Creating kinder, gentler experiences for pets


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Rules Of Fair Play When Playing With Your Dog
Here are four guidelines for appropriate dog play. These are basic rules; if your dog violates any of them, stop the play for at least 30 seconds. (Give the dog a "time out.") Train him or her to "play fair." Never permit aggressive play.

1)  No canine teeth shall grab skin or clothes.
2)  Humans decides the beginning and ending of play sessions (to retain leadership).
3)  Humans usually win. If there is a dominance problem with your dog, make sure you always win. (The leader controls the outcome.)
4) If the dog wants to play more than the human, redirect his energy into a chew toy.

Words to the wise

If your dog grabs your skin or clothes, claws you or starts barking or growling in a way you do not like, stop the play immediately.


Create a contrast between play and no play. Either leave the dog abruptly or use a drag line or leash to stop the play and have the dog sit and calm down for at least 30 seconds.


You may need to repeat consequences several times over a few days before your dog understands the consequences of rough play.


Schedule time each day to play with your dog. Routines are settling for dogs and help you to fit in quality time together.

Rotate two or three safe toys each day for self play and positive chewing.  Save a special toy for playtime with you.

Fun Games To Play With Your Dog

  • Tag: I touch you, then you touch me. (No teeth!) Kids especially love this game.
  • Fetch: Ball or flying disc. Praise anything close at first, then praise more specifically. Use 2 toys. Throw one, and when the dog returns, show him the other to get him to drop the first.
  • Hide and Seek: Can you find where I hid your bone (toy)? Can you find me? (At the dog park.)
  • Wrestling: This is the same as restraint and handling. The goal is to get the dog to "Give" in several different positions. Make sure you win at the end of the game.
  • Tug of War: Not with dominant dogs. Otherwise follow basic rules above. Use an owner designated toy.
  • Grooming: Pretend to prepare the dog for an appearance as the star of a TV commercial.
  • Explorer: Leash or harness the dog and discover wilderness (or your neighborhood) together.

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