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In dog play it's "Self-Handicapping" not "Dominance", "Submission", or "bullying"
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    I made this post over on the Nihonken Forum, I thought it may be helpful to post on the Shiba Forum too...

    I get a lot of question on YouTube about how we know what fighting is and what playing is. We also get a lot of silly dominance and/or submissive questions regarding the videos of our dogs playing.

    So, I wanted to make this post in the hopes it would get the word out on Self-Handicapping Behavior.

    Patricia McConnell had a nice article on this concept, and on play in general, in the most recent issue of BARK Magazine.

    I also found this write up on it, which I thought was good as well:

    From the article above, here is a what Dr. Camille Ward has to say regarding "Self-Handicapping" in dog play:

    "Even though on first take, play fighting and real fighting may look similar, there are some key differences between the two. For example, during play, dogs often engage in self-handicapping behavior. Self-handicapping occurs when one player voluntarily puts herself in a vulnerable or disadvantaged position in order to give her partner a competitive advantage."

    Ahi is a dog who is a master of this, she always handicaps herself during play - it an important thing in dog play as it tells the other dog that "hey, this is play".

    Here is a video that demonstrates the behavior, also note the pauses in play, this is an important thing to notice as it is one of the things that makes it clear this is play and not a fight. Also take note of the number of bites and how they are inhibited and do not cause injury...

    Just like with people, dogs can get a little too emotionally charged, and a fight can breakout during what was a peaceful and fun play session. Think about it like a Hockey game with people, it's all great fun until the emotions get too high and a fight breaks out - this happens with dogs as well.

    Here is an example where good fun turns to an emotionally charged event. Notice Jen steps in and calms Kona, who was clearly getting a bit charged (due to Masha's energy level). Blue also gets very charged in this clip, and is calmed by Jen as well...

    We spend the majority of our management time managing the dogs emotional and physical energy levels.

    I've noticed with our dogs that the ones who play together the most, and are the most comfortable, can inhibit their emotions pretty well during play, and therefore play longer and harder without stopping. Below is an example of Ahi and kona, who are very comfortable playing rough with each other - but notice even with them, Ahi self-handicaps in order to keep things fun (also note the pauses)...

    Here is an example with Luytiy and the Akita, I get a lot of comments and emails about this video, people feel it is cruel that I allow the Akita to attack Luytiy like this - but in this video he is clearly self-handicapping (which is impressive that he needs to self-handicap while playing with 4 Akita)...

    Usually the stronger dog, or more socially confident/comfortable dog, will self-handicap. This is why we see Ahi, Luytiy, Blue, and Masha doing this the most with our dogs - but also, Kona will do it with Loa and Loa will do it with Mochi.

    I hope this helps.

  • Kobe1468Kobe1468
    Posts: 1590
    A good read on some new research...

    This could have fit into a number of existing threads, but wanted to reinforce an existing thread(2009!). I really love the NK forums, some of the most intelligent dog owners!

    Love how the Daily Mail ran with the 'aggressive' theme...completely ignoring the results of the research!
    "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
    Post edited by Kobe1468 at 2015-01-18 00:57:35
  • I went to the puppy park area last weekend and Kiba was just running around and chasing and didnt get into any "playing/wrestling" with any puppies.

    However, yesterday, he was actually playing around with a puppy chocolate lab, and Kiba kept pawing at his face (lol), then the lab would do the same, then they would wrestle...sometimes i do worry that he is actually not liking the playing and then he wants to actually fight...