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Intense chase behaviour during play- Acceptable or not?

April 3rd, 2007, 10:41 PM
Duke went to his first day of Doggie Day Care last saturday at the place where we did his puppy obidence and go to weekly for their offlesh play sessions.

When I came to pick him up they said he did great and played well with all of the other dogs except when a few dogs would start playing chase and running around with each other. She described a behaviour which I was already aware of however I never thought anything of it other then him being very vocal when he plays chase and occasionally geting over stimulated and needing a few mins to cool down. She mentioned that when chasing other dogs he would deeply growl ( which he will go regardless playing with any dog while still exhbitting playful and non aggressive body langauge) as well as barking at the other dogs. I mentioned that this was pretty normal for him but that he had never shown any real aggression towards another dog and at best it was probably his herding instincts ( as he is German Shepherd/Collie and Rottweiler all which were bred with herding ability) and that when I do see it I step in whenever he seems to go from just playing chase to being too intrested if you know what I mean as though he's trying to herd them.

She told me it was a completely unacceptable behaviour and that it would only lead to further aggression down the road and that I should try to discourage it whenever possible. I had already been pondering the behaviour was or was not acceptable in dog play as owners at any dog park we've ever gone to have been firmly split on it. Any who usually have larger or higher energy breeds or mixes seem to be fine with it and simply echo me in my theory that he is simply vocal when he plays and occasionally does get to intense on one piticular dog while playing chase and at which point I take him away from the situation and let him calm down before going back to play. Other owners usually ones who have smaller dogs seem very uneasy about it and when I noticed this I usually call him and leave.

My question is do you think this behaviour is something to worry about and correct and if so how or if it's simply just the way he plays?


April 4th, 2007, 12:53 AM
Hi! I had a border collie named Bandit, so I know what you are going through. I used to take my dog for bike rides...he would run next to me while I rode. He loved it. I feel that helped rid him of the compellsion to "herd". His drive was incredible. Herding can be an 8 hour or more day for a herding dog and we have placed and loved them in our non-herding environments.

I have also heard of using frisbees or balls (Fetch) to replace the drive the dog has towards herding. If you go the ball route, don't get regular tennis balls, buy them from a pet store. Traditional tennis balls are colored with a toxic dye. I have also seen people using Soft Bite Floppy Discs, which are made for dogs, out of cloth.

Using dog backpacks can also help the dog when you are "working" with him. It should make him feel like he has a job and it is to get the ball, frisbee or go for a ride. Each time you place the backpack on him, he should understand it is work time. You can place objects in the pouches to give the dog the idea that he is important and have the benefits of increasing his muscle strength and tiring him quicker (especially on days where you are running short on time.)

When he goes to play, he has no backpack and can hopefully begin to understand he is not there to work.

It would also be helpful if you can exercise or work the dog prior to play time.

I have heard of places that allow dogs to herd, but it can be a far drive for you and it can get expensive.

Does this make any sense?

Good luck and please update us on Duke after awhile!

Loves Labs
April 4th, 2007, 07:56 AM
Hi - I think I have the same problem with Hayden. He doesn't do this to other dogs at the dog park, but will always do it when he is chasing our other dog Jada. He is very intense when he is chasing her and then they will do their usual wrestling. However, he is VERY vocal when he does this. He sounds extremely vicious, however, his tail is wagging and he will stop if Jada lets him know she is not having fun anymore.

He even occassionally has done this to us where he runs around wildly, making these mean sounding growls, and then playfully jumps at us. Now I KNOW that is not right and we are working on correcting it with success.

Anyways, I guess I am not helping you in the advice dept., but I can relate and am also interested in knowing if and how this should be discouraged.

April 4th, 2007, 09:08 AM
dogs communicate using body language and being vocal, a growl doesn't always mean aggression or that it'll "lead to aggression down the road".

sorry, but i think the daycare or playgroup person is wrong by saying it's "unacceptable behavior". what did she think would happen in an off leash playgroup? I think the only time it's "unacceptable" is when you have dogs of different sizes, ages, and energy levels together. obviously it's not okay if another dog is in danger of being injured during the intense play.

as for dogs growling, jumping, chasing and playing - totally natural! Loves Labs, my dog does this too, and it's not anything I would "correct". certainly there is a time and place for it, but sometimes dogs just need to be dogs! to be carefree, happy, and playful. in your effort to maintain good manners please don't lose sight of real playtime. when my dog get overly stimulated I use a command for a minute of 2 of calm... I use "TAKE A BREAK!" - which means it's time for a breather... then we resume play.

learn to recognize playful growls and playful body language - it's very different than agression.

Loves Labs
April 4th, 2007, 09:14 AM
Thanks Jessi76! I needed that reassurance.

I knew they were playing...and be it rough at times, but they are clearly having a good time, so it seemed unfair to stop it. I think I was being influenced by the dirty looks I get from some people when the two of them are going at it at the dog park. I always feel I have to explain that they are really playing and that they are both my dogs... The sounds he makes scare people that don't know any better I think.

Hayden will be relieved to hear the good on! :laughing:

April 5th, 2007, 10:11 AM
I absolutely 110% agree that you should get a handle on it. There's a big difference between noise during play (which I discourage anwyay), and prey instinct. All three of Duke's breeds are all strong dominant breeds unfortunately, so it could easily grow into something more. This behavior is a warning sign (or thats how I see it), and should be discouraged.

If Duke's prey drive is heightening (and it sounds like it is), this could cause serious problems in the future if you allow it to progress. Maybe not aggression towards other dogs (though dominance for sure), but not having an outlet to tame it, could lead to smaller animal kills (birds, rabbits, etc), in extreme cases. Duke is nowhere near that right now (as far as I can see), but he's definitely starting to show signs, and signs of anything high energy or uncontrolled, could potentially be bad.

"Take a break" is good if after that break, he learns to play calmly. If he doesn't understand your message, change your technique.

(Edit): This reminds me of a dog I met not to long ago who showed (with his body language) obvious insecurity, and gave me ALL the warning signs. The owner said to me "Don't worry, he doesn't bite."... yet.

April 6th, 2007, 12:51 PM
My dog loves to play with other dogs, chasing them and wrestling with them, and she does make a lot of noise and that's perfectly normal. But I am always aware that play can turn into something more serious in an instant. If two (or more) dogs are playing appropriately, you will see them change positions a lot. Dogs will switch from being the chaser to the chasee. They will also "break" naturally, even for a few moments, where they will disengage themselves, and then begin playing again. This is hard to notice sometimes, as it can be just a split second thing. The dogs will pause, look away from each other and one might move away, and then one may do a playbow, and the chase is on again! You can tell the play is becoming more than play if one dog is continually chased, and never given the opportunity to be the one chasing, and is constantly harassed and not allowed to rest; and if the dogs do not disengage even for a second, and just are spiraling from "intense" to "too intense". If this happens to your dog frequently, you really need to supervise, supervise, supervise around other dogs, and teach a command like "enough" or "break" which means "stop playing and come to me". That makes it easier to separate the dogs for a "cool down" period.