DOGS HAVING FUN
Cyndi Lauper always sang about “girls just wanna have fun” back in the 1980’s. The world has not changed at all for dogs. Dogs having fun starts soon after birth. It may not be called fun but it is close to it. Puppy socialization starts at a young age. As soon as a puppy’s eyes and ears open at 14 days of age the game is on. Running around and chasing their tails or other siblings is part of the social development of a domesticated “pack” animal. Cats do the same but as they enter adulthood, are often solitary in nature; except when it comes to mating. Dogs are like people-gregarious. A lot of their social interactions and pleasures are derived out of being around one another.
In the wild a tremendous amount of this play behavior is beneficial when a group of animals, such as wolves, form a pack and go hunting. That playful, fun behavior translates into the ability to obtain food for survival!
PLAYFULNESS AND FUN ARE RELATIVE
Dogs having fun with each other is a relative term. What is fun for one type or breed of dog might be considered agony for another. A Maltese might consider it to be a lot of fun being carried around or sleeping on a sofa all day. Maybe, even chasing a hard rubber duck toy around the house. A Chihuahua might consider being pushed around in a stroller all day a lot of fun. Could you imagine a toy breed chasing a racoon or a big cat up a tree? No way! That would be a dream job for any type of Coonhound. Treeing a racoon or other big cat is what the breed lives for!
THE GREATEST JOY
If you were a dog, you would consider being around your human family to be the best thing that could happen to you. I think the greatest joy I ever saw in my patients was when they saw their owners for the first time after just a one night stay in my hospital! I always told people that time is an invention of man. Most dogs and cats do not wear an Apple® Watch. They do not tell time. People were so worried about leaving their pet for a two week vacation that I told them that your dog is going to be as happy seeing you in two weeks or the following day! Unless it is chow time, animals do not have any concept of time. Dogs having fun means being around their people and being a part of their human families.
THAT PARTICULAR JOY OF LIFE
There are occurrences that do make most humans chuckle when watching certain dog behavior but to dogs it makes total sense at the time. How many times have you watched a dog running around in its back yard wanting to chase a blue jay squawking overhead! In that dogs mind, it thinks it can fly! In reality, a dog’s territory includes the space around and above it- extending to the moon’s surface. It is being protective of its family. Can a dog fly? No, but it is fun watching them in that endeavor.
That joy of life extends to many dogs. I have yet to see any Labrador Retriever that does not enjoy swimming. I used to tell clients up north that the only thing that will stop a Labrador Retriever from having fun in the water is when it is frozen in the winter! The same joy is seen with dogs that were truly made for cold, snowy winters. Watching a Siberian Husky or a Newfoundland roll around in a snow drift is uplifting but to a human- quite bone chilling!
Playfulness and dogs having fun is all part of a dog’s social life. Deep down, I think all they want to be is human.