Pet Tips Sam Kabbel

1. Rough wrestling. Wrestling is one of the many ways that dogs have to play, but it shouldn’t be the only way they play. Too much wrestling can cause dogs to become defensive and competitive. Wrestling should have breaks with play bows and chase games to dilute its intensity.

2. Competitive – play-to-win play style. Dogs should have a good time when they play together. Play should look fun and not serious. Dogs who play competitively and play to win take things too seriously. This play style can lead to fights. Often, dogs who play with these competitive dogs are victims of the play and are defending themselves more than having fun.

3. Bossy behavior. Bossy dogs are no fun for anyone. Bossy dogs micromanage all interactions – they won’t let others play, chew on toys, get attention, etc. They barge in and push the other dog out of the way or barge in to stop whatever is going on. This is something that needs to be addressed. Bossy dogs aren’t dominant and they aren’t leaders. They are usually insecure, are socially incompetent, frustrated, and angry.

4. Dogs that are unable to change roles. Dogs need to negotiate social situations and be flexible in their interactions. Dogs shouldn’t take one role and stick with it. Dogs need to learn to try different approaches when something doesn’t work. They also need to learn to approach different dogs according to the individual interaction. When dogs learn to “have a conversation” instead of dictating the interaction, things go much more smoothly.

5. Guarding. Dogs with guarding tendencies can be difficult to manage in a multi-pet household. The general guideline is as follows: it is appropriate for a dog to guard what he possesses, but not appropriate for him to aggressively take things from others or guard things from a distance. It is also in appropriate for a dog to covet and hoard things from others.

• Sam Kabbel, CPDT-KA, is owner and president of Valley-based Pet Behavior Solutions, serving the Phoenix area. For more information, visit

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