Canine behavioral researcher Julie Hecht, recently wrote about the ways dogs and people play and how dogs might see it for Scientific American, “It’s Not You It’s Me: If a Dog Won’t Play With You, It Could Be Your Fault.”
According to the research she cited, there are things people typically do to engage a dog to play. Some are effective and others never are—that is they never worked when used in the studies. Ms. Hecht did a little research on her own with shelter dogs.
What the studies show is that most of the things we do to engage dogs to play are ineffective, Hecht wrote, “Of the 35 most common play signals, Rooney and colleagues found that a signal’s popularity “was not related to its success at initiating or sustaining play.”
Things like patting the floor were most often used but play followed only 38% of the time. Scruffing the dog and clapping didn’t work well either—especially with strange dogs. And none of the dogs responded to picking it up and kissing it (a weird thing to do even to your own pet who knows you) or stamping your feet. These “play” behaviors never resulted in play behaviors by the dogs in the studies.
Understanding dog behavior as canine, not human, is important to inter-species communication. What you think is fun may not be fun at all for your dog. Learn more at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/dog-spies/2014/12/31/its-not-you-its-me-if-a-dog-wont-play-with-you-it-could-be-your-fault/
Additional resources to better understand your dog’s behavior are:
On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
and Susan Clothier’s Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs Link: http://smile.amazon.com/dp/044669634X