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Watching dog play behaviors


Wrestling

Dozer (top) and Boone (bottom) playing

This past weekend, I had the chance to watch my brother’s two dogs, Boone and Dozer, play and chase and wrestle with one another. These two boys okay hard and they have fun. They take turns so that no one dog is always on top or in charge. There is a lot of give and take.

Watching them play off and on over several hours made me realize how little I see that kind of play at my house. Daisy never really learned how to play until Jasper joined our household (hard to believe, but puppy mills don’t exactly create an environment that allows dogs to play). Jasper and Daisy have occasionally played tug of war with a pull toy, but not often. Cupcake and Jasper are probably the most likely to play, but it only happens infrequently and usually for only short periods of time. When it does happen, it usually involves a lot of chasing and barking and air snapping. It is hilarious to watch them together.

Most of my observations of dogs playing together has happened at the dog park or when I boarded a dog and its sibling, or two young unrelated dogs, in my home (back in my pet sitting days).  There is nothing more fun than watching two dogs interact with each other in play. So many dogs play in so many different ways. Some wrestle, some chase, some tease with a stick or play tug of war. The one thing that is required is an even give and take. It keeps things light and fun for both dogs. Any time one dog starts to dominate or two or more dogs gang up on one dog, it is no longer fun and can be a form of bullying.

Here is a great video demonstrating some play behaviors. What are some play behaviors you see in your own dogs?

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  1. August 18, 2014 at 5:40 AM

    Katie and I used to play like crazy, but as Katie got older, it pretty much did not exist anymore. Bailie showed up and after a couple months, she and I picked up where Katie and I left off. Almost every night we chase and wrestle for a good amount of time. Sometimes Katie joins the chase, but only for a few minutes these days.

  2. Tina
    August 18, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    Well done video. Thanks for putting it together.
    So sad to say that I am unable to observe these types of play with my Sam. However, since I volunteer at a shelter, I have on occasional observe some of these plays with other dogs.
    I took Sam in when he was about a year old. He was an emaciated stray weighing 27.4 pounds. He is an American Pit Bull Terrier now weighing at an athletic 60lbs. He was deficient in so many areas of socialization. We worked on it and he has come a long way. He knows basic and advanced commands. He can scent many items and find people in wooded areas. However, he never learned to play ‘properly’. Although he didn’t try to out right ‘kill’ another dog when he was younger, he was very pushy. He didn’t read their signals to stop certain rough plays or leave them alone when they no longer wanted to engage with him. And, even when he seemed ‘breathless’, he never was too tired to stop while the other dogs were. Needless to say he is no longer allowed to play with other animals. Now that he is older, he will go after other animals in full predator mode. He is never off leash nor left outside alone.

  3. August 18, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    As the resident puppy, Penny will do just about anything to get Eko to play. They’ll usually get in a few good romps and wrestles each day.

  4. August 19, 2014 at 10:29 PM

    My dogs play behavior is entertaining to watch, but it has made people who are not familiar with it uncomfortable (guests at our house watching our dogs playing.) Mine are vocal, snapping, tackling fools.

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