Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lets Play!

It's been a busy Fall Session, classes are up and running and there are so many new doggie faces.  I'm excited to be working with so many great families.  Aside from teaching obedience skills I will be helping people learn how to properly interact with their puppies/dogs and this includes play.  I'm often asked 'What Is Normal Play Supposed To Look Like'?     I love answering this question and spend alot of time speaking to this at every class I teach. 

The average pet parent is unsure of what consitutes good play vs bad play.   I often witness people or children playing with dogs in very inappropriate ways, that can and often does encourage bad manners or aggressive behavior.   It's not uncommon for people to wrestle, tease, taunt, chase and torment their puppy/dog thinking it's 'play'.  What typically starts out as a 'game' often ends up with someone being hurt and the puppy/dog being confused about appropriate boundaries when playing with humans.   We want to discourage any type of rough play with young puppies, it teaches them to use their mouths too roughly, to grab, chase and basically treat us as if we were a toy.

A young puppy or untrained dog has little if any impulse control, so whipping them into a frenzy rarely has a good outcome.  What starts out as 'fun' often ends up with the puppy/dog being repremanded for hurting someone. 

There are  so many things you can do to play with your puppy/dog that don't include rough stuff.  A game of hide-n-seek is an all time favorite with most kids and dogs.   Make an agility course in your backyard and teach your puppy to run through a tunnel or weave in and out of poles.  Hide food treats around the house and let pup hunt for them.    Teach fun tricks and wow your friends and family.  Buy an arsenal of toys and play fetch.    Playing with your dog is a great way to teach obedience skills too.

For more ideas on building a better relationship with your dog through play, check out Patricia McConnells book Play Together Stay Together available on

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