A four-dog play-date

We hosted a springtime play-date, and these three good-looking dogs came over:

Loki, the Newfoundland

Four-dog play-date
Loki.

Josie, the German shepherd

Four-dog play-date
Josie. (I love her; she’s a little pocket shepherd!)

and Finn, the Llewellin setter (Finn’s first time coming over to play with us!)

Four-dog play-date
Finn.

I did not get any good photos of the play, so apologies. It was hot, so the pups were doing limited romping and lots of moseying around the yard, looking at each other.

Finn was a little bit nervous about the play-date, and Loki didn’t like him much. It was the first time I’d seen Loki testy with another dog, which was interesting. My best guess is that it has something to do with the fact that Finn is intact. Also interesting: Eden went into her first heat the very next morning after our play-date, but the boy dogs did not care about her at all. Finn was enamored with Josie (who is spayed) and could not leave her alone! Josie’s mama said, “I think she must smell nice to the boy dogs; they always love her.” Indeed! Josie was an all-star, just rolling with the punches, putting up with any brattiness from Eden (and reacting calmly when Pyrrha tried to start something with her). Good girl, Josie. Wish you would rub off on our crazies!

Four-dog play-date
The shepherd girls check out Finn, who is a little unsure of their advances.

As I alluded to above, Pyrrha did not attend the play-date, sadly. She did not interact well with Josie (totally Pyrrha’s fault, and not Josie’s), which was sad and surprising, as the two of them played together beautifully the first time they met. She got all up in Josie’s grill and started posturing with her (putting her head over Josie’s shoulders and giving a really intense, bug-eyed stare), which escalated into snapping and growling. I intervened quickly and put Pyr inside for the duration of the play-date. Usually it’s Eden that I’m more nervous about with new dogs. Sigh.

Pyrrha’s play style has changed since we added Eden to the household. She’s gotten more tense about other dogs in the yard and simultaneously more standoffish during play time. She still seems to enjoy having other dogs around, but she seems less at ease about negotiating introductions/greetings. After the initial meeting is over, Pyrrha is fine, and coexists peaceably — but if she can’t get over that initial hurdle, she just escalates her anxiety. I don’t know what this means or how I can help her.

It’s a very specific issue, but do you have any ideas what could be making Pyrrha more testy? Have you ever seen this play dynamic change when you added a new dog to your home?

Four-dog play-date

Breed love: English setter

English Setter
English setter at a show. Source: Flickr, user ChocolateLuvr

I’ve always found setters extremely pretty. They’re like the bigger versions of spaniels. The English setter is especially attractive to me because he is rumored to have a more laidback temperament than his more well-known and fiery redheaded cousin, the Irish setter. Unlike the Irish, English setters come in a wide range of exciting coat colors.

English Setters in the park...
A happy English setter. Source: Flickr, user pixeljoy

Like most sporting dogs, English setter puppies have tons of energy. This should not come as a surprise. They were bred, after all, to run in the field all day long. Setter puppies are also known for being happily destructive with their mouths, like retrievers and other gun dogs. English setters tend to be friendlier, more outgoing, and less flighty than their regrettably over-bred Irish cousins. For this reason, if I ever opted for a setter, I think I’d go with an English one. Just look how handsome they are!

We have friends in town who have a Llewellin setter named Finn and he’s a beautiful dog; looks quite similar to a young, speckled English setter. I definitely need to hang out with him more…

English setter links: