When Ray moved in with us in early 2013, two of his obvious issues were a lack of any social skills, and a distinct problem with other dogs.
We both had significant reservations about letting him play off leash with other dogs (albeit in an enclosed area) because there seemed to be a very fine line (to us not trained in these matters) between aggressive fun play… and simple aggression! We were not confident that we could tell the difference.
We were fortunate to have an indoor, and supervised, play area for dogs fairly close by and so we approached them regarding Ray’s circumstances. They invited us over and, after assessing Ray’s personality, paired him with a Leonberger to play with. The Leonberger immediately put Ray “in his place” and, having established the rules of play, they both seemed to have fun.
Sadly, Ray tested positive for heart worm shortly after that and so the priorities changed. Ray had to be kept as calm as possible during his treatment which prohibited any more play.
We recently had Ray playing again but, this time, it was in a small fenced area and his “play buddy” was a male Great Dane pup (Zeus) ! Zeus was (clearly!) significantly larger than Ray, but as we knew the pup and the owner, we thought it an opportunity to be explored. They played relatively well together for around 10 minutes and then things appeared to start deteriorating as Ray seemed to be getting more and more frustrated with this huge pup! We’ll try again another day.
We filmed a couple of minutes of play and, just recently, walked Ray to the Humane Society where we had arranged to meet his favorite trainer, and we could get her feedback on the video. Her observations were interesting. She noted that Zeus’ height allowed him to reach the back of Ray’s head without any problem, which Ray was not happy about as he kept moving himself out of range.
We know that Zeus was separated from his Mom very prematurely (I wish people would educate themselves before getting involved with breeding animals for additional income), and his social skills were negligible, but Ray could certainly help in that area! We also noticed that Zeus would often be licking Ray all over which was, apparently, likely to be a sign of appeasement.
In general, and given that it was their first meeting, she saw no reasons for concern so we are hoping to be able to arrange more play times with Zeus. Both dogs could certainly benefit from the experience!