While it may seem like a silly game to you, chase can teach young pups valuable lessons about appropriate play behavior with people and dogs. For some pups, these games reinforce aggression issues that pose a bite risk. However, most puppy-owner chase and puppy-puppy chase games are perfectly acceptable.
Play Chasing with Dogs
If you watch puppies play, you'll often notice chasing and play-fighting. These two behaviors rev up puppies, which can lead to increasingly active play and to puppy biting. While your reaction may be to fear for your puppy's safety, this is natural behavior and part of puppy socializing. As your pup chases, tumbles and bites other puppies, older pups will let your dog know if she bites too hard. This helps teach your puppy not to bite other animals or people too hard.
Play Chasing with You
Puppies may naturally try to initiate chase with you by running away from you. It's OK to play chase your puppy and it can become a fun game between the two of you. Take care not to chase your puppy off leash unless you are in a fenced-in area. Puppies are still learning, and she may think that not coming when called is just part of the game.
Other Ways to Play
You might not be in the mood to run with your puppy, but you can allow her to chase a favorite toy to burn off extra energy. Let her chase balled-up socks, balls or squeaky toys. Throw the item and watch her chase after it, or create a backyard "hide and seek" by hiding her favorite toys in the yard and watching her run after them. You can even hide and have her chase after you.
An off-leash puppy may chase after squirrels, birds or even joggers or screaming children. Before you trust your puppy off leash, socialize her to a range of situations. Some puppies, particularly herding breeds, may chase out of dominance or possessive aggression. If your puppy engages in other aggressive play behaviors and enjoys chasing, address aggression and dominance issues by working with a behavioral trainer. Otherwise, a pup with a herding instinct and dominance issues may decide to herd other people's kids or pets, which could lead to trouble. If your pup has these issues, you may opt not to play chase games since they may send a confusing message.
- Before and After Getting Your Puppy: The Positive Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy and Well-Behaved Dog; Ian Dunbar
- Canis Major: What Kinds of Games are Okay?
- 2ndChance.info: When Your Dog Bites - Understanding And Correcting Aggressive Behavior
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