Still working on play - what do you see?
#1
This is today's play session. And this is where I am concerned. There are a ton of mixed signals here. When engaging, she is all in, bouncy, happy, committed. The moment movement stops, she goes still, whale eyed, lip licking, and looks ready to give up. But then can be enticed into it again and engages once more with a lose body, wagging tail, big smile.

Is this aversive for her to keep playing in this way? Is she trying but unsure? Can this be counter conditioned? Does it need to be? Does it indicate something wrong? Or is she just not used to the feeling? I kind of want to equate it to self moderation - where she seems to be worried about the feeling running around creates in her. She does this in my parent's back yard too - she'll play tag with me, then randomly stop and roll like she's just completely given up and is scared to continue (has even yelped at me before), but then five minutes later comes buzzing by again. Or if I take off running she's right on me trying to hip check me.



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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
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#2
When I brought Mattie home two years ago she didn't play with toys at all.  We have way too many dog toys as Tasha loves toys but Mattie would have nothing to do with them.  It took a few months before she finally started to interact with toys but never with humans.  At first the only way I could get her to interact with a toy around me was to put a treat under the toy so she had to move it in order to get the treat.  At one point Mattie started playing with toys but if she saw that someone was watching she would stop and completely ignore the toy.  She would either lie down like she was bored or wander out of the room.  Yesterday for the first time I was able to interact with Mattie and the toy.  Mattie was playing with a stuffed toy in the living room chewing on it, tossing it in the air and I approached her.  She played keep away with me for a few minutes and then let me grab the toy and played tug!  Two years and two months to get to this point.

I have wondered if Mattie is worried if she is doing something correctly.  "I might get this wrong so I won't do anything." There are also times when we have tried something and Mattie will seem to have fun but then shut down and I wonder if she gets overwhelmed and worried that, again, that she isn't doing something correctly.  Sorry, I guess I'm not being very helpful but I do understand what it is like to have a dog just shuts down and refuse to play when half a minute earlier it was a fun game.

It has been really a challenge for me since I (wrongly) expect Mattie to be more like Tasha.  If we are doing something and Tasha gets confused or overwhelmed she barks at us.  It is almost like she is telling us, "I don't understand!  Be clear, silly human!"
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#3
That really does help. I have let go of my expectations, at the very least - if she doesn't want to play, that is totally fine. I leave toys around, just in case. I'm just worried that in my daily silliness that I am pushing her too far, and she is trying to tell me so. But I also worry that she WANTS to but doesn't know how. I want to help her, I want her to enjoy life for the sake of enjoying life. If laying around is it, so be it, but I can't see that being all fun. It leaves so much room for her to sit and stew in her little worried brain.

Does that make sense?

You have encouraged me though - I haven't put the same amount of time in it. I am amazed we have gotten this far Smile I just don't want to hurt our relationship if she is trying to tell me to stop.
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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
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#4
It is difficult.  Tasha will play all day long.  Mattie will play on her own.  She loves chasing Tasha during fetch and when we visit family will happily play in the yard with the other dogs for hours.  But if I try to engage her I have to be really careful to not overwhelm her.  Mattie is the 6th dog I have had in our family but the only dog I didn't get as a puppy.  I haven't always been the best dog owner but by the time I adopted Mattie I thought I had things figured out, at least a little bit.  My kid wanted a Border Collie so we got Tasha who is a little spitfire.  Confident, sassy, and ready for an adventure!  Then Mattie was here and I thought she would be like Tasha, at least a little bit.  And what I had was a terrified dog who would hide under my son's desk when someone ran the blender and pee all over the floor when anyone who was not family entered the house.  

I know you have it more difficult then I do.  You said, "I want to help her, I want her to enjoy life for the sake of enjoying life. If laying around is it, so be it, but I can't see that being all fun. It leaves so much room for her to sit and stew in her little worried brain."  The advantage that I have is Tasha.  Often Mattie will look to Tasha to interpret if something is fun or horrible.  One night, a few months ago, I was having trouble sleeping so I read a few of your past posts about Ember.  You have made amazing progress with her!  It is so difficult to see the progress when you are there every day and you are looking at this dog that shuts down.  My oldest daughter lives in England and comes home once a year.  She was here when I adopted Mattie and then didn't visit for seven months.  When she came home I told her how frustrated I was with the progress I had made with Mattie.  I wasn't frustrated with Mattie but with me.  I felt like I wasn't doing enough.  My daughter pointed out all the things that were different in the seven months since she had been home and I realized we had made progress, I couldn't see it because I was living it day to day.
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#5
I see no whale eye, it is always accompanied with a stillness.
Just looks like she was not really wanting to play. A few possibilities is, May does not do tug, she thinks if I want it she will give it up very apologetically, this could be happening here. Also I think play is by invite so giving the cue "come" you are telling her. If you know what I mean
May likes circling games and stalking games, chasey games, poking games, (such a herder, lol). she would never play tug
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#6
I think she was happy pumping out ZZZZZZZ's, she was looking pretty chilled and then excitement came upon her. She is eager to please and has a go but I don't know that her heart was ever really in it. I also do not see whale eye but perhaps a little confusion or conflict within herself. She loves her mum, wants to please but really just wants to be where she was less than a minute ago.

She gets a lot of "good girl" and I find myself having to watch very closely to pin point exactly what the "good girl" reward was actually for. Is it possible that she is also unsure of exactly what behaviour is being praised and maybe this causes the uncertainty/hesitancy behaviour ? Maybe she doesn't need a verbal reward for simply waking up and coming to you, perhaps the start of game is reward enough for that. When she lets go she gets a verbal reward which might have higher value if not applied so often.
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#7
I've been reviewing, and I should have said we played some, and when I went to set up camera to catch it, she had laid out. I know now I shouldn't have pushed it. She is super eager to please for sure! I'm going back to my original plan of leaving toys around and doing things around the house that might be "tempting" (she'll grab my blanket like this while I'm making my bed, for example - and it looks exactly like this too, even though she started it). It'll be easier when I am alone finally. Parents should be in their house in 2 weeks tops - hopefully!
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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
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#8
(07-29-2017, 03:11 PM)Ember Wrote: I've been reviewing, and I should have said we played some, and when I went to set up camera to catch it, she had laid out. I know now I shouldn't have pushed it. She is super eager to please for sure! I'm going back to my original plan of leaving toys around and doing things around the house that might be "tempting" (she'll grab my blanket like this while I'm making my bed, for example - and it looks exactly like this too, even though she started it). It'll be easier when I am alone finally. Parents should be in their house in 2 weeks tops - hopefully!

Woo hoo !!!! 2 weeks to go, it will be sooooo awesome for you 2 girls to settle into your own routine again. Excited for you !
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#9
(07-29-2017, 05:12 PM)Trifan Wrote:
(07-29-2017, 03:11 PM)Ember Wrote: I've been reviewing, and I should have said we played some, and when I went to set up camera to catch it, she had laid out. I know now I shouldn't have pushed it. She is super eager to please for sure! I'm going back to my original plan of leaving toys around and doing things around the house that might be "tempting" (she'll grab my blanket like this while I'm making my bed, for example - and it looks exactly like this too, even though she started it). It'll be easier when I am alone finally. Parents should be in their house in 2 weeks tops - hopefully!

Woo hoo !!!! 2 weeks to go, it will be sooooo awesome for you 2 girls to settle into your own routine again. Excited for you !

Ah, that paints a little different picture again. She did look pretty chilled, perhaps felt satisfied with what she thought was finished. I was just out playing with the boys but thinking on this and I realised how often I have done something similar. Something I am really happy with or an achievement I have been working towards happens and before I consider what I know should be intrinsic to training and "finish on a high note", I ask for more  If it doesn't pan out as you presumed it would then you have immediately applied pressure to both yourself and the dog in order to achieve the high note. I usually, with no further ado, bail and ask for a behaviour I know is rock solid to achieve the high note then finish.
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#10
I wonder if you think of whale eye different than what we think of as whale eye, because I wasn't seeing anything even remotely like whale eye. She just looked laid back to me.
Gotta love 'em.
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