Dog Fight or Aggressive Flirting?

Smiling Cairn terrier boy.

Come on…I can take ya!

As Toby and I were going for a walk, a little boy was walking his dog.  Toby and I have met the pup before.  She is small and full of bluster until she gets close to you, then she is sweet and shy.  Yesterday, though, the little girl pup broke free from her human and came barrelling toward Toby.  She ran into his side with furious growls, and Toby answered her back with equally furious growls.  They spun and twisted and to human eye appeared to be locked in a vicious battle.

I grabbed the little girl’s leash, pulled her back from my pup and handed the leash to her boy.  I looked over at Toby to see how he was handling the situation since this was his first encounter like this. He was panting, had a huge grin on his face and wanted to go back to the little girl dog.

Something similar happened on two other occasions with Geordie and a different girl dog. Both times after the two were separated, Geordie kept asking for the little girl to come back and “play” with him.  (For days he pestered me.)

I am curious if I am reading these situations properly.  Is there such a thing as noisy dog-flirting or are my dogs actually caught in fights?  Each time my boys have come away without so much as a scratch.

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