Is My Dog Fighting or Playing? Ways to Know

If you are unfamiliar with the rituals of play that occur between two dogs, it can be a little concerning to observe.

Whenever you are watching two dogs play with each other, it will often look and sound like they are actually fighting. Sometimes play fighting can seem even more aggressive than actual fighting. Luckily, it is a healthy activity for your dogs to play even if it sounds scary.

However, it is important to understand when your puppy is playing and when they are actually fighting. You do not want to allow any actual fighting, as it would lead to bad behavior.

Your puppy could also get hurt if they are actually fighting with another dog.

In this list, we are going to look at a few different ways you can tell whether your puppies are playing or fighting with each other. By the end of it, you will be confident enough to let your puppies continue playing instead of breaking them up.

You will also be ready to help break up an actual fight; this thing ever does happen. Most of the time, well-behaved dogs will not just suddenly start fighting with other dogs. So the majority of cases, even if you believe they are actually fighting, it is probably just playing.

Before they began did they bow down at each other

If you were able to catch them before they started, you should have seen a particular behavior called the bow if they are playing. Whenever your dog does this, they will lower their front body down to their elbows in an almost jumping movement.

This is called the play bow. It is a signal from one dog to another that they are ready and excited to play with each other. If you see this, then you should not need to worry about what will happen while they are playing. If you do not see the this, then you may need to intervene.

Is there mouth open lazily?

Look at their mouths whenever they are going at each other. If your dogs are playing with each other and not fighting, then they should have them held open a little.

It will look almost as if they are smiling at each other. You should be able to tell from their face that they are not in a bad mood.

Is your dog moving around kind of funny

Whenever your dogs are playing, the way that they move will be different than if they were fighting. Dogs that are playing will not care about how efficiently they are moving.

All that they care about at that moment is having as much fun as possible. You may see them jump around a lot or otherwise move in a bouncing manner.

Is there any loud snarling or growling

Believe it or not, there is actually a louder and scarier sounding growl whenever they are playing and not actually fighting. Once you have heard these types of noises enough, instantly be able to recognize them.

They may sound incredibly vicious, but believe it, or not this is a good sign. The way that they sound whenever they are actually fighting is totally different.

Are they purposefully exposing themselves?

One surefire way to tell whether or not it is a real fight or if they are simply playing is by looking to see if they are willingly exposing themselves.

The only time that a dog will roll over on their belly when interacting with another dog is that they feel safe. If your dogs sound vicious, but you can tell that one of them is purposefully exposing themselves, then they definitely are just playing.

Are they trying to get away or not

This is one of the easiest ways to see if it is a real fight or not. Whenever dogs are actually fighting with each other, they will not keep trying to go back for more.

Whoever the loser is will most likely trying to get away as quickly as possible. They may not even wait until after the fight is over. If you see a dog struggling to get away, then you should go and help it. They are probably terrified as they are in a real fight at this moment.

Look at your dog’s body language

Sometimes it is easier to tell the difference by just looking at the body language of your dogs than it is with any other sign. If your dogs are playing, they will look more relaxed.

They are not going to care as much about how exactly they are moving around. Dogs are actually fighting will stand very stiff, and some may even have their hair stand on its edge. If you see this type of body language, then you need to separate the two animals.

Is your dog moving around quickly?

Whenever your dog is in a real fight, they are going to try and move as efficiently as possible. If you see them going to another dog and they are not moving around a lot, it is probably a real fight. They are trying to go in and submit the dog as quickly as possible.

Does one of the dogs look like they are not having fun?

Whenever two dogs are fighting with each other, you should be able to tell by simply looking to see if they are enjoying themselves. If it is a real fight, then at least one of the dogs should look like they are not enjoying themselves at all.

Is the growling a little quieter and at a lower register?

If you are concerned about there being a potential fight, listen to the sounds that the dogs are making. If they sound loud and vicious, then they are probably just playing. When dogs are going to actually fight each other, it is going to sound much deeper, and it will not be nearly as loud.

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