Playing with Dogs: Games Have Rules
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Play is one of the most beneficial interactions we can have with our dogs, both for them and for us! Keep in mind, however, that we are always teaching our dogs about our relationship anytime we interact with them. And, like the rest of life... Games Have Rules.
This is not a detailed "how to" for playing various games with dogs, but rather some basic rules to play the games well, and in a way to avoid negative behavioral fallout.
Remember, no chasing! Chasing your dog TEACHES him to run away from you.
Excite your dog with his toy and toss while he watches.
Cheer and praise him all the way back to you.
Make a HUGE FUSS when he gets back! DO NOT grab at the toy - let him be proud of his prize for awhile.
Ask him to "give" with a quiet voice and a steady hand - don't confuse him into thinking "give" means "tug". If needed, trade the toy for a treat, then praise “good give”, until he gets the idea of releasing. OR you can use two toys. Toss the second toy thrown when the first toy is dropped.
Always quit before your dog does – this builds interest in the retrieve (a great motivational tool), and is also good leadership.
Tug of War is NOT a good game for children to play with new dogs, puppies, or teenage dogs.
Do NOT play too rough; you'll teach your dog to use his strength against you.
Always quit when you are ready. Use the same technique as with Fetch.
You should "win the game" 75% of time, meaning you keep toy after you're done.
NEVER play tug with non-toys, such as sweatshirt sleeves, gloves, etc.
DO NOT allow children, rough teenagers, or heavy-handed people of any age to rough-house or play-fight with your dog.
Always regulate how hard you play. NEVER encourage your dog to get "over the
Have an "off switch" cue. This can be “All Done!” or “Enough!”. Practice this until your dog will stop all play and mouthing when signaled.
This is not a game to be overdone, and should only be played with someone
the dog respects. If you’re not comfortable that you can control the game, don’t play it at all.
Julie Cantrell BSc, CDBC
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