A short post today to help some dog owners experience rough play vs. aggression. The accompanying video is a short tutorial just to get the ball rolling about dogs biting each other during play.
Okay, so since you know that dogs don't have hands, they have to manipulate their world somehow, right? Imagine yourself without arms trying to wrestle with someone else without arms. How easy would that be? And how soon would it be before YOU started using your mouth?
This is certainly not to say that pack leaders shouldn't monitor the play. It IS your job to supervise the level of the intensity that goes along with play. It is no different than when a child is getting too active when they're playing and it looks like they're beginning to lose control. Pack leaders should understand this principal, and the fact that all pack leaders can and should control the intensity of group dog play.
If you are truly unsure, especially with your dog, here are a few tips that can help:
1. If your dog has had an "incident" in the past, leave the past behind. Your dog probably did (they usually do!).
2. Ask a professional WITH EXPERIENCE to accompany you to the dog park to help explain what you are seeing.
3. Go to the dog park without your dog and just watch how the dogs -- and humans -- interact. Did a dog come into the park in an excited state or did the pack leader wait for a calmer state of mind before entering ahead of the dog? Is there a lot of tension/frustration/anxiety on the part of the human? All of these can signal a potential outburst.
4. If a fight does break out, listen to the humans, not the dogs. This is where many humans cannot control their emotions. Watch what the response is to the "fight"; did they simply leash up their dog and remove them from the park? This is not always the best response and does show a lack of leadership on the part of the human.
Until the next time, stay calm, assertive, and be the Pack Leader your dog needs!