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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Positive Leadership
The human stops and
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Introduction to dog toys

Toys provide the dog with mental stimulation, appropriate social interaction and self entertainment. Appropriate dog toys include such things as squeaky toys, dental ropes, balls, and tug-of-war toys. Initially, limit tug-of-war games to dental ropes to provide a positive introduction to chews that help clean the teeth.

Rules for dog play

There are "rules of play" for games between people and dogs. These basic rules apply to lighthearted play, as well as tug-of-war or any form of rough housing. These rules allow people to play tug-of-war and do not encourage aggression towards people later in life.
 
Rules are intended to give the dog a clear message that the human retains a leadership role during play.

The dog is not allowed to initiate the game. The human always starts the game, even if it is only a few seconds after the dog tries to get the human to play and then gives up.

Dog teeth are not allowed to touch human skin or clothing at any time or the game stops.
If this happens, stop the game for at least one minute, and then begin again. (Remember, you are the initiator). Or, set a "tooth on skin pressure limit." If dog's teeth place any more than minimal pressure, then yelp as if you are mortally wounded, remove the toy, and stop playing. This teaches the dog  not to nip. For puppies, the "tooth on skin pressure limit" is a starting point to teach bite inhibition. Once the puppy understands that any pressure by teeth on human skin is too much, begin the "yelping routine" for any contact by teeth on skin.

A rule of any game is that the dog must be willing stop playing and sit immediately upon your request.
If the dog is holding a toy, the dog must be willing to release it to you or to drop it immediately on request. If the dog does both, then the game can begin again. If the dog refuses, the human takes the toy away and stops play for a few minutes, completely ignoring the dog.


Introducing play toys

The key to introducing non-chew toys as a positive thing for the dog is, first of all, to play with them yourself.  Act excited and show interest in them. Put them in front of the dog and then take them away. Act like you are more interested in the toy than the dog. When the dog shows any interest in the toy, praise the dog. This is a good time to begin to consistently call the toy by one name, pronouncing it the same way every time. Many dogs learn toy names and will go and get them when requested. Keep a couple of toys out and available to the dog at all times.  Rotate the remaining toys to keep the dog's interest in them.

Safe toys


Do not give the dog discarded clothing to pets (e.g., old shoes) as playthings. This makes it more difficult for the dog to distinguish between household possessions and chew toys. Do not give the dog toys that have items that might be swallowed such as buttons or strings. Toys should be large enough and sturdy enough that they cannot be broken or eaten. This means that all chew and play toys must be indestructible by your dog.

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