Playing with your dog has an important role in building a bond and earning trust. Plus, he gets to spend quality time with you and run off some energy. It’s not uncommon for dog owners to tease their pet, especially when playing fetch. Instead of tossing the ball, you hide it and watch as your dog tries to find the elusive ball. To us it’s all in good fun, but does your dog see teasing as part of play, and is it something he likes?
In some instances, teasing a dog can promote unwanted behavior. I used to have a neighbor kid who thought it was fun to ride his bike towards my dog Jack when he was outside in his pen. The kid raced his bike up to the fence before veering off and hitting his brakes. This infuriated and frustrated Jack to no end, and he would growl and bark whenever he saw the boy. Jack was a very friendly dog to everyone else. Mean-spirited teasing or harassment is never alright for people or pets. If you suspect someone is teasing your dog, it’s up to you to put a stop to it immediately, before your pet resorts to biting.
There is a difference between playful teasing and mean-spirited teasing, bullying and taunting. You also need to take the personality of your dog into consideration, and be aware of his overall body language. Some canines like to be teased with a ball or toy, and it can work to your advantage when teaching a dog to play with toys – as long as he doesn’t get overexcited, stressed out, frustrated or bored with your game of keep away.
Reward your pet with CANIDAE treats and praise when teaching him to play with toys to help him learn that it’s part of the game. Some dogs “get it” when you tease them and understand that it’s playful behavior. You have to be careful though, because other canines are more reserved and suspicious. Teasing can be confusing if your dog doesn’t understand you are just playing with him. If your pet is interpreting your interaction with him as intimidating, it’s not fun for him and he isn’t enjoying your game.
The downside of teasing is that it can lead to unwanted behaviors like jumping up, grabbing at toys, balls or treats. He may react negatively if he thinks you are going to take something you offered away. A dog can develop excessive barking and pacing when he sees the person responsible for his teasing, which is an indication he doesn’t like being teased. It can also cause some dogs to lose their confidence, become aggressive, hyper and harder to control. You risk losing your pet’s trust if he doesn’t understand your playful actions, and you may inadvertently alter his temperament. If he thinks a ball, treat or toy is out of his reach, he may stop wanting to play.
We’ve all seen videos of someone holding a small dog as he snarls and snaps while another person tries to touch him or take something away from him. This is a dog that isn’t enjoying being teased. He’s uptight, anxious, fearful and aggressive. It may be cute to watch your dog attack the vacuum, but chasing him with a scary sounding machine probably isn’t his idea of fun and games.
It’s important to monitor children around dogs to protect both of them. Children should be taught to not sit on the back of a dog, pull his tail or ears, bark at him, or do other things to tease him. Even a friendly, docile dog can become annoyed and lash out if he doesn’t appreciate being teased. Most dogs allow someone they have a bond with to engage in playful teasing, but they do have a limit on how much they will take.
There’s nothing wrong with good-natured teasing as long as you and your dog are both enjoying the interaction, and he knows it’s a game. End it like you do every other game, with lots of happy praise and CANIDAE treats. When it comes to teasing a dog, it’s wise to be cautious and make sure you don’t cross the line between playful teasing and taunting.
Some dogs like to be teased – but there are boundaries to maintain. If you suspect someone is teasing your dog and causing him to be uncomfortable around them, don’t leave your pet alone with that person. Your dog may have a good reason for not trusting someone, and perhaps you shouldn’t either.
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