A friend brought her toy poodle, Gigi, over to visit. Gigi is 5 pounds…….Hustle is 55 pounds. Can big dogs and little dogs play? Yes. Can the big dog touch the little dog? No.

I feel for little dogs because they don’t usually have much opportunity to play dog games. They have the same dog mind, but not the body to withstand the physical play by big dogs…….or even medium sized dogs. One swipe of the paw or bite by the big guy and the little guy would crumble and most likely be injured. As a result, people usually keep the toy breeds aways from bigger dogs. I’m not talking about a 25 pound terrier. Those guys are tough. They can most often give as much or more than they get. I allow “mouthing” type play with that scenario. I’m talking about the 4-10 pound toy breeds. You know….the ones you feel their rib cages and they feel like fish bones! They usually cower when a big dog approaches.

The secret is to teach the bigger dog that this “creature” is off limits for touching. Dogs are smart. If they know there is a “no touch” policy, they will make up their own way to play. One gives the body gesture….the invite to play…and the other recipicates. The human leader, of course, always supervises. If the big dog gets too rough….say “No” or “Easy” and go stop that play. You can make it happen if you make up your mind that is an unbreakable rule. Soon, the big dog knows just by your words how far he can go, and that he better calm down or you will put a stop to it or give a correction.

But, all dogs want to have fun. If you set up this type of scenario between a big and little dog, the little dog gets to practice his “stalking” and the big dog gets to practice his self-control. That is a win/win.

Check out this video of Hustle and Gigi playing. I apologize for the camera work! It was on the fly!!!