Posted : 8/13/2006 12:19:37 AM
I know I'm late to this one but thot I'd put out one more thot here.
We all joke about our 'inner child' -- but truly with a dog there is also an 'inner puppy'. Dogs tend to hold onto it easier than we humans and most dogs like to play with other dogs and with toys -- it's a complex set of behaviors that includes everything from dominance and top-dog-ism to just plain old PLAY for play's sake.
However, usually it's something in their background that either they were punished for or never exposed to that can make some dogs not like to 'play'. And with some dogs that gets pretty severe and many of them never DO develop the ability to 'play'.
My Foxy the Mostlie Sheltie who I lost in Feb. at the age of 2 months shy of 19 was one of those dogs who never could 'play'.
He was literally TERRIFIED of toys when he was young -- and the whole concept of letting his guard down and 'playing' was totally foreign to him -- and I TRIED to teach him to 'play' as did my other dogs. NOPE. In fact it used to make him so nervous and uncomfortable that I stopped even getting him toys. Being confronted with them truly made him unconfortable and nervous.
As he aged I discovered that he was not only happiest when he was with me (as a young dog he was terribly 'needy' and clingy), but since he was a herding dog, when he was given a 'job' to do he was far more happy. Putting him in a situation where he could 'herd' things helped him -- but if the herded objects resembled toys -- NO WAY.
As he got MUCH older he finally began to see a few stuffies as cuddle things. Sliding a soft velour toy that didn't squeak easily under his chin or snuggled up next to him -- hmmm, that was ok.
After we lost Muffin the Intrepid (whom Foxy was bonded seriously wtih -- they would 'cuddle' and sleep back to back at night most often) Foxy was bereft and I honestly thot he would just plain slip away in his sleep (he was 17 1/2) out of sheer grief.
Aside from putting him in more formal obedience training (yep, at 17 1/2) and getting him more involved in pet therapy (which he loved) an interesting thing occurred.
My husband had gotten me a big stuffed sheepdog (not quite sheepdog real size but literally it was about as big as a 30 pound dog) -- it was something I kept on the bed and would toss off on the floor during the night.
Aha -- suddenly Fluffy the toy, became the surrogate 'best friend' of a lonely Mostlie Sheltie!! Many nights I found Foxy cuddled up next to Fluffy as he had with Muffin. Fluffy wasn't warm, nor was he 'real' but he WAS comfort!
My point is -- some dogs likely have either been abused as puppies or have simply lived such a hard harsh life, that there was NO time for 'play' as a puppy and as a consequence, the 'inner puppy' gets lost. That carefree part of a dog who simply revels in the joy of the moment of tearing something up, hearing it squeak and simply messing with it -- sometimes that part becomes 'lost'. Sometimes you can, with training and desensitization, recover it -- sometimes you can't.