By Karen A. Soukiasian
For the most part, dogs play rough when they play together. For the most part, they know how to read each other, and rarely does it become dangerous. However, they must be taught how to play appropriately with their human handlers.
Of course, it would be ideal if this exercise could be put into practice while the animal is a puppy. That way, their self-control becomes more natural. However, it can also be effective when applied to an adult dog.
Normally, males, be it adult, teenagers, and boys, are the ones who encourage rough play sessions with their puppy or dog. What starts off as play nipping, mouthing, jumping, tug-of-war, or wrestling, almost certainly can get out of control. Then, the puppy or dog is punished for inappropriate behavior. In addition, it teaches the animal the inappropriate behavior of challenging their human. That is a serious mistake!
All games have rules. If you insist on play this way with your pet, there are a few important factors and rules you must be aware of, before you have a problem or even worse, a dangerous dog.
First, you must be in control at all times. You should not even start playing this way with your dog, until he or she knows, and immediately responds to at least five basic commands. They are: sit, stay, off, down, and enough.
If your dog does not respond at once, neither you nor your dog is ready for this type of playing.
Second, interrupt the play session often. Frequent time outs, some short, some longer, will keep you in control by preventing the excitement level from getting out of hand. It does not take much, for a dog’s adrenaline to kick into overdrive. As the handler, it is your responsibility to keep it in check.
Observe and know your dog. Usually here will be certain warning signs your dog will show, when it would be best for you to bring an immediate halt to the game, before someone gets hurt. Know your dog. Know those signs!
Third, your dog by no means, EVER wins. A dog that is allowed to win may possibly challenge the wrong person, such as another family member, unfamiliar person, child, or elderly person.
Fourth, you decide when the playtime begins and ends. It is up to you, to start and stop the play session on a positive note. If your dog persists on playing right now, you must curtail their demand by ignoring it. Only when they have regained self-control, should you commence with the session.
Finally, never allow anyone to play rough with your dog, until they have demonstrated they can effectively control him or her with verbal commands.
Bottom line: Most dogs naturally play rough with each other. That’s fine. Nonetheless, these rules may also be applied with dog-to-dog play.
Behavior modification is expensive. It is not always certain. Responsible dog trainers strongly recommended that you do not encourage this type of play with people. There are plenty of creative and productive ways you can physically interact with your dog.
However, if you decide rough play is what you want to do with your pet, learn how to do it correctly, effectively and consistently.
It could be the difference between a dog that is controllable and one that is dangerous.
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