Rough Dog Play
Rough dog play isn’t necessarily a bad thing; healthy dog play can sometimes look rough and tumble and fierce. But when someone is asking this question we tell them to trust what they are seeing and feeling, that their dog is indeed probably playing too rough. Managing playtime with other dogs can be a real issue.
“I think my dog plays rough with other dogs. How do I manage it? Is it okay?”
An overexcited dog needs a break from the action. Dogs need us to step in at different times and remove them from a rough play situation, much like a referee or a parent supervising at the playground. Some dogs can only handle a couple of minutes of play with other dogs before ramping up and turning into an out of control dog. Other dogs are able to play nicely for long periods of time. It is your responsibility to be aware of your dog’s tendencies and be the referee for your dog. The time to recognize rough play and stop it is just before it escalates. This takes careful watching of your dog at play, something many owners simply do not do.
Manage Your Dog’s Playtime
There is no substitute for obedience training and practicing basic dog commands with your dog. Managing playtime by delivering a firm “No” from the sidelines takes practice. Being ready to actually step in with a leash and remove your dog from a situation, at least for a few cool-down minutes, is an essential owner action that can help avoid the rough dog play of an overexcited dog.
Dog parks are a great concept but unfortunately some of the dogs (and owners) you find there are not on their best behavior. Some owners feel that dog parks are a place for dogs to blow off steam, run free, and get charged up without much (if any) supervision. Going to a dog park often encourages rough dog play and can compromise all the dog training you’ve done to get your pet into a calm mind state. This can compel you to manage other owners’ badly behaving dogs, which may put you in a difficult conversation with those owners. For this reason, we do not recommend dog parks.
Learn to trust your dog and know his needs for respectful playtime. When you choose respectful play situations for your dog you are standing up for a key responsibility of pet ownership and the value of dog obedience. By advocating for your own pet you will begin to see more respect and appreciation in a relationship built on healthy play.