Is Your Dog Playing or Fighting?


Make sure you allow your dog to spend time with other dogs who play ‘by the rules’

When dogs play they are engaging in mock combat and there are certain behaviours that dogs use to tell each other that what they are doing should not be taken seriously. Dogs are usually aware of these signals but we are not and some people mistake dogs for fighting when in fact they are playing. Let’s look at how to tell the difference.

  • Turn taking
  • Fluid body movements
  • Biting around the face and neck
  • Play bows
  • Body turning to present backside
  • Frequent breaks in play
  • Can include some light growling and high pitched barking
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Loud screaming and crying
  • Deep, hard constant growling
  • No break in interaction
  • One dog continually trying to escape
  • Stiff movement

To give you a better idea take a look at a healthy play session in progress between Nemo and Dug. Notice how most of the behaviours in the video you will find in the ‘playing’ column of the table above.

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