Ideally, it would be common knowledge that one of the most important clues for evaluating play between dogs is the presence of regular pauses. The pauses allow dogs to regroup, maintain emotional control and then start playing again with play signals that remind other individuals of the playful intentions behind the play behavior.
Play can quickly change from fun, fun, fun to an out-of-control scary and potentially injurious whirlwind of paws, teeth, and yelps. Play with lots of pauses is far less likely to turn into such a troublesome situation than play without such pauses.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.