The science of dog-dog play and why play matters for improving human-canine interactions

Scientists and industry professionals alike are recognizing the importance of play in an animal’s repertoire. As play is actively being used practically in training and in enrichment across a wide range of species (including canines) it is important to understand how environmental and lifetime factors as well influence play dynamics between dogs themselves. Findings will be presented on how different environmental (e.g., size of play area) and social factors (e.g., human discouragement, owner encouragement, the behavior of another dog) influence dog-dog play with pet dogs in owner’s homes, public dog parks, and animal shelters. In addition, we will see how dog-dog play interactions - as opposed to human-dog interactions - influences adoptability and welfare perceptions of shelter dogs. The findings presented here will provide attendees with a more comprehensive understanding of the science behind dog-dog play — and give insights as to why it matters for promoting positive human-canine interactions.