How do you know when dogs are playing too rough?

asked 2016-07-23 11:32:22 -0600

I am taking care of a F young Boxer and a M 5 year old Pitt Bull. I am concerned that they are playing too rough and one might get hurt.

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answered 2016-07-23 12:13:57 -0600

For me, I just know when it's lighthearted play (with no undertones of challenging, dominance testing, etc.) If there's a lot of rough housing, running and crashing into each other, that's too much for me. If there is throwing a paw over the back, holding a head over the other's neck, stalking (one dog soliciting more play than than another dog, being pushy and unrelenting about it), I stop that immediately. I don't let dogs play "tug" together. I feel like that tends (more often than not) to incite challenging or escalating behaviors. (The only tug I play is one-on-one with a dog, me sitting or laying on the floor, rubbing the dog's face while giving and taking with the rope. It's less tug and more bonding.).

I would err on the side of caution if you're uncomfortable with the energy.

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Thank you so much for your input, it's the young boxer that just won't quit. When she does this we put her in her crate for a time out. Thanks again Mark.

Kendall H.'s profile image Kendall H.  ( 2016-07-23 12:35:17 -0600 ) edit

If the Boxer is very young (6 mo) it might not be bad for the adult dog to teach it some "manners." Sometimes we err by breaking up those dynamics. But, I would be reluctant to let that happen with someone else's dogs. I just mention it as a possibility. Stopping everything is safe.

Mark F.'s profile image Mark F.  ( 2016-07-23 14:39:33 -0600 ) edit

Instead of a timeout, you can be present and step between them when the B is overbearing. Make it lay down (enforce it). It takes repetition, but eventually she will understand it's unwanted behavior. (Timeouts don't always work, only delay. Depends on the age. Better for younger dogs, IMO.).

Mark F.'s profile image Mark F.  ( 2016-07-23 14:44:18 -0600 ) edit

I agree with Mark. I get good results when I step in occasionally to show them "the rules", and togive a dog a break from the others if he/she seems to need it. If the older dog is really trying to get away from the boxer, I would step in and block her off of him before he has to do it.

Jessica M.'s profile image Jessica M.  ( 2016-07-23 18:07:43 -0600 ) edit
answered 2016-07-23 18:05:00 -0600

There should be a lot of running and even biting and jumping on top of each other, but no aggression. If one dog seems to be running away with their tail down the majority of the time, then it is time to step in and give the more shy dog a "break" from the other one. Sometimes dogs can feel overwhelmed and want a time out. If you see the dogs growling and going face-to-face, it's usually more fighting than playing. You should see a healthy amount of give and take. One dog chases for a little, then turns and allows the other dog to chase.
As long as there is no actual fighting, I would let them go for it! They are both high energy breeds who can really play hard, so unless you hear yelping or attacking, they are probably just fine.

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Thank you so much for all of the ideas. I think they are ok because they do as Jessica said the give and take. I think I am a little worried because I am new at this and want to be extra careful.

Kendall H.'s profile image Kendall H.  ( 2016-07-23 21:17:52 -0600 ) edit

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