Home
Guest Posts
Print|Text Size: ||
Video: Fight or Play?
Learn to read canine body language
L to R: Shelby, Ginger Peach and Jolie play.

This might sound strange, but I've been studying dog play recently. A lot. My normally playful mixed breed, Ginger Peach, stresses easily in new environments.

She often refuses to tug on her toy, play with her Frisbee, or otherwise engage with me. She gets a glazed look in her eyes and pants heavily, completely overwhelmed by so many dogs, people, noise and no doubt smells.
 
This does not bode well for her long-term agility career if I don't figure out how to help her be as relaxed as she is in training or agility class.
 
I've been videotaping how she plays with my other dogs and reading as many books on dog play as I can. My friends and students enjoy watching some of the film snippets and good-naturedly listen to my latest canine body language observations.

What I find particularly intriguing is how some people can’t tell the difference between dog playing and dog fighting. When I showed the clip above to a friend, she thought my Dalmatian, Jolie, and mix, Ginger Peach, were fighting. The growling, teeth flashing and body pinning scared her. We talked about the difference between playing and fighting, and how to read canine body language. We also talked about play styles and why Jolie and GP are such a good match.

 
What’s your dog’s play style? How do you tell the difference between playing and fighting?

 

Print

Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

SpotOnK9Sports.com

More From The Bark

More in Guest Posts:
Garmin Dog Collar Gadget Has Sparked Outrage in Dog Community
Dying Woman Wants to be with Dogs
More Companies Are Allowing Pets At The Office
NJ Pays Tribute To 9/11 Search and Rescue Dogs
Rescuing a Dog in an Unlikely Predicament
Adopting From Thousands of Miles Away
English Bulldogs Face Extinction
Herding in Glacier National Park
Volunteering is a Family Tradition
Dogs Are Marathoners, Cat Are Sprinters