with me all the time. I'd give her a funny look - swing my head around at her really quickly and open my eyes really wide, and then she'd play bow and bark at me. We'd chase each other around the house. 🙂 Good times, good times....

I think there is definitely something to the theory that it is easier for front leg amps, so they probably do it more frequently/without a second thought. I tried to capture a pic, but she was so quick all the time. She's not quite in full bow mode here, but close:

 The only thing she really didn't like to do anymore post-amp (in terms of doggie play) was to wrestle. She grew up with a boxer for a best friend, so was always a great boxer/wrestler. But once she lost her 'right jab', she didn't like it anymore.

 

Jackie, Angel Abby's mom

Abby: Aug 1, 2009 – Jan 10, 2012. Our beautiful rescue pup lived LARGE with osteosarcoma for 15 months – half her way-too-short life. I think our "halflistic" approach (mixing traditional meds + supplements) helped her thrive. (PM me for details. I'm happy to help.) She had lung mets for over a year. They took her from us in the end, but they cannot take her spirit! She will live forever in our hearts. She loved the beach and giving kisses and going to In-N-Out for a Flying Dutchman. Tripawds blog, and a more detailed blog here. Please also check out my novel, What the Dog Ate. Now also in paperback! Purchase it at Amazon via Tripawds and help support Tripawds!

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13 January 2012 - 12:49 pm
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Ajax use to play bow ALL the time.  Sometimes it was a play bow, sometimes it was yoga.  He's a right rear leg amp, and he definiitely doesn't do it much any more, unless he REALLY wants or has to.   Since he did it so often pre-amp, I have assumed there is something not-so-comfortable in it with only one rear leg.

Much like Tate, he plays less, but also more specifically:  he won't just invite any old dog, he'll wait until they invite him and then no need for the play bow.  I definitely think he has some other way to communicate "I'm just playing", the harder one is "please play with me."  But in general, he wrestles and plays less, unless it is one of his very special friends OR -- let me know if anyone else has experience this -- it is a dog who is just the right height for him to comfortably prop his 2 front legs up on. 

I wouldn't worry abouit it - your furry genius will figure it out. 

Scottsburg, IN
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13 January 2012 - 2:24 pm
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Roxy bows all the time. I mean constantly. And like Ajax, sometimes it's play and sometimes it's yoga. That's her favorite way to start a game with Kali and Dakota. But also, if she's just hanging out observing things and she thinks she might move any time now, she'll bow down. Almost like she's had enough holding herself up with that one front leg and she just wants to rest a minute.

She also does the muzzle lick. Excessively. She loves to lick Kali and Dakota's faces. Especially when Dakota is having a whining fit. Almost like she's saying cheer up brother! It's really cute to me but you can tell it annoys the dogs.

Madison, WI
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13 January 2012 - 3:25 pm
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Jerry - Well, McConnell doesn't really agree with the traditional dominant/submissive theory about dog behavior.  She puts forth something similar, but more... dynamic, I guess, that she refers to as social status.  You should read/watch her stuff for more on that - I'm not sure I could do it justice.  But actually from what she described, didn't sound like status had much at all to do with who play bows.  The dog who is most interested in playing and initiates play is going to be doing more play bows, but that isn't necessarily always the higher or lower status (more dominant or more submissive, if you like) dog.  And the video of the lecture is really great cause she describes the studies and shows video of the behaviors to back all this up.  I highly highly recommend this one.  It's not only intellectually stimulating, but it's full of adorable videos and pics of dogs/puppies playing.  (Though, of course, there are examples of aggression too - not as fun, but just as informative).

tatespeeps - sorry to bring up a sad memory, but I really really appreciate the input!

Tazzie - Forgive me, but I'm blanking on Paddles' age, and I wonder about it because McConnell points out that all the "rules" about appropriate play for dogs go out the window for puppies.  So, if Paddles is still a pup, maybe that's why the other dogs are cutting Paddles slack.  Gerry will do the charging straight at new dogs sometimes too,though he appears perfectly friendly once he gets to them.  I too am surprised that it doesn't lead to social problems for Gerry more often (it has on a couple occasions).  Gerry is probably around 4 years old - he doesn't get a puppy pass.  And, even though dogs don't look like they're enjoying his muzzle licks at all, it still seems more like it diffuses their reaction to his rude behavior rather than makes things worse.  He's never had an issue with a dog after a muzzle lick, that I recall.  

One of the things McConnell pointed out in the video of puppies playing was that it had no play bows (among other things).  It's apparently something the learn to do as they grow up.  Seems like a reasonable theory that maybe Gerry didn't learn to grow up in his play style.  How can he be helped with that at his age to learn better play behaviors and especially if play bows are physically unappealing?  (Not to mention his mother is terrified of him being corrected too roughly by other dogs).  No idea yet, but I think it's worth thinking about.

I really appreciate all this input!  It does seem so far like at least the rear leg amputees have varying degrees of reluctance to play bow.  I'm still interested in more input from any and everyone about their tripawd(s) and play bows or even play in general.  Thanks!

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 January 2012 - 6:30 pm
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Right! I do recall your telling me about how she views the pecking order with dogs.

Today we watched Wyatt Ray react to a one year old Chessie who snuck up on him, just wanting to play. Wyatt nearly ate the little dog until he realized she just wanted to play. To show him (I guess) she bowed a LOT and when he finally caught on that she wasn't a threat, everything was good and they played for a long time. Meanwhile, he didn't bow once. It was interesting to watch for sure.

Hope you don't mind but I posted your discussion in MySmartPuppy to see what others had to think, it's a super interesting topic!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Chicago, IL
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13 January 2012 - 6:38 pm
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No worries, Bri.  Just missing my boy.  Tate still had a lot of fun, it was just different.  I was glad we got Sam so he had someone to play with - they did wrestle a lot, but he'd let Sam do the running.  He could run as well as before, I guess he just didn't like getting knocked over.  Whatever, it's all good.

Interesting about the muzzle licks, Sam muzzle licks Loretta when she's gone too far and L. gets ticked off.  This is different than her affectionate "lick Tate all over the head and ears" thing.  Really more "I'm sorry, c'mon, don't be mad!"

This dog play behavior is such an interesting topic, looking forward to more posts...

http://tate.tripawds.com/
August 16, 2006 to November 28, 2011
TATE ~ Forever in our hearts.

Madison, WI
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13 January 2012 - 6:59 pm
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Way to go, Wyatt - providing a prime example of why play bows are so important.  Haha!  A bit more dramatic of an example than what we needed though. Oh boy!  

Would be cool if we could interest a dog behavior researcher in tripawd behavior!  But would there be enough differences to write a paper on?  Well... um, that'd probably be a hard sell, haha.

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

The Rainbow Bridge



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13 January 2012 - 7:58 pm
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Heck why not get a student to do it? I think it's a GREAT idea! Could give some insight and proof that dogs don't see themselves as "handicapped" the way humans do.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Winnipeg
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13 January 2012 - 10:05 pm
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Gerry - Paddles is a relative old-timer having passed 2 &1/2 yrs. But it amazes me how he and many other dogs (probably not all!) gauge the personality of other dogs so well from a distance. He seems to know from 100 or more meters away whether or not a dog is suitable for playing. And when he sees a grump or an older dog who doesn't want to play, he does adjust his behaviour. Unfortunately we humans are not nearly as good at judging, at least I couldn't tell so well from that distance. Funny that they then proceed to sniff each other's butts - obviously they get more information up close and personal!

I have a colleague who has devoted his career to studying play - the importance in development of normal social behaviour and a "social brain" are the main themes that have arisen (30 yrs of study of different species). Mostly this involves different rodents and primates but I understand he recently took to working with dogs. No specific attention to tripawds so probably not too relevant for this forum.

Certainly his work has shown how important play and especially rough-housing are in the development of normal social behaviour and even in the development of the brain, to the extent of affecting the growth of neurons and brain areas involved in social behaviour. People often restrict kids from playing too hard on playgrounds and it can potentially have bad consequences. I'm sure the same would be true for dogs. I hate it when I see people with dogs who clearly never let the dog play with another dog (and I'm not talking about problem dogs - but dogs that are restricted when there is no problem, just fear by the owner).

S

Madison, WI
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15 January 2012 - 8:49 pm
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I was actually expecting that I'd only hear that yes, every other tripawd play bows just as much as they ever did, when I first posted this.  Given all the things our dogs relearn easily on three legs that surprise other people, I was expecting that the lack of play bows from Gerry was going to be definitely behavioral.  Clearly, now, it could be all physical or a mix of behavioral and physical.  But I was realizing today that I've seen evidence from Gerry already that the play bow is a tricky position for him.  Whenever he leans down to stretch his forlegs, he wobbles.   And he can't stretch them evenly, he has to stagger his front feet a bit.  That stretch is nearly the same position as a play bow - duh!!!  

Anyhow, still interested in hearing about more tripawds and their play bows (or lack of) !

Oh, and I've finally gotten around to working with Gerry on the FitPaws Giant Balance Disc that I bought for Gerry a while back.  Who knows, maybe in time that core strengthening work will make doing a play bow easier - if he's so inclined.  big-grin  

Gerry has been a tripawd since 12/16/2009.

He was a shelter dog with a mysterious past and an irrepairable knee injury.

Videos and pics of Gerry's pawesomeness can be found at: http://gerry.tripawds.com

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