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ICAWC 2015 - The Power of Play - Alasdair Bunyan


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Play can be used as a highly valuable reinforcement, but in order to use play in our training a greater awareness of breed specific play styles and canine communication must be understood.
Alasdair will discuss the importance of play, play styles, appropriate and inappropriate play and thoughts on motivation and how to use play as reinforcement to both the handlers and dog’s benefit.

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ICAWC 2015 - The Power of Play - Alasdair Bunyan

  1. 1. Alasdair Bunyan Assistant Head of Behaviour and Training
  2. 2. “It’s fun to have fun but you have to know how.” The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
  3. 3. The Importance of Play • Practise social skills • Increase motor skills, coordination & problem solving abilities • Exploratory behaviour increases • Teaches communication without confrontation • Builds relationships built on fun, trust & compromise.
  4. 4. Designing and testing the function of play: – Play includes the individuals mental and emotional state. – Play behaviours are fundamentally similar to non play behaviours. – Everyone will read the behaviours differently making studies difficult (studies differ in interpretations). Difficulties in Defining Play
  5. 5. Lack of Play – An Emotional Marker • Medical Issue • Stress • No Social Connection • Fearful • Hunger • Lack of experience
  6. 6. Common Play Signals • Play biting, grabs. • Paw movements • Pouncing, ambush • Vocalisation • Play bows - punctuation
  7. 7. Types of Play • Social Play • Object Play • Play Fighting
  8. 8. Social Play Between 2 or more individuals (inter-species or intra-species) • Excellent Communication • Boundaries are Learnt • Role Reversal • Self Handicapping • Cooperation
  9. 9. Remember – Emotions can Change in a Second
  10. 10. Object Play • Allows an animal to explore novel stimuli with minimal risk. • Edible, ignore or interact? • Facial Dexterity? • May involve: pouncing, vocalising, guarding & killing of toys
  11. 11. Play Fighting • A means of refining the skills necessary for combat (Fagan, 1981). • Involves the use of species specific patterns of agonostic behaviours in a non-serious context (Fagan, 1981)
  13. 13. • Each dog or type will have specific play styles • Dependent on breed and previous experience Canine Play Styles • Genetics provide the potential - the environment creates the opportunity.
  14. 14. Mixture of Play Styles Please click the following link to view the video
  15. 15. Appropriate Play with Other Dogs • Roles should be acceptable to both dogs. • Healthy play self interrupts. • Correct and similar play styles • Physical space is respected by both • Relaxed, not rigid, enjoyable and FUN
  16. 16. First Play Session Please click the following link to view the video
  17. 17. Appropriate Dog to Dog Play Please click the following link to view the video
  18. 18. Inappropriate Play Please click the following link to view the video
  19. 19. DOG TO HUMAN PLAY The Frequency of play between two individuals is a measure of their mutual affection. Gunter Tembrock
  20. 20. • “Where there is no play, there is no relationship or meaning.” People who play sincerely with their dogs can’t help but develop a connection with them. (Lindsay, 2006. Miller, 2008) • We humans, if we’re not careful, can forget about the importance of having fun. We may fall into the trap of allowing others to do our playing for us (Miller, 2008) The Importance of Play With Humans
  21. 21. Successful Dog – Human Play • Eye contact and focus from the human • Eye contact from the dog alternates between toy and human. • Mirroring behaviour, lunges, running together, grabbing at toys, hand slaps may create a play bow. • Self handicapping during physical games (tug etc)
  22. 22. Tug Games • High Value Reinforcer • Help to Train and Build Retrieve • Can Teach Confidence • Can Teach Impulse Control • Can Teach Sharing
  23. 23. Play, It’s Personal • Empathetic • Reciprocal • Fun for both • It’s not about winning and loosing, it is the taking part. Please click the following link to view the video
  24. 24. Play Together, Stay Together P. McConnell Please click the following link to view the video
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