Are you wondering why you are about to read a blog that tells you how to play with your puppy? It may sound strange, but there is a “right way” to play with your dog if you want to help them grow up to be a properly behaved pooch. Playing is not just having fun, it is also behavioral training and is core to helping your pup feel safe in secure in your family “pack”.
When you are a dog owner and bring them into your family you are now their pack. Dogs are pack animals. This means that they will love and defend the pack. There will be a pecking order, and one person will the head of the pack, or alpha “dog”. You may be the alpa dog in your family pack. As the alpha dog, you have a responsibility to follow the rules such that your dog understands what is appropriate, and when. This keeps them behaved and feeling safe.
Do’s and Don’t of Puppy Play
TUG!-Dogs love to tug, it is instinctive to them. But there is a right and wrong of tug play. Shaking and thrashing is not good, however. Shaking and thrashing is “kill behavior”. This is what dogs do when they are trying to kill an animal they are hunting. When your puppy starts shaking and thrashing, play needs to stop.
Drop Command- Teach your puppy to “drop it” early on. Dogs love to play keep away but they also need to know that they must drop their toys, or whatever they have in their mouth…especially if it is your socks or your sun glasses. This is also a good command to have your puppy be responsive too because it can be a good tool when they too excited during playtime.
Toy Time- Your dog needs to know 2 things. 1. Toys are a treat and a reward. 2. Toys are not theirs. Making sure that your dog only has toys during playtime reduces territorial behavior and also encourages them to calm down when it is not playtime. Not all time is playtime!
Playful or Aggressive? – Every dog plays differently. Some like to bark and jump around, or play rough. Depending on the dog this may or may not be aggressive. If you know how they play with you, you can learn what is their playful behavior and what is aggressive behavior. This is important to know, especially when they are playing with other dogs or kids. This way, if you notice aggressive behavior you can remove them from the situation. If you are unsure about what is play and what is aggressive, you can ask your local Albuquerque Vetco vet.
Finger Chewing – Finger chewing is really cute, especially when your puppy is small and they have those little teeth. Unfortunately, this is also training your dog to bite. You do not want to have your dog bite anyone, so do not play with them in a way that says this is ok.
Play with your puppy the way you want them to play with you as a full grown dog. Yes, this might mean less chewing, licking, jumping and all that other cute stuff, but it also means less biting, licking, and jumping when they are full grown dogs.
For more tips be sure to check out the VetcoNM.com website or speak to your local New Mexico veterinarian by calling (505) 292-3030 during our normal office hours any time.