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Old 04-08-2011, 05:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martemchik View Post
Owners think its protectiveness because they have a GSD and when it starts freaking out and barking they believe its protective and awesome, when in reality their dog is scared of whatever it heard or saw and is trying to make a bunch of noise because it's unsure. People get a GSD puppy, after reading how protective they get, and expect it to come naturally when in reality its something that comes out much later in life, or has to be taught to the dog.
People want to believe their GSD is like the GSD they see in movies or on TV.
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:55 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Ok here's one for all. Once again I know I'm going to get varying opinions.

I took Shadow and my 12 year old son out for a walk yesterday. Shadow was happily sniffing the grass, tree's, footpath etc. We were in the newly established area across the road from our house, it was the first time we were in this area.
Shadow was taking every thing in. There were a couple of tradies on one of the allotments packing away their tools and talking amongst themselves. Shadow looked at them then sniffed at the newly planted tree and grass verge just next to the allotment. One of the men started talking to me about Shadow, Shadow looked at him but didn't react, we'd met this man several times before on walks just outside the development and at the front of our house, Shadow had always been stand offish but never barked or reacted to him.

Then man then came closer, at the same time my 12 year old stepped forward. Shadow then barked like crazy. My younger son walked behind me, the man took a few steps back, Shadow stopped. The man had a strong excited Irish accent, he squatted and Shadow then got closer and sniffed around him. She walked back to me. My son stepped forward again and Shadow barked at the man. As soon as the man moved away from my son she stopped again.

Shadow doesn't react this way very often, and she only ever does it when my younger son is present. Usually she is extremely friendly and sociable or she just isn't phased.

What is your interpretation of what I have described?
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Old 04-08-2011, 05:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Protectiveness comes from a place of complete calm and complete confidence. The dog will assess the situation, stay watchfull, and give warning growls. The look on their face often reads "don't try anything, buddy, I'm on top of it!"

Dogs lunging to the end of the leash, barking widely, hackling, looking around widely, switching their gaze from the person or thing to something else and back, and so on, are showing fear.

In some cases, the difference is subtle because a fearful dog may be so good at the bravado, trying to act confident and sure in order to try and convince the threat that they mean it (though they are bluffing), that even an experienced person may have difficulty in seeing the difference.

And as others said, the threat has to be real. A dog that barks at every passerby or random people approaching a vehicule, or every noise is reacting out of fear, because those are daily occurances that have never posed a threat.
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow's mum View Post
Ok here's one for all. Once again I know I'm going to get varying opinions.

I took Shadow and my 12 year old son out for a walk yesterday. Shadow was happily sniffing the grass, tree's, footpath etc. We were in the newly established area across the road from our house, it was the first time we were in this area.
Shadow was taking every thing in. There were a couple of tradies on one of the allotments packing away their tools and talking amongst themselves. Shadow looked at them then sniffed at the newly planted tree and grass verge just next to the allotment. One of the men started talking to me about Shadow, Shadow looked at him but didn't react, we'd met this man several times before on walks just outside the development and at the front of our house, Shadow had always been stand offish but never barked or reacted to him.

Then man then came closer, at the same time my 12 year old stepped forward. Shadow then barked like crazy. My younger son walked behind me, the man took a few steps back, Shadow stopped. The man had a strong excited Irish accent, he squatted and Shadow then got closer and sniffed around him. She walked back to me. My son stepped forward again and Shadow barked at the man. As soon as the man moved away from my son she stopped again.

Shadow doesn't react this way very often, and she only ever does it when my younger son is present. Usually she is extremely friendly and sociable or she just isn't phased.

What is your interpretation of what I have described?
How old is Shadow? This does sound like it could be protectiveness, but over-reacted a bit. Hard to tell without actually seeing her body language.

I would not accept this behaviour as "normal" or excuse it as being protective (I know you are only asking for more information, not making excuses, and I'm not saying you are [making excuses] - just saying what I would do if it was my dog).

In Schutzhund, before a dog can trial for a SchH title, they have to pass a BH, wich is a basic test of Obedience and temperament. Each judge will run their BH a bit different, but there are items where you have to walk your dog through crowds, stop and have people approach you and shake hands, and so on, with no reaction from your dog. When I did the BH with Gryffon, the judge instructed the "crowd" to act like they were having a drunken arguement. I had to approach the crowd, put my dog in a down, and he instructed one of the "drunks" to turn and talk to me and pat me on the shoulder. Dog was to follow my cue and not react.

So I would say that reacting to someone just normally approaching your son is not protectiveness from a place of confidence (unless the dog sensed something "off"), but more like a bit of bravado, a bit of "just in case". And if Shadow is that worried, she may be walking around with a touch of fear. Though it sounds like continued training and socialization will help her past that.

Just my thoughts on it, nothing definitive, others may have more insight into the situation. I know my rescue in general was very friendly with strangers when I adopted her, but there were a lot of growling incidents too when people appeared in places she did not expect to see them. It was simply a case of having her socialized more, and boosting her over-all confidence. The last thing she growled at inappropriatly is "ice-people" sculptures some of my neighbours put up along the road, as a lark. Gryffon ignored them, I laughed at them, Keeta approached hackling and growling. Once she sniffed and saw it was nothing, she relaxed. But this was the first time in years she growled at something that she was unsure about.
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Last edited by Castlemaid; 04-09-2011 at 08:03 AM. Reason: spelling.
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Lucy Dog you hit it right on the head, and same with Castlemaid in their explanation. I see protective as having been trained, it can't be out of control barking anytime someone comes near or just crazy barking in the yard. In Shadow's situtation I see it more like the dog might be fearful for the child and is warning you to do something. The dog doesn't completely understand the situation and is therefore reacting in that way. Again you do have to look at the body language and what not, but you can't have a dog freak out anytime someone comes near your child, just my opinion.

I have a very outgoing "social butterfly" and we're actually trying to get him to be a little more standoffish and unreactive to other people and especially other dogs. He doesn't bark or anything just wants to play with them. I think in your case you do need to socialize more and make sure your dog is comfortable with every situation. Protectiveness should only come out when they feel the danger, either through you, or a situtation which they have never been in before.
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Is it possible for a GSD to be fearful and protective at the same time but not sure how to manage their emotions? Also is fear part of most dogs nature until they mature or is it something to breed out of top quality dogs?
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:11 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I was taught that unless you have told the dog to protect you it's more or less resource guarding.
Who made the first decision, you or your dog?

Reacting to weird body language and tones of voice sounds more fear based.

*grin* Unless my dog pays my carpayment and rent and signs the checks...she can't make those decisions. I still love her to death though the BBB.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I think that dogs are generally not the best decision makers.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:39 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I thought this would be a great thread for the Weekly Discussion Topic.
And to continue on with the discussion:

Quote:
Originally Posted by rashadlc View Post
Is it possible for a GSD to be fearful and protective at the same time but not sure how to manage their emotions?
I think yes, it is possible for a dog to want to be protective, but feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure. But an experienced person can read the unsureness. The wanting to be protective and being somewhat fearful is why police dogs, Schutzhund dogs, and PPD need training and are raised differently than an average pet dog were the focus for the future working dog is on building confidence, while the focus for the average pet dog is on good manners.

Dogs that are raised with protection in mind, are taught from an early age that they can take on the world and win every time. They are gradually brought along, with more pressure and fight from the decoy put on them so that they grow in their confidence that they can win the fight, and that is where that place of unshakable confidence comes from. There are dogs that have this naturally. When training a future protection or police dog, the ability to read the dog and know just how much pressure and stress to introduce into the training without overwhelming the dog is one of the most important skills of the trainer. Too much too soon, and the dog can't handle it, and becomes fearful and reactive.

Quote:
Also is fear part of most dogs nature until they mature or is it something to breed out of top quality dogs?
This is where breeding for nerve strenght and temperament comes in. I think that fear in puppies is normal from an evolutionary view point, but through good breeding, it can and should be bred out of them. You see the solid litters from solid parents, puppies that are fearless and ready to take on the world, never backing away from anything, but moving forward to investigate and explore. Pups may still go through some fear stages, but they get through them and continue on with no ill effect. The GSD is SUPPOSSED to be a fearless breed, and this is what breeders should all strive for.

Being fearless as a young dog is different than being ready to take on a protective role as a young dog. Dogs have strong social/pack oriented behaviours, and the alpha and older more senior members of the pack have the responsibility to look out for the younger, weaker members of the pack.
A young dog should defer to the alpha/senior in that regard.

For example, I live in the boonies. One day out in the back field, my older dog (about 6 years old at the time) and my one year old GSD chased a bear into the woods. At first I didn't see what it was, my older dog was barking away, then I saw the bear (hiding behind a tree, looking out at us). While the older dog was barking at the bear, the one year old brought me his ball and was prancing around wanting to play. I recalled the dogs and we headed back to the house. In this example, the older dog had the situation under control, so the young dog was not concerned. Then I showed up, so nothing to worry about! Mom is here!!! Let's play! That would be normal fearless confidence for a one year old, and completely appropriate for him to defer the barking and holding the bear at bay to the older dog. This does not mean that he is not a courageous dog, or not protective, just shows age-appropriate behaviour.
As he is getting older and more mature, I would think that in a similar situation, he would stand side-by-side with my older dog and give her support - though I surely hope there will never be another similar situation for us!

To expand on the nature of fear in puppies, in a previous paragraph I mentioned this:

When training a future protection or police dog, the ability to read the dog and know just how much pressure and stress to introduce into the training without overwhelming the dog is one of the most important skills of the trainer. Too much too soon, and the dog can't handle it, and becomes fearful and reactive.

The problem with puppies that are fearful, is that from an early age, EVERYTHING they encounter is scary and traumatic, so through their normal every-day life, they are pushed into being insecure and reactive, and very difficult for the owners to try and overcome this by socilization and training. A pup like this is almost doomed to fail because it does not have the psychological ability to deal with ANY stresses, and falls apart.

So the answer to the question about fear: it should be bred out of the dogs, not only in top-quality dogs, but out of all dogs, because a fearful puppy grows up to be a fearful adult dog, and that is nothing but a heart-ache and a liability.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'm not trying to hijack the thread. But where would trust issues come into play? Would that be labeled under fearful?

I mean a dog who is confident around people, and a person can run up and grab their owner and the dog will be fine. If anything gets excited. But if the person simply approaches with more assertive body language (head on, direct eye contact.) the dog becomes evasive.

I may be describing trust wrong, I have a clear picture in my head but can't quite put words to it.
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