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Lucy is just about six months. She and I were out on the beach and we met up with another dog, looked like a Pitbull, slightly larger than Lucy- owner said he was a puppy and friendly. So he came over and checked Lucy out and they got playing. At first I noticed Lucy was the one being pursued, she had a very submissive posture, and this went on for a couple of minutes. The play was not rough, just normal dog stuff. Then after a few minutes it was as though she had suddenly decided that she would control the situation, like someone flipped a switch. She became the dominant one, although I am not sure if aggression was involved. She had no hackles but was assuming the dominant posture, and the Pit had hackles and was looking might submissive. I heard growling and I think it was only coming from her. I immediately separated them, and Lucy looked like she wasn't done giving the other dog what for but she wasn't nuts or anything.
A very similiar situation happened about a month ago- went down almost exactly like this one. In both cases the other owners were not at all alarmed, so I wonder if this was all a part of normal play. I am a firm believer in erring on the side of caution and would rather have dealt with it before it escalated further, if that was what was happening.
Am I overprotective, or is she showing signs of dog aggression? Should I be doing anything differently?
Thanks, Lisa
 

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Real growls or play growls? I'm thinking maybe because she's a puppy she's a little unsure in her initial interactions with strange dogs, and that once she starts playing with them she gains confidence - submissive behavior is always the safe route until you're sure how another dog will react. She's still quite young, has she been socialized much?

Hard to say for sure without being there, but my dogs play EXTREMELY rough with each other, accompanied by very loud play growls which would sound mighty fearsome if you're not used to it. I judge how things are going by how the other dog acts. If one dog is clearly the aggressor (in a playful sense) and the other dog keeps coming back for more, fine. If the other dog appears uncomfortable and tries to get away, I step in and stop it. I wouldn't go so much by how the other owners act since they may or may not know squat about dog behavior, but the reaction of their dog will tell you a lot, IMHO.

I do feel that it's my responsibility to control my dogs' behavior, so I'd rather step in sooner than later to prevent any escalation, and keep the interaction fun and positive.
 

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Rafi went through something like this about a month after I got him. He is not very confident around other dogs but evidently he thought if he postured alot and acted like a bully it would go over well...not! No one wanted to play with him, surprise, surprise. He is very talkative and growly when playing (he does it with me too but it's clearly play behavior with me) and that didn't go over well with the other dogs either.

I continued socializing him and now he is MUCH better. He will still growl and act a bit bullyish at first sometimes but after a minute or two he relaxes and just plays. He still prefers to play chase but will wrestle a little after he gets to know another dog.

Is there a supervised play group for big dogs that you could get her into? Perhaps she just needs more socialization and some exposure to some easygoing dogs.
 

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomReal growls or play growls? I'm thinking maybe because she's a puppy she's a little unsure in her initial interactions with strange dogs, and that once she starts playing with them she gains confidence - submissive behavior is always the safe route until you're sure how another dog will react. She's still quite young, has she been socialized much?

Hard to say for sure without being there, but my dogs play EXTREMELY rough with each other, accompanied by very loud play growls which would sound mighty fearsome if you're not used to it. I judge how things are going by how the other dog acts. If one dog is clearly the aggressor (in a playful sense) and the other dog keeps coming back for more, fine. If the other dog appears uncomfortable and tries to get away, I step in and stop it. I wouldn't go so much by how the other owners act since they may or may not know squat about dog behavior, but the reaction of their dog will tell you a lot, IMHO.

I do feel that it's my responsibility to control my dogs' behavior, so I'd rather step in sooner than later to prevent any escalation, and keep the interaction fun and positive.
I think this is pretty much it. I have not seen many dogs playing, and although her socialization with people was extensive and other dogs in controlled situations, the only free play she's had was with her littermates. I will talk to my trainer on Saturday to see if we can do something up there that would allow her to watch the interactions and tell me if there is a problem.
I think I'm a little overprotective
 

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Jesse goes to doggy daycare 1 day a week (Wednesdays) since he was four months and has developed very good doggy social skills, I find when we meet dogs on the road walking he is very good. Before daycare he was bad at doggy communication and most dogs read him wrong and would get agressive with him. I am finding that the high doggy daycare bill is well worth every penny, it fulfils him, teaches him good dog skills and he loves to go there. As well on Saturday we go to daycare for a 2 hour play session with owners and dogs, which is great as helps with socialization with people and dogs at the same time.

I find with some dogs he is playing intensively with both dogs play growl
 
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