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Is this normal puppy play?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

We are taking puppy training classes at our local humane society (which is very well regarded, well funded, and the training department is run by a nationally known trainer - I feel good about the quality of the program).  Tonight was our 2nd class, but the first one with the puppies, and we were doing supervised play time in the beginning.


The instructor kind of separated the dogs based on their general tempermants - one side was super mellow dogs, the other side more playful dogs.  We were on the playful side.  Given the dogs on the other side, I think our placement was appropriate.  Our puppy has not had a lot of other dog experience (although she's had a ton of people/kid interaction), and I haven't gone to a dog park.  But she meets other dogs on our walks, and my mom's dog is around a lot, and she is bouncy and playful but there hasn't been any aggression or growling or anything.


So tonight there was one other puppy who is a bit bigger than she is, and they were at each other the whole time.  The other puppy was definitely stronger and kept pinning Zoey (our puppy) down on the ground.  There was a lot of somewhat gentle biting and rolling around, but the other puppy definitely had the upper hand.  Zoey didn't seem frightened - she wasn't tucking her tail or trying to get away - in fact she kept wanting to go back for more.  But it just seemed so violent to me!  The instructor did have us stop it at one point because she pointed out something about the fur on the other dog starting to stand up which indicated over-excitment?  I'm not sure I heard right, because there was a lot going on.


Apparently the puppy play will be at the beginning and end of every class, and I just want to make sure that I'm not subjecting Zoey to something inappropriate.  I'm new to having dogs, and admit that a lot of dog play seems violent to me, so I need some experienced perspective.  Is this something I just need to get comfortable with?

post #2 of 7
I think this would be a good question to ask your trainer. So much about this sort of thing is hard to convey across the internet, body language, vocalizations, reactions etc. Since you trust your trainer and she can see it first hand, I'd call her up or take her aside out of earshot of the other puppy owner and ask. Some puppys do play like that. And sometimes certain breeds have different play styles that seem dominating to other owners. Since your puppy seems fine with it, and even wants to go back and play more, my instinct is that it is probably fine.

I know, when I first got my Husky/Shepherd mix, I was shocked by how he played- he was very physical, and would also growl in his play, and could be very mouthy with my other dog. So I consulted a trainer just to check out what was going on- and she quickly allayed my fears- it was perfectly normal, just different and more vigorous than what I was used to with my previous dogs.
post #3 of 7

Yes, it's normal.  Puppies will play fight untill they crash from exaustion.  It's just the normal rule of things that bigger pup pins smaller pup, she should be just fine.  In fact, it is wonderful that they are allowing that kind of play and interaction, I bet she sleeps well after class!


That being said, this could be dangerous for adult dogs.  They are much touchier and aggressive, and play fighting can sometimes lead to real fighting.  But with pups I wouldn't worry.

post #4 of 7
Totally normal! This is just how puppies play, and it is how they lean bite inhibition, which is super important. Young puppies of comparable size can't really do damage to each other, but those little teeth are sharp! They quickly learn what pressure is appropriate for play when their playmate gives a sharp yelp and goes off to sulk. Without this kind of play a puppy will never learn how to "hold" his bite, and as an adult might have real accidental biting issues once the larger teeth come in and the jaws strengthen. A puppy who is allowed to practice biting and fighting will be much more likely to have a softer mouth as an adult.

My pup always liked to play on the bottom, too. smile.gif She is 7 months old now and still enjoys it. The other day at the dog park she and a little heeler were playing and my dog spent the entire time on her back. The dog-mom apologized and chastised her dog at first but i quickly pointed out that my dog Merlow was having the time of her life, and that I would be able to tell if she were in any distress. She saw my point and we just let the pups do their thing for 45 minutes, at which point they were exhausted, muddy, and happy.

I loved taking my pup to "puppy playdates" when she was a small pup. She could romp for an hour with other pups in just the way you described. Nothing wears a puppy out better than a good wrestle session. Just make sure that neither pup is distressed in any way (tail tucked under, panic, running to hide, yelping, etc). Your instructor was right to separate them a little when one got carried away; like little kids puppies can get a bit over-stimulated and forget good behavior! Better to take a little break and calm down rather than let things escalate too far. But when everyone is calm they can go right back to romping.
post #5 of 7

Yeah, sounds normal and great! Dogs are the best teachers at teaching other dogs how to be.. well... DOGS! I have 5 dogs, and when the new pup came in they played with him as a pup, but he bit too hard or broke the rules they let him know! If one bites the other too hard they will let out a YIP! And the offender usually backs off a little. :) Thats AWESOME that your dog is getting that kind of sociallization! 

post #6 of 7

We have 2 puppies that are now about 7 to 8 months old - we brought them home about 5 months ago. They play wrestle all the time. When we first brought them home, at points, puppy play did seem overly aggressive to me, too. But, they often pin each other down, growl, chase each other, etc. and I do think that it's completely normal. I will also add that our pups have had a couple of disagreements, too. There is a DEFINITE difference. If your dog engages in a real fight, you will immediately know.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your reassurance.  I admit that I have always been a little taken aback by how aggressively dogs seem to play, and now that it's my puppy it's pretty hard to watch.  I most definitely didn't see any signs of her being afraid - there was another puppy there that at first played with the puppy that is bigger than mine, and that puppy almost immediately was slinking away with her tail between her legs, obviously frightened, and the instructor had them stop.  So I trust that she knows what she's doing, but it does make my heart race a bit.

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