Play or fight?  Your dog’s body language
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Play or fight? Your dog’s body language

During their first 8 weeks, pups are exposed to volumes of information about coping and social skills from their mother and siblings. Puppies separated too early from their mother and littermates are often at a great social disadvantage in the fine art of being a well-adjusted, well-mannered dog. Poor in coping skills and dog manners, many suffer their entire lives with serious antisocial behavior problems. Unfortunately, they are not happy dogs.

Dogs generally communicate non-verbally. It’s all about body language. During those first 2 months, two of the most important things puppies learn are how to initiate play and when and how to defend themselves. Mom usually stays out of the way and lets the kids figure it out for themselves. However, a good mother will step in and adjudicate if the children start to lose control. It is during these little lessons in manners; a puppy learns to play and, most importantly, acquires the knowledge and skills to find his place in the world of dogs with ease and confidence.

The invitations to play are obvious to puppies and well-adjusted dogs who have gone through “basic training” with mom and siblings. They can read the invitation sent by another dog. They know when you approach them with a play bow, demonstrated by the other dog’s butt in the air, front legs extended, a verbal message through a playful bark or growl, tail high and wagging, they’ve just been invited to play. The invitation can also include a few groping moves and a touch of teasing or two.

When extending the invitation, some dogs have been known to make a “funny face”, often mistaken by inexperienced dog owners as threatening. It’s actually a dog’s way of adding a goofy grin to the request. It’s his way of saying, “Do you want to play?” or “Come on, let’s fight or chase.”

When dogs play, size usually doesn’t matter. He is a large, cunning and well behaved dog, who has learned to make himself smaller so as not to appear threatening to smaller dogs. They will typically self-inhibit and assume the submissive role, rolling onto their backs to show the smaller dog, “Look, I’m vulnerable…play with me!”

Many dog ​​park patrons have been embarrassed when their dog mounts another dog…especially if they are of the same sex. Chill out. It’s not always something sexual. It’s a normal part of playing and showing off the other guy. “I am a legend in my own mind.”

Puppies and dogs equipped with proper social skills usually know when it’s time to de-escalate a situation if it starts to get too difficult. They show a self-inhibited manner by turning away and acting submissive. This screen sends the message, “OK, I’ve had enough, you win! Let’s go have a drink.”

Two dogs that know each other well often take turns being submissive. Watching and then playing together is like watching a soap opera! There’s a lot of drama, no substance, and a lot of fun. The best part is that they go home tired and happy!

One of the most interesting behaviors between two dogs that know each other well is when rough play turns into a bite fight, where they drag each other by the fur, tail, or ears, stop suddenly, and walk away together. for a quick drink to cool off. off, and then resume the game where they left off.

Watching the silliness and fun shared by two dogs playing together is great laughter therapy. One hour at a dog park is probably more beneficial than ten with your therapist!

In fact, dogfights are not as common as most people think. Most dogs find some kind of common ground to have a reason to play with each other, rather than fight each other.

That’s not to say that some dogs aren’t bullies or just plain mean! As with people with social disabilities, there are dogs that like to pick fights. His body language is quite clear. They want to appear as large and menacing as possible. They stand tall and rigid, feet planted firmly on the ground. The problems are above. The ears are pinned back or pointed forward. There is an intense look, narrowed eyes. The lips are drawn in a curl, showing the bare teeth. Some can make a low growl. The tail is straight and full. This is a dog that is looking for a fight!

If your dog is displaying this behavior, get it under control right away! If it’s not your dog, don’t make quick movements. If your dog has extensive social skills, he will instantly display a submissive posture. Most of the time, his behavior is enough to deny the situation. If your dog challenges the other dog, or his show of submission isn’t enough, he may have a dogfight on his hands.

Never get between fighting dogs, to grab their collar or scruff. When your dog is in survival mode, he won’t see you as his protector.

Instead, each owner should grab their dog by the hind legs and pull them away from each other. After separating the dogs, each owner should begin to turn in a circle or, if possible, slowly rock their dog in a circle, while he walks away from the other dog. By doing this rocking motion, you make it difficult for your dog to curl up and deflect aggression from him to you!

Don’t let go of any of the dogs! Get them out of each other’s sight, as quickly as possible.

Bottom line: by learning to read your dog’s body language, you’ll learn to differentiate between play stances and fighting stances. He learns to read his posture, tail, head, ears, mouth, and eyes. Learn to read the difference between their different bars and grunts. Learn to tell if your dog’s body is relaxed and open to invitation. Learn to know when your dog is ready to have fun or start a fight!

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