Dogs love to play. The problem isn’t with dog play so much as it is with dogs getting hurt during play. Dogs are naturally prone to playing rough and getting hurt from time to time. As humans it’s our responsibility to allow our dogs to play as needed but to help prevent them from any serious damage.
The problem with humans is that we cannot determine when play has become too rough for our dogs. Naturally, we relate dogs to human children to determine the level of roughness based upon human scales. Of course, that is not the case as dogs are prone to not only rough play by to using their energy in a way of letting others know more about them. Because of this, protecting them becomes more difficult.
So how do we know when rough play is too rough?
Honestly, it’s difficult to say in any other way but to know your own dog. Everyone’s dog is different and every dog owner has a responsibility to truly understand the level of intensity and personality of their own dog. For example, our Dakota is a laid-back and easy-going girl. She doesn’t like rough play and will often walk away from any dog that is too energetic for her. A tug toy is not her thing but running for the ball is most certainly her forte.
At the other end of the spectrum, is Cheyenne. Rough play is her middle name. Human arms are easily torn out of sockets when playing with the tug toy and if her sister has her favorite toy she will easily jump and knock her to the floor. Ironically, if Cheyenne comes in contact with an energetic puppy or dog with bad manners she will easily let out a growl to let them know that they are too much for her.
So what does this say about my own dogs? Well, I know that when Dakota and Cheyenne play with each other that Dakota can only take so much before it turns into rough play. I also know that Dakota has hip dysplasia and Cheyenne has a luxating patella (loose knee). Given their medical conditions, running on hard surfaces, sliding along ice, or taking a rough fall can easily exasperate already existing problems.
Sure, pain medications are easily available for dogs but why use them if you already know the limits of your dogs play? If you find another dog that is to rough with your dog during play, it is your responsibility to remove your dog from the situation. If not, the rough play can get out of hand and somebody can get hurt.
It’s always wise to keep an open eye when your dog is playing. Pay attention to your dog, and how it’s feeling that day to determine the level of play appropriate for your dog. Also pay attention to external conditions such as frigid temperatures, hard ground and any ill-mannered dogs that may be around.
By paying attention to your dog and the external factors you can make sure that rough play doesn’t end up with your dog at the veterinarian.