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My 4 year old 70lb lab/mastiff/possibly pit mix is a happy girl, though, she's never been a huge fan of other dogs. She'll play with other dogs from time to time but when other dogs try to dominate her (pawing at her back, trying to mount her or nipping at her when chasing her) she has a short temper and can be reactive when another dog shows assertive or aggressive behaviour towards her. She doesn't go into full on attack mode (she's NEVER done that). But, she gets very growly and will go chest to chest with the other dog.

Knowing this about her now, my approach is always prevention. I pull her out of the situation when I see it starting to escalate to a place I don't like and we leave the area calmly.

Am I doing the right thing? Is there anything else I can do?
 

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Sounds like she has a low tolerance for rude dogs. Levi has an extremely long fuse, and tolerates dogs do all sorts of rude behaviours to him. Heidi on the other hand, she won't tolerate any of that behaviour. She'll freeze, turn away, and then snap if they don't bugger off. Usually that's enough. If that dog continues, then I'll either step in or we leave.
 
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Yeah, that's just like Yoki. She'll tolerate it for a minute but if she gives a warning and they don't back off, she can kinda lose it.
 

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Tessa has a very short fuse for rude behaviour in her fellow canines. She does not allow any dog to get into her personal space without permission. EVER. She's a good judge of character, in fact she and I can judge a dog a few feet away and determine if they are going to be an issue - if they are going to be pulling, barking, walking with a stiff tail up, staring solely at her etc. she will become 'reactive' ahead of the situation and we need to move away. Walking calmly, giving signals, loose wagging tail = new best friend.

I usually don't let her greet any strange dogs while on lead because she REALLY hates close proximity that she can't get away from, meaning if the leashes get tangled she will snap and snark which could start a fight. When meeting new dogs we have to be able to have them walk by, then beside, then off leash so Tessa can determine if she likes the dog or not - it's a process to own a judgemental dog...
 

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There are a few dogs like that at the dog park. Fenris is a humper when he gets overstimulated. We always have him disengage and come with us for some chill time when he starts. If we don't get over to him before the other dog tells him to bugger off, whatever. You deserved it, bud. We know most of the dogs there and aren't worried about any fights breaking out as long as we keep an eye on body language. Fenris is a wuss, too, so little scraps are always diffused easily.

There was one time at the park when my brother didn't book it over fast enough for some guy's taste and he grabbed Fenris by the scruff and literally threw him off his dog and proceeded to yell at my brother that he saw Fenris penetrate his good breeding dog and that she was now ruined because of it. Okay dude. Neutered Husky who never puts all of his junk on display "penetrated" your mutt and destroyed her breeding career...
 

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Bear is the same way. He does not put up with rude dogs. If he gets mounted at the dog park, he gives a dog ample warning with raised hackles and growls before he snaps at someone. He corrects other dogs the way he should, and I don't stop him. He has never chased or attacked, but he has an assertive presence and is able to get the bad behavior to stop with a look and a raised lip. For his part, he plays nicely and respectfully or he gets removed for time outs (sometimes he gets too excited, overwhelming his play mate).

I am actually happy that he has this personality trait. I see it as a reflection of myself and I am happy that he doesn't take any BS (sorry). Although, I do need to watch him closely when we are playing with new dogs, just in case he corrects someone and they don't react appropriately.

There is no excuse for allowing your pet to hump others. It is rude and promotes bad social connections between the dogs. The fastest way to watch a friendly play session devolve is to let your dog mount the other ones. It is my biggest pet peeve and I am always satisfied when Bear tells a humper to back off.
 

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There is no excuse for allowing your pet to hump others. It is rude and promotes bad social connections between the dogs.
So true. There are a handful of people at the park who wave it off and go "oh they're just being dogs." Yeah, they're being rude dogs. The least you could do is, you know, remove your dog... Maybe start working on instilling a more appropriate behavior?
 

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My 4 year old 70lb lab/mastiff/possibly pit mix is a happy girl, though, she's never been a huge fan of other dogs. She'll play with other dogs from time to time but when other dogs try to dominate her (pawing at her back, trying to mount her or nipping at her when chasing her) she has a short temper and can be reactive when another dog shows assertive or aggressive behaviour towards her. She doesn't go into full on attack mode (she's NEVER done that). But, she gets very growly and will go chest to chest with the other dog.

Knowing this about her now, my approach is always prevention. I pull her out of the situation when I see it starting to escalate to a place I don't like and we leave the area calmly.

Am I doing the right thing? Is there anything else I can do?
It sounds like her behavior is completely appropriate. If I were you, I'd let it play out a touch more. See if the other dog takes the hint, if he doesn't and they start to fight, separate them. I'd just give them a chance to work it out on their own, some insistent males need a good nip to get the message. At 70lbs she can probably make her feelings understood. Just always be looking at her body language, if she is standing her ground, let her do so, if she's trying to get away, help her do so as well.
 

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I agree with Esand about her behaviour being completely appropriate.
A lot of dogs who show "tolerance" often aren't but simply don't know how to extract themselves from the situations you mention and end up being bullied while their owners think they are playing .
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the reassurance, everyone. Sometimes I worry it's Yoki but with everything you've said, I'm glad to hear it's normal for her to react to those kinds of behaviours as she does.

I guess I've just become a bit nervous because of the many bad experiences I've had with owners that have ignored rude behaviour in their own dogs. You wouldn't believe how many owners have said "oh, that's his happy growl" when their dog is growling with raised lips, hackles and dead-straight tails. It really shocks me how people just can't seem to read their own dog's body language.

On the flip side, I want her to have a chance to socialize and I don't want to prevent the dogs from having a chance to sort it out themselves.

Thanks again everyone!
 

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Sounds like she is acting appropriately.

I'd caution you against letting it play out to see if the offending dog will get the message. Dealing with an all out dog fight isn't fun and can result in injuries to the dogs and people trying to break up the fight. The only time I'd tell someone to let two dogs work out their relationship is if it were two dogs I knew well and knew that neither dog would carry a disagreement too far. With dogs that I don't know, I'm not willing to take that chance.

Train a positive interrupter. When you see you need to intervene, interrupt using whatever cue you train. This can help diffuse tense situations. Kikopup has a video of how to train a positive interrupter.
 

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Agreed - I don't want to be in the middle of a dog fight either. It's happened multiple times and now I'm just so cautious I worry I'm not letting her socialize enough.

One of the scariest instances was with two large breed dogs that had no collars on. I didn't notice they weren't wearing collars until the dogs started harassing mine (who was more interested in staring at squirrels). Finally, they annoyed her enough that she snapped back at them to give a warning and all of a sudden the two large dogs had their mouths on my dog's throat. The owner couldn't control them because they had no collars and they were just too large and strong for her.

Their owner ended up grabbing her dogs by the legs and getting dragged across the park while we pulled our dog away. Her pants even came off as her dogs dragged her across the park!

It was frightening but luckily Yoki had just a couple small nics around her neck. But, that was the end of our time going to busy dog parks. We stay well off the beaten path for the most part now. The dog parks here are just too busy and there are way too many irresponsible owners.
 
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