I got a comment recently from Shiba Monty, a.k.a. Montasaurus about his adventures at the beach, including a new game called beach-tag-ball.
Shiba Sephy was exactly the same way when I took him to enclosed dog parks. He was not interested in playing fetch, but very interested in stealing fetch balls from other dogs, and then starting a fun game of catch Shiba if you can!
Not surprisingly, the other dogs got annoyed with him, started chasing him, and tried to correct him.
This got all the dog owners to join in and Sephy never had more fun in his life!
I decided soon after, that the unstructured environment of an enclosed dog park just did not suit a dog like Sephy. He was also starting to pick up more bad dog habits. In particular, he would get over excited, and redirect his frustration onto us when we tried to stop his Shiba craziness.
In addition, it was unfair to the other dogs because they would not only lose their fetch-ball, but also get alpha rolled by their owners for chasing after Sephy or showing aggression.
We kept a very close watch on our Thief Shiba but supervision alone was insufficient.
Once Sephy figured out that he can easily steal a ball to start a chase game, he just kept repeating that behavior. Since we cannot run as fast as a Shiba, the game continues for a while before it can be stopped, which rewards Sephy’s thieving behavior.
Using a long lead is unfeasible in an enclosed dog park because it will easily get tangled on dogs, bushes, and trees; ultimately becoming a safety hazard.
What worked best for Sephy is to let him play in a more structured environment, with fewer dogs.
I started going to my local SPCA, which had a nice enclosed play area. Sephy would get supervised play and training sessions with friendly SPCA dogs; one at a time. In this way, he got to socialize and exercise, but if he started showing any bad behaviors, play would stop and he would have to go on a mini time-out.
This worked very well for Sephy.
He started playing a lot better, he stopped redirecting his aggression onto us, and he controlled his level of excitement. Best of all, he still had a lot of fun, especially with younger dogs that liked to wrestle.
I also learned more about Sephy’s dog friend preferences.
- He does not like dominant dogs. Sephy does not try to dominate other dogs, but he will not submit to them either; however large or fierce.
- He easily overwhelms smaller dogs or dogs of his own size. Therefore, he prefers playing with larger dogs who are not intimidated by his more rough and tumble play style.
Shiba Sephy also had some fun one-on-one play sessions with Kai, an awesome dog who lived across the street from us. After we moved to a different neighborhood, I have not been able to find as good a neighbor as Kai, but happily, we have expanded our pack to include a second and third dog.
There are many ways to keep an active dog occupied.
Find activities that your dog can not only enjoy, but also learn from.
Learning is fastest and lasts the longest when combined with a good dose of fun.