The fun police role may sound like a term that doesn't apply much to dogs, but as we delve deeper into the subject things start to make sense.
First of all, let's consider usage of this term in human circumstances.
The term "fun police" is indeed often used to depict somebody whose main role is to monitor interactions and intervene if things seem to be getting out of hand.
For example, at a rowdy party, folks who were having fun may remark in a complaining matter: "Here comes the "fun police" to ruin all the fun!"
When it comes to dog play, there are dogs who love to chase, dogs who love to wrestle and dogs who are just satisfied to watch other dogs play while carefully monitoring their interactions.
What is the Fun Police Role in Dogs?
Also known as hall monitor, the fun police as mentioned is used to depict somebody who ruins all the fun, but how is this term applied to dogs?
Interestingly, the fun police role term matches very well some dogs with particular traits that predisposes them to act in a certain way when around other dogs.
We're talking here about dogs who in a dog park setting, do not actively play among other dogs much. Instead, they'll carefully monitor play sessions carried out by other dogs by sticking by the edges of the dog park.
Their main "play style" therefore seems to entail following at a distance, repeatedly barking at the players, and swiftly intervening if things seem to getting a bit too out of hand for their taste.
Their interventions often involve chasing the offenders, barking at them and attempting to physically separate them when things start looking a bit too rough.
Some dogs take this even to the next level, possibly growling snapping and threatening to bite.
What triggers their intervention? Often, overly exuberant play or the first signs of a fight brewing may cause them to raise their yellow "penalty card" evoking them to get in between the dogs in an attempt to split things up or break up the fun.
Caution: While these dogs' interventions may be helpful to split things up when dogs seem to not play "by the rules," things can turn problematic when certain dogs don't appreciate their "fun police" intrusions and get tired of having their movement controlled.
Dog Breeds Prone to Playing the Fun Police
It takes a certain type of temperament to take the fun police role. These dogs need to be prone to taking a step back in play, and act a bit like referees, ready to raise their yellow penalty cards.
Dogs that fit the bill well are generally dogs with a history of herding livestock. These dogs indeed act in a similar fashion as working dogs when herding sheep.
You'll therefore see border collies and Australian shepherds often overrepresented in assuming the fun police role. However, you may also see several guardian breeds at times involved too!
That includes German shepherds, Dobermans and Rottweilers although it's also true that these breeds were too used for herding at some point in their past histories.
In general, the greater the dog density, the most these dogs struggle and get anxious, as they feel there's a lot of out of control behaviors to tackle.
The Problems of Dogs Playing the "Fun Police"
While these dogs' intent may be to prevent play from too getting rough or out of hand or separating dogs when they sense that a fight may be soon brewing, playing the fun police can trigger several problems.
Firstly, not all dogs are eager to have another dog barking at them and intervening to stop the play. A fight may therefore erupt in response to these dogs' "controlling" behaviors.
Secondly, when these dogs intervene, they may attract the attention of other dogs, further exacerbating things, considering that other dogs may join in and "gang up" possibly leading to a major group fight.
Thirdly, the more these dogs rehearse these fun police behaviors, the more these behaviors establish, causing them to potentially become these dogs' default way of interacting with other dogs.
It is therefore best intervening early upon noticing this tendency so to nip it in the bud. Keep your dog on leash when around other dogs or simply do not take him to places where dogs congregate and engage in rowdy play.
Also, it helps to train your dog a strong response to the "leave it" cue and reward generously when successfully redirected.