Have you ever been so engrossed in watching your pup play that you completely forgot about turning on the T.V.? We sure have! It’s amazing how every dog has its own unique style of play. From chasing to wrestling, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to our four-legged friends. To get a better understanding of your pup’s playtime habits, take a deep dive into this blog about the different play styles in dogs. We guarantee you’ll learn something new and have fun along the way. Ready to explore? Let’s go!

The Referees

These pups may not typically engage with other dogs much. Instead, they’ll vigilantly watch over play sessions, lingering by the edges of a group of canines playing. Their main “play style” appears to involve trailing at a distance persistently barking at the players and promptly intervening if things look to be getting out of hand.

What prompts their interference? Extremely energetic play or the early indications of a quarrel brewing may cause them to raise their yellow “infraction card” prompting them to step in between the dogs in an effort to part ways or end the fun.

Warning: While these dogs’ interventions may be useful to divide things up when canines don’t appear to be playing “by the rules,” things can become problematic when certain dogs don’t value their “fun police” intrusions and become fed up with having their movement regulated.

The Chasers

Ready, set, CHASE! Dogs love nothing more than a game of tag and they’re always up for a round of chasing and being chased. A play bow may signal the start of the game, with one pup taking off and the others hot on their heels. Herding breeds may add a bit of their own twist to the game, with some quiet stalking and nipping. 

But how do you know if everyone is having fun, especially the one being chased? To find out, give the chasing dog a gentle restraint and watch to see if the pup being chased comes back for more. 

When playing chase, be sure to keep an eye on all the dogs involved, especially with large dogs chasing small ones. Predatory drift is a potential hazard and can easily be avoided by simply making sure playmates are of a similar size.

The Rugby Players

Roughhousing is a favorite pastime for some dogs, but it’s important to remember that not every pup loves full-contact play. Dog trainer Jolanta Benal cautions that body slams and hip checks can be intimidating, and even dangerous, to smaller dogs, old dogs, and puppies. 

Be aware that when a pup doesn’t appreciate this type of play, it may respond by lunging or snarling – and things can take a turn for the worse. To keep playtime fun and stress-free, it’s a good idea to teach all dogs, especially those who love roughhousing, a solid “leave it” or a good recall.

The Wrestlers

As the name implies, these dogs seem to mimic a wrestling match with dogs jumping up and pawing at each other. This play style entails mostly vertical play. Along with the pawing, there’s often also big displays of teeth where dogs take turns biting on faces and necks, a behavior that many dog owners refer to as “bitey faces.”

These players are often great in inhibiting their bites and despite how vicious they look, it’s for the most part harmless play. You may sometimes stumble on hounds who will chase dogs and then they’ll start wrestling, ending the matches with fearsome growls and playful mock attacks aiming for the throat.

Many sporting and working breeds, along with the larger terriers, may enjoy this type of play.

Caution: as with rugby players, this style of play requires close monitoring to check how other dogs are perceiving it. Too much vertical play can sometimes lead to trouble.

The Tuggers

Certain canines are particularly enthusiastic about tug-of-war games and they’ll invite different canines to play by pushing their tug toy close to their muzzles. In spite of what you may have heard previously, this game has little to do with “dominance’ however rather more about having a good time.

Truly, you’ll frequently observe huge canines “self-handicapping” when playing it with a littler or young pup

Caution: this game puts canine countenances near one another and there may be some unavoidable minutes of immediate eye to eye connection. Watch the game as certain canines may not be open to this. Additionally, keep an eye open for indications of asset shielding.

The Batters

You’ll often spot this sort of play style in small, toy breed canines or in dogs who lack self-confidence or have been intimidated by boisterous play before. These dogs engage in cat-like play where they will lightly tap the faces of other dogs with their paws and participate in other types of gentle play.

Some pups may have adopted this playing style because of certain physical issues such as arthritis or other orthopedic issues.

Caution: These dogs do best when playing with suitably sized playmates or other dogs who match their playing style, since wrestling or body slamming may be too much for them physically or emotionally.

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Ara Hughey
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