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"They're just playing!"

(19 Posts)
PeculiarJulian Thu 18-May-17 18:08:38

Two dog owners meet along a dog walking path. Each has a dog that is off lead and not walking to heel, so each dog is perhaps a few metres from owner. Dogs are not too different in size, they meet and quickly become quite boisterous. There is some growling and chasing for a few seconds before the owners grab their dogs and continue their walk (in opposite directions). One dog ended up on top of the other, neither dog was harmed.
So, when is behaviour "boisterous" and when is it "aggressive?" Do you think it depends on your experience with dogs? Or the type/size of dog you own? How do you feel if your dog gets into a short-lived scuffle with another off-lead dog on a walk? Is it fair enough to write off incidents like this as "dogs being dogs" and "just play?" Or just unfair on those of us with placid dogs? Is it all just part of being a dog owner?

arbrighton Thu 18-May-17 18:26:53

It's blindingly obvious when it's play and when it's aggression and when it's mutual or when one dog does not appreciate the 'attention'

My miniature poodle is wary of unknown larger dogs, especially when they bounce up in play mode but aren't called back. Tail down, tucked up, freezes. Or hides behind my leg. If they persist, growls, bares teeth and if they still aren't called off, will lunge and snap, but rarely makes contact.

Dogs that want to play 'bow', tails wag, they bounce.

And the poodle does, with dogs she knows, e.g. our collie cross, play

Judashascomeintosomemoney Thu 18-May-17 18:42:45

Is this a taat? Anyway, I'm not sure I agree with Arb in as much as most people don't find dog body language obvious. But then that ties in with my view that there should be much stricter control over animal ownership in general, which is a much wider subject. No, it doesn't depend on the size or breed of dog, yes it depends on your experience, no there's not a catch all excuse that 'dogs will be dogs' in the same way there's not an excuse of 'boys will be boys', 'scuffle' - what does that mean? If you're dog is off lead and does not come back to you as soon as you say so, they shouldn't be off the lead in the first place regardless of whether they are placid or confident.

purplecoathanger Thu 18-May-17 18:50:35

A dog once jumped onto my dog, just as she was about to crouch for a wee. My dog wasn't impressed and proceeded to chase the other dog off with a good old growl and some barking. The owner went ballistic at me saying he would break my fucking dog's neck and that his dog just wanted to play, as that's what dogs do.

I was really upset and shocked. My DH said it was no wonder the dog had no manners with an owner like that.

I think if dogs are properly socialised with other dogs, when they are young, they learn the rules of engagement. All dogs and their owners should go to classes.

purplecoathanger Thu 18-May-17 18:54:57

What if a dog is old, poorly or anxious? It's not right that other dogs should be allowed by their owners to practically attack any dog it chooses with the excuse that it "just wants to play". I hate that phrase and the way it's used to excuse poor behaviour.

CornflakeHomunculus Thu 18-May-17 19:34:47

It's very, very easy for "boisterous" play that starts out with both dogs as keen participants to tip over into something more serious when the dogs aren't that familiar with each other. I think rambunctious is the right word for my whippets when they get going so they're not allowed to play off lead with strange dogs. Aside from the fact that many dogs really don't like the sighthound style of play, it's just far too easy for the dogs to go over threshold which is when things can go wrong and it's much harder to get them to stop once they're at the point of not listening.

It's also very common for "friendly" dogs to actually be pushy, rude and ignore obvious signals telling them their attention is not wanted. This is a really good example of that sort of situation. To many people the GSD would be "aggressive" but she's responding entirely appropriately to a pain in the arse, overly-friendly dog who won't take a (very clear) hint and bugger off. Obviously the person filming allowed this interaction to happen so she could film it but in the real world the owner should be stepping in as soon as their dog is ignoring the "not interested" signals.

I do think there's a big issue with people not recognising that it's possible for dogs to be too friendly or too playful and that it's not aggression or an attack if a less social dog offers an appropriate physical correction. I do my very best to make sure my dogs aren't put in positions where they feel the need to be policing other dogs' behaviour but occasionally it happens and invariably the reaction from the other owner is one of horror that my dog is so aggressive hmm

FoxesAreFabulous Fri 19-May-17 10:52:27

Cornflake I quite agree with you about over-friendly dogs being a pain. Our mini poodle boy is generally good with other dogs, quite respectful and reads their signals well. He is only just turned a year old so does occasionally overstep the mark - we met a very large (and beautiful!) husky boy in the park the other day, who was very placid and friendly. Poodle boy was having a good sniff, as they do, and after a while, the husky just gave a little growl - that was enough for our boy to keep his distance grin.
However, it drives me slightly mad when we meet the over-bouncy ones, whose owners can't see any problem their dog leaping all over mine angry. There's a cockapoo girl who we meet quite often in the park - she is around 7-8 months now and is a nightmare, completely over the top with other dogs, leaps all over them like a furry whirlwind and is totally oblivious to any signals the other dog is giving to stop. Poodle boy puts up with it for a few seconds and then backs off (or if off lead, runs away grin) but this dog just keeps coming at him. She clearly wants to play but has no idea how to behave and I suspect is not really being trained properly. I first met her when she was 4-5 months old and almost every time we see her, the owner admires how well behaved poodle boy is ([hmm} - she hasn't seen him at home!) and asks me when I think her girl will calm down.........

fessmess Fri 19-May-17 11:01:42

I've just experienced this problem at my local rec. My 7 month old standard poodle pup was on a lunge line, about to pick up her frisbee, when a pointer came up. The other dog looked alert and I said my pup could say hello. Other dog then chased mine aggressively, barking and snapping. In hindsight I think it wanted the frisbee. I called mine away and walked the other way but not before the other dog came back for another chase. It's obvious the other owner had no control and didn't apologise or anything, just shouted at his dog. I really wanted to say something but my focus was to get my dog away. ALso, don't think me shouting would have helped. Yesterday we had a "friendly" dog come over and play whilst barking in my pup's face to the point when she went into appeasement behaviour. I now realise that a vast number of owners do not know dog body language and are feckless idiots.

FoxesAreFabulous Fri 19-May-17 11:20:15

fessmess - 'feckless idiots' - love it!! But sadly, I do think it's the case. We see it a great deal and we watch our pup like a hawk with other dogs to make sure that he - and the other dog - are both comfortable with the interaction. Top of my hit list from the last few days is the border collie owner who we sometimes see in the local park in the morning. The dog is charging around while the owner walks round the perimeter path (it's a small park so you can see your dog from anywhere on the path), with her headphones in! Collie tries to herd other dogs it meets - as you would expect from that breed - but as it's very boisterous, our pup is not thrilled with it and tends to come and hide between my legs while he decides whether to be brave!

The other day, this collie came dashing up to us at top speed, running at our boy and chasing him. Poodle boy is pretty fast and can corner at speed grin but there aren't many dogs that can outrun a bc and our boy ran back to me, clearly wanting this other dog to go away. Collie followed him and tried to jump on him - cue me trying to order collie away in a very stern voice and shouting to the owner to call him away. Collie wasn't being aggressive but was too full-on for a much smaller dog - but guess what? idiot owner with headphones in couldn't hear and wasn't watching her dog angry. It took another owner with her dog, who had come into the park and saw what was happening, to go and tap the bc's owner on the arm. I'm afraid I shouted at the owner that she needed to watch her dog and have him on a lead if she couldn't call him back when needed - but she totally ignored me, no apology, and walked off.

No wonder some parents with small children look slightly nervous when passing a dog off-lead when there are owners like that around.

fessmess Fri 19-May-17 13:16:56

It is really annoying isn't it? I feel like I'm being precious but I care about her and hate to see her being bullied when she has such a sweet nature.

FoxesAreFabulous Fri 19-May-17 13:57:01

fessmess hooray for poodles! (although I love all dogs). Does yours get mistaken for a doodle all the time as well? If I had £1 for every time someone has asked me if poodle boy is a cockapoo/labradoodle/cavapoo etc since we got him, I could be half way to Australia by now grin
[apologises for derailing thread due to over-excitement at finding another poodle owner]

Lucisky Fri 19-May-17 17:01:47

Foxesare fabulous, I get exactly the same thing. I have got a toy poodle, people say "oh a (something) poo." I say no, it's pure poo, it's almost like they don't believe me!
Dogs only playing, well or dear departed jrt had arthritis in his neck, which was easily jarred and could be very painful. He was on the lead one day a young retriever running loose bounced up and jumped on top of him. Our poor dog yelped in pain and snapped at the other dog. We had already asked them to call their dog away. He is only playing, they say, and were quite sniffy. Dogs are often walked on the lead for a reason. I will always keep my dog away from others if they are on the lead. Our poor dog was in a lot of pain for the rest of the day because of this, and we had to give him extra painkillers and diazepam (prescribed).

MarcoPoloCX Fri 19-May-17 17:27:28

You should rugby tackle the owner and say you're playing.

fessmess Fri 19-May-17 19:57:39

Poodles ahoy!!

Lottielottie42 Sun 21-May-17 20:03:02

I'm mean and stop my dog boisterous playing , chasing fine but once they start the pinning and mouthing it's often turned from play to aggression quite quickly.

fessmess Mon 22-May-17 09:14:50

Yes Lottie I do this now, or if my pup is looking unsure with her tail down and crouched low. It's bullying behaviour often.

Fortheloveofscience Mon 22-May-17 09:25:41

I've got a very big, boisterous dog who is kept on lead around other dogs unless the owner says it's ok to let him off, and I've looked at the other dog's body language and agree that they're likely to play nicely.

He's not aggressive, but his size and confidence means he often provokes fear aggression in other dogs, or they think they want to play then when he approaches they turn tail and run (at which point it's very hard for me to call him back and as he thinks it's part of the game).

I get frustrated when people can't read their own dog's body language, and insist that I should be letting my dog off to play when their dog's clearly uncomfortable.

fessmess Mon 22-May-17 11:30:32

Yup, it's a minefield. I've only owned a dog 5 months and am surprised at how many long-time owners seem to not understand their dog. I once called mine off from playing with a lab who was wimpering with its tail between its legs and the owner insisted he was enjoying it. My nerves couldn't stand it!!

MTBMummy Mon 22-May-17 12:21:22

Our Dog is a large playful dog, and loves a good charge about, but it's all in reading the other dogs body language, tails up, bowing all good signs, tails down, whites of the eye showing, definitely keep away.

It's simple, but overlooked by so many people.

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