Appropriate Play

09/02/2022

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APPROPRIATE PLAY

As your dog is going through adolescence their body will be developing rapidly but often it takes a while longer for them to socially and emotionally mature. Teenage dogs need continued appropriate socialisation and careful exposure to the world around them as they develop to ensure that they grow up to be well rounded adult dogs.

If you are thinking of letting your dog interact and play with others then there are some important things to realise about appropriate play etiquette between dogs. You’ll need to match your dog to others in terms of their size, play style and energy level so that each dog enjoys the experience. Some dogs love to chase and be chased, other dogs enjoy making body contact or wrestling. Your dog’s individual play style will depend on several factors, including their breed, social history and individual character.

Good play, no matter the style, should look loose and wiggly. You should be able to see crescent shapes in the dogs’ bodies as they move and there should be some space between each dog as they move back and forth. The dogs should take turns to chase or be chased, be on top or roll underneath. When dogs are well versed in play you should also see moments where they disengage from the game and do something else to calm themselves down again, like sniffing.

Often adolescent dogs have not had a chance to practice this enough to naturally moderate their own play so it’s important that you help them to do this by giving them a break between bursts of play and keeping sessions short – no more than 5-10 minutes including breaks.

If you start to see the play speeding up, think it is becoming one sided or notice any stress signals in either dog, take a break and move to a distance that will help your dog to relax.

Creating a chance for your dog to experience appropriate play with a selection of social dogs as they grow up can help them learn useful skills but be mindful and set your dog up for success by only putting them in social situations that they are ready for.

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