Wanna play?

There is often a fine line between fighting and play-fighting. Here’s some of the signs that your dog is playing:

  • Playbow: With their behind up in the air and that sparkle in their eyes, there is no clearer invitation to play.
  • Muscle tension: You can tell by the way the dog moves whether it is really tight and tense (not so good), or puppy-like and clumsy (play).
  • Mouth tension: A subtle way to tell whether a dog is having a good time is by watching his lips. If the mouth is half-opened and the lips held in a relaxed way, you’re fine. If the dog’s mouth is tightly shut, this may be a sign of tension. The mouth alone is not always enough of a clue, though, and you have to look at it in the context of the other signs your dog is giving you.
  • Tail carriage: If the tail is held very tightly against the anal glands, or up-straight, chance is the dog is not feeling comfortable about all the frolicking at all and it is time to remove him.
  • Role reversal: When dogs are play-fighting, you should regularly see switching between who chases and who is being chased, who is pinned to the ground and who is on top. If the game appears one-sided, make sure one of the dogs is not in fact being bullied.

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Last updated April 2010