View Full Version : Playing or fighting

30th July 2007, 04:02 PM
I was just looking at the new theme "wrestle mania" some of the dogs look like they are killing each other! Prince and Lucy dont really play together, I think Prince is still coming around to the idea that she is here for good :) Sometimes Lucy will get excited and run at Prince and slap him across the face, he just stands there stunned! I dont think he knows how to play with another dog, Lucy runs at him and jumps at him but he just backs off. Every now and again when Lucy gets excited Prince gets a bit excited and sniff's and nudges at her side (not her rear) and it looks like he is going to nip her, has anyone ever seen this before?? I dont know if he is going to nip her, I tell him to stop before he gets a chance to do whatever it is he was going to do. As I said, from looking at those photo's I would have a heart attic if I saw Prince and Lucy "wrestling", how would I know the difference between playing and actual fighting? I know this is probably a stupid question but this is the first time I have ever had 2 dogs so I dont know what to look out for.

30th July 2007, 05:09 PM
I don't really know the answer ...

I think these photos do make it look worse than it is because you just see one little split second of it. Maybe I'll see if I can find a video of Lucky and Razz playing .... when you see how they wrestle together it looks more playful than fighting. I guess that's how you know.

Whenever Lucky and Razz see each other and they haven't seen each other for a while they'll get into a little wrestling match right on the sidewalk ... but it's clear to everyone who sees them that they are the best of friends and it's not a fight at all, just dogs playing together.

I was sort of reluctant to post that theme because of the whole dog-fighting scandal going on in the US, but I know that people here will only post good natured wrestling matches, not actual fights and it's fun to see our dogs playing with their buddies. :dogwlk:

Cathy T
30th July 2007, 05:52 PM
What you're seeing is a lot of what is called "mouthing". They aren't biting each other but since dogs don't have hands they feel everything with their mouths instead. If we were wrestling we'd be using our arms and hands, dogs use their mouths. It was a good question because you're right some of those pictures look scary....but if you could see the whole process you'd see it isn't scary at all. I don't have any wrestling pictures....my two rarely play with each other that way....lots of tug of war pics though ;)

30th July 2007, 06:01 PM
mine wrestle and it looks very scary sometimes as they look like they are biting each other. If you watch carefully they are just mouthing. I judge by the tails they tend to carry on wagging however aggressive they sound. If Alfie gets carried away Harvey does a proper growl and Alfie stops immediately.

30th July 2007, 08:40 PM
Playfighting can look and sound very scary! The main way to tell the difference is, as Yvonne has pointed out, the tails don't stop wagging, my 4 week old pups are now starting to playfight, lots of high pitched growling, lots of tail wagging and rolling all over the place! You'll know when it's serious as the growling is far more menacing sounding and often accompanied by yelping and one dog NOT letting go of the other!!

30th July 2007, 11:13 PM
Ruby is the only dog in my house, so I play with her as much as I can.
Sometimes I play gentley, sometimes I play rough, though she seems to prefer the rough playing!

Now she knows I'm only playing mind - I'll stop half way though and she'll wag her tail as if I'd just come home from work. but she really seems to enjoy the fact that my hand is going to come from nowhere and mess up her hair. etc etc.

31st July 2007, 01:03 AM
Context tells a great deal, and it is probably the easiest measure of dog interactions if you are not familiar with the finer details of dog body language. If you have two dogs who are friendly with each other generally and they start rearing and mouthing, they are just wrestling. If you have two dogs who are not familiar with each other and/or there is food or a toy involved, and there was growling and posturing involved before contact, then they are probably fighting.

Finer details to look for are the tail, as mentioned, but not whether it is wagging or not. Instead, look for the placement of the tail and the speed of the wag. If there is a high, over-the-back posture of the tail and it is wagging really really fast, that's NOT a good sign. A playful dog's tail will be at a mid-level (not over the back, not tucked under the body), and the wag will be intermittent or average.

Another detail to watch is the dog's face. Is it snarling? Are its lips relaxed or tense? A playful dog will be relaxed, whereas a dog in a fight is tense.

If *your* dogs are wrestling (don't try to break up a dog fight that involves dogs you don't know or dogs that are obviously biting and tearing at each other), but you are thinking it could be too much, here's a quick test: pull the dogs apart and watch the dog you thought was being bullied. If the dog goes back over to the other dog, they're just having fun.

Cathy T
31st July 2007, 01:10 AM
That's exactly what our trainer taught us about pulling the dogs apart! Always...Shelby would be back for more :D

31st July 2007, 08:45 AM
If there is a high, over-the-back posture of the tail and it is wagging really really fast, that's NOT a good sign.

Wow Cindy, thanks for that, I noticed Prince doing this once or twice, I thought he wanted to play or he was going to try to mount Lucy, he was just sniffing at her and doing it. What does it mean, was he going to attack her or something?

Cathy Moon
31st July 2007, 11:39 AM
India and Geordie sometimes put their tails high for short moments when play fighting to goad each other on. :) But I have never seen them held up and wagging fast.

Play growling is very entertaining with a wide ranges of noises, while fight noises are sharp and staccato sounding.

31st July 2007, 11:53 AM
:D I guess to the uninitiated it probably does look a bit scarey. My guys do a lot of wrestling. We call it Ninja tooth fighting, because like Cathy said there is a lot of mouthing, wide open mouths, teeth bared & they make this high pitched yowling a bit like the sounds in the Ninja movies. I could spend hours watching them do this as it is such fun.

I am trying to think of how to describe how a fight looks different and even though I can pick them apart from a mile off, I am a bit lost for words how to describe it. Errrr, I guess no blood is a good start. :-p

31st July 2007, 03:28 PM
Wow Cindy, thanks for that, I noticed Prince doing this once or twice, I thought he wanted to play or he was going to try to mount Lucy, he was just sniffing at her and doing it. What does it mean, was he going to attack her or something?

The high position of the tail WITH a very high rate of movement (not the loose side to side motion) is considered a sign of dominance or assertion (Some on the board will probably tell me "not everything is about dominance," but I've learned this information from a vet who specializes in canine behavior at a vet school.) Anyway, if Prince was wagging his tail in this manner toward Lucy, he was probably telling her that he's the boss. You may have been right that he was going to mount her, which some believe is another sign of assertiveness over another.

As long as Lucy submits and accepts Prince as the leader, then all is well. It is when both dogs want to be the leader that a fight can ensue.

1st August 2007, 07:29 AM
Ours are busy all the time. I've never really watched them closely as much as I listen... I can definitely hear it when one of them crosses the 'line'.

Elvis and Reba have started playing quite a bit, and I watch them a little more than he and Beau, because Reba makes different 'sounds' and I'm still getting a feel for what's normal.

1st August 2007, 08:41 AM
As long as Lucy submits and accepts Prince as the leader, then all is well

Well I think there could be a problem there so because as soon as Lucy came into the house she has acted like the boss and Prince has just gone along with it. When Prince comes over for a cuddle she pushes him out of the way. He looked like he was about to mount her last night but she just turned around and looked at him and he backed off straight away. Maybe he is trying to be the boss but I really dont think he will get there :)