I've been observing a reoccurring behaviour in my girl Gemma and wanted to get some opinions on why she does it, and perhaps how to curb it. It's long, but I'd appreciate the read.
Gemma is well socialized and makes friends easily. However, she sometimes has difficulty distinguishing between play and aggression when vocalisation is involved. I'll give one scenario to illustrate it, but this has happened a few times. She used to be very frightened of barking dogs when she was a puppy, but we walk past many barking dogs every morning now (she's 4) and she has learnt to ignore it.
She was playing with a daschund who she already knew, and everything was normal. A bull arab (with owner) came over and wanted to play, introductions were made and everyone was happy. All three dogs ran around, played chase, a little light wrestling (Gem doesn't do rough play). Then another pair of little dogs came over. Same thing, introductions made, everyone got along so leashes were taken off and they went off to play. Gemma came over to check in with me when one of the new little dogs started barking excitedly while wrestling with the daschund. This is where she reacts.
She ran over immediately, pushed the two of them apart with her body and snapped at the small dog who was barking, pinning him. Important to note her teeth made no contact, and once he was pinned she backed off. Gem has helped educate foster puppies for me before, so I'd seen her tell other dogs to back off before and didn't want to interfere just yet. Everything went back to normal, until the little dog got overexcited again and started barking and she went running in, hackles up. I didn't let her intercept this time, I recalled her and put her in a down stay for the rest of the play session so she could observe but not interfere. She was calm and relaxed except for when the little dog started barking again.
This behaviour only ever occurs when another dog barks at her or a dog she already has a bond with. She didn't care when the little dog barked at the bull arab, just the daschund. She acts as though the other dog is trying to harm the dog she cares about. The same dog could bark at its owner to throw the ball and she doesn't bat an eye.
I'm happy to continue just separating her when other dogs become vocal, she has impeccable recall, but would love to hear other theories or potential solutions.