Okay to Growl in Play?
Confounded by your canine
Frustrated by your feline?
Pet expert Arden Moore – America’s Pet Edu-tainer™ — is here to deliver the real truth about cats, dogs…and you, with her column appropriately called, “Oh Behave!”
Pet Behavior | Okay to Growl in Play?
Q. When I play fetch with my 2-year-old Golden Retriever, she sometimes lets out a little growl when I reach for the ball. She looks at me sideways, seems to have an open-mouth grin, puts her butt high in the air, and stretches her front paws out. Even though she is growling, is she being playful? Or challenging?
A. From the body postures you describe, your dog is thoroughly happy to be playing with you. She is showing you the “play bow” position (front legs splayed out, head lowered, rear end elevated). Her alert expression and throaty noise are friendly invites for you to continue trying to grab the ball from her and tossing it. She regards you as a valued playmate.
Playtime with your dog provides a golden opportunity to improve your communication and practice good manners. When your dog is in a playful mood, use the chance to reinforce some basic behaviors, such as sit, wait and leave it. Have her heed these cues before getting a reward, in this case, the tennis ball. Finally, you decide when the game is over, not your dog. This reinforces your position as leader.
Savoring Sleepy Times
Q. My cat, Chuckles, is quite the jokester. He loves to play and dash around the house. He also insists on trying to perch his big body on the narrow window ledge in the living room. He is always jumping up and falling off. Why does he insist on trying to sit on a ledge that is clearly too narrow for him?
A. Chuckles knows where he can view the best action in the neighborhood. Cats are nosy neighbors. They love to spend hours eyeing what’s happening in your yard and at the next-door neighbor’s yard. Chuckles is clearly telling you that he wants to check out what’s going on outside your living room window. He probably wants to see birds, squirrels and other critters.
The easy solution – and one that can still blend into your home decor – is to install a window ledge that can handle his wide girth. Don’t worry. You won’t have to do any drilling or poke any holes in your drywall. Many sturdy, stylish window ledges fasten securely with suction cups and sticky strips. They also feature plush or fleece-lined covers that come in a variety of colors and can be easily machine washed.
If you don’t want to add a cat perch to your windowsill, consider placing a cat post with a platform next to this favored spot so that Chuckles can sit in comfort.
Treating Chuckles to a comfortable perch or post in the living room benefits both of you. He gets to occupy a lot of his home-along time scouting the neighborhood and he will be less apt to perform any unwanted behaviors out of boredom. While you are at home, he may even meow you over to catch a glimpse of a rare bird or to check out the funny socks that your neighbor is sporting.