Puppy Play

09/02/2022

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PUPPY PLAY

Giving your puppy the chance to interact with other dogs is important if they are to grow up well adjusted and not over-excited or fearful around them. Seeing your puppy play happily with others can be a wonderful experience. However there are a few things you will want to look for to make sure that it is a good experience for everyone.

Make sure you have a secure area where your puppy can interact off the lead safely. Have objects of interest in the area so that puppies have a chance to explore other things if they’d prefer to, and the focus isn’t only on the other dogs.

Watch for your puppy’s body signals – are they enjoying the interaction? Can you see a loose wiggly body, lolling tongue and lots of role reversal in play?

Or do they look worried – showing a lowered body position, attempting to turn or move away with whale eyes showing?

You will often see some of these signals when dogs interact and you don’t need to jump in right away to interrupt things – often well socialised dogs will respond to these signals by moving away or changing the pace of the play and it’s important that your puppy has a chance to learn this.

However if you are noticing that one puppy is always the one doing the chasing or they are getting a bit boisterous and are worried about another puppy not being happy interrupt things for a moment by holding onto your puppy’s harness and see what the other puppy does. Do they come back for more or walk off to do something else?

If they leave, it’s a good indicator that they’ve had enough so it’s a good time to put your pup back on the lead and do some other things together instead like toy play or training games.

Sessions like this will help your puppy to learn good social etiquette and ensure you also know how and when to intervene to keep your puppy and others safe and happy throughout. You want to have a selection of playmates of all ages for your puppy to get to know but don’t be tempted to let your puppy interact with every dog they see.

It’s important to also make sure that your puppy practices being around other dogs that they don’t get to play or interact with. This will prevent them building an unrealistic expectation that all dogs are playmates, which could lead to unwanted behaviour like excessive barking and frustrated lead biting when they can’t play.

Remember, always actively supervise play between dogs and be ready to intervene if you need to.

Keep sessions short and fun for all.

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