Teaching your puppy appropriate play with humans
Playing with your puppy is essential! It builds your relationship with him, teaches him control and is fun! However, puppies have sharp teeth, so play needs to be safe.
Follow the guidelines below to ensure that your dog plays by the rules!
1.Always use a toy! It’s unacceptable to allow your puppy to mouth your hands, clothes or hair or to wrestle on the floor – this is basically teaching your puppy to bite people when anyone plays with the puppy (for more information on this see "puppy biting and bite inhabition") . Use a long rug boy, a ball on a rope or other boy that keeps your hands well away from your dog’s mouth.
2. Teach your puppy to tug by holding the toy LOW TO THE GROUND and moving it as if it were a snake along the floor. Allow your pup to chase the toy, then pounce on it and grab it. Have a gentle tug game! It’s OK for your puppy to rug and growl – it just means he’s enjoying himself!
3. Now teach your puppy to drop the toy when you ask. After a tug game, keep your hand on the toy, but don’t put any pressure against it. Now offer your puppy a really tasty titbit so eat. It’s impossible for him to keep the toy in his mouth and eat the food as, so as soon as he drops the toy, say “Good” and let him eat the food. KEEP THE TOY WHERE IT IS! As soon as your pup has eaten the food, play again and repeat the routine. After three or four repetitions, most pups are dropping the toy voluntarily when they see the food coming. As soon as this starts to happen, say “Drop” or “Give” very quietly, just before your pup let’s go. This then leads to your pup dropping the toy instantly on one quiet command! At this point, you can just use the food as a reward from time to time, as being allowed to carry on playing is a reward in itself.
4. Your pup must abide by the golden rules of play. If he so much as touches your hand or skin with his teeth while playing, you say “Too bad” and the game finishes that instant! Your whole family need to be consistent with this!
Teach your puppy to play by himself
Puppies need to learn to play by themselves so that they can be occupied when you are busy or need to go out. Chew toys are best for this. Kongs or hollow toys that can be filled with food are perfect as they reward the puppy for playing at the same time as keeping him busy!
However, old cardboard boxes, and safe, empty plastic water bottles make great playthings for active pups which need novelty and stimulation.
This video shows how to teach any dog of any age how to use a Kong toy:
This video shows how in expensive items can be made in to interactive toys: