How to Play With Your Dog

Control the games, control the dog . . .

 

The kinds of games you play and how you play them will directly influence your dog's behavior. (See Good Games, Bad Games.) A large number of behavior problems seen in adult dogs can be traced back to the games they played as puppies. Do the games you play with your puppy encourage grabbing, biting or chasing?

"Having a dog is largely a matter of teaching the dog self-control. A good dog - and a safe dog around children - sits when he wants to jump, resists when he wants to take, and releases what he wants to hold onto. Anything you can do to foster that kind of control is for the best. Everything you do with your dog teaches him something! Make sure that the games you play foster the behaviors and attitudes you want ... Good games promote cooperation and control." - Sarah Wilson, Good Owners, Great Pets

 

DON'T OVER-STIMULATE YOUR DOG - AVOID COMPETING FOR THE PRIZE.
Avoid any action that might be mistaken as a challenge or teasing. Don't hover and pounce. Avoid games of keep-away, taunting the dog with the toy before it is thrown, wrenching it out of the dog's mouth after a momentary game of tug-of-war, and dangling the toy out of reach or behind your back to keep the dog from grabbing it away from you. These games increase rude, pushy behavior. These might be good ways to entice a shy dog to play, but should be avoided with a highly motivated, confident dog. A dog who enjoys playing these games with the adults in the family cannot possibly know that it isn't the same game when the five-year-old holds his peanut butter sandwich or favorite toy above his head. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dewey loves his ball!

 

 

YOUR DOG WILL HAVE TWO TYPES OF TOYS:
Pacifier toys - chew toys: the ones he should choose instead of your shoes or furniture. Interactive toys - balls, squeaky toys, tug toys: the ones that he enjoys playing games with you.

 

YOU ARE NOT A TOY.
Don't use your body or clothing as part of any game. Don't play games which encourage biting.

 

DON'T LET AROUSAL LEVELS GET OUT OF CONTROL.
The games your play should be fun, but not get your dog so revved up that he can't control his impulses.  Include starts and stops, relaxation periods, control cues (sit, down, wait) in between active periods.

 

USE YOUR BODY POSTURE AS WELL AS YOUR VOICE.
If your dog gets carried away, stand up so you are taller than your dog. Calmly ask for a stationary behavior. If the dog is trying to steal something from you, whether its his favorite toy or your T-bone steak, use quiet body language and clear communication. Don't squeal, don't pull away or raise the item above your head; this will encourage a chase response. Body block, interrupt, redirect.  Reward calmness.

 

PUT THE TOY AWAY UNTIL NEXT TIME
Reserve access to interactive toys to games with you to keep them fun and novel. Squeaky toys, balls, Frisbees, tug toys are stored away, not left on the floor. You select the toy. You decide when the game starts, what the rules are, and when the game ends. 

 

GAMES ARE TEACHING SESSIONS.
Retrieving games can teach control. Start with short throws on-leash. Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and WAIT cues in every game. "Sit!" "Wait" (toss the toy) "Get it!"-or-"Fetch!" "Bring it here!" "Sit"-"Out or Drop it." The delivery and release of the toy are very important. The dog should remove himself from the toy. Don't encourage games of keep-away.End the game when the dog is still eager to play, not when he's tired and decides to quit.  "OK., that's enough, good game!" 

 

 

Control games help teach cues and reinforce good manners. The rules are clear.  No going for the toy until permission is given. (Wait!)  No leaping for the toy when it is in the owner's hand (Leave it!), no jumping up (Off!), barking (Quiet!), leaping or lunging (Off - Sit!). The reward for playing by the rules is getting to engage in a great game with you.

 

 

This handout courtesy of © CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF"
Training for Dogs & Their People (509) 325-7833
ditr_training @ hotmail.com - http://www.diamondsintheruff.com

 

 

More about how to play with your dog:
Intelligent Diversions & Creative Play! 

 

 

Safety first!  Monitor all interactions between children and dogs.  Both need guidance to be successful.  They need your help to become good friends.

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Force Free Trainers of the NW
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Shock-Free Coalition
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© 1996 - revised 2018 by Diamonds in the Ruff.
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