Much like toddlers, dogs left to their own devices can turn things into a Lord of the Flies situation. I always supervise play especially with strange dogs. Does your dog play nicely? Or are they a bully? Dogs that play appropriately will take turns, have relaxed body language, self-handicap if need be, take little breaks and engage in consensual play.
Are the dogs taking turns playing different roles? Are they switching between chasing and being chased and pouncing and being pounced upon? Is it a give and take situation?
Relaxed Body Language
Dogs who are playing appropriately have relaxed body language. Lots of light, bouncy movements and posture. Relaxed faces and ears. Play bows. Big open grins. Or in Mr. N’s case, blowing a raspberry!
Healthy play requires the stronger/faster/bigger dog to deliberately match the level of play of their play partner and tone down their speed and strength. Mr. N has a couple of big dog friends who will go into a down position and wrestle with him that way while he scrambles over them and plays bitey face. As odd as it may seem for Mr. N to be the “big dog,” he is slightly bigger and stronger than the puppies he is playing with and he will let them win wrestling bouts.