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HAIRY Blog

PUPPY PLAY TIME - are you getting it right?

By HAIRY POPPINS, Jun 28 2020 02:25PM

There's nothing cuter than watching puppies run around together - chasing each other, rough & tumble and puppy bundles!


But we need to remember that not all puppies enjoy this type of interaction. They won't "just learn how to play" if all of their early experiences with other dogs are overwhelming them .... All that puppy is learning is that other dogs can be a bit scary & are to be avoided and if he can't escape / no one helps him then you'll leave him no choice but to deal with the situation himself.


So, what might your puppy do if he isn't enjoying the game?


Well, firstly, he'll likely try to avoid the situation. He may run away from the other dog (and this must not be confused with "oh, he loves being chased!") If your puppy is running for his life, too fearful to stop, whilst another dog chases after him then its unlikely that hes enjoying the experience .... Can he stop if he wants to? Does he run under a table / in to a corner? Does he run back to his human? Does he get a turn of being the chaser rather than always being the chase-ee?


Secondly, if avoidance doesn't work and the other dog just keeps on & on then you may leave your puppy no other choice but to put on his Boxing Gloves and fight back .... This is where the growly / snappy / biting puppy comes out .... He didn't want to snap .... He tried moving away ..... But, no one listened ..... The other puppy didn't listen (because he's only a puppy himself & is still learning and his human didn't listen because he stood there laughing saying "Well, I'm socialising him, hes got to learn")


If you are ever in any doubt then use "The Consent Test"


Hold on to the puppy doing all of the chasing for a few seconds.

What happens? Does the other puppy move away, wiping his brow, breathing a sigh of relief that he can finally escape this "game" or, does he come back in for more, trying to start the game over again?

This will give you a good indication as to whether your puppy was actually enjoying the game or not.


How about if you own the super confident puppy that always bundles straight in there, bouncing around with the others, climbing on their backs, play-biting on other dogs ears & tails?

What is this puppy actually learning?

How to be a well mannered, social, adult dog that "loves to say hi & loves to play"? Or, is he actually picking up some inappropriate social skills? Is he learning that playing roughly is rewarded (because no one is stopping him so the "reward" is that he can continue to play like this)

Do you really want your fully grown, adult dog to believe that its OK to run up to other dogs and bundle them? He may do that to the wrong dog one day!

Of course, we love our puppies to play and have fun but always be prepared to step in and stop the game if your puppy is becoming too rough .... Its not up to the other dogs to train your dog. Its your job!


Matching puppies up to suitable play mates is really important, too. We all have different personalities & different social requirements.

Some people (or puppies!) will love busy events, meeting up with lots of friends regularly, going out in crowds etc. And some people (& puppies) will much prefer meeting up with just one or two friends for a chat and going to a quieter events .... I much prefer meeting up with just one or two friends for a coffee rather than going out with a crowd to a busy Club. Just because you force me to go to a Club every single day doesn't mean I'm going to ever learn to enjoy it - its not me!


So, find suitable play mates for your puppy.

If your puppy is quieter, nervous or doesn't like to play too much then matching him up with other calmer puppies or older dogs will be so much better for him and will really help his confidence to grow without ever having to feel scared or overwhelmed ..... Isn't that a far nicer way to socialise your puppy??


Puppies brains are like sponges at this age. They absorb so much information and they are learning all the time. Be sure your puppy is learning what you want him to:


*Its OK not to be friends with everyone you meet.

*Its OK not to enjoy being chased / playing roughly.

*Its OK to enjoy smaller, calmer, social interactions.

*Its NOT OK to "bully" or play too roughly with other dogs.


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