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Old 12-11-2012, 01:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Telling children apart from adults?

Its been said many times that a GSD who barks at children or shows any aggression towards children must have an undesirable temperament which made me wonder, what criteria is a GSD expected to use to determine all children from adults? What is the "cut off" point in which a GSD is supposed to consider someone an adult, considering they can't ask for ID?

For example, Balen has never barked at kids, except the next door neighbors but I still think he was directing his barking towards the adults that were present, and not the kids but other than that he has never barked at the kids in the neighborhood. He does, however, bark at the older teenagers that live across the street and I dont mind that as they are usually rowdy and up to no good anyway. I do not consider them "kids" either. So how does he know?

What do you expect of your GSD and how do you expect them to determine children from adults?
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:49 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I view teens as teens, not children. Preteens and younger I view as kids.
Koda is very aloof of children, meaning she ignores them. I think she knows by their size, behavior, and my reaction to them (I am more suspicious of adults/teens).
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would not expect my dog to determine children from adults. I would expect myself to determine what situation, person or activity is going to make my dog bark or be uncomfortable and to make adjustments to keep our GSD calm. It may be leaving, putting a distance between us, or seeing if Molly will tolerate it by giving her treats and me talking in a calm voice.

A lot of it depends on what your dog is exposed to.And I think much of it has to do with movement rather than age. Molly sees kids as dangerous aliens( I have no children in my household). They are unpredictable, have quick jerky movements, arms flaying, screaming, little toddlers riding their bicycles into her. When Molly was younger, a senior who walked abnormally slow would alarm her. We recently had a drunk in our neighborhood and she recognized his gait was off from half a block away.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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A trainer told me once, thirty or more years ago, that children smell different and we are all hardwired (dogs and humans) to respond to that. Once theteen years hit and the hormones hit, the smell changes and we respond differently.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A trainer told me once, thirty or more years ago, that children smell different and we are all hardwired (dogs and humans) to respond to that. Once theteen years hit and the hormones hit, the smell changes and we respond differently.
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Very cool, and makes a lot of sense!!!

Ky's not fond of the "small kids" - the ones that look and sound like aliens! She sees them and stops dead in her tracks and just looks at me like ... wth is that???
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
I would not expect my dog to determine children from adults. I would expect myself to determine what situation, person or activity is going to make my dog bark or be uncomfortable and to make adjustments to keep our GSD calm. It may be leaving, putting a distance between us, or seeing if Molly will tolerate it by giving her treats and me talking in a calm voice.

A lot of it depends on what your dog is exposed to.And I think much of it has to do with movement rather than age. Molly sees kids as dangerous aliens( I have no children in my household). They are unpredictable, have quick jerky movements, arms flaying, screaming, little toddlers riding their bicycles into her. When Molly was younger, a senior who walked abnormally slow would alarm her. We recently had a drunk in our neighborhood and she recognized his gait was off from half a block away.
Boy, this so much. And interesting in the OP, you like the little kids, the dog likes the little kids, you find the neighbors and HS kids skitchy, the dog does as well.

And the smell! Oh the smell! I have a dog who loved to sniff men rather inappropriately as a puppy - I told them that he was a drug sniffing dog. I think that this is one of the things that dogs who have a female preference respond to (or that have a fear of men) because I think it is possible that the smell of testosterone could be viewed as slightly aggressive to dogs. I haven't had time to see if others have studied it.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Boy, this so much. And interesting in the OP, you like the little kids, the dog likes the little kids, you find the neighbors and HS kids skitchy, the dog does as well.
This is his behavior when I am not present (he's outside, I'm inside) which is why I asked. Its been said on this board, as well as others, that a GSD
should never feel threatened, bark at, or show aggression to children, which must mean that they discriminate some how.
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Because these are little kids that he is barking at, that's not what we want to see, and makes one assume (because who knows) that is not proper temperament and more fear based/weirdness.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, since he's outside by himself, without his person, and he is making his own decisions without your input (which is not always optimal with a new dog) the smell is huge, as well as the things Gretchen says. Do you intervene with his barking?

I have dogs who are afraid of or dislike kids who are not "okay" temperament wise. So I know what that's like to have and work with, and appreciate even more so dogs that don't view everything and everyone as either a challenge or a threat. I try to encourage as much balanced behavior out of them regardless so that it is not immediately apparent to people that there are issues.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would not expect my dog to determine children from adults. I would expect myself to determine what situation, person or activity is going to make my dog bark or be uncomfortable and to make adjustments to keep our GSD calm. It may be leaving, putting a distance between us, or seeing if Molly will tolerate it by giving her treats and me talking in a calm voice.

A lot of it depends on what your dog is exposed to.And I think much of it has to do with movement rather than age. Molly sees kids as dangerous aliens( I have no children in my household). They are unpredictable, have quick jerky movements, arms flaying, screaming, little toddlers riding their bicycles into her. When Molly was younger, a senior who walked abnormally slow would alarm her. We recently had a drunk in our neighborhood and she recognized his gait was off from half a block away.
THIS needs to be a sticky.
I'm also tired of the "it ought to know", well, it ought to, perhaps, but then again, there's what's "expected" and what's "reality" and the two may be far apart.

The dog is not a "bad dog" if it barks at kids.

Heck, in our hustle and bustle life that doesn't usually involve kids, we forget to expose our dogs to kids.

I don't expect any my dogs to go up and maul a child on sight, but if my dog isn't comfortable with a child, I'm not going to rush out and euthanize him because "he must have a screw loose".

When Ruger saw my not-quite-3-yr. old granddaughter, he basically ignored her, he didn't come unhinged, or fawn over her, he wasn't aggressive in the least, but he wasn't affectionate either.
More of an..."okay you're there" type attitude and just went about his business. He lives for my youngest daughter, anyway, so it worked out fine.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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OK let me ask this question before this turns into a thread about whether or not dogs who bark at kids are bad or not. "Is acceptance of children, whether they have regular exposure or not to them, supposed to be part of a German Shepherds proper temperament?"

Yay or Nay?
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