By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The weather is getting nice, and people are going to be want to go get out to the dog park, or maybe meet a friend someplace, and bring their dogs. So how do you know when your dog is playing, play fighting, or just straight out fighting?

Animal advocate Carol Erickson shared some tips with Eyewitness News.

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One of the ways you can tell is when dogs are playing or play fighting is that they take breaks. They take little pauses, they may be short pauses but they assess the situation.

In a real dog fight, there are no pauses, they keep going.

There are a lot of other little tips and hints that you might be able to pick up.

Dogs start wrestling with one another when they’re puppies at two weeks old, so they learn bite inhibition, they also learn how to do things with other dogs and when it has gone too far. They also learn how to lay down on their back as a signal.

Sometimes dogs that are playing or play fighting are going to lay down on their back, and just signal to the other then they get right up. Then the other one may lay down to do the same thing.

They also may take turns chasing one another. Those are good ways to know that the dogs are playing.

If you have dogs of different sizes, the bigger dog is the one that is going to get into the play bow and will try to make himself look smaller. He will also let the little dog attack him harder than he attacks the other dog.

Remember, you never want dogs to gang up on another dog, or a puppy because that can set up a bad experience.

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Remember, that when you see the silly open mouth, exaggerated bouncy movements, their jumping and maybe they’re growling really loudly and it is continuous but exaggerated, they’re playing.

Dogs will also voluntarily make themselves vulnerable by laying down on their back but they also take the turns chasing one another.

So when can you tell they are fighting?

That is when you see a dog’s body being stiff and the hair on their back is raised up, they’ve got a closed mouth, curled lip, low warning growl. They’re not bouncing around, there is no turn taking, there are no big silly smiles on their faces and their ears are pinned.

Those are the signs nobody’s having any fun there.

Keep food, toys, all of that stuff out of the picture when you are introducing or having dogs play, those items can be too valuable for them.

Also, monitor the situation.

Not every dog, not every breed is designed to go have a play date.  So, maybe find one friend they can or just you take your dog out for a walk.

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Watch the video for this week’s full segment.