I know they are just playing, but my 2 dogs a 18 month male Pit and a 12 month female Pit, play so rough my female looks like she has been in a war! I've only had the male a month (he is Great in every other way) but he likes to nip, pinch and body slam her when they play.

I let it go for the first 2 weeks thinking she would get tired of getting hurt. She hasn't... even though she yips sometimes. But she looks terrible! Mostly she is missing hair and scratches, but she does have quite a few scratches that have scabbed over, they are so deep. I have tried making them stop playing when I see it (even sneaking up on them when they go out in the yard). I tried letting one out at a time when I can't go out with them, but they love each other so much one doesn't want to go out with out the other. HELP!! I've been looking for answers online, but nothing really covers my problem.

  • Sounds like bite inhibition isn't happening. Is all their play always rough? – Aravona Sep 28 '15 at 10:45
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    In addition to @Aravona's question, how does he make react when she's yipping or giving any other signals that she's uncomfortable with the style of play? If he's not respecting when she's telling him to back off, it could indicate that he's not socialised well enough to understand and respect her boundaries – ThomasH Oct 2 '15 at 13:01
  • Thanks for responding. As far as the bite inhibition...he doesn't really bite, he nips with the small front teeth. Whats weird is he is always gentle when he plays with humans. – Lesli Thellman Oct 3 '15 at 14:39
  • Also, it doesn't seem to bother my female, and now she has learned the bad behavior. If she does yip, he stops right away,and she runs to me. He used to go to dogie daycare (the same one I was taking the female too)so I know if he was to aggressive there they wouldn't let him come. – Lesli Thellman Oct 3 '15 at 14:49
  • @Avaona and ThomasH they don't play rough all the time, they can be home for the 5-6 hours I'm at work and not have played rough that whole time. I know because my female has a white neck and front legs and he won't have any new red marks at all. – Lesli Thellman Oct 3 '15 at 15:01

It sounds like what's bothering you is not so much the fact that they play roughly, but that it makes her look like she's survived a dog fight, which is understandable because we're talking about 2 pitts. Pitts have a bad rap; they are wonderful dogs. The great thing about Pitts is that, as a breed, they are highly driven to please their owner(s), so both of them care what you think.

If he stops when she yips, then he knows about playing 'appropriately' with another dog. The fact that she doesn't yip often means that she enjoys the rough play.

My suggestion is to do some 'negative' reinforcement. I'm not advocating any type of physical discipline, what I mean is giving a negative consequence - a timeout - when the play gets too rough. Designate a timeout area in your home, some place where you can stick the dog for a minute or two and leave it there. When the play starts to get too rough, tell them to calm down or and if it continues, wordlessly, calmly take the male dog and put him in timeout. Have him stay there for a few minutes. Then wordlessly go get him and bring him out of timeout. If the rough play starts again, repeat. He'll quickly figure out that getting too rough means no more play and doing something boring. She will figure out getting too rough means her play companion gets taken away. Dogs are primarily non-verbal so they don't need a lot of talking. Being calm (and quiet) about it helps the dog to get it faster than if you're upset.

If your female is the one who starts it, put her in time out. This should do the trick, but the key is consistency. Don't let a time go because you don't feel like dealing with it just then.

I've fostered and rehabbed many dogs and this technique works. I originally saw it on 'It's Me or the Dog,' a program featuring dog trainer, Victoria Stillwell.

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