There’s a great dog park around the corner from my house and I take my Maltipoo there everyday. Her favorite doggy friend is a huge Labrador who doesn’t know his own strength. Sometimes my baby gets knocked around when they play. Is it my place or the other owner’s place to step in when this happens? I don’t want to come across as an overprotective pet parent, but I also don’t want my dog to get injured.
Maybe a Little Tense, Mother of Maltipoo
Too late, M.a.L.T.M.o.M. You’ve just come across as overprotective. But here’s the thing: If Lenny the Lab really is your dog’s favorite play buddy – and you know this because your dog initiates play, returns for more, etc. – she’s likely having a great time. A tail whacking her in the face is part of the fun, even if it throws her off balance now and again.
So when is it time to intervene? When one dog is clearly, but unsuccessfully, trying to end the play session by attempting to run away; when one dog yelps in pain and the other doesn’t back off; or when one dog is so “aroused,” he’s out of control. When a goofy Lab is just being a goofy Lab, most of the time the dogs can and should figure out the play dynamics for themselves. However, if you see a Schnauzer walk in with a Scrabble set, prepare yourself for trouble.