Are my Dogs Playing or Fighting?

It is hard from time to time to tell wether your dog is playing or fighting with a new friend. I take my dog to the dog park, and i always watch closely what the other dogs are doing, even when they are not interacting with my dog. I have to admit they are very entertaining to watch, but it is pretty easy to misread the intentions of a dog, leading to disaster. Pay attention to the dogs’ body postures. They will take turns being the “alpha” on top; they will alternate chasing. A submissive dog will introduce himself by lying on his side or crouching so the other dog can sniff and “meet” him. The shy dog should come out of his shell if play is healthy, acting as an equal participant in the jumping and chasing. It is healthy for dogs to play in a sort of dancing pose, standing on hind legs in an embrace where one dog is the leader. As long as they take turns being the leader, or alpha, the couple can dance all they want! Monitor dog play, especially when your dog is meeting a new friend. Here are some danger signs to watch:

  • Ganging behavior: Watch that the dogs play fair and don’t pick on one participant.
  • Unequal matches: Size isn’t everything; some big dogs are intimidated by small, feisty characters.
  • Over-Domination: One dog is clearly in charge and aggressive, not allowing the other to chase back or take a turn being on top during some playful wrestling.

Hopefully this helps make you aware of the potential warning signs of your dog turning aggressive during play. Paying attention is the biggest key, and knowing what to look for of course.

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