Breaking the Roughhouse Instinct

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tans0077's picture
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Joined: 2011-07-03

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First, let me say again that I'm so thankful that I found this forum.  It's amazing what I can get from reading others' experiences vs. googling or binging random topics.  :)

Question:  is there any great way to break the instinct to roughhouse?  Gauge will play nicely with me. Rope, running back and forth, not pawing or biting.  But when Adam moves to touch him, he instantly thinks Adam is playing with him and he goes from good to rough.  The guy we got him from plainly stated "oh, we roughhouse all the time.  That's how we love."  Grrrrreat. 

Adam has been trying to break him.  He's stern but not mean, but that only seems to get G more riled up.  He's tried ignoring him, but G will run full force at him and paw until he gets down and wrestles with him - which Adam doesn't do.  G ends up looking like he's being punished and when A goes to pet him to tell him it's ok, the cycle starts over.

This happens about 2 hours every night.  He wants to be able to pet the pup without bringing the steel cage match!

Dabbles's picture
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Joined: 2009-02-20

Ouch!  Again I only have Brinks to go by here, so I'm hoping other members can help. 

Don plays rougher with Brinks than I do, but it's on his terms.  Don starts it & Don ends it.  Brinks can try all he wants, but until Don says it's time to play, there is no play.  (It's funny to watch - Brinks will bring the tug toy & put it in Don's lap.  Don puts it on the floor & says "no tug".  So, Brinks will go find a tennis ball & drop that in Don's lap.  Same answer "no ball".  Eventually, Don will have a pile of all of Brinks' toys surrounding him...)

All I can think of right now is for Adam to come up with different "games" to play with Gauge.  Maybe an indoor game of fetch with a tennis ball (if you have room), or tug with a tug toy, or even better - a game of "find it" with treats or a favorite toy...  I'm thinking something more mental than physical with lots of praise involved will work better than tug right now?

jeshykai's picture
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Joined: 2010-09-02

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Great examples Dabbles.. get that mental stimulation going.  Adam may also want to try a training session when Gauge is known to get riled up so they can work on him responding to verbal and hand cues from Adam.  You can easily teach "enough" but it's the hardest thing to enforce when a dog is amped up and rowdy.

How is Gauge's exercise?  I find that Steve is downright obnoxious if he doesn't get out for a walk or run.  In the heat there's no taking him out, he'll drag himself down the street and want to come right home.  I'm thankful for the puppy entertainment in my house right now because those two wrestle and play until exhausted so on the super hot days I don't have to try and take Steve out.

Dogs should learn how to play with who they are playing with.  Steve is far rougher with Eli than he is with me, and far far gentler with the girls than he is with me.  A firm "NO" and turning your back should be sufficient.  If Gauge continues to push the issue, if it were ME, I'd put him into a sit and then down, roll him on his side and hold him there until he's calmed down.  But that's how I train my dogs that I've had enough of whatever they are doing. 

With rescues it is always going to take time unfortunately to break those habits you don't like.  He'll get there, faster than some other breeds, because he is smart.  I'd try redirection of his energy with Adam until they can find a game that satisfies both of them.