Are we creating a problem?

Posted by Terry
Feb 2, 2008
Background: Last January we adopted a 1 year old Malinois/lab/retriever named Parker. He was beautifully house trained but it appeared that he was on the shy side at all times and had a fairly major issue with men and my husband in particular. The dog also will not go down the inside house stairs - the outside stairs are fine and we have mutliple runs of stairs down to the the lake and he has no problem with them either. This issue was more prevalent in the house than outside - oddly enough there was never any 'shyness' in the car! With dog training manuals and trainer assistance my husband and the dog have over come the obstacle and now they are buds.

We live in the country and like to let the dog play and walk the back off leash some of the time. The dog, however, will recall for me 100% of the time (not always immedately however) when off leash but rarely for my husband. We have just joined your group and are reading up on ways to solve this problem - we may have to get back with questions.

Currrent question: Our neighbours a few months back got a puppy who is part border collie and the rest mutt. She is a charmer but totally unruly. A few months back we started 5 days a week meeting to have the dogs play and walk together.

There in lies the problem: The 'play' part seems to be getting rougher; the dogs used to chase and tug on sticks but we moved to one of those long braided rope toys. It seems as time goes on they want to 'play fight' as my daughter calls it more than chase and play with the toy. There is no growling involved and from what I've read they do not seems to be vicious but I am uncomfortable with the difference between 'play fighting' and 'REAL fighting'.

Is there a difference? I break up the kaffuffles and get them back to playing with the toy but it seems I have to to it more and more often.

After the dogs have had time running around and playing we leash the dogs and walk them together.

Are we doing something wrong? If so, help! What should we change; we would like to continue with our dogs spending time together.

Any advice/information would be most welcome. Thanks, Terry

pS: Any advice on the dog's other issues would be cool too )
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Feb 4, 2008
Hi Terry. It sounds as though your dog and your neighbor's dog are having fun everyday. This is how I judge if it's a play fight or real fight from my experience and I am pretty sure your dogs are just having fun!

As the two dogs get to know each other better, they feel more comfortable and trusty to each other, thus the play fights look sometimes more aggressive, involving some growling, rough rolling and jumping up and down, more teeth showing. Since human people are not used to this kind of scene, it makes us a bit uncomfortable to see it. However, dogs usually settle things down by themselves even if there is a little confrontation. They don't hardly get into a real blood shedding fight and there is no reason to do that for them.

What is creating the rough house here seems to be the toy. If both of them try to protect it, you might want to take it away and have them play with something that they don't need to get too serious about protecting. You can also have 2 of the same toys so that they don't see it as the "ONLY" toy.

This is what I would do to find out if it's a play fight or not. Let them play as usual and call them time out when they get too excited showing a treat, or make a big noise, something that can distract their fighting. If you can do that, in other words, if they stop fighting right away and come to you, it is a play fight.

I also think a real fight doesn't last long time. They just want to make it quick and decide which won the fight instead of wrestling around for a long time. I am pretty sure your dogs are just having fun.

But as I said, if it makes you people uncomfortable, take away the toy and give them something else.

Good luck