By two weeks old, puppies have opened their eyes and started wrestling their siblings. This playtime is critical in teaching good manners, socialisation skills and bite inhibition. As your puppy grows, you may notice their playfulness continues and even though it may seem rough, there are some signs to indicate that the rough and tumble is indeed fun for all parties.

These include:

  1. Bowing: this is where a dog’s front paws are bent, with their tail in the air. Some dogs appear to ‘slam’ their paws to the ground a number of times and bark (perhaps incessantly) at their opponent in an attempt to engage in playtime.
  2. Bouncing: Dogs who are having fun during rough play tend to exaggerate their ‘bounce’ which is a sign they are having fun. In addition, if dogs take it in turns to jump on each other, lie on the floor or mouth each other, it’s an indication they are simply playing.
  3. A big smile: dogs who are having fun during play often have an open-mouth smile.
  4. Play biting: Humans have been programmed to learn that biting is negative, but for some canines, play biting, or nipping, is simply their preferred form of rough play with their fur-ends. This is not to say that all dogs like this form of play; some dogs get irritated when nipped at, whilst others love the instigation of rough play. It’s important to share information about your dog’s likes and dislikes with our staff, so we can monitor their interactions with other dogs.
  5. Play growling: Loud, exaggerated growling can be a sign that dogs are playing.

Of course, many dogs have sharp nails and teeth, so even though play can be fun, some playtime participants may emerge with scratches. At the Doghouse, we have a number of staff in the Play Areas to monitor playtime and ensure it remains fun and positive, for both our human and canine clients!

Some signs that playtime is turning negative may include:

  1. A stiff posture with fur standing upright
  2. Quick, jerky movements
  3. Flat ears, tail tucked under or lips in a snarl. No big smiles.
  4. A dog who is agitated will not ‘go back for more’- dogs are likely to withdraw after a short encounter.

Our Doghouse team are trained to recognise these signs and intervene to calm and separate any dogs in our care, to avoid an incident.

Should our team have concerns, we will share them with you at pick up and work with you to ensure both you and your dog are able to enjoy the Daycare experience, safely.

If you have any questions about our play area monitoring, the safety of your dog or even your dog’s social behaviours, please contact our team at