Examining the science of play in dogs and other species can provide an appreciation for “why” play may have evolved in the first place. What’s so special and interesting about play? It’s certainly entertaining to watch dogs at play, but is play always about fun and games or is there sometimes more going on than what meets the eye?
In this informative presentation, you will acquire the tools to recognize play in dogs and learn about why play is important in dogs and other species. Dr. Ward will discuss the different types of play with an emphasis on social play (i.e., play directed at a partner), the characteristics and structure of play, and what “friendly” or “good” play looks like between dogs. Here’s a spoiler alert though: good dog play is defined by the players, and it can look a little different depending on the participants and their relationship.
Social play can often be about fun and games, but not always. It can also be a way for some individuals to test the boundaries and limits of the relationship, but in a “less serious” or “lighter” context—the context of play. On one hand, social play can often be thought of as a dance between participants that helps to define and refine the relationship, but on the other hand, it can also be the expression of an existing relationship between participants.
In this presentation, Dr. Ward will draw from her own research on dog play, including information gathered over many hundreds of hours watching dogs at play. She’ll discuss new and interesting findings from the published literature on play and present case studies from her own behavioral consulting practice. Whether you are a dog guardian hoping to learn more about play in your own dogs or a behavioral professional looking for ways to help clients understand play in their dogs, this presentation promises to be fun, informative, and to offer thought-provoking insight on the science of play.