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Discussion Starter #1
Our year old BC is doing wonderfully with our new pup. They started wrestling recently and I've found the Colby is quite gentle with little Ace. However, Ace has started to get really intense at times. Almost frantic with pouncing, growling and biting. Whenever I notice him start to get to that level, I always break up the wrestling session with a "hey!" or "ah!". There have been times when I've had to physically pull him off of her.

When Colby was a baby we always broke up play/wrestling when it got loud. Now the most she does is a sort of groan.

What's your policy when your dogs play?
 

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I'm not a multi-dog household but my boy gets to play with other dogs quite often. He's always been a pretty quiet player so when he starts to growl/bark/whatever he has about 5 seconds until I end play for a little while. He plays pretty rough to begin with so I know once he starts making noise he's starting to get a little overstimulated.
 

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I only step in if one lets out a yelp and the other does NOT back away.

That 'yelp' has meaning and the dogs need to respect it.

Too much interference can be a bad thing in the long run but I will not stand by and watch while one dog continues to be a bully after the other has signaled that it is time to stop.
 

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1. When Squash makes inappropriate moves - grabbing Maisy by her scruff and dragging her around, for example, which for some reason she never corrects him for.

2. When I hear the tenor of play make that subtle shift from "everybody's having fun" to "this is about to shift into overstimulated toddler territory". I can't tell you when that is for YOUR dogs, but I can tell when it's about to happen with MY dogs by sound, body language, and intensity.

3. Any time a yelp or correction is not appropriately responded to.

4. When they are on my last nerve and I want some #[email protected]! peace and quiet. :p
 

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I break it up when I see an actual raised lip and I can tell by the intensity of the growls when one of them has had enough and the other(s) will not back off. I also break it up when Leeo begins to pull Abbylynn's face out with his teeth and lets it spring back like a rubber band. I call a rather loud and stern " Time Out! " ... they will subside. With the size difference in the dogs ... I am always extra cautious
 

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2. When I hear the tenor of play make that subtle shift from "everybody's having fun" to "this is about to shift into overstimulated toddler territory". I can't tell you when that is for YOUR dogs, but I can tell when it's about to happen with MY dogs by sound, body language, and intensity.
This. It becomes very obvious after a while.
 

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1. When Squash makes inappropriate moves - grabbing Maisy by her scruff and dragging her around, for example, which for some reason she never corrects him for.

2. When I hear the tenor of play make that subtle shift from "everybody's having fun" to "this is about to shift into overstimulated toddler territory". I can't tell you when that is for YOUR dogs, but I can tell when it's about to happen with MY dogs by sound, body language, and intensity.

3. Any time a yelp or correction is not appropriately responded to.

4. When they are on my last nerve and I want some #[email protected]! peace and quiet. :p
About sums it up. Haven't seen #1 at my house but it qualifies for sure.
 

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This has been very helpful to me too... thanks everyone! Lela is a VERY hard player and escalates very fast. Jack tolerates it but I can tell he gets a little weary of it sometimes. I'm not always sure when to let them "work it out themselves" or when to intervene. And what do you do if you have a dog that refuses to stop? Do I take Lela away from Jack by the collar and physically remove her--? Even the Voice of God doesn't stop her when she's ramped up!

Jen
 

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This has been very helpful to me too... thanks everyone! Lela is a VERY hard player and escalates very fast. Jack tolerates it but I can tell he gets a little weary of it sometimes. I'm not always sure when to let them "work it out themselves" or when to intervene. And what do you do if you have a dog that refuses to stop? Do I take Lela away from Jack by the collar and physically remove her--? Even the Voice of God doesn't stop her when she's ramped up!

Jen
Yes ... I physically remove them. I put them in a " sit " or in a "time - out" area or in a crate until they cool their jets! :)
 

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i don't intervene much, unless its a dog harassing the shih tzu and there is a possibility of her getting injured. The larger dogs all can hold their own, and there is nothing as God as a pup learning when to back off in dog language. Just like the mother dog teaches bite inhibition, other dogs play a huge role in this as well. Prevents later fights from a dog not recognizing the signs. Usually a properly socialized adult dog wont get too carried away reprimanding a pup.
 

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This is helpful even for those of us who have only one dog, but who plays with other dogs frequently. Hobbes doesn't have very good manners. Sometimes he plays too rough and he sometimes does things that annoy another dog repeatedly (stealing a toy, chasing after another dog with a toy he wants, etc.)

So far no fights have broken out, but it's good to know what to look for. Up till now I've just been pulling him off as soon as he starts being annoying because I don't feel confident in my ability to break it up once it escalates.
 

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1. When Squash makes inappropriate moves - grabbing Maisy by her scruff and dragging her around, for example, which for some reason she never corrects him for.

2. When I hear the tenor of play make that subtle shift from "everybody's having fun" to "this is about to shift into overstimulated toddler territory". I can't tell you when that is for YOUR dogs, but I can tell when it's about to happen with MY dogs by sound, body language, and intensity.

3. Any time a yelp or correction is not appropriately responded to.

4. When they are on my last nerve and I want some #[email protected]! peace and quiet. :p
THIS exactly. Sophie will get upset and try to pick Damon up by the scruff (or leg...) and throw him around the room.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Too much interference can be a bad thing in the long run but I will not stand by and watch while one dog continues to be a bully after the other has signaled that it is time to stop.
Why is that? If you're implying that your dog will not learn the "signs" from another dog (i.e., not one of your own), I don't know if I totally agree. I think some dogs just get overstimulated and stopping it can actually help them learn when they need to cool their jets. It certainly worked that way for my dog, anyway. Like I mentioned in my OP, we always broke up wrestling once it got loud. Now, she rarely, if ever, gets to that level when playing.

2. When I hear the tenor of play make that subtle shift from "everybody's having fun" to "this is about to shift into overstimulated toddler territory". I can't tell you when that is for YOUR dogs, but I can tell when it's about to happen with MY dogs by sound, body language, and intensity.
This is exactly when I stop it. I will usually just break it up or physically separate them for 30-seconds to a minute or so. Just long enough for each of them to take it down a notch. I've heard that a correction means nothing unless the dog can then do the "right" thing right afterwards, so I hesitate to break them up for longer than that. What are your thoughts on that theory?
 

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I lived with my parents two dogs for quite awhile and we never broke up fights. In our case, though, both dogs knew that a yelp meant back off, and they respected that. Yelps didn't happen often though. When one wanted to wrestle and the other was non-responsive (ie, would walk away), the other wound up giving up and doing something else.

Like others have said, though, it really depends on whether the one dog is giving the "okay stop now" signal and the other is not responding. Honestly, if neither dog is giving any signals to stop, I don't interrupt. Most people can tell when their own dogs are playing vs. fighting, and if it's still play (even somewhat rough play) and neither dog seems to want to stop, then I don't see the harm in letting them go. If it's getting into the territory of fighting or one dog isn't respecting the other's "stop" signals, then obviously it's time to step in.

This is assuming both dogs are somewhat evenly matched. If rough play is occuring between a big dog and a small dog, then I would be a lot more cautious.
 

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This has been very helpful to me too... thanks everyone! Lela is a VERY hard player and escalates very fast. Jack tolerates it but I can tell he gets a little weary of it sometimes. I'm not always sure when to let them "work it out themselves" or when to intervene. And what do you do if you have a dog that refuses to stop? Do I take Lela away from Jack by the collar and physically remove her--? Even the Voice of God doesn't stop her when she's ramped up!

Jen
Yep, I started out by just physically separating everyone. If it's before anything actually happens but I can tell they're about to get overstimulated, I just walk over and make some happy talk to distract them, maybe practice a few quick sit stays, and then turn them loose again. If someone has actually crossed a line (scruff-pulling, yelping), I give a verbal warning ("enough!" in our house), if they don't respond I physically remove the offender for 30 seconds or so. Three strikes (that is, three consecutive non-responses to the verbal warning), and they're out to No Fun Land - crate or another room - for 5-10 minutes. These days I usually only have to give one or two verbal warnings (it's "enough!" at my house) before the inappropriate play stops. Squash is the main offender and he's only 14 months old, he's learning over time and intervention is becoming less and less necessary anyway.

Why is that? If you're implying that your dog will not learn the "signs" from another dog (i.e., not one of your own), I don't know if I totally agree. I think some dogs just get overstimulated and stopping it can actually help them learn when they need to cool their jets. It certainly worked that way for my dog, anyway. Like I mentioned in my OP, we always broke up wrestling once it got loud. Now, she rarely, if ever, gets to that level when playing.

This is exactly when I stop it. I will usually just break it up or physically separate them for 30-seconds to a minute or so. Just long enough for each of them to take it down a notch. I've heard that a correction means nothing unless the dog can then do the "right" thing right afterwards, so I hesitate to break them up for longer than that. What are your thoughts on that theory?
Agreed complete. There's a point where their brains just go on overload (again, much like an overstimulated toddler) and they just don't see the signs. I'd rather teach them some impulse control and where the line is than have them practice escalation over and over. They know each other's signals and signs perfectly well, sometimes they're just too riled up to really pay attention to them. And since Squash outweighs Maisy by almost 40 pounds and for whatever reason she rarely corrects him (this never happens with Pip, because he is quick to correct), I need to have her back if Squash is in bazingo-brain-shut-off mode.
 

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I was at the dog park recently (well, this was a few months ago but you get my drift...) and our dogs were all playing pretty well. Hobbes was running around with a pack of other largish dogs and they all seemed to having a good time. Then Hobbes tried to grab a frisbee from another dog and the other dog turned and growled then ran faster so Hobbes couldn't get the frisbee. I started to call Hobbes to me so I could get him to behave, but the other dogs owner said, "That's alright. That's a good interaction actually because Bodi (the other dog) growled to let him know he was stepping over the line, and Hobbes backed off. Dogs don't have any other way of communicating so letting them growl at each other is okay in play, as long as the dog being growled at gets the point."

What do you think of that? Is it true that you should let the dogs growl at each other to communicate? Or will it necessarily escalate?

ETA: I know there are other body language signs to be aware of (hackles, lip raising, etc.) but it's hard to read them when the dogs are running so fast.
 

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What do you think of that? Is it true that you should let the dogs growl at each other to communicate? Or will it necessarily escalate?
The situation you described is fine, everyone acted appropriately.

Even with my own dogs, I don't intervene with every little growl - that's just telling each other to back off. But my dogs' play style with each other is very active and physical wrestling, and I've come to recognize an audible and visible shift in their behavior that tells me things are going to wander into overstimulated mode soon and things may turn from fun to not-so-fun. That's what I mean by not wanting them to practice escalation. I just distract them, they cool off, and then play resumes. With time and repetition and as Squash matures, they are getting better at recognizing that moment themselves and taking a break.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Colby is still a puppy, isn't she? When my German Shepherd was a puppy he loved meeting new people, too, right up til he was around 2 years old or so. Maybe the time she is mature she will not be so keen on making friends with creepers...? LOL!!

I must say, though, that she is just beautiful! You should post photos more often :)
She's a little over a year now. I think there is just one person in my neighborhood who she doesn't like and it is an older woman who walks her Westie at 5:30 in the morning when we go outside in the AM. She raises her haunches and growls and barks at them whenever we see them. Maybe that's a sign?

And thank you very much. :) She gets that a lot, haha! I'm sure to tell her how ugly she is so she doesn't get cocky. ;) I kid! I have an entire wall of my cubicle dedicated to photos of her. I am the definition of a crazy dog lady.

I've gotta get pictures of Ace up here, too. He's a blue merle with tan points and is absolutely stunning.

Mel, I'll let you know if Kit ever looses her intensity when it comes to greeting people. She's 3.5yo now, and not slowing down, so I'm pretty doubtful. Creepers for life, I think. Keep in mind that BC's are bred to work incredibly closely with people. For this reason, they tend to be very perceptive. I don't know too many BC's that I'd describe as "aloof". IMO, GSDs are much more of a one-person kind of dog.
I don't think Colby ever will, either. Since the day we brought her home she has loved every person she's ever met. Her brother (my parent's dog who is in the background of the picture all the way to the right in my sig) is the total opposite. Typically BCs aren't very fond of strangers and definitely have to be socialized extensively. We have done quite a bit of socialization, but I think I got a bit of an odd-ball to boot. ;) It's a double-edged sword, for sure! Our new pup, Ace, is much more leery of strangers (and loud noises) than Colby ever was.
 

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I certainly don't intervene with every growl because I do think it's important for Ace to learn boundaries from Colby. If she's not in the mood, all she has to do is give him a look and he backs off. There are times, however, when he gets so over-stimulated when they're wrestling. I can tell by his facial expression and tenacity. IMO it's important for my dogs to understand that in the same way that I control food and toys, I also control playing. If you play by my rules, you can keep playing. If you're going to act insane, then you're having a time out.
 

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dog playfight can sometimes get intense but still be harmless... from my experience, when I'm thinking "hmmm is this going too far? it feels that way", its usually not going too far. Its only going too far when I go from "oh look at them staring at each other's eyes" to "OH *#$&#*$ they are gonna kill each other" and I start shaking, THATS when its has gone too far. but again, thats just my experience.
 
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