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Playgroups

Consent Test SOP

Consent tests are a tool to help handlers test whether dogs involved in play are consenting and having fun. When you are unsure if one of the dogs is enjoying the play, the best way to take out the guesswork is to test your hunches. 

EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • Leashes and harnesses - to assist with consent tests (optional)

  • Food rewards - for after performing a consent test 

PROCEDURE TO ASSESS PLAY

How to perform a consent test:

  • Call away or restrain the pushier player using one of the following options in order from least to most invasive, as follows: Do NOT restrain the other dog. (see How to Intervene in Play)

    • Call away the pushier dog using a positive noise that will attract the dog such as a happy voice, whistle, or squeaky toy;

    • Restrain by stepping on a leash to restrict movement (if dog is dragging a leash);

    • Restrain by holding harness or collar;

    • Restrain by gently grasping the dog’s back end just in front of the rear legs.

  • If the other dog seems to need more space, encourage or gently move the “pushier” dog away a few steps.

  • Observe the other dog’s response. The other dog should not be restrained in any way so that you can observe what they choose. (see below, test outcomes, to evaluate the other dog’s choice and decide what to do with the “pushier” dog. ​

How to assess the test outcomes: 

Watch the dog that you were concerned wasn’t having fun.

  • Does the dog take the chance to get away now that his playmate is restrained? Then assume this means the play was not mutual. Prevent or interrupt (with consent tests) any similar play between these two dogs for the rest of the play sessions. Redirect the more enthusiastic playmate to another activity or another playmate using a happy voice. Gently guide him to another area of the yard if needed.  

  • Does the dog take the opportunity to lunge, growl, or snap at the other dog? This also indicates he was not having fun. 

  • Does the other dog come back soliciting more play? Then let them go back to play!

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