View Full Version : play fighting

11th September 2006, 02:32 PM
jadan used to go and see my sisters doberman pup who is the same age.(6 months) i say used to as bruno is now very big and poor jadan just gets trappled. it was one of the first pups he met but they used to love the puppy fighting. i must admit jadan was always going to be the more submissive. but he would jump at hearing brunos name and there tails would wag about. just another puppy to play with really. i am not sure if they should continue to see each other though as the play fighting hasnt stopped and as i say bruno is now huge!.but they never ever came to any blows. they would ware each other out and then jadan would come to me and sleep and bruno would go to his bed.

however..my other sister has a springer spaniel pup who is younger(5 months) than jadan (6 months) but now also a bit bigger and heftier and when they meet that too ends up with puppy fighting. when do they grow out of this?!!! if they run along side each other in a field they are fine most of the time just running but then they start again. and barney loves to nip..hard.! jadan has already had to defend himself and actually went for him grabbing his ear and so on. i had never seen this side of him before. my sister has been told that its ok for barney to bite as its only playing between pups but not to the extent that he hurts surely!! i told her that she shouldnt let him off just because he is a pup surely he shouldnt be allowed to do this. when do puppies stop play fighting because i am worried that it will turn nasty.

11th September 2006, 03:37 PM
My older dogs still love to play, roll and nibble each others ears and tails...they race around the garden and play together...they have never really grown out of it....however puppy play should be carefully watched, little bones break easily when roughing with an older, bigger dog, ...playing can easily turn sour....

Pups need to be able to play as it's part of their learning, but please be sensible about it, timid shy pups can become over fearful likewise bosy dominant pups can take over...which is not what you want.

Training classes at puppy level are a good idea, manners get taught for the bossy ones and confidence given to the timid/shy ones...

You should be able to sense when your little one is not happy with the situation, watch carefully and learn the body language between dogs, any tails tucked under legs showing fear are not good likewise teeth showing and growling should be avoided...

Any Springer can be a right handful at 5 months and upwards, it's very nearly teenage time !...when respect and manners really should be learnt and some basic obedience as well by now. Look how many end up in dog homes... nearly as many as the collie types. I think perhaps your sister should think about a few classes for her dog as well before it gets a little over confident in it's self. You should aim for good, socialised, safe play not rough, biting, dominant play. All sizes should be able to play together safely.

Play with the pups together, introduce a ball and tug games, but try not to get them over excited, remember to reward kindly for good behaviour, while gentle but firm tones for things that you are not that happy with.

Hope this helps,

Alison, Wilts, U.k.

11th September 2006, 04:04 PM
All of what Alison said... and just be specially watchful when much larger breeds are playing with cavaliers (adults or puppies). A dobie puppy for example can accidentally, seriously harm a cavalier in play because they are still learning self control and sheer force of their body in a collision could break a cavalier's bones. I prefer mine to interact with smaller puppies not large breed ones once the large breeds get considerably larger -- though they quite like large breed adults!

It is always good to supervise interactions between dogs. As I have learned from Tara and Lisa, if dogs in a group get overexcited in play and one starts to flee from the other and it gets a bit out of hand, the 'fun' element can very quickly and without warning, give over to a serious prey drive where the pursued dog could come under attack or the whole situation could turn very fraught and a major dogfight result. If two are chasing and it gets way too manic, others will tend to get very overexcited and join in and dogs in packs of three or more will do things together they simply never would alone.

Hence always good to be watchful when one's dogs start interacting with strange dogs -- not all owners have much recall control over their dog (most don't, in my experience). Alm ost always, such interactions will be fun and fine but it is wise to learn how to read some basic body language and also to watch for things getting out of control.

Good sites for understanding body language:



11th September 2006, 07:01 PM
this has been an interesting thing to me, watching dogs interact socially, fascinating.

I try to take Zack to the dog park several times a week and ideally would take him twice a day. It's the main way he gets the exercise he needs for his health. It makes me happy to see him run and play with the other dogs, including the really strenuous play when they are wrestling and play biting and making rough tough noises. Very entertaining. The chasing is good for him too, lots of running. I take him for a 45 minute walk at night, but walks don't allow him to run and jump.

But there are dogs he can successfully play with and those he can't. Most just don't play in that rough and tumble way, maybe they are too mature, or it's just not their personality, it's not every time we go that he finds a playmate to romp and "fight" with for fun. More often, he just visits different groups or individual dogs, sniffs, follows them around, or explores by himself or, always, he brings me a ball and he can run long distances playing fetch because the park is big and i can throw far.

But there are some dogs that are either too rough because they don't know any better, or are out and out into dominating. As was already said, you can tell when your dog is not having fun with what's happening, and sometimes Zack will run away and come and jump up on a bench where i or other people are sitting, to get away--he is almost the only dog i ever see there who does that. Generally the dogs don't get up on the benches and picnic table, but Zack always has, and he will jump into any friendly lap, or just get up on the bench to be "taller".

But sometimes, he can't get away from a big dog, or he is trying to play with another dog and the big dog won't leave him alone, and i have to go and get him, and sometimes tell the other dog to stop--this only happens when an owner is not doing what i believe they should be doing.

Fortunately there is a big dog park and a small dog park on the grounds, the small dog park is limited to 25 pounds. Zack likes both and asks to go into both, he'll go to the gate of either and will switch back and forth. so i have the option of taking Zack into the small dog park when there's a troublesome bigger dog. It's very rare that i have to worry about Zack in the small dog park. i dont' even remember an occasion when i've had to protect him or stop another dog from doing anything. Sometimes dogs bully but very rarely, and the environment is more enclosed and the people are sitting right around, whereas in the big dog park it's really spacious and the dogs can be far away from where their people are. but the big dog park is great for running and exercise and fetch. People are generally good in both dog parks about supervising and being caring and responsible, but in the small dog park in particular, there is a group of regulars there, which i guess i'm a part of now, and they chat about everything and they keep their eyes on the dogs all the time, and they police things, they speak out and they make sure things are safe and fun.

For me, the important thing is to pay attention to what's going on, and to be very alert when bigger dogs are involved, especially those who are acting aggressive. When zack first started going to the dog park, he had no boundaries, he loved every dog, and he unwisely jumped up on dogs and was in dogs' faces. He would act submissive but very friendly, kind of laying low to the ground furiously wagging his tail, desperately wanting interaction and attention from the dogs. This resulted in him getting his feelings hurt numerous times, in various ways, including getting snarled at, frightened, and visibly hurt, or sad. He has learned now, and it's been cool to watch, to size each dog up as he meets them, and to immediately distance himself from certain dogs, he's very discriminating now, he doesn't jump up on dogs now or get in their faces, and he's developed various skills.

11th September 2006, 07:16 PM
thanks for the advice. jadan doesnt see bruno anymore because of the size difference and the play would get abit exited. well on brunos part. when jay had enough he would come and junp on my lap where bruno would come and constantly get pushed away. so no more bruno. im glad you think that barney should get some manners thoug as i dont think they are taking it very seriously. its hard i suppose when you get so many different bits of advice from other dog walkers but i didnt think it right that he should be so heavy pawed! i wuill pass this on to my sis and maybe advise her to keep him on lead around other smaller dogs too. jadan has a lovely way of greeting dogs. he sits as soon as he spots one and waits for them to come to him. i sort of trained him this from a young age by accident when he met my young nieces. they were scared of even him when he was a running ball of fluff and this didnt make them run for it and so he learnt to sit for attention. maybe if he sees other dogs at a duistance having fun he will run towrds them but always sits before he gets to them. bless. ;) :p sorry bout spelling. my daughter is hovering to get on pc!!!!!

11th September 2006, 07:22 PM

I like the idea of big and small dog parks, we havn't anything that that over here...especially for pups and smaller dogs that are shy and quiet...not everyone owns a confident, outgoing, exuberant woof! and neither are all owners confident aroung huge hairy dogs!

I also think age, sex and maturity play it's part as well when watching body language, more so with un-neutered dogs/bitches.

The body language is fab to watch, I really enjoy watching that when a new dog walks to us, or when we walk in a new enviroment/place....it's amazing how they remember for the next time and then greet each other like old buddies!

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

11th September 2006, 08:55 PM
I agree with Alison and Karlin and I also agree about loving to watch body language between dogs too.

Tonight, hubby's mate came round with his gorgeous GSD. This dog was a Prison dog but he's had problems with his legs & so he's had to be retired quite young.

Anyway, mine could see Lex through the glass panel in the door. Maxx was whinging and crying to go and say hello but Charlie was behaving quite aggressively. Barking and jumping at the door :(

I put their leads on and took them out onto the drive and Lex immediately play bowed to Maxx. They had a little run around each other and rubbed and licked each others faces then lay down quite contentedly next to each other. Charlie though was so different - behind the glass he was this big brave guard dog but on the drive he went to jelly and poor Lex was quite bemused by him. He licked Charlie's face and even rolled over submissively to him but Charlie was still backing off :roll: :lol:

Lex is so used to Cavaliers and tbh I would trust him completely with my dogs, he's got the most adorable nature and was trained to be passive not aggressive. Hubs mate is my friend's son and my friend has a Cav and has always had them. Lex gets walked with her and they meet 2 other Cavs on the field where they all play nicely together. He's terrified of big dogs though - I think in his mind that he thinks he IS a Cav :lol: