Chuck and Penelope like to play a lot of fun bitey games with each other! This is a good time for them, but it can be startling to a silly human like myself. How does one tell between fun bitey game time and actual aggression between dogs?
I’m not an expert aaaaaat aaaall – but some big clues that it’s play vs. something more intense:
- loose, floppy body language (which is possible even when it’s rough and there’s bared teeth and growling, giving kind of a “HAHA AM MEAN DOG IS JOKE ONLY” feeling to the whole thing)
- taking turns initiating
- taking breaks, backing off in response to each other’s calming signals
- taking turns in different roles (e.g. chaser vs. the one being chased, being pinned vs. doing the pinning)
Some good videos on the spectrum of appropriate dog play:
I think it’s easier to see the difference once you’ve seen examples of play going over the line. This channel has good examples to learn from:
The Facebook group Observation Skills for Training Dogs is a great place to learn too!