Today’s topic is: Why your dog shouldn’t play with your other dogs. So first and foremost, let me say this. I think that it’s a good thing, in most cases, for your dog to play with the other dogs in your pack. I recently mentioned in the blog that maybe it’s a good idea for your dog not to play with senior dogs, though. Because sometimes those puppies tend to be a bit over the top and too much for old dogs.
Members of Your Pack
But again, I think in general, it’s a good idea for your dog to play with the other members of your pack. However, there are some instances why your dog shouldn’t play with your other dogs. You should know that I’m coming at this from the perspective of obviously a dog trainer. I help people train their dogs. And one of the things that I do is help people get their dogs to become more obedient. And so when I’m thinking about obedience, I’m thinking about four critical skills that we should teach them.
We should teach our dogs to stay where we tell them to, walk nicely on a leash, come when called, and play well with us and to a high degree. We should make those things incredibly valuable for the dog to do them when we tell them to do so. And see that statement right there. It’s a compelling statement because you want the dog to enjoy the training, and it’s our job as dog owners to find a way to make it as rewarding as possible. I know I’ve already talked about that, but you should make your training very rewarding.
So why take away your dog’s ability to play with other creatures that they get along with so well?
Inspiration for this Post
Let me share with you the inspiration for this post. So I was in a session today, and one of my clients brought their dog upstairs so we could begin to lay the foundation for that dog to learn how to come when called. The foundational game that I play is the treat toss game. I am working on that game a little bit by the way for those of you who have been following for some time. I’ve come up with some new ways to make that game even better and make your dogs less dependent on having to have food. I’ll have more on that in the future.
So we were playing with this dog. We were trying to get this dog to learn the treat toss game. We had hot dogs and many other really valuable things, and all the dog wanted to do was run away from us. He would run downstairs and to the room where the other dog was. It did not want to engage us, even though we had some very valuable food that the dog, in some cases, would take. The dog wasn’t nervous or afraid or any of those things.
He just preferred to hang out with the other dog, and that’s where it begins to create a problem. You see, if your dog is spending all of their quality time with another member of your pack, and you’re just watching it. Because, of course, it’s fun to watch dogs play. But you’re not the one that’s playing with your dog. It’s going to create a problem.
And the major problem that I see that it creates is that when you call your dog off of a very powerful distraction, they’re not going to come. And that could be a real problem for you and your dog. So what should you do about it? Well, it’s a tough one for sure. The advice I’m about to give isn’t the easiest to follow, but I have to tell you, it’s worked well for me and worked well for my clients.
So when I get a dog, I stop almost all of the play between my pack members when the puppies get a certain age. Some of you guys know that I have Jericho and Alpha right now and Jericho is the youngest. He turned seven months old yesterday. And the thing about that is I have to stop him from playing with the other dogs. Now, I’m already doing a nice job of playing with him daily, but I want to take away his ability to play with other dogs just by not letting him play.
I want him to be around the other dogs quite a bit, but I don’t want him playing and having the most interactive time with him. I want that to be specifically for me, and I’ll probably end up doing that for the better part of 12-18 months. That might seem a little drastic, and it probably is a little extreme by all accounts. But the goals that I’m setting for him are much different from those for most of the people reading this.
So in those 18 months, I’m going to develop one heck of a play relationship with Jericho. And then at that time, when he gets closer to two, if he’s doing well and coming off all the distractions that I’m calling them off of and we’re having a great time, I’m going to give him the privilege of getting to play with the other dogs again. But then, when I began to see that his recall begins to degrade and he doesn’t come away from the other dogs when I call him, that privilege goes away.
It’s a hard piece of advice, and it’s not easy for people to do. But I share it with you because if you take away that play and develop a play relationship with your dog, it gives you such recall ability on your dog. And it makes things much easier for you. But it does make a big sacrifice for each of us to create something like that.