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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Our pack includes a 6yo golden (Lyra) and a 1ish rescue (Rigel). We've had Rigel for a little over a month now and he's adjusting to his new pack. Rigel is a very active dog and wants to play all the time with Lyra. He's constantly chasing and jumping on her while inside and out, and most of the time she engages right back. Previous to Rigel joining the pack, we had another golden (Cassie) who passed at age 14, and was pretty sedentary those last few years, so Lyra didn't get a lot of playtime and became rather sedentary herself.

My question to you all is - how do you know when playtime isn't playtime anymore for the two dogs. Rigel is almost always the aggressor, and body language (tails wagging, swapping positions from top to bottom) and sounds (talking to each other, but not aggressively growling) seem to indicate that all is going well - but at least once a day someone 'yips' like something actually hurt and then I feel like I haven't been doing my job as the head of the pack.

Is this something that eventually takes care of itself or do we need to step in to separate when the sounds start to escalate? This play interaction stresses my husband out to no end, but I keep trying to remind him that Lyra used to do this with our other Golden and Cassie would just put her in her place if she was too tired to play.

As an aside, we have an appointment with our vet's doggy day care this week for Rigel to see if we can get him in there two days a week while we're at work to tire him out a bit (a recco from our personal pup trainer).

 

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First of all, I would suggest forgetting the whole 'head of the pack' mentality. There has been a lot of research to debunk this widely misused theory, as the coiner of the theory himself has come back and openly spoken against his previous idea.

That being said, everything sounds really normal. My 18 week old pup was playing with a 7 year old Staffy this weekend and he yelped twice when the Staffy was being too rough - that's how they let each other know "hey, that's too rough, tone it down a bit!" If they were really going at each other, you would know. They would be snarling, with curled lips, raised hackles, and it would SOUND like they're trying to kill each other.

As long as you keep them supervised when they ARE playing, you should be fine. A good idea (imo) is to look up youtube videos of dogs playing vs dogs fighting to give yourself a better idea of the physical traits / warning signs dogs give off before they attack.
 

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I'm going to say that it really depends on the individual dog, his/her temperament and play style, and how well in general the pair interacts while engaging each other. If it is a quick & simple 'yip' and then all action immediately stops (or slows WAY down) as the dogs regroup & then either reengage at a lower intensity level or simply separate & find something else to do, I'd not worry at all about it, since they seem to be self-regulating. If there's a 'yip' and the action continues to spiral upwards, then I'd say you should be stepping in & interrupting.

With my crew it really depends on the dog/pairing. I have four to manage & there are a lot of variables that come into play. When Charlie wrestles with Abby he sometimes gets a bit too intense and while she will never retaliate or defend herself from him (she simply shuts down & stops moving) when I hear the pitch change in his growling to the higher & more manic, frenzied level that indicates he's sliding over to the 'dark side', I call a halt to the game. Ditto if Beckett has joined in with Charlie & is doing too much 'dash in & nip'. Dinah loves to be chased, but if the fur on her back starts to stand up beyond just over her rump I have to call it off because that's the indication she's getting over aroused & is about to turn around & get snappish with the one doing the chasing. She's also not good at more than one on one play, so I don't allow her to join in multi-dog mayhem. The girls aren't allowed to wrestle with each other beyond the occasional passing body bump, because any level of wrestling turns into crabbing very quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both! I will be very interested in how he does in doggy day care too. Fingers crossed he has a grand ole time (and gives Lyra a little break). :)
 

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Sounds normal, but as mentioned a lot depends on the individual dogs temperment and play style. The dogs will usually work things out between them, letting the other know if he/she does not like something or if bitten too hard. You should however keep an eye on them to make sure play is just that and that neither dog shows signs of being truly aggressive.
 

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Agreed that it really depends.

In my household I end up stepping in a fair bit. My adult dog is a doormat and while he will yelp when he's hurt, he won't otherwise correct the puppy and she will come back harder and faster and they will spin up and up. Either I'll distract them by introducing a toy to their game, distract them by going into a different room and doing something else (they'll follow because they're interested) or I just separate them and let them calm down. Puppies can get into that zoomie phase where they are just tasmanian devils and they need to be crated to settle.
 

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...distract them by going into a different room and doing something else (they'll follow because they're interested) .
I love this - so true too. ha! Thanks guys. All good things to consider. Crazy thing - at my check in at lunch, they were both super chill. In fact, the newbie Rigel went out his little doggy door (self created by busting through our screen day 1...) and barked, just the once. I went to check on him and he was playing with our 'doody first' person (who scoops the poop and disinfects the lawn weekly) - it was amazing. Major strides, major. yipppeeeee.
 

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they will work it out and you will know the difference between " were playing mom, its ok" vs " get in here now because someone is going to kill someone".

Hope growls at Charlie when they are playing, sometimes not but its more of a " youre annoying me, please stop now" than anything. 50lb vs 8lbs, lol.
 
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