Why Are My Dogs Constantly Play Fighting?
Dogs love to roll around and play fight with each other but owners can sometimes become concerned that the activity is getting a little rough. Some dog mums and dads can even try to break up this play, but it’s totally normal for a couple of pups to wrestle, body slam and mouth each other!
While it’s normal for dogs to act this way, it’s interesting to understand why and also to know when to be concerned. So, continue reading to discover why your dogs are constantly play fighting.
Are dogs constantly play fighting safe?
Unlike us humans, play fighting in dogs is a totally normal way to communicate and socialise. It’s also a brilliant way of expending some energy that they may have pent up. At times, it can be worrying as a dog parent, watching as your dog play fights with another dog, especially as sometimes the noises and movements they make seem aggressive, but most of the time it’s all in good fun.
Dogs that play fight are using up energy and gaining some exercise, while puppies that do it are learning important adult behaviours. So try not to discourage your pup.
Of course, if it’s tricky to work out if your dog is playing or fighting, or if the play seems to be getting a little out of hand, step in where possible. But, generally, dogs constantly play fighting isn’t something to worry about.
What does it mean when dogs play fight?
As dogs aren’t able to talk, they communicate through movements and with their body language. This is no different when it comes to interacting with humans and other pups.
If your woofly pup enjoys the company of another dog, there’s a chance they’ll have some fun with them. That could involve running around after one another as well as play fighting. If you’ve ever gone for a joint walkies with someone else and their pup, there’s a chance the two furry friends will have had a roll and a jump together on the grass. This is just their way of having fun together. You and your friend may enjoy chatting about your hobbies, while the pups will roll around and play fight with each other.
Puppies will often play fight with their littermates too. This is a key way to learn bite inhibition and an unsocial dog may not know the difference between a real bite and a playful nip, which can become a problem when socialising with other dogs and play fighting starts.
Dog play fighting behaviours
So, you’ve seen your pup rolling around with another dog from time to time, but you’re not quite sure if it was a proper fight or just playful. Well, here is a list of play-fighting behaviours so you can be sure next time that they’re actually having fun:
Bouncy and jumping with goofy movements
Bowing to each other
Pups trying to play can slap their front paws on the ground
Exaggerated, loud growling and snarling
Returning to play fight over and over again
If your pups ever display this type of behaviour together, then you can be confident that they’re just play fighting and enjoying their time together.
When does play fighting go too far?
It’s important to pay close attention to your pup’s body language when they’re play fighting and pick up on early signs that the play fighting has gone a little too far. Here are some aggressive behaviours to look for:
Stiff bodies and hair standing up along their spine
Quick and stiff movements with no bouncing or exaggerating
Closed mouth with a curled lip
Low, grumbling growl used as a warning
One dog trying to get away from the other
If you notice any of these behaviours in your pup or another trying to play with yours, it’s important to stop the fighting early before it gets out of hand.
How to break up dogs play fighting
Breaking up fighting dogs can be difficult and dangerous. Nobody wants to get hurt and dog parents certainly don’t want to see their pup injured.
Here are three tips to help you break up a dog fight in case your pup is ever caught up in one:
Distract both dogs with a loud noise or use other modes of distraction. This could include banging objects together loudly or even spraying them with a hose and throwing a blanket over one.
Use an object to separate them. If you put your hand in the middle of the fighting, there’s a chance you’ll be bitten or caught by a claw. Use a brush or a chair - anything you can safely wedge in between them.
If you have to physically interrupt their fighting, it helps to have more than one person. Each grab one dog from behind, lift their hind legs and walk the dog backwards away from the other, creating a space between them.
Walkies with Yappy
Make sure you’re fully kitted out for your next walkies session with the pup! At Yappy, we have a wide selection of dog walk essentials, including leads and collars, poop bags and walking bags. Or why not keep yourself hydrated while out exercising with your own water bottle or travel mug?