Puppy PlayNow this is just too cute! We always say that you can learn much from dogs and animals and this latest study shows that yet again that dogs, just puppies even, have much to teach us. Ok, so maybe it sounds sexist, letting girls win or come first in this day and age of PC, but I am a bit of a believer in old fashioned manners and etiquette.

In this study out of the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan, which studied ‘play data’ from puppies between 3 and 40 weeks old from four dog breeds: a shepherd mix, Labrador retriever, Doberman pincher and malamute. They examined how the puppies played with members of their own sex as well as with the opposite sex.

What they found was that young male dogs playing with female pups will often let the females win, even if the males have a physical advantage.

Male dogs sometimes place themselves in potentially disadvantageous positions that could make them more vulnerable to attack, and researchers suspect the opportunity to play may be more important to them than winning.

The gentlemanly dog behavior is even accompanied with a bow.

“We found that self-handicapping tends to occur in conjunction with play bows,” lead author Camille Ward said. “A play bow is a signal that dogs use when they want to communicate playful intentions to a potential play partner.”

Females were more likely than males to initiate play with their own sex, but that may be to stave off more vicious behavior later.

“Because adult female-female aggression, when it occurs, can generally be more intense than female-male aggression, we suggest that females may use play with other females as one way to practice threat and appeasement signals that may serve to ritualize aggression and limit overt aggression later on,” said Ward, whose findings are published in this month’s Animal Behavior.

While males were less likely to initiate play with other males, they seemed eager to play with females, and would go to all sorts of lengths to keep the play going.

The male puppies, for example, would sometimes lick the muzzles of their opponents, giving the female a chance to bite them in a vulnerable position. They would also even completely drop to the ground from a moving, standing or sitting position, looking like a boxer down for the count.

They might lose the game in the short run, but they could win at love in the future.

“We know that in feral dog populations, female mate choice plays a role in male mating success,” said Ward. “Perhaps males use self-handicapping with females in order to learn more about them and to form close relationships with them — relationships that might later help males to secure future mating opportunities.” (Discovery)

Maybe this is something else that dogs can teach us, in our crazy world where everything is supposed to be even and equal and all most people want to do is just get ahead of everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with people being equal but there’s also nothing wrong with some old fashioned manners. so learn from the puppies, give a bit now and you may come in way ahead in the longrun! 😀

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