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Cooper is a 15 month old golden and our first dog ever. My husband and I never had dogs growing up either. I am having a hard time distinguishing between Cooper just playing with other dogs at the dog park and Cooper being dominate. HOw can I tell when it's time to distract him and get him moving forward again away from the other dog? There have been a few interactions between Cooper and another dog where I felt like it was a fight but am not really sure. There was a lot of growling and mouthing of each other. Is that fighting or playing?
 

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It's hard for us to tell you. Can you ask other dog owners at the park what they think? I know that my Danny and Jasper sound ferocious when they play with each other and I have actually had someone ask me if they were fighting. But I know my dogs and know what their play sounds and looks like.
 

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It's hard for us to tell you. Can you ask other dog owners at the park what they think? I know that my Danny and Jasper sound ferocious when they play with each other and I have actually had someone ask me if they were fighting. But I know my dogs and know what their play sounds and looks like.
ditto.....
 

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Ditto ditto; if one dog has gotten too rough with another dog, that dog will yelp, and then play stops while they take a break, then go back to playing. If one dog keeps yelping and the other dog doesn't stop, well, that's dominance, and someone needs to intervene.

Also, if one dog wants to initiate play but the other dog doesn't, that is dominance, and the owners need to take control of their dogs and assess the situation--does one own a shy dog that would be better served by being introduced to a low key animal? does the other own a more pushy dog that needs to be taught some manners and needs focus on the owner?

You can tell a lot sometimes by the body language of the dogs--but I believe that it can be very subtle, and can be hard to pick up if you're also talking to other people at the same time, or at least, for me it is.
 
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