Playing behavior: How do dogs show their playful mood?

Dogs love to play, not just when they are young but throughout their lives. The playing behavior of dogs is exceptional because it fulfills several essential functions. Playing, for example, serves as the most beautiful form of communication with conspecifics (and with people).

A dog should live out its play behavior since playing (especially with conspecifics) is an integral part of the social behavior of animals. The romping and chasing around with other dogs, and the interaction with people, also keep the four-legged friends busy. In the exuberant game, the dog’s whole body is required. The dog’s most beautiful form of communication also establishes hierarchies and reduces tension.

Game Prompt: The front-body low stance

Dog play behavior can manifest itself in several different ways. Before the game starts, there is often a request to play: the so-called front body low position (play bow) is classic, in which the front body is soft, and the rear body is upright and high. The ears are pricked. At the same time, the dog usually wags its tail and barks. This unique position signals a mood to play or calls for play.

Gaming behavior: This is how it is expressed.

When dogs play, things can get pretty wild. Racing games, fighting games, games that can be traced back to sexual behavior – when two four-legged friends get going, as a spectator, you often don’t even know what exactly is happening. The play sequences among dogs are often unpredictable, running, growling, rolling, jumping, and biting (only slightly). All the behaviors that dogs learn from an early age are shown, such as humility, submission, aggression, mounting, and showing off. This can be seen in the video where the two dogs, Faramir and Luna, play with each other:

The characteristic of the play behavior of dogs is constant role changes: The hunter becomes the hunted before he then hunts the other again, and so on. The playing dogs often give each other vulnerable body parts such as the neck or the stomach, which shows the mutual trust between the playing partners. Likewise, repetitions are typical: behaviors are constantly repeated to find out how the other person reacts. In this way, both get to know each other better and can estimate movements better.

It’s all just a game.

The lack of an end story in the play of dogs is typical. Although the dogs chase each other or fight with each other – neither usually ends in injury or even the killing of the other. Baring teeth and other combat signals are only for the game and are not meant incorrectly; one speaks here of so-called “game faces,” which often represent exaggerations. This playful aggression can be observed in the two Chihuahuas in this video:

However, if a game should degenerate and there is a brutal dog fight, you should intervene in the war as the owner. Young dogs, in particular, can sometimes quickly become overconfident and play a little too roughly. If your dog overdoes it, stop playing and teach your bully to be more careful.

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