Play Styles & Status Seeking: Correlated?

A short post today, but with a pithy question generated from the last post on play. We all agree that different breeds of dogs tend to have different play styles, with herding dogs, for example, more likely to engage in run/chase games and bully breeds more likely to wrestle and body slam. Wrestling can include many behaviors, but a common goal of wrestling in any species is to pin another individual to the ground.

A lot of the wrestling/body slamming play in canines also includes chin over, leg over, vertical play and other movements that replicate the postures and gestures associated with high dogs seeking high social status.

So here’s the question: Do the dogs (in general of course) who engage in body slam/wrestle play tend to be individuals who care more about social status? I’ll add more to this discussion next week, but tease you with research that shows that you see a lot of role reversals in chase games (one dog in front, then the other) but very few role reversals in other actions more related to mounting and vertical play.

Meanwhile, back at the farm: I admit it, I’m an Olympic junkie. I’m getting sleep deprived staying up at night for heaven’s sake. Luckily, Will has had lots of entertainment during the day–we’ve been working the sheep a lot because all 3 groups are overweight (me, Will and sheep) and slogging up the hill in the deep snow is a great work out plan; we’re working on new tricks, he’s had lots of dog friends come visit and we’re doing lots of cuddling while I obsess in front of the television. We also went into town to do an applied ethoogy demonstration for my UW class, a good experience for Willie and although I’m sure not especially enjoyable for sheep, safe and relatively stress free.

I am also hereby declaring I am sick of winter. Not the snow, not the cold, I’m just starved for color and some change to what’s going on outside. I’d never make it in Antarctica! But there is still beauty: here are some trees covered in frost one morning, not long ago. I love the contrast of the dark trunks and the crystal white ice:

Comments

  1. Chris says

    I’m not sure how to answer this question, but I’ll be very curious to see other responses. We have two dogs: a 9 year old Border Collie x and a 6 month old AmStaff. Very, very different play styles, a chaser and a wrestler. For the time being, it seems that when they are out doors with room to run, they play chase style and when indoors, limited space, they tend to wrestle. Our AmStaff definitely likes to lift herself up higher when they are wrestling. The border collie x never, ever corrects her. In fact, he sometimes engages in play with a play bow and then gets completely on the ground and plays from that “handicapped” position. I am very interested in how it develops as she continues to mature and really want to make sure I’m fostering good play behavior in the young AmStaff.

  2. says

    That’s a difficult question to answer. My GSD mix is both a chaser AND a body slammer. Though he does LESS body slamming now unless he REALLY knows the dog. He LOVES chasing but prefers to BE CHASED. When I first got him as a rescue he was 1.5 years old with a LOT of fear and aggression issues. Like I said, i wish I hadn’t taken him to the dog park and instead took him straight to training. However, he can do fine in a dog park, his main issues were dogs coming in to the park and going through pack rank issues from that. He almost always became naughty. Today, that doesn’t bother him and he doesn’t seem to notice. He also almost always used to initiate play with body slamming, but today he does not unless he really knows the dog. I don’t know why this has changed other than he does a LOT of obedience with me as well as SAR training and Schutzhund training. And I’ve really worked with positive reinforcement upon meeting other dogs and “ejecting” from any situation that would cause anxiety in meeting another dog. meaning, i’d walk away. so in a sense i’ve begun to extinguish his anxiety of meetng dogs and he’s calmer about it and will be much sweeter about engaging in play. he’ll still display some anxiety if he sees unusually large dogs (mastifs or danes) but it goes away when i immediately address it with him and teach him to be calm around them.

    When we rescued our 2nd dog, a siberian, right after rescuing him (because his energy was too much for me and I thought that was a great idea… WRONG), their play styles couldn’t be more opposite. Somehow over the last 2 years of having them, they’ve found a middle ground. both will wrestle and both will chase eachother. I think she (the sibe) would wrestle more if she didn’t have hip dysplasia. I can tell when she doesn’t want to wrestle, by the way she moves, she isn’t feeling up to it. He tends to try to bully her into play to initiate play while she is much gentler about it. she’ll go up to him and bite his ear while he’s napping, or play bow, or roll over for him. she’ll act coy and put on her best flirtations. while he is much more a bully. between the two, SHE (my sibe who is a gentler player) is my alpha, paws down. So as I write this and think aobut it, I’d say that bully/body slamming is not a status seeking play style, because even though he still plays this way, he will always bow to her status. ALWAYS. and if she doesn’t engage in play with him and ignores him or runs to her “corner” to ignore his advances, then he doesn’t try any harder.

    Also, when he used to be a wrestler, i have photo evidence of him being on top and on bottom. Today, I’ll even see him PURPOSELY go upside down for the Siberian during wrestling tho he CLEARLY is stronger and could pin her. I don’t think i’ve ever seen him pin her. So I think I’ll stick with my opinion that it’s only status within play session and not necessarily a long-standing pack rank status.

    I think the same could be true for chasers. just because there isn’t a bottom or top dog in chase, you’d have to think that the chaser could be taking on higher rank status simply through the force of chasing or the chaseee could be taking on higher rank status becuase the chaser is not catching him (ha-ha, you can’t catch me!). I’d say no matter the style, in each play session, there is some “trumping” going on for the play session itself, but not for a long-standing pack status.

  3. says

    I have the bully breed and find that it totally varies with the individual. I had 3 sibling Pit Bulls and the one with the highest status always had to maintain his status but the other 2 seemed okay with taking a back seat. The only dog I have left is the one who was the lowest status and he continues to be this way with every dog he meets. I’ve seen other dogs confront him and he always turns the other cheek.
    I’ve been reading your book, The Other End of the Leash and enjoying it very much and also enjoying the conversation here which seems to be very much corresponding with the book lately. I was brought to tears when I saw your photo with Lassie in the latest issue of Bark magazine. So sorry for your loss. Glad you have your other friends around you.
    If you need some color, check out my blog or other art blogs. Here in NW Oregon it is so warm that we actually mowed the grass this afternoon! Just think of how wonderful your snow will seem come August heat!

  4. Pike says

    The Olympics sure are fun to watch!

    As to dog play, I would like to throw another style of playing into the mix: The “bring down the pray and kill it” style that many hounds use. It starts out with running and chasing and then becomes slamming and wrestling to the ground – followed by going for the throat. All, of course, accompanied by loud and fearsome growls.

    My current – status seeking and insecure – hound dog Ronja enjoys that play style very much. My previous hound Megan – who was not at all status seeking and very sure of herself with any and all dogs – also used that exact same style. Sparky, the Portie – not status seeking but insecure with male dogs taller than him – has never been good at playing with other dogs and sees mounting as the only way to engage into a brief game – that usually quickly turns sour. Now, that he is old, he just ignores other dogs or gives them a quick wag of the tail.

    As the hound style is a bit of a combination of the two other styles, it does not surprise me that Ronja plays well with most dogs – once she is familiar with them. She adores playing and also has no problems reversing roles from predator to pray and back during play sessions. Even with the most mellow and submissive lab of one of my neighbors, she tries throwing herself at his feet offering belly and throat – while all he ever wants is a good game of tug with a toy.

    The ease of role reversal, might have to do with the fact, that Ronja does not engage into play unless she feels quite secure with another dog. Also, she has several much smaller doggie friends – and they taught her early on to be respectful even during roughhousing. One Bichon female – also status seeking – loves to bring Ronja down and “rip” her throat out – never mind that she is only about a third of her size.

    Well, this should have muddied the water some more. Back to TV watching – with neighbors and dog play…

  5. monkeypedia says

    Interesting. I have a pit bull who, like some of the dogs listed above, enjoys chasing games outdoors, and LOVES wrestling games and bitey-face indoors. My observation of her wrestling games, especially with other bully breeds who enjoy the same play style, has been that there actually IS a lot of turn taking, with both dogs taking swipes at the other, taking turns being the one biting at the other’s neck, cheek or head, and taking turns going belly up under the other dog. If it helps with the data points, my dog generally has good dog social skills off leash (somewhat reactive on-leash though much improved), though she takes a bit longer to warm up to dogs larger than she is (she has several GSD friends but they made her a bit nervous until she got used to them), and in several roommate dog situations, has always been the top dog among the resident dogs, by what appears to have been instant consensus (though none of those were bigger dogs, who she tends to defer to).

    I’ve also noticed that she will frequently switch from the dominant to the submissive role in a game in what seems to be a move to keep the game going longer, if the other dog appears to be losing interest. Also, I’ve observed both my own dog and other dogs handicapping themselves in this style of wrestling play – for instance by lying down and wrestling only with the head to accommodate a smaller dog, or a less athletic/energetic dog.

  6. Kat says

    I’ve been thinking about this question. Ranger has a wide variety of playmates of varying breeds. He’s also very definitely an alpha dog. Regulars at the dog park refer to him as the “park ranger” and “the sheriff” a lot of his time at the dog park is spent keeping the peace, bulling between dogs that are getting ramped up, distracting the dogs that are playing too rough for their chosen playmate, herding the ones pushing the limits away from the timid dogs. But when it’s a nice group of dogs that are playing well together Ranger plays with particular friends. He loves labradoodles who are almost all chase with occasional pauses for wrestling. He loves taking turns with other herding breeds playing the “you can’t get by me game.” With his Boer Boel pal there is limited running but fierce play fighting. If you’re watching casually it can really look like a serious dog fight but if you watch closely you see that both dogs are completely at ease and despite the sound effects and flashing teeth they aren’t actually connecting at all. Playing with his lab/dane cross friends there is a lot of chase and a lot of wrestle and they frequently take turns mounting each other as a way to initiate play. One of these lab/dane crosses likes to grab onto the fur just above Ranger’s tail and draft along as they run very very fast around the park. When Ranger has had enough of this he’ll shift to a higher gear and leave his pal with a mouthful of fur. When the pal is the chasee Ranger’s more likely to lie in wait for him or cut him off. Actually, cutting another dog off is one of Ranger’s favorite things to do. He was playing chase with his Welsh Springer girlfriend and she was running full tilt for the picnic table knowing that she could easily dive underneath but he’d have to stop and belly crawl to get under. He saw what her plan was and angled off to intercept her. As she dove under the table she looked back to watch him get scraped off only to plow into him as she came out the other side. She did a classic double take looking for all the world like she was wondering how on earth he’d been there for her to run into when moments before he’d been behind her. Another one of his girlfriends is a smooth coated border collie. She’s there to work and her job is chasing down and bringing back tennis balls or it is running clockwise circles around other dogs that are wrestling. He’ll cut her off and try to herd her the other day. Her person and I describe their relationship as complicated. She’ll snap at him and charge him to back him off but at the same time she’ll go out of her way to run by him and get his attention. On the straight his longer legs eat up the ground and they’re pretty evenly matched in speed but her lower center of gravity and lighter weight give her the advantage on turns. She’ll slow down on the turns so he can stay with her. She’s acting on the one hand like she doesn’t want to play (growls, snaps, charges) and on the other like she does (soliciting and self-handicapping). Initially we tried to intervene but finally we decided that it was too complicated for us and they’d have to figure it out. There’s another BC that Ranger won’t play with at all in the fenced area of the park but will play a gentle game of chase with if they are in the unfenced area. She’s pretty neurotic so he never gets really close to her and she’s always the chasee. Probably the funniest play session I ever saw was Ranger and a MinPin. The MinPin was taking down this big dog. At one point the MinPin slammed into Ranger’s shoulder and there was this pause, it looked like Ranger was calculating what effect it would have had if the MinPin had been big enough to have any effect, then Ranger fell to the ground as if he’d been knocked over by the blow and the MinPin jumped all over him play growling and barking and clearly very proud of himself for having taken down the big guy. Ranger often chooses to wrestle from his back. I’ve very seldom seen another dog actually knock him down but often see him get down and roll over to continue wrestling from this subordinate position. I’m not sure what prompts that although I know he does it most often with puppies, I suspect it is a way to have the puppies wear themselves out without him having to exert much energy.

    I’m not really sure what conclusions can be drawn from all that except that there are a variety of play styles and that dogs can adapt to each other’s styles even when they have a personal preference. And that when the dogs are well socialized and confident it’s easier to adapt to each other’s styles. Now that I think of it all of Ranger’s particular friends are very solid well adjusted dogs.

  7. Frances says

    My two are still young, and I want to nip any signs of serious quarrelling in the bud as they mature, so am watching their play carefully! Both love to play chase – with each other and with almost any dog they meet that will join in politely. They also love to body slam and wrestle, but only with dogs they know well and trust – they are tinies, so big, careless dogs can hurt. When I first got Poppy (toy poodle, now 8 months) Sophy the papillon self-handicapped during play, letting her win when playing tug, and rolling over for her. I was actually a bit concerned that Sophy was too easy with Poppy, but found she set, and maintained, firm ground rules about the things that were important to her, like not being trampled on in the car, and settling down quietly at bed time (well done, Sophy!). Now that they are much the same size and weight, their play is at first glance pretty equal, but I have noticed that Sophy is doing more vertical actions – chin, paw, etc on Poppy’s neck. Whether this is because Poppy is coming out of puppyhood, or whether it is observer bias – me looking for it because I know she is coming out of puppyhood – I don’t know. I will certainly be watching them with interest over the coming months!

    I was interested to read about Ronja’s play style with small dogs – my neighbour’s lovely, elderly Spinone always plays with my two as if they were pups – lies down and lets them climb all over her, while very gently mouthing them back. She has never had a litter – I must ask if she knew many small dogs when she was young.

  8. Angel says

    I have a 1 year old male who is a mix of Siberian Husky and maybe Lab. He definitely loves rough play, wrestling and body slamming, but also loves chase. He was having weekly play dates with a pit bull (play dates on hold now due to weather and time constraints), and they would do a lot of wrestling, chasing, and parralel running. At this time, my guy was about 9 or 10 months, and the pit was 2 years. I think age comes into play with this as well. Bear (my boy) would generally let the older dog take higher status as far as being on top during wrestling and getting the upper paw, so to speak, in paw and chin overs. This could be an issue when we resume play dates, as Bear is over a year old now. He may feel that more role reversals are due him. And Bob, the pit, may not like that. I and my friend who owns the pit are very curious about what will occur. We will be watching closely, to observe for curiosity sake and so we can intervene if neccesary.

    Both dogs played well together, but both have their issues. Bear has a lot of boundary issues. He was found abandoned in the snow last year, approximately 5 weeks old. So he missed a lot of learning that should have happened with his mom and littermates. He still has mouthing issues and impulse control is hard for him when he is very excited. And Bob, friend’s pit, had another pit bull (female) living in his pack that really kept him in check. She recently passed away, so my friend is seeing a lot of his bad behaviors resurface. So…it will be very interesting to see how they are together at their next meeting. I sincerely hope it goes well, because Bear misses his friend! Okay, so do I – those play dates wore his butt out!! :)

  9. says

    I’ve certainly worked with a few dogs in my practice that fit the description of “status seeking” but the vast majority of them seem more “aware” than “seeking”. Much of their behavior appears more along the lines of “what are you going to do when i do THIS” – rather than constantly attempting to gain or maintain any particular position in the hierarchy. “Aware” also fits better with the ability of dogs to adjust their behavior according to the behavior of the other dog they are interacting with at the time. In some ways, the “seeking” term brings to mind for me more of a “king of the hill” analogy rather than the ritualized interplay of body language and social interaction that we normally see.

    Additionally, most of the dogs that I evaluate that might fit into the “status seeking” category are somewhat insecure, reactive or anxious – not behavior traits that I would generally associate with a higher status dog under most circumstances.

    Although this post is specifically about play styles, this idea comes up again in discussions of resource guarding behavior (something commonly attributed to status within a social group). I was recently reminded while reading an article by David Mech that all wolves in an established social group will engage in resource guarding towards the other wolves at various times, regardless of their social ranking.

    I’m also done with winter and ready for spring… :)

  10. Margaret says

    Pike, that’s interesting – that’s the closest characterization I’ve seen yet of how my dog, a northern breed-ish dog, plays. He loves to wrestle and, as a previous poster mentioned, will lose a bit of interest if all the other dog wants to do is chase. But, I don’t know as I’ve seen the “body slams” that people have written about associating with wrestling or the mounting. The wrestling’s almost always squirming around, paws on shoulders and mock bites to the throat and a good bit of play growling (and the difference between play and real growls is unambiguous, though I tell him to put a lid on it if he or the other dog seems too exercised or it’s creeping out the other owners and he’ll knock it right off.) I’ve never seen him mount another dog and if a dog mounts him, he mostly just disengages. His favorite, as you say, is to chase and then have it evolve into wrestling, usually when one party or another takes a turn too tightly and rolls onto their fuzzy butt, but he’ll also lie down so that tiny dogs can wrestle with him. And, interestingly, terriers (of the highland ish, rather than jack russel variety) and a good number of toy breeds seem big fans of it. One of his buddies is a lab/dane ish mix who much prefers chase games, though, and he’ll obligingly race around with him. In fact, he seems to remember what play style his different friends like as well as, for a couple older dogs, that they don’t like to play. He plays very well with a couple pit mixes in the neighborhood (I live in the city, so they abound)and, reading earlier posts, I wonder if it’s because he likes their preferred play style but doesn’t incorporate or engage much the behaviors that tend to escalate it?

    I’d say he’s not a particularly dominant or assertive personality, but not dog-fearful, either, both of which are good as he also doesn’t have the most refined dog social skills. In fact, he is more people than dog oriented and will often, if we go to a dog park where he doesn’t know any dogs, be rather aloof and just run around and investigate the perimeter. My neighbor jokingly asked me once the other day if he’s ever met a person he doesn’t like (we think the answer’s got to be “no”) and I think he takes his cues as to dogs he’s friends (in the sense of being excited to see, greeting with happyness and remembering some things about their preferences, not in the sense of not-being-hostile) with from owners I’m friendly with or are particularly affectionate to him.

  11. Ellen Pepin says

    We have two dogs and both have different play styles. Dakota, an 8 year old male shepherd/Rottweiller mix loves to wrestle. Our other dog, Tess, is a 5? year old collie, and she actually does not play with other dogs that much. When Dakota tries to wrestle or put a paw on top of her, she shows teeth and growls, but also runs from him.

    When Tess meets other dogs, she sniffs politely, but then goes off by herself. We adopted her 9 months ago and I not sure she knows how to play. We try to let her meet other calm dogs as much as possible. She has had no trouble at the dog park, but is by herself a lot.

  12. Krista says

    This is a very interesting discussion-I’m going over my memories and find that my dogs seemed to play chase games far more than wrestling. But maybe it was because they mostly played as a group (there were 4 to 5 usually). One dog would take off as prey, and the rest would give chase. It would end in a take down and they’d all pounce on the prey dog, but it wouldn’t last too long and off they’d go again. They all took turns being ‘it’ (I don’t think status had much to do with it, but perhaps I just wasn’t clued in to it), sometimes the turns would last a week or more. This group included 2 GSD mixes, 2 hound mixes and a Belgian Sheepdog. The Belgian, who was #2 dog, did seem to be prey more often; she really enjoyed being chased.

  13. R.D.L. says

    Several things said here resonate with me and my experience with dogs’ play style. As Chris says, with a number of dogs it doesn’t seem that they are establishing themselves in a hierarchy but more as if they are testing or looking for a reaction. A shy and anxious dog who was reactive to strange people, strange or loud noises, and unfamiliar places did a lot of chin-overs and stiff upright stances, but somehow did those without provoking the other dog, but his play style was he loved to be chased.He would chase in return but he looked happiest when chased.

    What Pike says about hounds reminds me of Barkley at our shelter: http://www.youtube.com/user/LCHSpets#p/u/0/NWinUfXAPcI Barkley has a gargly growly sound that he uses a lot when playing. It is very disconcerting to people not familiar with play or dogs. I’d be curious what people have to say about the two dogs in that video. Both are still in our shelter. They don’t play together now and each has another playmate right now.

    But I would have to say I don’t see wrestlers as being more into establishing status really. They do seem more likely to go over into aggression when they are vertical all throughout play though.

  14. Astrobuddy says

    I have an 18-month-old English Shepherd who loves to chase/be chased but also loves to pin another dog down and act like he is “ripping” their throat out. This started when he was quite young and, to be honest, it sort of horrified me. I’ve had dogs before but they were always chasers. He was never “aggressive” in the sense that I could (and still can) call him off if I felt the play was getting too charged (or I saw the other dog/owner looking uncomfortable–but, really, he’s never done this with another dog that did not seem to absolutely love it). When he first started doing this, when he was about 4 months old, I thought, jeez, I have a dog who plays inappropriately, and I was quite worried. But then I went to a gathering of about 40 other English Shepherds who basically all did this with each other for two days. Lot of very tired dogs! I figured that this behavior seemed to be pretty breed specific–I did not own Cujo! Now he seems to be able to tell what dog will enjoy this and both dogs play very rough, teeth bared, and go home with slimed ruffs and tongues hanging out. So far, so good, but I’m still very watchful over him while he plays.

  15. Melinda says

    This is a very interesting question and I would tend to say YES right away. My 5 yr old GSD loves all other dogs but always greets with head held higher and standing very tall (does this make him status seeking?) He tends to get growled and snapped at alot and never retaliates…just turns away always still wagging and happy and I try to quickly move away from the situation with him.

    At the dog park he loves to chase but gets frustrated when he can’t keep up with small hunting type dogs (he usually nips at their heels or hind end). When hiking on trails he often crouches and then runs and body slams…he does this with dogs he knows or doesn’t know and I’ve been evaluating how best to deal with this because it doesn’t seem very polite to me. With my friend’s young golden he does this when we hike/ski (runs and body slams) then they wrestle with lots of growling and Buddy (my GSD) usually pins him to the ground and he submits. I think my friend is uncomfortable with this play thinking it’s too rough. I’ve heard from other german shepherd owners that this (crouch/run/body slam) is typical but I don’t really know. My other shepherd never did it.

    He seems to be a very confident dog but gets a little nervous when around a dog that’s bigger than him (which is not many dogs) I liked what Chris said about “aware” rather than “seeking” This seems to fit him better…just kind of waiting to see what the other dog will do.

  16. says

    We’ve got four wrestlers/climbers and so it’s often an hilarious bout of “jump and hump” whenever they get together. Rufus seems to be the only one who enjoys chasing games, so he used to grab my shoes or socks and dash out back to see if I’d chase him, since nobody else will.

  17. Lori says

    I’ve owned several rescued pit bulls and all of them have preferred the wrestling type of play. The most dominant of them, a female, very status conscious and very reactive, would only do role reversal play with one other dog – a very gentle, non pit bull male, who was her housemate. He would immediately stop playing with her when she got rough or pushy. With him she would roll on her back, but only with him. She played chase games with him too, usually involving serious body slamming – at which point he would retreat to under the steps.

    My mom and brother each have a male pit bull. Both are very dog friendly and not status seeking. They will play for hours, both chasing and wrestling games, and seem to reverse roles frequently, including mounting behaviors. Then they lay take turn licking each others ears and eyes when they are tired – very funny for such large, intimidating looking guys!

  18. says

    The funny thing about this question as I try to apply it, is that I have neither bully breeds or herding dogs. I have a pug and a pug mix. That said, I have often noticed that the female, who is younger and pure bred, is more status seeking, and her play style showed it. When a young adolescent, she frequently got on the couch or ottoman seeking height over my male, the mix. If she runs up to her friend, a bloodhound, she wraps her front paws around his head. (He is such a beautiful, tolerant boy).

    My male, the mix, has always been the middle ground dog. Even in daycare, he never sought to start anything, but was often willing to finish if no “human” was in site. He would rather run and wrestle, changing roles back and forth between top and bottom dog.

    Now, if loose, he will chase her, she will jump on him. And it is safe to say she is still the status seeker of the two.

  19. cassie says

    My little pit bull Jethro is not a status seeker, he is happy to be lower on the totem pole, but will pull rank with younger, or more immature acting dogs. At home, he is the lowest ranking member of the house, quick to give up the best toys or beds when the pushy older great dane, Billy, puts the slightest pressure on him.

    In play, Jethro prefers pits or other bully breeds, but they play almost all chase games, with very little wrestling. He loves to play tug games with other dogs as well. I use Jethro often to teach young dogs with no social graces how to play nicely as he will slowly but obviously add reprimands to an obnoxious younger dog. Once they understand the rules, he is happy to switch places between chaser and chas-ee. One game I often see him play with other bullys is just running shoulder to shoulder, sometimes with a toy between them, sometimes not.

    My great dane Billy does not play with Jethro often. When my older dog, Grace, was alive Billy would only play in what seemed like Jealousy. If Jethro and Grace were playing he would bark at them to convince them to come after him. If they did not, he would pick one of them up by the scruff and move them a few feet over to wrestle. (I know, RUDE, but they put up with him) Now that Grace is gone he rarely plays. (Billy’s 6 words were “this belongs to me, that too”) Most of the Great danes I fostered (20+) were not at all status seeking but were very much wrestlers.

    Back to the bullies- it’s my opinion that the bullies that are not dog aggressive show many more very obvious calming signals and are just more clear in their body language in general. My pit bull frequently lip licks in rough play with a pushy dog. He’s quick to look away or roll over, and he makes sure to add in plenty of breaks for a calm down. He only plays wrestling games with dogs he knows really well, and even then only if it’s their idea. (He initiates lots of chase games instead). If he’s the man in charge, and its a younger, sillier dog he’s playing with, you won’t see all the lip licking.

    Many of the young exuberant bullies I know are height seekers and back paw-ers when first playing with a new dog, but it’s in a very submissive way- Almost like they are just trying to see what they can get away with. Paw up, “Oh no he gave me a hard look”, roll over. Followed by trying the exact same thing over again, until they reach the point that they realize it isn’t gonna work. (That pushy submissive like you talked about a while back) Almost as if they are sorting out the rules of the game before they really get going.

  20. MJ says

    My singleton, only socialized with his mother 3 yo (11 pound) status seeker has not a clue how to play. “… somewhat insecure, reactive or anxious” describes him pretty well. He appears to have the most fun in ‘hump me, hump you’ humpfests with dogs of his own size who are equally in to it. He would love to hump every female he runs into but is not completely stupid/clueless about it. I sometimes think he doesn’t read “dog” very well, but fact is, he reads who NOT to hump very accurately.

    He rarely initiates chases with strange dogs and only does brief chases of others. He is the recipient of many a body slam and doesn’t seem to take it personally. I’ve never seen him give a body slam. If he can’t chin over/leg over/hump, he mostly busies himself with sniffing…. “dog? what dog?”

  21. Liz F. says

    Great question about play; thinking the answer is yes-no-maybe, and looking forward to reading more.
    The winter blues — I think the death of a loved one in winter is a whole lot of salt in a wound. It might help someone who just lost a friend to spend a night or two away from home. I know one long winter it took me months to stop

  22. says

    I’m not sure about the status seeking part of this question, but play styles are interesting.

    I had the great pleasure of spending a few days with some friends who have a pack of eight dogs between them. One is a pup in training, and the others are dogs that were trained to be Seeing Eye Dogs, but for various reasons, they were returned to their raiser families. All are Labs except one, who is a GSD. Then I brought my Lab (working Seeing Eye Dog) into the group along, and a friend brought her Golden (also raised by these families) into the group so there were 10 altogether. To make it even more interesting, my previous Seeing Eye Dog is the matriarch of the pack.

    The GSD plays the most with my retired guide. He is 8, and she is 13. He prefers a style of jumping, fore paws up and chest to chest, while she prefers to chase. She will play ball from dawn til dusk, and he could care less about the ball. From my observations, and the family’s, they are the most intelligent of the group, and they are the dominant dogs in the pack, though they show it differently. They have learned to accommodate each other’s preferred style of play. He will now chase her, and he picks up the ball sometimes to offer it to her in play. She will jump at him to get him to play with her as well.

    A couple of stories about status, while we were visiting, my current guide, Brook, who was six then, went over to the Mom of the family to say hello. My previous guide, Fiesta, was laying on the opposite side of Mom’s chair, and growled seriously twice. It was a warning to, “Know your place and stay away from my person.” Brook whined, and walked over to me for comforting. She doesn’t like hugs, but she let me hug her. She walked away a few feet, keeping her eye on Fiesta, whined again and walked back to me for another hug. A third time she walked away, whined, came back to me, and as I started to hug her, she decided she’d was OK, and walked away to play with the others.

    The adult dogs of the pack wouldn’t play with the puppy, but Brook did.

    When the families bring a new puppy into the group, Fiesta sets the boundaries. She growls and sometimes snaps at the puppy until the puppy reaches Fiesta’s size, then she accepts the puppy and let’s her in.

    An interesting pbehavior I’ve seen several times with guide dogs is when two or more are playing, another dog, that isn’t involved in play, will come and stand on the perimeter of the group and bark, several single barks separated by a second or two. It seems to be an admonition to “Stop that!”

    Recently, I took Brook to a dog park for the first time. She played with my friend’s Coon Hound. They chased each other for a while and then she lost interest.

    As new dogs joined the group, she went over to a small group that were playing, and barking a bit. She did this thing where she stood on the edge of the group, and though she didn’t bark, my friend said it looked clearly as if she was monitoring their behavior. It’s a bit school marmish…

  23. Diane says

    I am new to the world of observing dog behavior, and find the topic very interesting. I adopted my first dog in December, a one year-old GSD mix. I’d have to describe his play style as “all of the above.” He seems to love to chase, jump, wrestle, and mount, with plenty of play bows and summersalts thrown in.

    Yesterday at the dog park, my dog seemed totally content to chase after a retriever as she ran after her ball, with no wrestling at all. Today at the dog park, I watched him engage in a very long wrestle/mount game with another large male dog, close to his age. We all remarked on how the dogs seemed to be taking turns mounting each other. Although my dog was on the bottom more often than the other dog, he had several turns at being top dog. I thought it was interesting that it sometimes appeared that my dog was “assuming the position” so that the other dog could mount him, and vice versa. All in all, it appeared that the dogs were playing within a certain set of “rules” or boundaries that would allow the game to continue on and on without conflict. There were only a couple of times where the mounting seemed to go on too long and we felt it should be broken up to keep the happy momentum rolling along.

  24. Anne says

    Hmmm, curious question. My Havanese, Ava, loves the chase game but when a male Westie, twice her weight, came for a visit she held her own with his wrestling moves. Ava frequently out maneuvered him with her favorite tag-your-it game. When they did not chase each other, they stood on their hind legs and appeared to

  25. Debra says

    This is a really interesting discussion to read about other dogs play styles. I have 2 aussies and they have a real variety of dog friends – aussies, labs, rotties, poodles, and all sorts of mixes.

    My dogs really love to chase and they take turns with whose in front when they play with each other, although my younger one has more stamina. He is also the higher status dog. He loves to play with other dogs. His friends like to chase but some of them really like to bite each others necks in the process. He’ll participate a little but usually turns on the speed to get away from them as he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable with it. He tends to do more nipping at hips and shoulders if he isn’t in front – very much herding dog behavior.

    My other Aussie we call the hall monitor. He likes to watch all the other dogs play and then bark from the side if they’re getting too rough. He likes to chase too but his bark is so annoying (to the other dogs and the people watching!) that I usually call him off to calm down as he winds himself up. He is the best with small dogs – he loves to play with them, and he’s especially good with puppies.

  26. Pam says

    This topic fascinates me and I love watching my two herders and their interactions with different playmates. Kypp (8 yr old female BC) likes the big boys and will often initiate chase games with them. She takes great offense at their attempts to wrestle or mount. Kash (14 month, intact male ACD) prefers wrestling with another similar sized male. I think he is on top slightly more often than not but with his favorite buddy, another ACD about 4 months older than him, when they are rolling around and mouthing each other they seem to spend an equal amount of time on the bottom.
    Needless to say, with their very different styles, my two do not play well together.

  27. Ed says

    Interesting question. I have no idea. Something to watch for in the backyard and the dog park.

    In the case of the only two dogs that worry me right now, my own pushy bitch usually don’t bring in body slams until she has wooed someone into a chase. Another pushy bitch (a dog who has given a couple of genuine ear bites to her friends) brings in the body slam right away – but I’ve only see her play with much larger dogs so that might be part of the equation. Both are humpers – although I notice this most when they are tense about a resource.

    For what it’s worth – the bitch who can get too rough with her friends is a little testy with new dogs and dogs she meets on leash but has never had any problems with humans. My dog, who is fine, albeit pushy, with other dogs but not reliable with people, has mostly gentle play and is not mouthy with humans. She will occasionally jump to at someone and poke them with her feet – but I honestly think this is from over-excitement and lack of control than from pushiness. Perhaps there’s a caution level with people that keeps her from playing rough? She’ll take any toy she can from another dog, and will play tug with another dog for hours. It was more than a year before I could get her to play tug with me, and she still has trouble holding a dumbbell – she wants to drop it for me.

    What about the big dogs – and I’m sure most of us have known them – who are quick to roll over when playing with smaller dogs? Even with smaller dogs who, it seems to me, are being pretty annoying. I’m always touched by the bruiser-looking dogs who are quick to keep the peace with canine non-violence when they could easily put a serious stop to bratty or even bad behavior.

    Had a puppymill foster who had rough play at first. (He liked to get dogs down and slobber on their throats, to an extent that was worrisome to some dogs and would not stop if the dogs shrank down and froze.) Between poor socialization and over-excitement, who could blame him? (He was also intact when he was seized. Obviously, the rescue had him neutered before putting him up for adoption.) With him, I just called him to me when he was getting out of hand and then let him rejoin the dogs after a few minutes. Every time. Until there was never any need to call him back. He learned to relax and developed some self control and his current owner is very happy with her social butterfly.

    I know people who have decided to “manage” dogs who weren’t any more or a problem than he was – and I can’t help but think that restricting the dog’s socialization with other dogs was not the best idea for the dog’s overall mental health and for the owner’s understanding and relationship with their dogs.

    Exploring a dogs dogginess – rough play, chase play, “hound play” – is a wonderful way to understand the animal and this question about what else it reveals is a good one.

  28. says

    My Goodman (3.5 year old Cane-Corso/Lab cross) is confident and secure around other dogs. He also loves to play wrestle (more than chasing).

    That didn’t stop him today, while playing with another dog, to lean in a way to make it easier for the other dog to body-slam into him.
    And while he pinned the other dog a few times, he also lay down and let the other dog pin him too. :-)

    A while not-too-many body slams, I still like this video, of Goodman playing with one of his best doggie friends, the Malamute Bosmat:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TLx7bhCZ30
    (sorry about the sound- it was a windy day and we where near the beach)

    p.s.
    Bosmat has sever hip dysplasia. That’s what ends that play session- Goodman play-bites here in an ouch place, so they stop playing.

  29. says

    I’m not sure as I have no one to compare to. My dogs, all Aussies, have always been both chasers and body slammers. For as rough as they play I am amazed that they rarely get hurt. The two pups’ favorite game is to grab 3 year old male Ben by the ruff and he runs around dragging 60 lbs of half grown pup behind him. Only occasionally does he get annoyed enough to snap at them, but then they are right back after him. He in turn will run full speed and bowl one of them over.

    I have noticed that among my several intact males that races are far more about status than about playing. If two of them start the races I will stop them and have them walk with me, because they can go from racing to body slamming to fighting pretty quick.

  30. says

    I think, it depends on the dog, and the type of body slam, games you play with the dog. It depends on how alpha the dog is, and if the dogs sees you as in charge or not.
    I have never owed a bullie breed, so I cannot speak to them..but my cocker spaniels and I do play tug of war, I never get too rowdy with them, as I don’t ever want my dogs to think it’s OK to get rough and tough & bit or nip, or even knock me over.

  31. JJ says

    I was very surprised to read that chase games involve a lot of role reversals. My observations at the dog park are that there are “chasers” and there are “chasees” and these are two different play styles in different dogs. If you get two chasers or two chasees together, it doesn’t work and play stops or never starts.

    My Great Dane loves to chase, but doesn’t want anyone chasing him. If another dog starts to chase Duke, he just stops running. Sometimes he will turn and look at the dog. Sometimes he will come to me. Does this say something about the status-seeking status of my dog?

    I’ve seen other dogs at the dog park who do everything they can think of from back flips to cartwheels to try to get another dog to chase him/her. And those dogs don’t seem much interested in being chased.

    I suppose I should do some more observations. I know there are dogs out there who are happy to both chase and be chased. It has just been that my observations to date are that most dogs seem to have strong preferences for one or the other. Maybe I’m just a poor observer.

  32. says

    I have, and have had, Goldens and Golden/Collie mixes and we mainly hang out with other trievers and triever mixes. My dogs and their friends are in general are confident dogs and being trievers don’t seem to be so interested in proving their dominance status. They both chase and wrestle but there is little to no mounting or paw or head over behaviors.

    With My Golden Dexy and his best friend (parent’s dog ) Elmo who was a Golden/Collie mix, they always began playing tug (elmo’s choice) and wound up wrestling (Dexy’s choice). I believe it hurt Elmo somewhat to wrestle so he liked to tug, but Dexy would always be on the bottom when they wrestled (his choice). Elmo was three months older than Dexy and was a less confident dog than Dexy. Elmo always wanted to be in the lead when we walked (though he had to look back at Dex to find out where we were going) and thought he had to protect Dexy although Dexy was twenty pounds heavier than Elmo and had a kind of gravitas that other dogs naturally respected.

    Currently, my five year old intact Golden female Selli is the princess of our household. Her younger brother Duff (neutered Golden/Sheltie mix, four years old) worships his big sister, yet most people who see them play think Duff must be the boss because they frequently are running along with Duffy hanging off Selli’s neck until she does her patented flip and winds up on her back with her legs in the air and Duffy comes back and chews on her neck. Little do those people know that all Selli would have to do is lift her lip at Duff and he would mope all day. And if Selli decides to go after Duff, she will give a play “woof” and Duffy runs away. But Selli has never revoked Duff’s puppy license and told him off.

  33. Lyssa says

    My dog postures a lot while greeting other males. When he plays it’s usually of the body slam/wrestling variety adn he will only play with dogs larger than him (he’s a cocker cross). With dogs that he really trusts, he will go belly up on his own (after he’s been dominating the play match & without being pinned) and invites the other dog to bite him on the neck. It’s not a fluke or a fear thing, and he gets up and starts wrestling again once the other dog obliges.

    It’s confusing to some dogs, and several actually back up and just look a bit puzzled while he’s lying there. If the other dog doesn’t bite his neck, he gets up and starts wrestling again. He started the odd play style with my brother’s Rot and has continued it.

    He also likes to be “the bunny” with several of his friends and does the classic butt tuck and ears back while he runs circles around his play partner. Some dogs will chase him, but others are a bit wary about it.

  34. R.D.L. says

    I love the subject of play and love to hear about it and talk about it. I feel like the dogs are teaching me so much about themselves while I watch them play. Most of my experience is my personal dogs and monitoring (not alone!) play groups at the Humane Society. While supervising and refereeing I’ve seen a number of large dogs roll over on their backs in play and they always seemed the most social and fun-loving dogs. I think of it as part of self-handicapping in a large dog. Sometimes it seems like an invitation to get jumped on. My largest personal dog throws himself down on the floor during play. I am thinking I have rarely seen a small dog go belly-up when playing with a large one. I see lot s of dogs doing the pawing and mouthing in vertical stance, and sometimes those dogs are also body-slammers. In the video above the dogs Barkley and Wilbur were introduced because other dogs didn’t seem comfortable with either on introductions (separately) and we decided to put them together and see how they did. They stared at each other on intro and seemed to understand that it is play since each had already been a starer with a straight-on approach. Eventually though they seemed to feed on each other’s excitement and get too excited and get kind of nasty with each other. Eventually the tan one got introduced around and now his best playmate is a runner. In retrospect, looking at the videos, I can see him trying to get Barkley to run and play while Barkley was more the wrestler.

    Some rough players get less rough at playing at the play group. Some dogs seem to learn to stare less when they first meet new dogs. It seems like play groups are a huge benefit to some of our shelter dogs in relieving stress and we get a chance to find good kennelmates for our few double kennels.

  35. Amy says

    My ACDxBorder Collie throws his head over my arm and will press down with his chin. He’s very insistent about it. I’ve always wondered if it was a dominant behavior. Do you think it is? Should I discourage it? Usually I’ll disengage if he does that, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference since he continues to do it.

  36. Wish says

    I have another play behavior that I would really like some help with. I run a K9 Bed and Breakfast and board a lot of herding dogs. I have a couple that are what I call the “Dog that chases the Dog that chases the Ball”. We have many dogs that love to chase the tennis balls from the chuck-it. The DDB dogs watch intently and when the ball is launched they chase down and grab any one of the dogs that are trying to get the ball. They chase them down like they are a rouge sheep, frequently taking hair and occasionally hide. I’ve started putting them in crates until the ball dogs are tired. It’s how I cope with this behavior but now the owners are asking me for help. This behavior doesn’t go over very well at the dog park. These are not aggressive dog. Not all of them are herding dogs.

    The other behavior is nose punching. A couple of my guests will punch (hard) with their nose. It appears to be some attempt to engage the other dog in play. One of the “punchers” is an aussie and the other is a standard poodle.

  37. Debby says

    This is a very interesting subject. I will explore this more as I watch dogs play. I volunteer at a shelter and do play groups with the dogs when I can. The different play styles are notable and we try to match the dogs for such. Many of our pitt mixes engage in body slamming and other rough play, but don’t seem to be status seeking. Then again if they do, they are removed from the group or play with puppies if that works out better and they don’t bully the puppies. This goes back to the question of status seeking? Are dogs that are confident and dominant in that relationship not acting “dominant” (I say with reservantion for lack of better word) because thay are confident with there status?

    Many of our herding breeds that engage in chase and nipping seem less tolerent of rough play and other dogs in general but it depends on so many factors; age, sex, stress level and play style. One of our shepard’s at the shelter played rough, body slamming, wrestling, mouthing, and very vocal. He was good with all dogs (actually a tester/control dog while he was there which was a long time as he wasn’t as forgiving to strange people) and adapted to their comfort level, didn’t seem status seeking at all.

    My personal dog is a lab/shep? mix, is very confident and well socialized to other dogs, but does appear to be donimant in most relationships with other dogs, but it is fluid. She is no dummy and knows when to back down, I have learned to trust her judgement reguarding other dogs. One day a large pitt bull entered the park and rudely stood over her, she looked away and I never saw her not correct another dog for that (other than young puppies). He later attacked a female pitt mix for a correction during a chase game, that did not involve body slam. He also engaged or rough harrassment or other puppies, I do not recall mouthing or body slams, but hard stares, bulling, and stand over growling to puppies that repeatedly submitted to him. This dog was clearly not appropriate for a dog park in case that wasn’t obvious. I regret not telling the owner to leave earlier, but wasn’t sure how to approach the situation. Anyway she doen’t really play with others, she is 10, but does enjoy their company when they are polite. I would say that this dog was status seeking, but maybe he was just looking for a fight.

    Many of our herding breeds that engage in chase and nipping seem less tolerent of rough play and other dogs in general but it depends on so many factors; age, sex, stress level and play style. One of our shepard’s at the shelter played rough, body slamming, wrestling, mouthing, and very vocal. He was good with all dogs (actually a tester/control dog while he was there which was a long time as he wasn’t as forgiving to strange people) and adapted to their comfort level, didn’t seem status seeking at all.

    So I would say most of our rough, wresting, body slamming dogs do not seem status seeking, but then if they are we don’t permit play so I think I just don’t know. I do look for role reversal and comfort of other dog if it seems one sided. I would think that status seeking dogs are rough and mounting others in a less playful manner, again this would be terminated.

    Many of our insesure or undersocialized dogs start off mounting/ rough play but learn to play well if we have them with a nonreactive dog and they relax.

    Very interesting, please talk about this more.

  38. Trisha says

    Jan: Mowed the grass? Are you kidding? I am SO jealous!

    Responses to many of your comments are in my next post, thanks for the conversation!

  39. Dina says

    I have Cardigan Welsh Corgis and while they do enjoy a good game of chase, it is almost always finished with a body slam and wrestling match. They also do what I think of as a “take down” – similar to what you would see in human wrestling – where one grabs the front leg of another and pulls it out from under them. The last play behavior I have seen in almost every Cardigan is grabbing the skin right above the tail and pulling or tugging. As long dogs, it is hard for the one who is being grabbed to swing around and get the grabber.

  40. Heidi says

    My blue heeler is definitely a “sheriff” type dog. She likes to run and chase, barking at other dogs, usually to keep them in line. She does also like to wrestle and get mouthy with other dogs. She will chase my roommate’s dog and bite his legs and chew on his ears.

    I don’t know if I would call her status seeking, but I have noticed that when meeting new dogs, she barks in their face and snaps to let them know she’s in charge. We’ve been working really hard to minimize that reaction to new dogs and have made some progress.

    Her brother is a status seeking dog though, and he rarely wrestles. He is completely ball-obsessed and will try to outrun the other dogs he lives with (7 other dogs) to get the ball. If they get there before him, he will react negatively and snap at them. Other than playing chasing the ball, he doesn’t really play that much. He doesn’t chase after the other dogs and doesn’t wrestle with them. My dog will try to wrestle with him, and he will sometime play with her, but not often.

    I’ll have to watch the dogs at my parent’s house and see if I notice a correlation in the other dogs though.

  41. Liz F. says

    One of the general things I keep thinking about in terms of play styles (and status) is how complicated play can get as the number of dogs increases. I keep thinking about dog park scenarios– any time there is any arena-like setting with 10 or so dogs grouped together– where play can be changed significantly by the addition of many new members. Like when two are wrestling (happily, I’d say, without obvious status-seeking) and other dogs try get involved, the play session between the original two can dissolve in an instant leaving all parties with a “What Now?” look. Or when two or three are chasing, and another ‘fastest’ dog joins the mix, and then suddenly they all stop playing. Why not instead of nominate the fastest dog to be the new chasee? I also think about when two ball-playing dogs get their ball stolen, and the two dogs look to their owner to fix instead of giving chase to the ball thief. These are abbreviated examples and definitely not what happens many times, but I keep wondering about new dogs bringing new play styles (or status issues) to a play sessions where otherwise content dogs were ‘in a groove.’

  42. Ann says

    My 1-1/2 year old male Boxer loves to body slam the 4-year old female Airedale who plays with him. He’ll play bite her ears, and then they just mouth eachother like crazy. He’ll yelp a little if things get out of control, and she’s had it. There will be a small scar on his ear later. He backs off rather confused, and she’s corrected him in the past when he was just a puppy. While in our yard, he won’t let her even touch one of his toys without leaping over to retrieve it from her, and slamming her. If she does carry his toy for awhile, he’ll chase her from behind and nip at her back legs. It’s almost like a “herding” game evolves at that point. I think they’re equal status, but she’s more mature and self-confident. Both have very high prey drives, and I think that enters into the rukus. I don’t know if this really rough play, about 2 hours a day, is to gain social status. A problem might be that they’re of equal height, and I’ve never seen either one able to actually down the other. Both seem to down themselves at intervals during the play, maybe just as a sign of respect, or to out-fox the other. It will be interesting to learn more.

  43. says

    i am loving this discussion. but don’t know if i have an answer. yes, maybe? not sure? i’ve always been fascinated by the play-styles of larger dogs bred for specific functions. it does seem that play is a natural extension of that. i’ve owned and loved big dogs in the past, but now that i find myself with two smallish dachshund-chihuahua mixes (14 and 18 pounds, respectively), i am struck by the distinctive play styles of the smaller breeds, although no one seems to pay much attention to them. (i often find myself explaining to baffled folks at the dog park that small dogs love to PLAY, and not be toted around in designer handbags.)

    my two don’t frequently engage in play with larger dogs (although they enjoy being around them), but if other dachshunds or chihuahuas or small terrier mixes enter the fray–oh happy day! if i had to choose i would say they lean more toward bully wrestling, rather than out-and-out chase. it doesn’t seem like many of the dogs we’ve met of similar breed are too keen to play with herding dogs. both the chi’s and the dachshunds, and even some of the small terriers, seem to do something like a “push and pounce.” it’s what they do best–keeping low to the ground, pushing each other sumo-style, and then pouncing. especially interesting when you consider that they were often used for the hunting of vermin, badgers and all things that live in tunnels. they seem to take turns at pushing, but i think the more status seeking dogs (particularly the smaller chihuahuas– biggest little dogs on the planet), don’t enjoy being pushed or pounced on as much, and prefer to play with more submissive dogs.

    i will say that at home, between members of the same household or pack, the ‘status’ question becomes more prominent. our male rules the house, and the female is normally pretty submissive. but in play she seems to be more aggressive or status seeking. he is patient, tolerant, and completely comfortable in his role (honestly the most tranquil dog i’ve ever lived with), and it shows in his play. she has a harder time self-handicapping, and often gets carried away trying to ‘get the better of him.’ it doesn’t take much more than a quick look or turn of the head from him for her to snap to attention though. she goes back to being silly goofball, and then they take turns pushing each other again.

    i’ve rambled on long enough here, so i will just say i can’t wait to hear more about the research on this topic, and your post! it’s so completely fascinating to me.

  44. says

    Hi Group,
    I have King Shepherds. this breed is in the herding group presently. I have noted, because the breed was developed for guarding but lower drive on the average, they don’t self handicap very well and don’t play we’ll with other breeds.
    I’m wondering if any other dog owners have noticed the same with their guardian breeds?

    I am currently looking for answers to dog park issues here in a private dog park ,where as, many different breeds come in during a lotted time for large breeds only and small breeds only play times. Still, I think a large portion of the problem is too many dogs at one time and lack of handling or education of the handlers is also what I need to address.
    But for me, my question is who has play problems with the guardian breeds? And should I just not try to resolve it and realize this is a trait for my breed or work with the dominance and keep trying…She lacks interest in others dogs already at a tender 9 months old but engages in a take down behavior if any dog starts to run about. So of course my correction is immediant to chek her drive down for the sake of the dog she is seeking to bring down not a play move at all. Serious I think for such a youngster…
    Any help??? Thanks much….

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