Um, how do you play with a puppy?

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Um, how do you play with a puppy?

This is a discussion on Um, how do you play with a puppy? within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Perhaps I am uncreative or have lost some sense of joy in my life, but, um, I'd love some suggestions on how to play with ...

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Old 06-28-2012, 06:24 AM
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Um, how do you play with a puppy?

Perhaps I am uncreative or have lost some sense of joy in my life, but, um, I'd love some suggestions on how to play with or even just interact with Calypso (3 month old Bichon). Of course grooming and rudimentary obedience,and occasionally I can interest her in a few rounds of fetch and gentle tug. But things like trying to pet her or even just sitting next to her quickly turn into my hands and shorts are a chew toy. I try to redirect, but she gets going and I can't stop her except by disengaging. And that's usually the end of a playtime; it seems like once she's gotten interested in my hands as playmate she won't engage with me through a toy. Obviously I don't wrestle or roughhouse with her, I suspect it's just that my hands are wiggly and they are mine, whereas toys are not part of me.

These are absolutely play nips, not aggression, and fortunately she has excellent bite inhibition (go breeder!).

Right now she is in a phase where her crate is like Xanax but she will not settle down outside it (y'know, a puppy ), so clearly not old enough for "us time" to be cuddle time. I would love some suggestions on how to play with her without me getting frustrated and/or Calypso learning that playtime=don't get what you want time. Obviously this is largely a matte of her simply growing up, but how do we make it to that point without raising a dog who feels neglected and attendant bad behaviors?

(Puppy books 8I've looked at just talk about "fun alternatives to wrestling, like fetch", which is unhelpful).

The last time I had a puppy I was in elementary school, and even that dog <3 was significantly older when we got her).

Last edited by Sundog; 06-28-2012 at 06:27 AM.
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:57 AM
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It is never too early to discipline a puppy. If she bites you when you don't want it, just gently correct her and if she does something you're okay with, you can just leave her be.
Make her realise she has to be gentle with her playnips, seeing as puppyteeth are sharp and hurt a lot haha. Once she knows how to be gentle, you can use your hands to play games with, like gently tapping her nose and just teasing her a bit by keeping your hands out of reach. You can teach her to stop biting when you want her too, to make her relax and sit with you. This might take a while though, depending on the character of your puppy. If she's a busy puppy, you will get the opportunity to get frustrated, but you should try to not let it get to that. just calmly correct her and try to maintain a positive but stern energy. Baha I sound a little bit like the dogwhisperer... but i do admit I watch that show A LOT. he's got a pretty awesome site too! full with tips on how to train your puppy or dog it's certainly worth a look!
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Old 06-28-2012, 07:38 AM
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To be honest, Cesar Milan's techniques which are based on Dominance Theory, are outdated and sometimes harmful depending on the personality of your puppy. Keep in mind that on the Dog Whisperer show, he is already dealing with dogs that have severe behavior problems, and are generally supremely confident dogs. They are not representative of all or most dogs. His techniques appear to work because he exudes confidence (dogs are very perceptive of body language) and they are the kind of dogs that probably benefit from some stern leadership, since the owners on that show provide none. I watched the Dog Whisperer when I first got my puppy and I mostly ended up frustrated and the dog just seemed confused and upset.

Most people on this forum advocate Positive Reinforcement theory. Check out some of the stickies in the Dog Training section. Here are some:

https://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...nce-dogs-4076/

https://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...-fallout-4776/

Not acknowledging good behavior is actually the opposite of what you want to do. Good behavior should be rewarded, and bad behavior should be ignored or only very lightly corrected. Puppy training especially should always be positive. You're actually doing the right thing already. When your pup nips, stop playing. Teach her that biting means playing stops. If she seems inclined to bite, redirect with a toy. Some dogs take longer to learn this, and some breeds are bitier than others. My golden retriever is very "mouth-oriented," because she's a retriever. Rough-housing is not necessarily bad as long as you set boundaries. My pup loves it! Your pup will learn fairly quickly which behaviors result in stopping play. Remember that playing is a reward too, not just treats.
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:54 AM
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Flirt pole! They are super tiring and i've yet to meet a dog who wasn't crazy for them.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Sundog View Post
But things like trying to pet her or even just sitting next to her quickly turn into my hands and shorts are a chew toy. I try to redirect, but she gets going and I can't stop her except by disengaging. And that's usually the end of a playtime; it seems like once she's gotten interested in my hands as playmate she won't engage with me through a toy.
We had the same issue with our Bichon mix and our Shih Tzu (Impulse), although the Bichon was easier since he had a playmate to chew on. Impulse was especially difficult, since she's was super mouthy and is a dog who gets more hyper when you let out a high-pitch yelp (I believe her thought is "YES! Squeaky Toy!!!!) and would jump for your nose (at 10 weeks old!) if you told her "No!" in a stern voice. But saying "nope" in a calm, medium toned voice and then stopping play for anywhere from 10 - 60 seconds for minor teeth-grazes and stopping play for at least 10 minutes (or until Impulse calmed down and had forgotten about playing) for anything that broke skin worked wonders. We did have to use a crate and baby gates to break up the play for the first week or two, but she got the message pretty quickly.

But for other games - we taught "tunnel" (using a little kids crawling tunnel - cost about $15 for a set of 3), "find it" (using kibble and treats - start obvious and slowly work towards actually hiding the rewards) and a flirt pole (essential!). If you can find a treat ball or even just a cardboard box (We use cereal boxes) or yogurt container with holes cut into it, you can make your puppy work for their food, which will wear them out a bit and make them think. Careful with the boxes though - we taught our current dog to "kill" boxes on command, since before then she would grab random boxes hoping there were treats in there. Of course, we didn't help by laughing at her...but now she knows to only destroy a box when we hand it to her and say "kill it!". I'm not sure if a puppy can make that distinction...
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:06 PM
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Thanks, y'all!

Jolein, I appreciate the suggestions, but I'm not sure you really read my post. I explained that I am indeed teaching Calypso there are house rules ("disciplining," if you must) and said how I am trying to teach them to her (redirecting from my hands to a toy; teaching positive 'look at me' cues; and if necessary disengaging from play). I was also very clear that one of those house rules is that human hands are NOT a chew toy, not even for keep away. Besides, I don't know any human quick enough to beat a determined dog at that game. I hope you consider Marianne's comments about dominance theory.

militantanimist and idealistinfire, thank you so, so much for your suggestions! She does have a puppy-level Kong and *loves* it; I've been giving her at least one meal a day via it (in multiple steps) because she goes nuts batting at it with her paws. I'm not really sure it tires her out (I know, I know, dogs need mental exercise etc...this is a dog who will not give in to sleep if she is not in her crate regardless), but it entertains both her and me, which makes it worth it.

She is very acrobatic and uses her paws a lot with her rope toy and tennis ball, so I bet she would go wild for a flirt pole!

Calypso sounds a lot like Impulse. I wish mine were getting the idea that hands != chew toy as quickly as yours did, but ah well. Although I'm not entirely sure she can even hear it when I yelp (definitely hears the clicker, though, which is a plus).

I think things will be a little easier once she has finished her parvo vax series and can leave the house/yard, but I am not exactly a social butterfly so there are no forthcoming miracles. It's just getting through the next few months, right?
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Old 06-28-2012, 12:44 PM
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Once the shots are up to date, you may want to get her in a class just to see what it's like. Personally I'm super-introverted to the point that I have anxiety attacks when there are too many unknown people around. However, when I'm around people with a dog (originally just mine, though now any dog will work) I can handle it the situation fine and can even interact with others. Now, obviously everyone is different so it might not work for you. I'm just suggesting you not write it off just because you aren't a social butterfly.
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Old 06-28-2012, 06:44 PM
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I just wrestle a lot with my new puppy, but it's the same way that I wrestled with my puppies/adult dogs when I was growing up and was a kid just like them. Just be careful not to hurt them since you are so much bigger than them.

I have a lot of different toys and will lightly touch them when she is chewing on them, when she goes for my hands I just make a game out of hit and try to lightly tap her on her feet /sides as s he goes for the hands. Kind of like keep away. she likes it a lot.

I put a ball in my sock and roll it around the floor and she will chase and attack it and such.

I rub her belly a lot when she rolls over and make noises at her, sometimes I pretend I am a puppy and do that thing where they stomp their front feet and put their butt in the air, she gets really excited and then will kind of charge and we lightly wrestle.

Sometimes I'll run around the house and she will chase me into one room, then I turn around and chase her into another room.


Yeah.. that's about it for playing wise. I just try to have as much fun as she is having and it works out good. She is obviously going to bite on my fingers and hands a little when we play but it never feels too bad for me. I've always played like this with my dogs so maybe that is why.

I roll the Frisbee on the ground and she will chase after it and bring it back sometimes, but she isn't ready for catching or even fetch really.

She seems pretty happy and like she likes me a lot, so I'll keep doing it

When she is older I want to go hiking a lot and play Frisbee.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:23 PM
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I just wrestle a lot with my new puppy, but it's the same way that I wrestled with my puppies/adult dogs when I was growing up and was a kid just like them. Just be careful not to hurt them since you are so much bigger than them.

I have a lot of different toys and will lightly touch them when she is chewing on them, when she goes for my hands I just make a game out of hit and try to lightly tap her on her feet /sides as s he goes for the hands. Kind of like keep away. she likes it a lot.
Wrestling and playing games involving hands reinforces the idea that human hands and body parts are okay to bite and play with. It may be cute as a puppy but when the puppy gets older and bigger it will be a real problem.
Sundog is asking for advise on how to not create this problem and to interact with their dog appropriately.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:27 PM
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Well you are entitled to your opinion, I definitely don't think your way of doing it is the only way though. I've never had a "problem" with it and I've had dogs for 20 years and never had any "problem" dogs, never been attacked by one, or had one attack someone else.

If you don't enjoy wrestling and horse playing with your dog you definitely don't have to do it, it's only a option and one I've always liked. It's not going to make you have some awful dog though, that's just silly.
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