When you are new at watching dogs play it can be confusing and even a bit concerning. Dog play is "play fighting" so if you haven't made a career out of knowing dog body language it's easy to get concerned even when dogs are having a grand old time.
To make it harder sometimes two dogs play, are having a good time, but it's still inappropriate play and we might want to ask them to take a break.
Learning dog play and dog body language is like learning any new language. It takes study, time, and a whole lot of practice. You aren't going to learn everything in one podcast episode. But as dog parent we do want to have a "conversational dog" understanding.
My goal is to give you more confidence when your pup is playing to know if they are having a good time and let them have at it or if it's time to break it up and let it rest.
In this episode I talk about:
- Signals that two are playing and having a good time
- What to do when you think one dog is not playing nice
- When two adolescent dogs play rough
- When it's OK to give them a break
- What to do if you are not sure (when in doubt)
- A word about dog parks
Press play to listen and enjoy!
As promised, below are a couple videos to demonstrate some of the signals and signs I talk about inside the episode.
Pauses in Play
In the video below, you can see how Sandi and Zorro pause periodically during their play session (or as I describe it inside the episode (play, play, play, pause). Periodical pauses in the play is a good sign that everyone is having fun and respecting each other's boundaries.
Here, the play looks very concerning with all the snapping and teeth showing. But listen for the quick little sneezes. Those are a clear sign that it's play. Silly but true!
No Pauses and Increased Excitement
In this video keep a close eye on Bromley (the small dark brindle puppy). Notice that Bromley isn't taking any breaks and by the end she seems to be getting more and more excited. Ollie (the larger white dog) is being very gentle and patient (which is great) but this is a time I might stop the play for a minute or two to give Bromley a chance to settle and then let them play again.
Loose and Curving Body Language
This last video is more subtle. Watch how Lucy (black and white) and Ollie (white) have very loose body language. They curve their bodies toward each other a lot. Also notice how they always approach each other from the side (chest to shoulder or side to side) rarely straight on (head to head). This is ideal dog play.
Other resources mentioned and related to this episode:
YNP #013: Dog Park vs. Dog Daycare
YNP #034: Introduce Your New Puppy to Your Current Dog
YOUR Perfect Puppy: 4-week online training course for you and your new puppy.
The post YNP #058: How to Recognize Appropriate Dog Play appeared first on Playtime Paws.