Fetch is fun. Treats are tops. But for some doggos, wrestling is really where it’s at. For puppies, wrestling is actually a way to learn acceptable behavior. Wrestling with other dogs will teach them how to interact with each other and how tough to play. For adult dogs, wrestling can be about the pure fun of playing. As long as the dogs are evenly matched and acting relaxed, they can take turns chasing or being chased and have a grand old time.
How can you tell if it’s really playful wrestling and not a fight or the beginning of one?
- Doggie games often start with a bow. With their front paws out, their chest low to the ground, and their back side up in the air, dogs are saying, “It’s play time.”
- Goofy smiles are part of the act. Yep, dogs will bare their teeth, but in play wrestling, it’s all in good fun.
- Notice how your dog is pretty bouncy when he’s having fun? Front paws may be patting back and forth or doing the tippy-taps because they just can’t wait to jump into the action.
- Even quiet dogs tend to get pretty vocal when they wrestle. Play-growling is part of the game. It might even get loud and is probably much more exaggerated than a more serious growl.
- Dog bellies are a beautiful thing, and they’re also pretty vulnerable. It’s common for dogs to drop down and roll on their back, belly up and exposed. They’ll take turns being the one that’s “caught,” then jump back up and chase the other.
On the flip side, watch out for body language that says this isn’t just a game. Tense body, hackles raised, dropped tail, ears pinned back, lips curled in a low growl—no smiles or bouncing or taking turns.