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Please help!

I have a 8-month-old male golden retriever and whenever we go to the beach, or an off-leash area, and he comes across a smaller dog/puppy he starts to paw or jump on them. He's not aggressive at all and just wants to play, but I'm worried that he's being too pushy and showing his dominance? I always tell him "no!" in a stern voice and take him by the collar if he doesn't obey. Today he jumped on a small puppy and the owner said I shouldn't take my puppy to the beach if my puppy is like this. I felt awful. My puppy goes to obedience class every Saturday, I take him on two 45 minute walks (includes some running on the grass) and he's not desexed yet as my vet recommended I wait until his growth plates close.

He has loads of energy and wants to play with every dog he meets. He's good with bigger dogs and doesn't paw them, but is probably a bit annoying because he acts crazy and wants to play with them.

I know that he's just a puppy, but I feel this could turn into a bigger problem if it's not corrected. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to correct this? He loves the beach and thinks every dog is his best friend, but clearly from today's encounter it's not nice manners. :( He's 25kg so I can see how today's puppy owner was worried.

Thank you in advance.
 

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You are right he just wants to play, (it is not 'dominance') which is only natural however, there is a risk of him hurting a pup or smaller dog, and/or causing the pup/small dog to become fearful of dogs, if he is too overwhelming for them, which is not fair to that dog.

Keeping in mind that 'No' and pulling him away, is not instructive or productive, doesn't teach your dog what you want him to do instead of the behavior he is displaying.

A few of things to work on.

Recall - (voice control) should be solid/reliable before he is allowed off leash in an unfenced area. Consider using a long line to give him room to move around, but you still have some control should he decide to get too far from you, while you work on teaching him a consistently reliable recall response.

Leave it' cue - rehearsed and rewarded until he is reliable with it. You see him looking at a pup/small dog - give the cue, and redirect him to come with you and move away from the other dog.

Teach him to 'ask' for - look at you, and wait for permission to go visit other dogs or people. Keep in mind not all other dogs and some people want to be visited by a large energetic pup, they may be not feeling well, in pain, or simply cannot be bothered with him. Don't assume that all every dog in a public area is 'dog friendly' all of the time.

When you are walking him, consider teaching him to 'stay close' set a distance you are comfortable with, and help him learn to stay within it, at least until you know he is reliably socially appropriate. If your dog is too far from you, he is free to choose what he wants to do, which may include practicing inappropriate behaviors, you are not close enough to interrupt unwanted behavior or to redirect him away from perhaps another dog or person who is not keen on interacting with him.

Work on 'self control' exercises, dogs are not born with it, but they can and do learn it - wait, stay, go to a mat', leave it, to help to learn to resist the urge to run off and play with every dog he sees.

It is lovely to see a dog running free, off leash, having a good time, but they really do need to learn the skills they need to do it safely and appropriately before they are set free, for their sake as well as anyone who may encounter them.
 

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Luna was the same way when she was younger. It's definitely just playfulness and a total lack of awareness of their size. Her behavior and dog greeting skills improved dramatically after going to a very well run doggie daycare for a couple months. The other (very screened and monitored) dogs taught her what was acceptable, what wasn't, and how to say hi without seeming like a threat. That said, we continue to work on impulse control exercises and I still keep her on a short leash until I know the other dog wants to play like she does and she's already greeted them politely.
 
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