On Friday I asked you what you thought was going on here, at least as best one could tell from a still photograph. I’m the first to agree it’s hard to say much from one brief moment in time, but it’s a great exercise nonetheless. It helps us all focus our attention and generate hypothesis about what might happen next. It would be perfectly reasonable to suggest several different scenarios…
Here’s the story in this case: These two dogs are great friends and play together often. The yellow dog is a 4 yr old GR/Husky cross, Tucker, who has a tendency to nip faces when he plays. The white dog in the red coat is Lily, a 2.5 yr old spayed female Dogo Argentino, owned by Katie Martz here at McC Publishing.
Lily was responding to what appeared to be an inappropriate play action from Tucker (getting into her face in a way both Katie and I would call “rude.”). Katie’s interpretation of the event is that Lily, the Dogo, was irritated by the yellow dog’s behavior and was correcting him.
Immediately after this photo was taken both dogs paused, sniffed the ground and then resumed chasing and playing after a break. I take this as yet more evidence of the importance of pauses in healthy dog play… a chance to take break, take a breath, and decrease arousal levels.
Many of you were absolutely right on in your guess, good for you! (And to one commenter who bravely made a guess even though she was afraid she’d feel foolish if she was wrong… I love that you said out loud what many of us often feel. Good girl!) This is indeed play, as most of you guessed and Lily is, at least in my and Katie’s opinion, telling Tucker to back off. I think the most important visual signals here are the wrinkling over Lily’s nose and exposed front teeth, forward motion toward Tucker along with ears forward. Thus, I’d say she’s on offense and her wrinkled nose suggests some arousal and potential irritation. Tucker’s head is back and lateral, and his ears are back. He thus looks on defense to me, but note his high tail and hips leaning toward Lily… no shrinking violet here. I agree with some of you that he looks a tad surprised, (I want to say goofy but I suspect that’s not a technical term). It’s interesting that most of the responses on FB said the dogs were playing, but some said Tucker was on offense and some said Lily was. Given that the dogs are both pretty equally matched and that Tucker’s tail was high and he could have been hip slamming her at the time, not a bad guess!
Let me know if you think this is a fun exercise to do every once in a while. We could expand it to video… And I’d like to do some case studies here too. Like the idea?