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When does puppy-play become concerning
  • Huxley is about 5 months now and has really blossomed into a very loving and even tempered little boy. At first, like all puppies, he was shy and clung to me every time we would go to the dog park, but he now roams and plays with the other dogs with visible confidence. Lately, though, I have begun to notice his style of play with the other dogs and puppies. Often, Huxley engages in play with others through pouncing, tackling, nipping, and "wrestling", though tails are always waging and none of the participants ever overtly object to the style of play (owners included).
    My question is, when does this normal puppy rambunctiousness become cause for concern and correction?
    Let me also say that I believe dogs will be dogs and I am about the farthest thing from an overly sensitive owner. I just want to keep Hux from developing any bad habits or overly aggressive behaviors.

    Pics of the boy..
    Post edited by curlytails at 2012-12-12 23:46:32
  • shibahiroshibahiro
    Posts: 977
    Hiro is 7 months and he plays differently with Shibas compared to other dogs. With Shibas, he does the "pouncing, tackling, nipping, and wrestling". That's just Shiba play. =) I go to shiba inu meetups once a month and all the Shibas play like that. young or old.
  • KibaInuKibaInu
    Posts: 214
    I'd observe to see if he takes a pause if he causes another dog to squeal / yelp. If he does pause, then he knows to stop when he plays too rough. If he doesn't stop and keeps going then I would interject and make him take a break for a short while before letting him go at it again. Also if he's chasing a dog that looks to be scared of him i'd try to stop that. Never know what a scared dog will do to defend themselves.
  • robes325robes325
    Posts: 264
    Thats completely normal.
    Stop the playing when they start growling or when you hear the shiba scream.
    Its important for puppies to play and nip at each other because they need to learn that biting hurts and not to play too rough. If another dog is staring Hux down, not wagging his tail, and is in a pouncing pose then stop the playing--they are going to attack. There is a big difference between a dog attacking and a dog playing.
    Post edited by robes325 at 2011-05-25 22:08:28
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    Pouncing and growling are normal puppy play behaviors. You can interupt the play if you are uncomfortable with it.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    I wouldn't stop a play session simply due to a growl. I also wouldn't read too much into tail activity or a pouncing pose (especially in a Shiba pup).

    Puppy play is essentially a mash-up of various fixed-action behavior patterns (FAPs). Some of those patterns will be predatory in nature (pounce, stalk, bite), some will be sexual in nature (humping, sniffing, licking), and some will be social in nature (play-bow, ground sniffing, rolling over). All of these behaviors are important to a dog's survival skills and puppies mimic these behaviors in play as a way to "practice" them for later in life. Puppy play should show all of these types of behaviors, that is normal puppy play. Through practicing these behaviors puppies build confidence and learn how to interact with other dogs. Puppy play should get too rough, and it should cause puppies to stop, shake-it-off, and then continue to play. Recovering from conflicts like that is a very important skill for puppies to learn as it will help them coupe with social stress latter in life.

    Your question of when to intervene and when to correct, my answer would be this: If play gets to a point where you are not comfortable, you should feel free to call the puppies over to you and offer them a treat. This will interrupt their play and and associate the interruption with a "good thing" (a treat). As for correcting, I would NEVER correct your pup for play, even if you feel he was out of line. Simply redirect your puppy with a treat and focus his attention on something else. You do not want your puppy to think he is a "bad dog" for acting like a puppy.

    Here is an article on the subject:

    Post edited by BradA1878 at 2011-05-25 19:21:51
  • Serkle kSerkle k
    Posts: 974
    Awesome info Brad!!

    From what I learned in her classes, I implement a 3 strike rule. If Stella (or even the other dog) causes a yelp or scream 3 times consecutively (without pauses, shake offs or switching roles) I interrupt the play, I usually try to distract and then pet Stella. It's hard for me to have treats in some situations like at the park, because the other dogs may be possessive over treats. When it's my cousin's dog or Micha, I can usually have 2 treats (one in each hand) and give it to them when they are apart.
  • Thanks for the info, everybody. The only reason I felt the need to ask was due of an interaction that took place at the dog park a few days ago. Huxley was playing as he usually does with the other dogs, then proceeded to approach a three month old husky pup. After some sniffing, Hux tried to initiate play with a few gentle nudges and a pounce, though this puppy was very skittish and began to yelp/ whine when Huxley did this. The owners of this husky, after a couple of these attempts, seemed to become a bit too protective and perhaps even annoyed with Huxley as he tired to socialize with their pup. It was because of this interaction that I began to more closely observe my guy's play habits, and from this my concerns began to manifest themselves.
    I had never suspected Huxley was being too rough in the present tense and I'm happy to hear that I was correct in my assumptions. You have to admit, though, that a shiba's face can look rather.. "aggressive" during the heat of play. haha
    Post edited by sybarra3290 at 2011-05-26 14:22:13
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242
    That Husky owner is gonna ruin that dog by taking him/her to a dog park. This is exactly why you should avoid dog parks, and NEVER EVER use a dog park for socializing a socially immature puppy.

  • robes325robes325
    Posts: 264
    why was a three month old husky at a dog park anyway? It doesnt even have all of its vaccinations. they were probably a first time dog owner or something.
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
    I agree the husky pup needs to be in a puppy class and socialized with some dogs, but not at dog park..

    I'm no expert, but a young dog can have a bad experience at the dog park especially if there's a lot of dogs there..

    "You have to admit, though, that a shiba's face can look rather.. "aggressive" during the heat of play"

    I agree with ya on that Saya's play face can look scary it usually puts owners on guard, but their dogs seem fine with it so they do better once they see that.

    Most huskies I've seen play can look scary too so maybe it's a spitz thing..

    Your dog play style sounds like Saya she does that too.
    Nicole, 5year old Bella(Boxer), and 4year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • Bumping this thread although I know it's been a long time.

    I mainly wanted to ask if my 2+ years old female pug (Callie) is being too rough with my 8 weeks old female Shiba puppy (Yuka). One thing to note is that Callie is not a normal pug size, she's 7kg, the runt of the litter and is what everyone calls "oohhh a mini pug!!". Yuka is also rather small for her age. We just brought Yuka home yesterday, and this is what I've observed so far when they played last night.

    Callie went into her play-bow position before play, but once she plays, she's like an overexcited dog that does not know when to stop. I think she is unaware of her strength and size compared to Yuka, especially because she swats at Yuka constantly (that's probably due to her flat face), then does her pug dance left and right complete with her snorts. Yuka is scrawny and small so I get worried that Callie's swat might potentially hurt Yuka. I feel like I should add here that Callie isn't as socialised as she should be - we are still trying to further socialise Callie.

    Yuka played with Callie well, but she did so by being mouthy - trying to nip at Callie, I believe. She responded to Callie's swat by twisting around with her mouth open and trying to bite Callie. She also growled once, and after we separated them for a bit, Callie went to play with Yuka by swatting her again, and this time Yuka growled for a longer while and tried to bark. We separated them again, of course. All this while, Callie was on her leash.

    Yuka allowed Callie to sniff her butt, but Callie refused to let Yuka sniff her butt (Callie is like that with all dogs, actually, unless the butt sniffing becomes one long line of dogs then Callie gets too distracted and doesn't care). Each time Yuka tried to touch her nose to Callie's nose, Callie would hop away as if she was shocked or surprised.

    Is Callie being too rough with Yuka? Was Yuka getting angry with Callie? I want to nip this in the bud as early as possible because they're gonna be sisters for life. I tried searching for how to read dog behaviour and signs of dog aggression during playtime and all on this forum but wasn't getting anywhere, hence reviving this old thread :)

    PS: They have both signed up for doggy classes starting August :)
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8584
    @themuseofepicpoetry - Oh dear. :( You really should have made sure that your current dog (Callie) was well socialized before adding another dog. Especially a Shiba. But what is done is done.

    First off, if Yuka seems put off, annoyed, or fearful of Callie's play, you should immediately stop allowing them to interact. Adding a new dog to a household can be very stressful for both the new dog and the resident dogs. Since Callie is not socialized with other dogs and does not know how to play or read body language, you are at a huge disadvantage.

    This is a great thread on introducing a new dog to your household and can give you some insight on how to do things properly:

    You also advised that both dogs are going to doggy classes (I can only imagine you mean training classes?) in August. Please make sure that they will be in separate classes so that you can spend one on one time with each of them.

    In the meantime, supervise their interactions and make sure that it is a positive experience for each of them. If one of them starts to get too rough, redirect that dog and treat/praise when they are playing in an acceptable manner.
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • Thanks! The link was helpful and I'll definitely work on positive experiences (although sometimes I still can't really tell if they are fighting or playing). I'm hoping they grow out of it in a couple of months!

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