While it may be hard to imagine when you are watching the dogs run and play, it is not complete chaos. We do have a few rules for the dogs.  One of those rules is that they aren’t allowed to  be a “Third Wheel”. A “Third Wheel” is basically a third dog that wants to get in on the play that two dog have already started.

Play between dogs is best when it is just 2 at a time.  If you watch 2 dogs wrestle, you’ll start to see their game has natural ebbs and flows. They will wrestle for a bit and then take a break.  Often that break lasts only a second and the dogs just pause briefly. Other times, it last a little longer and one dog might even get up and have a drink before coming back to the game.  These breaks are the dogs’ way of making sure that the play doesn’t keep getting more and more excited.  Essentially, it keeps their game of play fighting as just that, a game.

Third Wheel 1 2 Daycare Rules   Third Wheeling

One of the problems with a “Third Wheel” is that they tend to jump in during the breaks. So while one dog in the original pair is taking a break, the other dog is now busy wrestling with someone else so they don’t get any down time.  Eventually the dog that is constantly wrestling is going to have himself quite worked up, or the opposite might start to happen, and the dog might start to feel overwhelmed.  Either way, it isn’t a good situation.

The other problem with Third Wheeling is that it can take the balanced play of two dogs and bump it up over the edge of fun and into the “not so fun” category.  So in the case of the image below, Chuck and Rex are wrestling and Sako has tried to jump in to play with Rex at the same time.  In this case, Rex didn’t seem to notice or mind and I stopped Sako right after I saw it start to happen so that it stayed that way. If I’d been paying better attention, I would have noticed him coming up on the two of them and called him away and distracted him before he even had a chance to nibble on Rex’s back leg.

Third Wheel 1 Daycare Rules   Third Wheeling

Poor Sako. He is getting picked on in this blog post, but he isn’t alone in his third wheeling activities. It is something we are CONSTANTLY watching for and CONSTANTLY stopping.  Two dogs playing can be quite exciting to the other dogs and you can’t blame them for wanting in on the fun. The key is to direct them towards another dog that is also in the mood to play or to distract them until the wrestling match is over and then they can take on the “winner” in the next bout.

Third Wheel 1 3 Daycare Rules   Third Wheeling

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