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So I have a 2-year-old male lab who is the love of my life. I rescued him last year from the shelter and other than being adopted twice and returned both times for being too 'destructive' and 'hyper,' he spent a majority of his first year in said shelter. He didn't have any kennel mates so they weren't sure if he was dog-friendly when we adopted him but we quickly discovered that he loves pretty much everything and everyone in typical lab fashion.

Anyways, he recently developed barrier frustration when on leash and meeting dogs through a fence at the dog park. It sounds like I am walking Cujo when another dog walks by. He's fine off-leash and loves to play. I noticed the barrier frustration started to get more noticeable while he was wearing a prong collar; he pulls on leash like a cart horse and the no-pull harnesses did nothing. When he pulls it's because he is sniffing or tracking some sort of animal scent and always nose to the ground (he is being trained as a hunting dog). After noticing the correlation between the prong collar and his increased reactivity, I traded it in for a head halter. I've begun to work on solidifying the 'Watch me' command with a clicker and high-value treats whenever we go for a walk and see another dog. If we are hiking, I will pull him off the trail, put him in a sit, get in his line of vision and give him treats if he remains calm or keeps his attention on me.

I've never been a fan of introducing dogs on-leash since they mostly end up nose-to-nose and he's been snapped at before. Yesterday on the trail we ran into another woman with a 5-month-old Great Dane pup the same size as my lab. The lab has been around puppies and loves playing with them (he has a 4-month-old Pointer 'brother') that he gets on very well with. Anyways, I did our normal routine of pulling him off-trail into a wooded area and waited for them to pass. The woman stopped and asked if we could introduce them as she was trying to socialize her pup. I informed her that he was normally good with other dogs but not on-leash. She told me that her pup was training to be a service dog and wanted them to meet off-leash. I allowed it, albeit a bit nervously. Everything went fine at first, although the greeting was a little stiff. They ran around for a bit and the pup approached me and immediately laid down in front of my dog. He didn't pee and my dog was just walking beside him. I was about 3 feet away, ready to intervene if anything went wrong. As soon as the pup laid down, my dog started mouthing his neck and making awful growling noises. He is normally quiet when playing. He was not pinning the puppy down but was standing over him off to the side. The noises were unsettling so I grabbed my dog up by the scruff and pulled him away still growling, re-leashed him and put him into a sit. The woman called her dog back but he lingered hopefully and even approached us again. I've read that if the dog who is being 'bullied' comes back to your dog after a time-out, they were actually playing but those growls didn't sound remotely friendly.

He's never done this before and normally stops playing with overly submissive dogs. Sometimes he will harass them by nudging and bowing, trying to get them up and playing. To my knowledge, he's not an overly dominant dog and has no problem switching roles in play. Could he just have not liked that particular dog? Did the wooded area make my dog feel trapped? Was he just playing? Was he influenced by my nerves?

I'd like any input or experience anybody has and to know whether or not this could be a problem in the future and what I can do to remedy it.
 

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So sorry I can't help you with your question, but I do walk my dog under similar circumstances: in the woods, on trails, and don't do 'leashed' greetings, so I have some tips that may make things easier in the future.

I do go off the trail sometimes to avoid a leashed dog greeting. I leash up my dog and trot off into the woods--cheerfully. Saying lets go, and pretending there is something absolutely fascinating 'over there'. I also carry a bunch of treats to guarentee 'fascinating'.
Since you describe 'pulling' your dog away, I will say, if you can, get your dog off the trail before you need to pull, so do it sooner, before your dog focusses on the other dog. And be fun about it.

I would not stand and stare at the other dog and person. Stopping and staring is a 'stand your ground' move. You were probably too close anyway, and your staring may signal to your dog that, yes, there is a problem.

If you must pull (and I know that surprises happen, so you can't be perfect), be just as cheerfull and get some distance in, "oh wow, pinecones!, etc.). Also, if you're doing that, you won't give the other person a chance to talk you into a meet and greet that you don't want to do. Getting ignored is off-putting but in a polite way.
I find keeping moving helps relieve tension. I do avoid leashed dogs, and if my dog is leashed and I see off-lead dogs, I will sometimes (if I think it's a good idea) drop the leash and let him do a natural canine greeting (mine is good at that).
If I find a co-operative person (with a leashed dog) I will sometimes stand with my dog on leash at a distance and have a conversation. The distance must be sufficient that neither dog gets excited, and the goal is bored of each other. Again, I will use treats, which makes me more interesting than the dog even quicker. (if a toy will work, you can do that). With no treats, you will need a greater distance. You also need time, so a longer conversation, and yes, I've had long yelling chats across the street on occasion with folks that understand where I'm coming from.

Look up BAT & LAT training, this will help.

Because life is not perfect, and sometimes you WILL need to pull your dog away, it's also a good idea to train for leash pressure. This is training your dog to accept and not be upset by pressure on the leash (pulling) and to 'give in to' leash pressure. Kikopup on youtube has a free tutorial, just search 'silky leash' and you should find it. That way you can train you dog to consider some pressure on the leash to be a fun opportunity, rather than 'oh oh, there's a bad dog over there'.

That said, I did have a dog that was predictably mean to submissive dogs. I learned NOT to let her greet any dogs that showed overt submission/fear/shyness (dogs that lie down on the trail or slink), would just call her in and have her ignore them.

Hope these things help you think up a plan. From one dog person to another.
 

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In my experience, both my dogs adapt to play differently with different dogs. Sometimes their style is very different than I expect; it could be that with this dog, your dog was just trying something new.

One of my dogs is silent with some dogs and can range from low growling sounds to obnoxiously loud and terrifying sounding with others. He is my golden looking mix. My amstaff is usually low on the noise spectrum with other dogs, but if he's really pumped and playing with my other dog he also can sound terrifying but it is all play.

It doesn't sound like it was an aggressive incident, so I wouldn't worry about aggression just yet!
 
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