Teaching Your New Puppy The Right Way To Play
Puppies can play rough. So to ensure a lifetime of safe and happy interactions, learn how to play appropriately with your new puppy from the start.
NORMAL PLAY BEHAVIOR In normal play, a puppy may play bow (lower its head and raise its hind end), present its front end or side to the owner, hold the front part of its body up, wag its tail, dart back and forth, emit high-pitched barks and growls, and spontaneously attack. Of course, even normal play can become too intense.
AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR Behaviors that may indicate a problem include prolonged, deep-tone growling; a fixed gaze; a stiff posture; and aggression that is situational or stimulus-dependent (not spontaneous). These aggressive behaviors may be related to fear, possessiveness, conflict, or pain. Talk to your veterinarian if your puppy is exhibiting these behaviors
NIPPING BAD PLAY BEHAVIOR IN THE BUD If your puppy plays inappropriately, here are the right ways to handle it.
WHAT NOT TO DO You and your family should never use physical punishment, such as scruff shakes, alpha rollovers, squeezing the puppy to the floor, thumping its nose, or swatting.
Monkey in the middle: An exercise in obedience
This game not only exercises energetic puppies, it also reinforces the basic commands of "sit" and "come," enhances name recognition, and teaches a puppy to run up and sit to get attention (instead of jumping up on people). At least two people are needed, and each person should have six to 12 small treats (regular puppy dinner kibble is usually adequate) at hand.
The two people sit opposite each other with about five to six feet in between. The first person calls "Skippy, come" in a high-pitched, upbeat voice. As the puppy approaches, the first person has the puppy sit for a treat. Immediately, the second person calls "Skippy, come" in a high-pitched, upbeat voice and has the puppy sit for a treat. Immediately, the first person calls again and has the puppy sit for a treat, and so on.
The distance between the two people can increase as the puppy becomes accustomed to the game—the people can even move into separate rooms, increasing the strength of the "come" command and the exertion needed to obtain a treat.
Remember, everybody wins when you take the time and effort to teach your new puppy how to play appropriately. You'll gain a well-behaved pet, and the puppy is more likely to remain a happy, important part of the family.
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