*Cross post from other lab board...I wanted as much help as possible!*
When playing together, my 4 month old and 5 year old labs growl a LOT. I'm not sure if I should be concerned or if it's all just play. Yesterday the 5 year old was chasing the puppy, and she was whining too (the 5 year old). Their tails are always up and wagging, and their ears are usually forward (or as forward as they can be). I've never had two dogs at once and wanted some feedback.
It really depends on the dogs. You mostly need to watch body language. I've done a lot of reading up on these things, but some dogs are very vocal when they play.
That said, growing/yipping/barking are sometimes just normal play. Obviously if the noises change and start to sound VERY vicious and not like their normal play, it's probably best to break it up before it gets worse.
With the body language, if both of their tails are wagging, they are probably just playing, but it's hard to know for sure without being there firsthand.
Your older lab should be able to tell the younger pup when enough is enough. Sometimes it's a loud bark or showing of teeth, but again, it depends on the dog.
When Jazzy was a pup, they both made a lot of noise when playing, but every once in awhile I felt Jake was getting too serious and I would call a time out for both of them.
Separate them and remove the louder one from the action. If the quieter one immediately tries to reengage play, it's all good. If quiet one leaves to find something else to do, that play was too rough.
There's nothing wrong with occasional time outs to settle down - learning to relax after high arousal is a valuable skill.
When my kids go at it with 'play growling' it sounds like a pitbull ring (or at least what I would imagine one to sounds like). A few years ago I was talking to a non-dog person on the phone while outside watching the kids play. I other person was very concerned that there was blood being spilt!
Karen and the gang
BBI Kodi's Journey To Anotch (Journey)
BBI Kodi's Blackpowder Striker (Flint)
...what the others have said.
here are two pics
Zoe and her best friend Hayley. Zoe is the one w/her paw on Hayley, and she is very verbal
and chilling together
Linda and Zoë, the Umlaut
PJ has been alone for 4 1/2 years, and I think she is really happy to have a playmate. They each get alone time too.
Thanks for the accounts of your labs, everyone!