are they playing??

Posted by alphawannabe
Sep 2, 2008
I have an 11 year old lab/border collie female, and a lab mix puppy about 9 months old. We've had him since February and has proven to be quite a handful, but we're trying to use the info I've learned from the Kingdom of Pets and Dog Whisperer. I don't know if it's a problem or not, but when these two play, they sound like they're killing each other. I feel like I'm watching the Animal Planet when these two go at it. The older one has never played like this before with any other dog, even her companion, we had to put down in January.

My concern is how do I know if the puppy is playing or being aggressive. I fear he is actually part pit bull also so I'm quite wary. Are there signs I should be looking for? I take them to the dog park and he plays like this somewhat with other dogs, just not as extreme, and now growling.
Posted by Maggiesmom1
Sep 6, 2008
I know exactly what you mean when its hard to tell if two dogs are playing or fighting. But, if you have ever experienced a true fight, there is no question. The answer is probably that they are "play fighting", which is totally normal. (Kind of reminds me of "Is it a cold or the flu?" If you have the real flu you know for sure that it's not a cold, but when you have a cold you can't tell.--I hope that analogy makes sense!)

If the dogs look like they are getting too rough, distract them. Call one of them over for a 'treat', throw a ball, or sometimes its necessary for me to get out the tennis racket. I keep an old tennis racket on my porch and if I don't like what I see or if they won't stop when I say "that's enough", I just point the racket at them and swish it in the air and mine both stop.

Try to have rules for the "rough housing"---outside only, not in the house. Your dogs are probably just trying to establish who will be the dominant one, which will be important when your younger dog turns into an adult and the older one is now 12+ years. Dogs try to see who is the strongest, toughest and who means business between them. They have to do this to be able to live together peacefully. (But we all know that the owners are the alphas!)

Also--watch the puppy now that he's older and be sure he isn't just driving your older dog nuts. Older dogs don't have the energy and stamina to keep on chasing, keep on wrestling. I have started taking Maggie (my younger one) to the dog park by herself just so she can rough house with younger dogs like her. She's a "scrappy" dog...loves to rough and tumble, but she's young and has lots of energy to burn, probably like your puppy.

Hope that helps.