The importance of play can’t be underestimated. It ‘plays’ a huge part in the training of our dogs and strengthens our bond with them. Play gets our dogs attention. However, we need to bring our awareness of things that we do that sets up ‘bad’ behaviour in our dogs; unbeknown to many of us, many of our actions are actually initiating play.
Take for example, when your dog jumps up on the lounge or on us and our common response is to push them away with our hands. The pushing away action with our hands means ‘let’s play’ to our dogs. In our dog’s world ‘pushing with paws or boxing’ is a playful behaviour and usually encourages further play.
Another point, particularly with a young pup or adolescent dog is to refrain from chasing them. As much as they encourage you to chase them – it’s important you run the other way and encourage them to chase you. What happens when you need them to come to you or you need to put them on lead? You really don’t want them to run the other way. There will be a point in time where you can chase your dog but the best thing here is to teach them a cue that tells them, okay ‘I’m about to chase you’. For example, ‘run’.
Using your hands to play with your puppy and rough housing them is likely to cause your puppy to think your hands are toys and something to bite and play with. Use toys to play with your puppy and encourage them to bite at toys and not bite at your hands.
Tug is a great game to engage in with your pup or dog and a good game to assist with training behaviours. A couple of things I will note, is to please allow your dog to move their own head from side to side. Care needs to be taken when you’re doing the tugging and pulling and please avoid moving your dog’s head up and down. Care needs to be taken to prevent the potential for any neck injuries in this game.
Learn to watch your pup or dog’s body language. Our pups in particular can get over aroused in a short time span. Once this happens, they tend to spiral out of control and if they haven’t learnt the skills to slow things down and settle, the game all of a sudden, is no longer fun. Learning to finish the game before your pup gets over aroused is key and to let them know ‘all done’ (game is finished for now). If they do tend to get over aroused, it is very important to remain as calm as possible and remove yourself for a short time. Note, every situation will be different but remembering your pup or dog is relying on you to keep it all in control and to help and guide them.
That said……………………….have fun and enjoy them!