When you look at your dog during play, you might think of the play as a fight. That’s the reason researchers refer to dog play as ‘play fighting’. Dogs exhibit behaviors that are seen during actual fights. For example, when two dogs are playing, they might chase and tackle one another. Some dogs are seen biting on the neck of another dog just to pin him to the ground even when they are playing not fighting.
Get a fence
We advocate some kind of fence if you’ll be playing outside with your dog. A fence is especially important if your dog has a tendency to get overexcited during play which causes him to chase cars, harass people, or attack other animals. One of the best fence companies in NJ, NJ Fence Pro, points out that there are many types of fence, including wireless fencing, that will contain your dog.
Do you need to intervene?
Despite the overlap in play and fight behaviors, you can always differentiate play fighting from a real fight. For example, some dogs will offer a competitive advantage to the weaker dog during play fighting by rolling on their backs or doing something else to handicap them for a while. This never happens during a real dog fight.
In most cases, play fighting is different from an actual fight and it is easy to tell that they are just playing despite showing behaviors similar to actual fight. However, there might be situations when you’ll need to intervene. For example, if the dogs start growling and their behavior intensifies, their play is about to turn into a real fight.
Despite the fact that majority of people think they are intervening the fight and playing it safe, but this might not be the case. When dogs are play fighting, they are actually negotiating new relationships and there might be a chance to develop a long lasting relationship. When you interrupt, you confuse your dog who is trying to communicate with another dog.
However, sometimes you may actually need to intervene since sometime play fighting can become ‘inappropriate’ play.
How to tell if your dog is ‘play fighting’?
When your dog is play fighting, you could tell from its postures and facial expressions. When it starts getting into a real fight, these two things will change. The dog will move differently and it will be tense.
On the other hand, when your dog is play fighting, it will be relaxed and its movement will be rather bouncy. The mouth will remain open as if it is smiling. This is sure sign that your dog is playing and communicating with the other dog rather than initiating a fight.
What to do if you’re not sure?
Sometimes you might be unsure whether your dog is play fighting or starting a real fight. This is where you have to make an intervention but you’ve to be really careful.
When you intervene, make sure that you keep it light. Don’t pull your dog away with force. Just hold it back gently and see how it reacts. If it cuddles you and hides its face from the other dog, it means your interruption was a relief for your dog. You judged it right. They were not playing but preparing to fight.
On the other hand, if your dog is trying to go back by pulling against your grip, it’s a sign that the dog was communicating and playing. You should release your dog and let him continue playing.