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aggressive dogs
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painful experience
short breaks
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Dog On Dog At Play - 7 Play Mannerisms
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Dog on Dog at Play  -  7 Play Mannerisms

7 Dog playing stances

We have all experienced occasions when fun ‘dog on dog ‘at play quickly turns into a huge fight that when over leaves you a complete shaking wreck. Although dogs’ playing together is highly recommended by nearly all dog trainers, the opportunity for things to get ugly is always there. An injured or traumatised dog is no fun to have to deal with and may include a costly trip to the vet.

Keep an eye on your dog when it’s at play, especially if it’s playing with strange dogs. I discovered with my dog Fudge at the beach the other day that things can get out of control right under our very noses. Luckily both dogs were little and I had no trouble separating them although the other dog did try to nip my hand. If bigger and more aggressive dogs are involved then it can become a frightening experience. I was once bitten by a spotted Dalmatian on my arm which was a very painful experience.

7 Mannerisms to watch out for

There are certain mannerisms dogs will show while playing. If play becomes too rough these will change and can lead to a vicious dog fight.

1) If the dogs are having fun then they will stop for short breaks. While on a break they tend to ignore each other but will suddenly recommence their game with the same enthusiasm as before. If the pace seems to be getting more frantic and they are not stopping for a break every so often, I suggest you call it a day because this is a certain signal that things are beginning to get out of control.

2) The play bow is when dogs drop down on their front legs and the waving tail points straight up and is the most commonly seen form of communication between dogs. By informing each other what is going to happen next and then enacting it, they are make it clear that what does follow is intended as play only.

3) If one dog is a lot bigger and stronger than the one it chooses to play with then the bigger dog will self-handicap. This also happens when a younger dog plays with an older dog thereby showing its respect. If two dogs are tugging at opposite ends of a piece of rope, then the younger dog will extend the game by not constantly trying to rip it away otherwise the game will quickly deteriorate into a fight.

4) Many dogs vocalise a lot while at play. If their vocalization stays more or less in the middle ranges then that’s a good signal. It’s when their tones begin to get either lower or growly or higher and more frantic that tells us tempers are beginning to rise.

5) A definite sign that things are rapidly sliding downhill is when dogs start standing up, chest to chest, while at play. You should now allow the game to continue because at any moment a fight is certain to break out.

6) A good indicator that they are having fun is when dogs are play biting with loose open mouths and relaxed tails. It may look a bit rough but is nothing to worry about

7) Role reversals are another positive sign that tells us there is good dog communication going on. This does not have to be shared evenly but it must be noticeable that it is happening.

Not quite human

Studies show that as species humans and dogs love to play right into their old age. Other animals stop playing as they grow older. I have also noticed that as my dogs grow older they seem to pay less attention to other dogs but their enthusiasm to play with me remains the same. This helps to foster a strong and loving bond between us.

Street Talk

Very interesting facts Franks, thanks!

  about 9 years ago
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