We all know that dogs are loving creatures, and research has once again proven this to another extent. Previous studies have shown that male puppies often let their females counterparts win at playtime on purpose. This suggests that male puppies appreciate much more the opportunity of playing over winning or showing dominance.
Male puppies are such gentleman’s, in fact, that they often times even bow at females as an invitation to play. Camille Ward, the author of book titled Relationship-Based Dog Training and a lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychology, describes it as “A play bow is a signal that dogs use when they want to communicate playful intentions to a potential play partner.”
Ward, along some of her colleagues, performed a study done with four puppy liters from varying breeds – Dobermans, Labrador Retrievers, Alaskan Malamutes, and a Shepherd mix. They carefully studied their behavior since the ripe age of three weeks up until they turned 40 weeks old. Amongst their many conclusions, the scientists found that female puppies are much more likely to initiate playtime with fellow females, while male puppies go to greater lengths to capture their female companions’ attention while playing.
Some observations that surprised the group of scientists was the way in which male puppies would change their play techniques when playing with females – they acted differently and much more vulnerable than when playing with fellow males. When playing with females, for example, the male puppies often licked the females’ muzzles, giving them the chance to bite them in the defenseless position. Furthermore, despite being much more eager to play with females than other males, the male puppies also dropped to the ground on several occasions – a position that leaves them susceptible to being playfully attacked on.
After analyzing the different techniques male puppies had while playing with females instead of other males, the scientists began wondering why exactly did the dogs choose to change their ways, and their conclusions may just surprise you. The scientists, taking into consideration what they previously knew from wild, undomesticated dog populations, reached the conclusion that “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,” as explained by Camille Ward.
In simpler terms, male puppies make themselves vulnerable while playing with female puppies despite their physical advantage over them because they want to build lasting and closer relationships with them, with the hopes of them becoming their mating partners later on in life.