Is It Just Playtime or Aggression?
Most dogs love to play with other dogs. They will chase each other or mock fight, they might even growl or pretend to bite or dominate. How can you tell if it is going too far?
Does your dog like it?
Find out if your dog is truly enjoying this dog park encounter. Look at her facial expression. Is she relaxed? Are her movements bouncy and light? If you pull her away from the other dog, does she press into you and try to turn away from the aggressive dog? That means things are getting too serious. However, if she wants to get back into it and pulls toward the other dog, that means she is having a good time and would like to keep on playing, mom, thank you!
The "play bow"
Roughhousing that seems like fun to one dog might seem intimidating to another. The "play bow" is a key move that can signal your dog's intent. It involves dropping her front end while raising her rear. She might do this after having made a move that could be interpreted as aggressive. The "play bow" lets the other dog know she means no harm and to let the games continue!
What else to watch for
Play between two dogs does not need to be totally balanced for them to enjoy it. Just make sure the communication between them is equal. Is one of them putting her mouth on the neck of the other dog? That could be okay as long as the growling is short and there is no baring of teeth. Does the mock fighting continue when the other dog wants it to stop? That definitely means it is a good time to take a break.
Take your cues from your dog
Dogs are usually very good at figuring out who they want to play with and how to play nice. By looking for the warning signs, and stepping in when necessary, you can ensure that you, your dog and all her pals have a fun time getting in some playtime!