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the 15 unwritten rules of dog play

12 April 2011

Our great dane puppy Luna is into play like some Americans are into card rooms, bus trips to regional casinos, chewing tobacco, American Idol, erotic fiction, Facebook updates, chocolate truffles, OxyContin, and Black Friday sales. Basically, she’s addicted.

It’s a healthy addiction, of course. It also developed naturally despite the fact that there was no one to formally teach her the rules of dog play once she’d left her littermates for the West Coast and the glamour of Hollywood.

Learning the Ropes

But after meeting best friends Zoe (Bernese mountain dog), Bodie (cockapoo), and Fergie (English bulldog), who are all older and, arguably, slightly wiser than her, Luna quickly learned that there are some unwritten rules of dog play.

Here is a picture of Fergie patiently waiting while a very young Luna (9 weeks old) massages her ear with her teeth.

Great dane puppy: nibbling my friend's ear

giving Fergie a gentle ear massage

Here are the 15 unwritten rules of dog play:

  1. Play of any kind doesn’t start until we smell each other’s butts.
  2. All play begins with a prelude comprised of bum smelling, eye contact and a brief stare down.
  3. Please don’t grab my tail for any reason. It hurts.
  4. If you find snacks during our playtime, please share them with me.
  5. If you stop to drink water, don’t restart play until you’ve allowed me a chance to drink, too.
  6. The “chase me” game is equal opportunity, operating on the honor system. If I chase you first, you’ve got to chase me after.
  7. Whoever drops low to the ground, stares (see pt. #2) and starts running first is the chasee.
  8. We don’t play “chase me” near rose bushes or on public streets.
  9. Never bite me to the point of drawing blood.
  10. It is OK to drop to the ground if you’re smaller than me or you’re tired.
  11. If we’re wrestling, punching is allowed, although rabbit punching is not, nor are punches to my eyes.
  12. If you’re tired, stop playing. It is OK to lie on me while resting.
  13. If you’ve got to smell poop, please do it on your own time after we’ve finished playing.
  14. Playtime ends when my parents call me, or your parents call you.
  15. Any signs of retinal detachment immediately ends play. (This one is for our parents).

Puppy Play Code

There they are. They’re simple to follow and will ensure that your dog will enjoy play. They also ensure your puppy will be too exhausted to get into any mischief once back in your home.

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