One question I get a lot from owners with multiple dogs is “How do I know if my dogs are playing too rough?” Some people feel their dogs are being aggressive with one another. Others feel it could escalate into a fight and their dogs or even human family members could get injured.
Most dogs love to play and many of them love to play “hard”. They love to nip at each other, growl, jump, chase, and pin each other down. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate this “playful” activity from the more dangerous “aggressive” activity.
Following the below guidelines should help you keep the dog on dog activity a fun and social event for everyone.
- First and foremost, if “it just doesn’t feel right” to you, then stop the play. It is better to be on the safe side.
- If one dog has his tail between his legs or his fur on his back is raised, play should be stopped.
- If one dog is hiding behind you or backed into a small area with the other dog right there, play should be stopped.
- When dogs play, they quickly switch roles because “it is only a game”. If one dog is constantly in the dominant role (always the chaser, on top, etc.) then play should be stopped.
- If you hear one of the dogs giving off a high pitched yelp or crying sound, and the other dog is not backing off, play should be stopped.
- If there is a large difference in the sizes of the two dogs, there should not be rough play.
Remember that dogs are vocal. Some like to bark and make noises when they are playing. Watch your dogs’ body language to help to determine if they are just playing or ramping up to a dangerous situation. Let them play on your terms and stop them if they pass your personal boundary.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery County, northern Chester County and eastern Berks County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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