Play sessions with dogs can either be very relaxing or very stressful. Below are some guidelines to create easeful play sessions.
- Create your own play sessions in your backyard or your friend’s yard. You can also use a secluded safe fenced area without unknown dogs. It is much easier to keep the playful session fun and easeful away from the dog parks. At the parks you are not in control if people are going to bring their aggressive dog into the park. The larger the pack of dogs the greater the chances of a fight.
- Keep toys away. Toys are a reason to fight.
- Have treats out. Treats in a treat bag and a clicker. Intermittently ask the dogs to perform commands during the play sessions such as sit, down, come etc. C/T (click and treat) when the dog performs.
- Keep the numbers low. Two dogs total is the best place to start. Once your dog listens well with two dogs then you can try three and then four. Four to five is the max I would recommend.
- Have one person present per dog. If there is a dilemma it is much easier to take control of the situation if one person is in charge of only one dog.
- Allow breaks so that the dogs do not become overwhelmed. They need down time just as humans do. If they are not choosing to lay down. Take some time to put the dog in a crate or behind closed doors to allow him to relax / meditate for a little while.
- Read the book On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. Memorize and learn these calming signals. If you are not seeing calming signals in play then a fight is likely. See next week to get a good description of calming signals.
- If the dogs are getting over aroused. It is best to ask them to perform an obedience command such as sit BEFORE a fight arises. C/T.
- Never force two dogs to play together. If they don’t want to play together do not force it especially if they are not getting along.
The most important guideline is to pay attention. Never leave the dogs alone. Always have them under supervision where you are watching them and are present with them.
Best Training Wishes!
Johanna Teresi, Professional Owner and Trainer for Four Legged Scholars LLC