How to Stop Dominant Dogs From Playing Too Rough

by Amy Hunter
    Playtime can escalate to fighting quickly if one dog is overly dominant.

    Playtime can escalate to fighting quickly if one dog is overly dominant.

    Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    Dominant dogs may seem like they are roughhousing all in good fun while playing, but that is probably not what is going on. A dog who is predisposed to feel and act dominant is not really playing when he gets rough, he is working to control the situation. Whether he is keeping his favorite toys close by or making sure his buddy plays with him and not another dog, he has a purpose for his behavior.

    Step 1

    Teach your dog to come when called, no matter what. Reinforce the command by tugging on his leash to get him to come and give him a treat when he obeys. Challenge him by increasing the distance you are from him, going around a corner so you are out of eyesight, and working with him where there are distractions. Only when he comes when called, every time, should you put him in a situation where he can play with others.

    Step 2

    Remove items that may be in dispute. Resource guarding is a common trigger for aggressive behavior, so if a ball, rope bone or other item is generating a lot of interest, it is best to remove it from play.

    Step 3

    Keep groups small. The larger the group, the more aggressive the behavior can become. Dogs form a loose pack structure when playing together, and a dominant dog may take the opportunity to assert himself by dividing the group or claiming one dog as off-limits to the other. Try to keep groups to three dogs or less to minimize the likelihood of personality conflicts and bad behavior.

    Step 4

    Stop the play. If your dog wants to be too rough while playing, after you have taken steps to modify his behavior, remove him from the situation. There is no reason to punish him, simply call him to you, attach the leash and leave. If he doesn't come when you call, walk over and calmly retrieve him.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Amy Hunter has been a writer since 1998. She writes about health and lifestyle issues and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in "Sacramento Parent," ASPCA's "Animal Watch" and other print and online publications. She is the author of "The History of Mexico" and "Tony Gonzalez: Superstar of Pro Football," aimed at young-adult readers.

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