The domestication project is a study where we got to choose topics of any domesticated animals we wanted. My project was about how dog's age affects their play. I picked this topic because I thought it would be interesting to see how dog’s play changes depending on the age they are. I collected all of my data at the La Plata Humane Society.
What I found out was that it’s a healthy mix of how dogs play as they age. For example one of the dogs I played with Molly (she was 9) we played fetch for about 20 minutes and she showed no signs of slowing down and probably would have gone until she passed out. Whereas another dog I saw Millie (she was 8) did not want to play Millie is the type of dog that you snuggle to watch a movie with. The next dog that I played with Madison she was 7 had a lot of energy but didn’t want to play with toys. Madison wanted to run around say hi then run around some more. Next, I played with Eva (she was about 6 months) she had so much energy and clearly loved attention. Eva wasn’t keen on playing with toys but she liked being around people and being outside. The final dog that I saw Missy (She was around 2-3 months), she was happy to get her teeth into anything she could she also loved chew toys but didn’t like to share them she wanted them all to herself.
From all of the data, I collected the biggest thing I found was that some dogs are less interested in play but there are also dogs that still want to do it they just act more mature about than puppies do. The one thing that was consistent with the older dogs was that they were able to stay focused on what they were doing. For example, Molly stared at the ball the entire time we played fetch because she was ready to go. Whereas Eva was all over the place I, at one point I was walking with next to me and she saw a butterfly and jumped at it, missed then just ran off to do her own thing and this was the same with Missy. With Millie even though she wasn’t interested in playing Millie still paid attention. Madison knew we were there but did her own thing but she stayed on whatever that may be.
Some future questions I have about this are: How does breed affect play? Does how they were raised contribute to how much they play? Can other dogs determine if they like to play?
Those were probably the 4 biggest questions I had while doing this project.