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Do’s And Don’ts Of Roughhousing With Your Dog

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Should people roughhouse with dogs?

I love to rough house with my dogs. However, there are rules to make sure everyone is safe.

  1. First, you initiate. The dog should not start until you let him know it is okay.
  2. Mouthing is allowed as long as he is not biting down. If he bites too hard, all play should stop. Mind you though, accidental marks will happen.
  3. He needs to stop when you tell him to. If he does not, ignore him and be boring.
  4. Remember you control when you paly and how rough you play.
  5. Always supervise your dog with children. They are small, and accidents can happen.
  6. Always stop play if your dog is being too rough for you.
  7. Your dog can learn how to play differently with each member of the family.
  8. Never hold the tug above the dog’s head. It can hurt their throat.

ALWAYS supervise children playing with dogs. Accidents happen. Your dog could easily bite too hard and hurt your child. Your child might not be able to read your dog and know when the dog has reached a level or arousal that is not appropriate.

  1. Put roughhousing on cue. This way, the dog or the puppy know when to start. This will prevent them from trying to play with just anyone. I use “Get me” or “Let’s kill this” if we also have a tug toy. It is essential that your dog does not roughhouse without you first telling him that it is okay.
  2. You can decide if you want to allow your dog to mouth on you or bite you during play. I let my dogs to put their mouth around me but not to bite down. If there is any pressure, we stop playing altogether. I say “Oh No, all done” and just walk away from the dog or puppy. This way you control how hard a bite is allowed.
  3. You control what level of arousal you will allow in your dog. If you think your dog is getting too excited or little bit too aggressive, stop playing. You should be in control the entire time. Also, watch yourself as well. If you are starting to scare your dog, please stop playing. It is not fun for anyone at that point, and you are jeopardizing your relationship with your dog.
  4. Growling and vocalizations are allowed as long as everyone is comfortable with them and your dog is not getting overly aroused.
    1. “Dogs often growl during friendly play with other canines. This type of growling is higher-pitched and shorter in length than other growls. Watch for the proper play signals in your canine to ensure the interaction is friendly and conduct frequent breaks in play to keep arousal levels low.”
    2. This is simply a common way that dogs express their emotions verbally. So be sure to consider their body language, facial expressions, and other behavior about the growling sound before you assume that it is hostile. For most dogs, growling is part of play – even with their pets – and not a reason to worry. However, if the dog has taken on an aggressive posture while growling, then you may wish to be concerned about a fight.
  5. You control when the playtime is over. I tell my dogs “All Done” (yes, the same thing as their release word for “stay” and “wait”) this lets my dog know that they are doing what they were doing. If your dog or puppy do not stop playing, just walk away and be BORING!

Dogs do not generalize; this means that they cannot and do not know that all rules apply in every situation. Each situation is different to them. This means that dogs know that with dad, anything goes, with mom I am not allowed to mouth, and I am not allowed to roughhouse with kids at all. Dogs and puppies can easily learn different rules for different members of the family.