Does your playful pooch act more like an MMA fighter than a dog during playtime? While play fighting with other dogs or human companions is normal canine behavior, some dogs can get carried away with their aggression and need special help in learning how to tone it down a notch.
Socialize Your Dog
Make sure your dog has an active social life. The earlier you socialize your pooch with other dogs, the sooner he will learn how to keep aggression in check during playtime. Play fighting is a healthy part of canine behavior and can actually help to prevent other kinds of aggression. When they engage in normal play fighting, dogs quickly let each other know when one has gone too far with a bite or tackle and this teaches them how to adjust their play to avoid injuring their playmate. If you want your faithful friend to know how to play nice with others, schedule frequent play dates with your friends and their dogs.
Exercise Your Dog
Help your canine companion blow off steam in constructive ways. Dogs with aggression issues are sometimes just trying to release pent up energy. Take your dog for daily walks and incorporate regular play sessions into his schedule to make sure that he gets plenty of exercise. This will not only help reduce incidents of aggression, but it will also help to keep him fit and healthy.
Set Limits for Your Dog
Let your pooch know when he goes overboard with his play. If his play is too aggressive for you, use a loud verbal cue such as “ouch!” or “no!” to interrupt his behavior and establish appropriate limits. For best results, withhold attention for at least one minute before resuming play and repeat as needed if his aggressive behavior continues.
Catch Your Dog Being Good
Reward your pooch for non-aggressive play. Positive reinforcement of appropriate behavior can help encourage your dog to play nicely with others. Give your dog a treat or praise him verbally when he directs aggressive mouthing behavior to objects like balls or toys rather than people or other dogs.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Spay or neuter your canine companion. Since unaltered dogs are more likely to develop aggressive behaviors, having your pooch neutered can help curb aggression and reduce the chances of him engaging in excessively aggressive play. Neutering your faithful friend will not only minimize aggressive tendencies, but may also help him avoid certain cancers and live a longer, healthier life.
Give your dog early obedience training that emphasizes positive reinforcement. Rewarding good behavior in your dog will encourage him to repeat desired behaviors and will help you better manage his behavior.
If your pooch becomes severely aggressive during play and poses a real danger to people or other animals, consult a professional dog trainer for assistance.
Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.