By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dogs love to play.

Being social creatures like humans, they love interacting with both people and other animals. That’s all very natural behavior. But overexcitement is another thing altogether and should be avoided, especially when playing with unfamiliar dogs. When dogs play together and become too overexcited, it can create a moment of higher intensity. A higher level of intensity without supervision can possibly lead to an outbreak of a fight but this can always be avoided.

Exercise your dog with a healthy walk before playtime with other dogs. Watch for signals from your dog. Keep an eye on body language during playtime. Make sure your dog isn’t feeling threatened, as this will always create conflict. Watch for signs of distress, anxiety or overexcitement. Distract and refocus your dog’s attention before the excitement level escalates.

Take control of the games you play with your dog. Avoid roughhousing. Avoid playing tug of war as this can lead to overstimulation and sometimes aggression. Begin and end each game calmly and praise your dog’s calm responses.

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