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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Ace is pretty unsure of himself around new dogs. His immediate reaction to seeing other dogs is his haunches and tail go up and he immediately barks "WOO WOO WOO!"
Yesterday on our walk we saw 3 dogs:

1. an 8-month old female GSD/Lab mix,
2. an old male Basset Hound and
3. a 9-y/o male Lab

Since I only had Ace with me I thought it might be some good socialization for him, so I asked each owner if we could say "Hi."

Dog #1 laid down as we approached and then ran toward us as we got closer and sort of darted side to side. I definitely think her greeting was a bit rude and she's probably a little under-socialized. She was very forward (although Ace can be a bit overwhelming for other dogs, too). Both were on leash, and they were kind of bobbing-and-weaving. She went in for the face-paw and I guess Ace decided that she was encroaching on his space a little too much and he showed his teeth and snarled, but from my angle it looked like he was doing a play bow with a wide open mouth and bared teeth. He subsequently lunged and Dog #1 seemed to be fine with it and went to play back, but I could tell Ace was a little unsure of how to react. The dog backed off and laid down much the same as when we first walked up, before she "pounced" and Ace looked directly at her and "WOO WOO WOO'd," again with his haunches and tail up. They both stood up and smelled each other one more time (very nicely) and we continued on our walk. I waited until I felt that Ace was a little more relaxed before I left because I didn't want him to associate his uncertainty with every GSD or dog we meet or to think that barking really does "scare" off things he's not sure of.

I'm pretty sure that baring his teeth (in this instance) could be based on the fact that she was being too forward and he was telling her to "back off." If I'm being totally honest with myself, it's also probably due to him being a little bit under-socialized himself with dogs besides Colby and Cooper.

Dog #1 was probably not the best dog-to-dog meeting we could have had, but I don't think it was a total disaster either. I think just as it's important for him to meet and socialize with all types of dogs, it's important for other "rude" dogs to learn what's okay and what's not okay from Ace. Who knows? Maybe I should stick to socializing him with older, calmer dogs. He sniffed but then didn't look twice at dog #2. He WOO'd at dog #3 but then they smelled each other very politely and we went on our way.

I've noticed that oftentimes when he plays with Colby the two of them bare teeth at each other, too. Most of the time Colby will bare her teeth at him and then pounce on him and it appears to be entirely in play. I'm curious if it's possible that he's mimicking her behavior and to an extent is inviting play by baring his teeth?

Anyone have any advice or insight on why he's exhibiting this behavior and how I should react to it in the future?
 

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I am not totally sure in that circumstance ... but from what I have learned sometimes the baring of teeth means "I will do you no harm" and is a calming signal. Leeo did this a lot with dogs and humans. If I am incorrect I am sure someone will point it out! Lol! :) I also have ears and eyes open! Lol!
 

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Depending on the dog and the situation, if a dog is not snarling and curling its upper lip, then the dog may not be threatening...but they are many exceptions. For example, I seen both a JRT and a Basenji crunch a nose (and sometimes draw blood) in what looked to be a friendly encounter... I'm still not sure it was Not a friendly encounter with inadequate Bite Inhibition ???

A threat is usually closed mouth. A relaxed open mouth is usually not a threat. With no snarl, a closed mouth showing lower teeth and upper teeth may be a smile, "I will do you no harm."

However, if a strange dog shows you its teeth, it is better to back away than to pull back a bloody stump :)
 

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I am not totally sure in that circumstance ... but from what I have learned sometimes the baring of teeth means "I will do you no harm" and is a calming signal. Leeo did this a lot with dogs and humans. If I am incorrect I am sure someone will point it out! Lol! :) I also have ears and eyes open! Lol!
There are some dogs who give a grin, which is as described above. I once had a grinning golden in puppy class whose owner was terribly relieved at my opinion that her sweet4 month old puppy was not, in fact, snarling at her. On the original post, I think it is important to remember that face to face on-leash greetings often end with a bit of posturing and stress. The dog knows he's on leash, he's trapped, and there is a strange dog staying in his face which would probably (if with proper manners) not approach and stay in his face if not also inhibited by a leash. It's often an uncomfortable situation.
 

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Open mouth with corners of the mouth back is more likely relaxed and a "smile." Corners of the mouth forward and tense is more aggressive. Closed tight mouth with a hard stare means you are about to get bitten. Of course it all depends on the situation and the dog. I wouldn't focus too much on the teeth though b/c dogs have big teeth and they are pointy and will show any time he opens his mouth.
 

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During one of our training classes, there was a 2nd dog. He was a French Bulldog who - like Bella - also has issues with reactiveness towards other dogs.

Frenchie was staring at Bella, supposedly because they don't have as good of a sense of smell as other dogs - brachy and all....so they tend to stare at the other dog to get info. Other dogs don't like that. So Bella gave him the lip-curl-teeth-showing display. You could hear a tiny bit of a snarl, but her hackles were not up and her tail was mostly relaxed, so the trainer said that is doggie language for "you are being rude by staring at me, I don't like it - back off". The Frenchie finally got it, looked away and Bella also immediately looked away and went back to sniffing the floor.

It's amazing the "conversations" they have with eachother. I wish I could understand it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Frenchie was staring at Bella, supposedly because they don't have as good of a sense of smell as other dogs - brachy and all....so they tend to stare at the other dog to get info. Other dogs don't like that.
Ironically enough the dogs who stare at Colby in obedience class are usually the Beagles and Labs. She does not take kindly to staring!

It's amazing the "conversations" they have with eachother. I wish I could understand it all.
I just started the most amazing book about dog behavior called The Other End of the Leash. It's definitely worth a read!
 
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