Many pet parents enjoy playing rough, or “roughhousing,” with their dog, especially those with larger dogs. Rough play can include wrestling, tugging games, and rolling around with your dog. Most dogs find rough play fun and exciting, but is it okay to play rough with your dog?
Rough play mimics how dogs interact together, and is used to establish dominance and social hierarchy among other dogs. When dogs roughhouse together, they receive social feedback from other dogs that helps them learn when they are playing too rough or bite too hard.
If your dog enjoys playing rough with you, there are a few guidelines you can follow to make sure the play does not get out of hand. You, not your dog, should initiate the roughhousing, and your dog should stop when you indicate playtime is over. Teach your dog a command such as “game over” or “settle” so he learns to calm down after rough play. Make sure your dog knows that excessive mouthing or nipping is not acceptable. If your dog accidentally bites, immediately stop the play.
It is easy to tell if your dog is enjoying rough play; most dogs that are enjoying the roughhousing will come back to you for more the moment you stop. However, if you have a more reserved dog that does not enjoy roughhousing, you should look for gentler forms of play. Many pet parents prefer to limit rough play to the outside, and expect calmer play inside. Whatever you decide is right for your dog, be consistent so your dog understands the rules.
What are your thoughts on roughhousing with your dog?