Healthy Dog Play
It can be hard to tell when dogs are playing appropriately! Here are some top tips for helping your dog and his buddies.
Healthy dog play includes a balance of back-and-forth, and dogs responding to each others’ stress signals.
Watch your dog and any playmate’s body language carefully. This will help you assess how each of them is feeling.
When one dog signals they need a break, the other should pause, reduce their intensity, or move away.
If the other dog doesn’t listen, it’s a good time to use your training tools (like recall) or separate them.
You can use leashes to separate, or treats! Only use treats with dogs who are not showing signs of resource guarding.
Put a treat to the nose of each dog and draw them apart from each other. Ask for sits if they know "sit" and feed multiple times for holding position.
Release them to play again with "okay, go play!".
If you find you're interrupting them more than a few times or you're worried about the intensity, it's a good idea to stop playtime.
Other times to separate include:
When one dog stays "over" another dog for more than a few seconds.
When chase is incessant, intense, or involves more than 2 dogs. (Beware group chase, especially at dog parks!!!)
When one dog is trying to hide or escape.
Dogs don't always make good decisions for themselves. (Just like people!) Even though a play partner may be being completely inappropriate or even scary/aggressive, some dogs will still choose to go back and play with them! Don't use a dog's willingness to interact again as a measure of whether play is appropriate. It's often not!
Need more help figuring things out? Let your trainer know and we'll do just that!