4 min read


Why Do Dogs Wrestle



4 min read


Why Do Dogs Wrestle




It’s early in the morning and your two dogs begin growling at each other. At first, you think something is wrong as you hear them from the other room. When you come into the room to see what they are doing, they stop growling. Yet soon enough, you realize they are wrestling with each other. It seems playful so you let them do it and you watch over them consistently. If your two dogs love each other, why in the world would they be wrestling with each other in such a violent manner? It seems peculiar until you know the cause of their reason for wrestling, which helps you better care for your animals. 

The Root of the Behavior

Sometimes when dogs go to get their energy out, it can come across as a bit violent and crazy and you may have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Yet, to them, they are having a blast getting their energy out and trying to be their playful selves. There may be many reasons as to why dogs participate in wrestling but the most common reasoning is for play and communication. When puppies are growing, they are learning the ways of life from their mother, as well as any animals that they are around. Wrestling and playfulness is something that animals participate in throughout their life, from the time they are a puppy to when they become an older dog. They easily learn that wrestling is a way of communication and it is a way of having fun. When dogs wrestle, you will know it is for fun when both are engaging in the play, their tails are wagging, and they take turns being in control and chasing each other. It can be exciting to watch, if you don't become a worried parent. 

Every shift and movement a dog makes is a form of communication. Just as we have a code of ethics of how to act with each other, so do dogs. Play has a form of rules and if a dog does not follow it, someone could get hurt and there may be issues. Emotions may be shown during these times, and dogs can recognize this. Other forms of wrestling may even be used to settle an “argument,” and to see which dog receives a certain toy or food first. Mounting may be a form of this and whoever is on the bottom may be submitting to the loss of this “argument.” If things get aggressive, you may see one dog try to stay away or not fight. You may also hear dogs making sounds that are different such as whining like they are hurting. This is when the wrestling has changed from play or gentle communication to something that can be an issue. It is important to watch over your dog during this time. 

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Encouraging the Behavior

Dogs are playful creatures. From the time they are born until the time they die, they will always be looking for a good time and a chance to express their high energy and playful nature. Due to this, wrestling is a form of play and we should encourage our dogs to have fun and get their energy out in a way that they enjoy. It can get out extra energy they may have, and it is simply a part of their nature. While they are playing, it is important to set boundaries as to where they are doing it and who they are doing it with. You don't want your dog getting overly playful with another dog who is not in the mood to play. This could result in someone getting hurt and it could also result in your dog creating a dangerous situation for themselves. It is important to encourage your dog to play in a gentle manner and it is also important that you teach them the proper manners to exhibit when they play, if they did not learn it as a puppy. It is suggested, in this way, to encourage your dog to play but also monitor how they are playing with one another. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

Depending on the type of dog you have, it is important to let them play in whatever way they feel comfortable. It is suggested that you monitor who your dog plays with and it is also suggested that as an owner you educate yourself on the different stances dogs make when they are playing. Therefore, you may know when your dog or another dog that is playing with yours has a desire to take part in this playful activity. A few common stances would be if your dog bows, which is a greeting, or perhaps when your dog licks the animal they are playing with from time to time. 


Dogs are naturally playful and it is quite important that they are able to act out their playfulness in whichever way they feel is comfortable and fun for them. As owners, it is important to support them, love them, and unconditionally play with them, so the love is there for both you and your dog. 

By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze

Published: 02/09/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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