two dogs on grass

As a pet parent, you worry when you bring a new dog into your home or when the dogs you own seem to be fighting. Are the dogs really fighting, or are they just playing?

It’s no surprise that you would think your two canine friends were fighting with all the growling, snarling, and biting that’s going on.

However, the way dogs play is the same way they fight, but how do you tell the difference? We’ll discuss the differences between the two below.

Behaviors that Show the Dogs Are Having Fun

There are a few behaviors that dogs will exhibit if they’re having fun, instead of fighting.

  • Each dog has a silly open-mouthed grin
  • They bow to one another with their front ends down and their back ends raised up in the air.
  • They are acting silly by making bouncy movements back and forth that are exaggerated.
  • Their growling and snarling is loud and, In fact, dogs that are play-growling might actually sound scarier than the growling that comes from dogs when they fight.
  • The dogs are chasing one another around the house or yard.
  • The dogs are falling purposefully on the ground with their bellies exposed, allowing the other dog to catch them.
  • They keep going back to fight some more instead of running away. A dog going back for more means they are still playing and having fun.

These are a few behaviors that your dogs will exhibit if they’re having a bit of play and tumble. However, how do you know if the dogs are seriously fighting? Take a look at our next section to find out.

two dogs outdoors
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Behaviors that Show the Dogs Are Fighting

Just as there are cute behaviors to watch for that tell you your dogs are playing, there are behaviors to watch out for that tell you to intervene as well. We’ll list those scary signs below.

  • The dog’s hackles are raised, and they keep a rigid posture. It is possible that you won’t see this sign on dogs with long hair.
  • The dog’s mouth will be closed, with their lip curled, and a low warning growl may also be heard.
  • There will be no bouncing or taking turns. Instead, the dog’s movements will be quick and threatening.
  • If the dogs are actually fighting, the loser will run or cower away, not returning to play again.
  • A dog that is prepared to attack instead of play will have flattened ears, and they will be snarling.
  • One dog will try to get away from the other.

These are the behaviors to watch for if you think your canine pals are fighting rather than playing. You’ll want to prevent your dogs from fighting if at all possible. Whether you’re at the dog park, in your backyard, or at a neighbor’s home, dogs that are fighting can end up hurting themselves and anyone who tries to stop them.

If you feel that your dog can’t get along with another dog you’ve been around, it’s best to just keep them apart, and never try to get in between them once the fighting begins.

Final Thoughts

These are a few of the ways that you can tell whether your dogs are fighting or playing with one another. It’s important to remember that dogs play too, but even if your pets are playing, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them during their play just to be safe. Dogs enjoy playing together, but like humans, they don’t get along with every animal they meet.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay