Many dog owners don’t know how to facilitate safe and friendly play for their pet with other dogs. It can be particularly easy for new owners to misunderstand the difference between innocent play and dangerous, aggressive behavior. By keeping the following three points in mind as you introduce your dog to potential playmates, you will be better prepared to help your dog successfully interact with his peers.
Allow Young Dogs to Learn from Their Elders
Young dogs often learn how to play well with other dogs by watching their elders or their peers play. If possible, expose your dog to such behavior at a young age to facilitate their education, but do keep in mind that the natural personalities of some dogs prevent them from learning by example.
Train Your Dog in Advance to Respond to Your Commands While in Social Situations
Being able to command your dog to come away from a play situation that is escalating and becoming too rowdy is extremely important. Teach your dog a recall command that they reliably listen to before introducing them to other dogs. If the group becomes agitated, command your dog to come back and allow all of the dogs to calm down before allowing your dog to reintroduce himself to the group. If you need help training your dog to respond to such a command, your veterinarian at your pet vet clinic can provide you with helpful pointers or refer you to local dog trainers who can help.
Acquaint Yourself with Your Dog’s Body Language
Even when play turns into roughhousing, dogs use their body language to signal that they are being innocently playful rather than truly aggressive. As an owner, recognizing your dog’s signals can prevent you from interfering with their play unnecessarily. Certain actions known as displacement behaviors, which include yawning, sneezing, sniffing, licking, play bowing or itching for short periods of time during play, signify that your dog is still being playful and that intervention on your behalf may not be required.
Professional training and advice from experienced dog trainers can help dog owners form good habits at home and build the confidence to allow their dogs to enjoy safe play. Contact us at Sunset Veterinary Clinic so we can connect you to a professional trainer.