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Last night I took my 9 week old male Golden to play with my friends 8 month old female Golden. They played constantly for about an hour and seemed to be loving it. Rolling around all over the floor with their mouths wide open. He whimpered 2 or 3 times randomly probably just from getting scratched or stepped on or something. Other than those few times he was pretty much on his back but everytime he would get away he would come right back for more!

After they had gotten their fill of playing and had calmed down some my friend let the two of them share some kind of ice cream dog treat. Frosty Paws I think? They both sat there and licked at it for quite a while and then I my puppy randomly started growling. Nothing too loud but he was definitely growling. The older female really didnt react much to it but we moved the puppy away just in case. He stopped growling pretty much immediately so after a few minutes we let them play again. They were playing just like they had been for the first hour until he growled again. This is the first time we have heard him growl. He plays at home with a 3yr old female lab/pit mix who wants nothing to do with him. This was the first time he's really been able to play and have another dog play back.

Any idea why he was doing that and what we should do in that situation? Is it something I should be concerned about? Thanks.
 

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1. Growling is COMMUNICATION, just as humping is, it can be done in defense or play. True aggression (such a prey drive) there is rarely ANY growling (it would scare the prey animal away).

In the first situation the pup was probably just telling hte older dog 'this is mine, stay away" the fact he older dog didn't react is a good thing, it show the older dog understands the puppy has 'license'.

The second situation is PLAY growling, leave it alone, it's normal. remember you NEVER want to interfere with a dogs communication system, it needs it, so you need to learn what's what. I HIGHLY recommend ON TALKING TERMS WITH DOGS - CALMING SIGNALS, 2ND EDITION
by Turid Rugaas and DOG LANGUAGE - AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CANINE BEHAVIOR
by Roger Abrantes

IF you have the money to invest in it, I highly reccomend CANINE FEAR, AGGRESSION AND PLAY DVD
by Jean Donaldson.
 

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In the first situation, your dog learned an important lesson when the older dog didn't react: your dog is not in charge there with that dog.

In the second, that was play growling. I don't tolerate it when it is directed at me, I growl back and louder. It is what got the point across to Ludo that I am in charge. But when it is with another dog and they are playing, it is just fine.

Growling is not always bad. It can mean so many things from: pay attention to me, hey that's mine!, get away-I'm in charge. You need to read the other signs to determine if there is an issue.

Your dog is young. That is good. You can train him to respect you and never show dominance or aggression towards you. You can also train him to not be aggressive towards other dogs. But there will always be dominance towards some dogs and that isn't bad. It is how their pack system works. But there should NEVER be dominance over you. You are always in charge.
 

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No need to worry about aggression at this age. Focus on socialization, building confidence and attention training (learning his name, learning to come when called in low-distraction environments like in the house, learning to look at you on cue).

As others have said, play growling is absolutely nothing to worry about.

I just wanted to add one thing though, which is that dogs should not be expected to share food or toys at any point... sharing is not innate for them and while your dog is still a pup now, it can lead to squabbles in the future. Next time, let the dogs have one Frosty Paw each (or a portion of one if it's too large for your pup) or one toy each. :)
 

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Read the book and don't worry about puppy dominance.
BINGO!!! Puppies are NEVER dominant, they PLAY and as far as most adult dogs are concerned have 'License' until they're four months old. After that they are diciplined by the adults if they get rude or obnoxious. So having a WELL ADJUSTED adult around is essential to his developemnt and learning good doggy language and manners (which are different from OUR manners)

For teaching him good manners there are several great threads posted in the training forum.

Doggy Zen

Greeting Politely at the door

Rev Up/Cool Down

Training Dog to Greet Politely

NILIF (nothing in life is free)
 
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