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Ideas for non-aggressive puppy games

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  • Ideas for non-aggressive puppy games

    Hey guys! Does anyone have any good games for my 10 year old daughter (and us) to play with our 6 month old puppy? She's becoming aggressive and posessive (sp?). My daughter has been playing rough with her, i.e. wrestling, chasing, tug-o-war. She runs down the hallway on her hands and knees, and Dee-O-Gee practically rides her back. My husband and I play tug-tug with her a lot, but I'm afraid it's contributing to her aggression. We've decided no more rough play, or situations where she's pitted against tug-o-war. She enjoys playing football and fetch, but we're looking for other alternatives as well. She's not overtly aggressive, but the other day I was cleaning up a spot on my daughter's floor that she's obsessed with. Just licking licking licking like crazy! So anyway, I'm cleaning and she's wanting back where I'm now wiping, I say back up Dee-O-Gee and push her back with my hand on her chest. She came back at me and went to bite my hand. She wasn't playing, or overly excited, she was serious about it. She didn't break the skin, but I am taking this very seriously. And when I pushed her back it wasn't rough or hard...I was preoccupied with cleaning up the carpet. So immediately we cease and desist all rough play and such. She's gonna be a pretty big dog, so I wanna do the right thing and raise a happy, confident, pleasant dog. Any suggestions or advice? We got her from the shelter right before Christmas. Pretty sure she a Lab/Terrier. Thanks!

  • #2
    Hey Elise, good that you are jumping on this. (Don't want your next thread to be one of "those" threads...if ya know what I mean.)

    There certainly are more passive and mentally challenging games to play with your puppy...something like a "Hide and Seek", using objects or people, for one, but indulge me for a moment....

    It sounds like the puppy you have may well end up w/ the "bulk" of a Lab and the "game" of a Terrier, and that could be a real handful w/out an out-and-out Intervention of Obedience training.

    She's already been "testing" you guys, and so far it's clear that in her mind...she has "won" all of the tests, or that challenge she presented you with would never have happened at this age.

    I have not played a SINGLE GAME with a puppy of mine for over 25 years...that involved their mouth and my flesh. No tug-o-war, no removing a toy or object, no kissy face, NONE of it!
    Their mouth being close to my skin...better only happen when I put a food bowl down, and even that is after the "OK".
    It is a cardinal sin in this house...even IF it's an "accident", and all my dogs know reprimand will be swift.

    They are absolutely permitted to play all "those games" amongst themselves...just not w/ humans.
    As a result of my very strong feelings on this...I have had over 20 Sibes, 2 Staffordshire Bull Terriers, countless X-breeds (including mixes of GSD, Collie, Wolfhound, Airedale, Cocker) and never once...has a tooth so much as grazed the skin of a human around here. (Toenails...well, that's another story.... )
    Zero tolerance for mouth games or mouth challenges from dogs in my world.

    I think that mindset would be to your advantage right now, and it sounds like you've begun to draw your line in the sand.

    I can't stress enough how paramount I think a good Obedience course would be right now.
    You will be struggling with this clever dog for the next 2 years...and you've got to have her clearly understanding the language of what is permissible and what simply will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

    She sounds like she would be a good candidate for some Agility fun, and once you lay the groundwork on simple things like "Stay" can quickly progress to games like Hide-n-Seek, and retrieving and other games that she and your daughter can both safely and confidently participate in.

    By no means do I mean to come across as a Behaviour Expert...but after a lifetime of being surrounded by dogs,...I have figured out a thing or two, (one would hope!).

    Good luck, and I'm really glad you are taking this seriously because if you continue on this will not escalate. Good luck!
    Often it's not what you say, but how you say it.


    • #3
      Time to start play training. Think of all the things you might like her to do. Jump over an object, go find something, back up, lay down, sit, stay. Then start making up games that have the desired results.

      Examples; hide a treat in one hand and let her pick. Of course she'll get it right, so give her the treat. Then hide it somewhere else in the room...nothing too difficult, it should be easy to find, and tell her "Go find" and walk her to where the treat is. Increase the difficulty as she get the idea, then switch to a toy and do the same thing. As she learns, you can have a family member take the toy and hide in another room, and then ask her to "Go find."

      For "Go over" I'd just sit on the floor with my legs extended, and have the dog sit on one side. Toss a toy or treat away from you on the other side and say "Go over" just as the dog jumps up to leap over your legs to get it. Work your way up to substituting other objecs for your legs, and start making the dog sit and stay until given the command.

      Just use your imagination, and make it up as you go along.

      I'd also suggest you might start a little "Nothing in Life is Free" training, too. If she wants dinner, she has to sit and stay to get it. If she wants to play she has to wait until you've invited her to join in the fun. If she wants to go out she has to sit quietly and wait at the door until you open it and ask her to go through. If you allow her on the furniture she has to sit and wait to be invited up. She doesn't get to demand anything, and she doesn't get to decide anything. She has to earn everything in one way or another.


      • #4
        I am in TOTAL agreement with Sibes. I foster pitbulls and have for about ten years now. I've also owned a few. I never, ever play wrestle with them and I actually kicked a few guy friends out of my house because they wouldn't stop doing it with one of my puppies. No tooth shall EVER touch skin. That said, I still encourage games like tug-o-war with a toy. Some dogs just have that tugging urge. I just make sure I always win. I start training "Release!" from the very beginning. So if it doesn't look like I'm going to win naturally, I tell them to let go. I also train them so that as soon as the "Release!" command is given they also sit and wait. That way not only did you win the game, but they are not sitting calmly and waiting. It gives a bit of stability when the games start getting overly exciting.

        I know we always want to play with puppies but honestly a lot of the time even basic obedience training can be just as much fun for the dog! They're spending time with you AND they're getting rewarded. Good luck!