I have a black lab, Murphy, who is almost 2 years old. I exercise him daily at the dog park since I live in a city where dogs area only allowed in dog parks and I do not have a safe yard to play fetch in.

Murph is pretty well trained. He listens well, heels offlead, can do remote sits, on the fly downs when chasing a ball, etc. I train him using the ball as a reward since fetching is waht he loves most in the world.Since getting him I have read a lot about dog behavior and I am curious to get opinions about what happens at the park. Here is the scenario: Murph is tagging along by me despite my having told him that fetching is "over".(He knows this command but still likes to stick close in the odd hope that I was lying). Another dog, will approach him and he will ignore them. He doesn't pay them any more than cursory attention-sniffing their butt and meeting them in a T shape.

Then he turns his attention back to me. The other dog will then start barking or trying to hump him relentlessly. Murph just ignores them. Throwing them off and showing his teeth. I try to get him out of this situation as quickly as possible, but twice in the approximately 100 times this has happened in our encounters at parks I have not been fast enough or the dog has been particularly relentless and he has turned and growled or barked ans shown his teeth.

I socialized him extensively when he was young (daily). He is a bit shy about playing roughly with new dogs in general, but he has two friends in my building a Border Collie and a Pitbull-that he wrestles with regularly.
Questions:

1) Do people think I am doing anything wrong? I am not of the "dogswill work it out mentality". I feel like there are a lot of poorly trained dogs out there and that I can not trust all of them. Therefore, I usually break up this humping or rough play (when Murph is not interested in reciprocating).
2) Is it possible that by ignoring the other dogs because he is sofocused on the ball that he is inadvertently sending out dominant signals? Or is he doing it purposefully (this is hard for me to believe knowing him. He really cares nothing for marking, still squatpees, drops the ball if another dog comes near that he doesn't know etc.)
3)Or alternatively, do the other dogs read him as submissive and thenthink that the Hump-and-Growl fest is on?
4)Is this the other dogs owners fault for not socializing their dogsappropriately? ie. they don't realize that Murph doesn't want to wrestle with them. Many of these dogs just come charging up growling and jump on him.I should note that this doesn't happen all the time and there are many dogs that Murph just sniffs and they sniff him and walk away. There are even some dogs that are instantly his friends and they play chase. I get worried about it at the park and sometimes act a little over-protective (t the point of yelling at other owners on a few occasions) because I feel it is my job as the leader to stick up for him and also because I don't want him to become fear aggressive or get hurt if thes eother dogs push him too far and things escalate.

I have never seen him escalate anything though. He is a pretty passive guy. He just wants to be left alone and not humped and I find it hard to yell at him for bearing his teeth when another dog is molesting him adn won't give up after he has put his tail down and is trying to put me between the other dog and him.
Sorry for a long post and thanks for any advice/input. This has been bothering me for almost a year and I can't seem to find any good info on the web or in books.
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Anyone else have an opinion?
Anyone else have an opinion?

There probably will be; weekends in r.p.d.b tend to be slow, especially this time of year. Lots of the regulars are competing and dog shows, I betcha.
Sorry your dog is being hassled. It sounds like you are doing the right things (socializing, removing him from bad situations). The sad thing is that some owners and their dogs don't have very good manners. Some people have trouble understanding that not every dog wants to play with theirs.
One of the main reasons I have never posted here before is because of this spammer. So I get what goes on with him. However, if anyone is willing to give me an actual answer that is great. Thanks
Dongle
This funny-sounding computer term has two widely different definitions that are completely unrelated:
1. A security key. This is a little hardware device that plugs into theserial or USB port of a computer. Its purpose is to ensure that only authorized users can use certain software applications. If you have never seen a dongle, don't be surprised. They are only used with expensive, high-end software programs that most people have never heard of, much less use. When a program that comes with a dongle runs, it checks the dongle for verification as it is loading. If it doesn't find the dongle, the computer explodes. Well, not really usually the program just quits. If more than one application requires a dongle, multiple dongles using the same port can be daisy-chained together. Basically, if you ever find yourself daisy-chaining multiple dongles together, you must be doing pretty well in life.
2. A laptop Ethernet card adapter. This is a little connector thatattaches to a PC card in a laptop on one end, and to an Ethernet cable on the other end. Since most PC (or PCMCIA) network interface cards are too small to connect directly to a standard RJ-45 Ethernet cable, they need this little adapter that connects the card to the cable. (3Com cards that use an "X-Jack" connector do not need a dongle.) As far as why the name dongle is used, I have no idea.
I'm neither a trainer nor an expert, but I have a fair amount of experience with multiple dogs and with dog aggression, so I'll answer.

One thing you didn't mention, unless I missed it, is whether or not Murph is neutered. Neutering may or may not affect how a male dog behaves toward other dogs, depending on the dog, but it will often affect how other dogs behave toward him.
Questions: 1) Do people think I am doing anything wrong? I am not of the "dogs will work it out ... all of them. Therefore, I usually break up this humping or rough play (when Murph is not interested in reciprocating).

I don't think you're doing anything wrong. I don't believe in letting dogs work it out either, particularly dogs that don't know each other. Your intervening before things get out of hand helps Murph trust you, his leader, to handle these situations so that he doesn't have to. This can be key in preventing fights with strange (as in unknown) dogs.
2) Is it possible that by ignoring the other dogs because he is so focused on the ball that he ... really cares nothing for marking, still squatpees, drops the ball if another dog comes near that he doesn't know etc.)

He may be sending out some sort of signal, but I don't think it has anything to do with dominance. It's more likely that the dogs that bother him aren't good at reading canine body language.
3)Or alternatively, do the other dogs read him as submissive and then think that the Hump-and-Growl fest is on?

Maybe, but IMO the only dogs that arbitrarily hump or attack non-threatening dogs are poorly socialized dogs or dogs with dog-aggression problems.
4)Is this the other dogs owners fault for not socializing their dogs appropriately? ie. they don't realize that Murph doesn't want to wrestle with them. Many of these dogs just come charging up growling and jump on him.

It's certainly the other dogs' owners' fault for not controlling their dogs if the dogs can't be trusted to play nice. This is one of the problems with dog parks (again IMO) - - lots of dogs that frequent them aren't very well socialized and have clueless owners who a) don't pay enough attention, b) don't read dog well and therefore can't tell what's going on between the dogs, and/or c) don't know what to do about what they're seeing. There is a large number of dog owners who see nothing wrong with letting their dogs go charging up to strange dogs, and lots of them apparently take their dogs to dog parks.
I should note that this doesn't happen all the time and there are many dogs that Murph just sniffs and ... up after he has put his tail down and is trying to put me between the other dog and him.[/nq]It is your job to stick up for him. Understanding that this doesn't happen with every dog, how often would you say it does happen? How often do you go to that park, and what percentage of the dogs Murph encounters harass him? If it's happening pretty frequently, it seems to me that the cons of visiting the park outweigh the pros. It's good to understand why things like this happen, but understanding doesn't always prevent them from happening again - - in environments like dog parks, you can't control the other dogs or their owners.

Some dogs get bullied by other dogs, and we don't always know why; maybe they send out some sort of signal that humans just can't read. That may or may not be happening with Murphy, but in any case, it's more important to prevent this from happening often than it is to figure out why it's happening. If you have other ways to provide him with offleash exercise and fetching games, and if there are dogs he can play with that he gets along with and vice versa, maybe it would be best to stick with those and avoid the dog park.

Or go to the park when it's not too crowded.
Mustang Sally
One of the main reasons I have never posted here before is because of this spammer. So I get what goes on with him. However, if anyone is willing to give me an actual answer that is great. Thanks

I did, for what it's worth, in the original thread.

Mustang Sally
Thanks for the great replies Sally and Shelly. I do avoid peak times at the park and I wish I had another place to exercise him but for the time being the parks are the only place that is fenced,safe, and legal.
Murph is certainly neutered by the way. I am not a breeder, nor do I want to be. I hate to see him put in situations where he has to show his teeth because these other dogs are being so pushy so I do my best to avoid dogs I know are problematic and I now have certain "rules" as to which parks I will visit and when.
It doesn't happen very often-I would say every 15th or 20thdog at most. He is quite a patient guy. I don't know if this is particular to him or his breed, but he will put up with a whole lot of bullying before he finally gets irritated. I wish I were so patient!

I read and read and read before I got him, and have really learned a ton about dog training in the last 2 years so I get frustrated when other people don't seem to know the basics of dog training that are in every SINGLE BOOK when I am at the park (like not scolding a dog after telling it to come). Also, he is my pal and I love him and I get irritated when he is being pushed around by dogs with bad manners. I try not to overreact and just get him out of there if I don't like the situation, but it seems that because the city only allows dogs in dog parks, ther are lots of dumb owners at our parks.
He isn't too interested in most dogs, never has been from a pup. In puppy class during "play time" when they were all off leash and most pups were wrestling with each other, he would ignore the other dogs and run around the outside of the room saying hi to all the other owners. I think it is partly his personality. He certainly isn't afraid of other dogs. He wags and does the whole meet and greet thing. It seems like when he meets another dog he thinks "Oh okay.you're a dog. You don't have a ball. Now where is my owner" and then he is more intersted in me.
Ironically the focus that has made him so great to work with on training is also what makes him ignore other dogs. He is sort of a gentle oaf- in a lab way and not very interested in proving that he is the top dog.
I wonder if part of the reason that owners that have poorly trained dogs tend to hump and be overly assertive is because the dogs are unsure of pack order?(ex. bad recall and overly concerned with dominance issues) Murph clearly knows his place and seems happy with it. Mostly he just wants to hang out,play fetch, and have fun.
Thanks for the great replies Sally and Shelly. I do avoid peak times at the park and I wish I had another place to exercise him but for the time being the parks are the only place that is fenced,safe, and legal.

Meant to chime in earlier, but didn't have the time. Sometimes, dogs can get overly assertive in soliciting attention and play, which may be what is happening with Murph. Neither of you seem to be responding inappropriately to it either.A couple of lessons I learned, from nearly daily visits to the dog park. Never put your dog in a position where he feels it necessary to defend himself. And don't expect that other people will have sufficient control over their dogs. Me, I tend to defend dogs (both mine and others') against inappropriate behavior from any dogs. To that end, I go to the dog park armed with a squirt bottle (spray bottle is not nearly as effective).

Initial attempts at harassment are met with 'Uh-uh' and physical intervention and/or The Voice Of doG if I know the offender well. Subsequent attempts are met with a squirt, and that tends to put a brake on that sort of behavior, at least as long as I am around. I am yet to have anyone complain to me that their dog was unfairly squirted.
Make an attempt to talk to the other dogs' owners, and let them know that your dog is not okay with dogs getting up close and personal, and that if they can't control their dogs, that you will have to do the job yourself. Of course, you don't want to say it that way - sugar coat it to the best of your ability.
Suja
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