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Lilie 04-15-2014 10:18 AM

Protection or Fear Aggression?
I'm curious regarding a specific behavior my 4 year old GSD displayed last weekend. If it makes a difference, Hondo has never been a social butterfly. He is not aggressive, but he isn't friendly either. When someone comes to the house, he'll bark, but quiet when I tell him. He'll greet and walk away. He doesn't need to be anyone's friend.

I was out of town. My husband was building a deck at our pond. He had Hondo with him. They were behind the house. We have a long driveway that goes from the road, past the house, through a gate and to the barn. While at the pond, you can't see the drive way until it's past the gate (to the barn).

Hubby was on the tractor when he saw Hondo jump up and take off running towards the house. He then noticed a friend of his (been to the house twice) had walked through the gate (that was open) and was walking towards the pond. Apparently, when he saw Hondo running towards him, he turned back and took off running with the intention to make it back to his truck.

Hondo caught him just as he made it back to the gate. He said he knew he'd never make it to his truck, so he turned, faced Hondo and said, "Hondo! It's me! Hondo!" He was standing on one side of where the gate would be and Hondo was standing on the other side, barking at him. But Hondo never passed the imaginary barrier of the gate. They were less than two feet apart.

At this time, Hubby had jumped off the tractor and was running towards the gate. He didn't turn the tractor off, so (he thinks) Hondo might not of heard him calling his name (at first).

The friend saw Mike coming up and took a step towards the imaginary barrier (gate) and Hondo moved towards him, still barking. He said that he felt at that point, Hondo was warning him not to pass that barrier. He said Hondo's face was now inches from his groin area (he said that was when he was scared!).

Hubby called to Hondo again, but Hondo wouldn't budge until Hubby made it to them. (I asked hubby when he called Hondo what command did he use and hubby said he was just calling his name. He should have used "Enough!" but I really don't know if that would have done the trick for Hubby.)

The friend and Hubby worked together on the deck all afternoon. Hondo behaved as he normally would, pretty much ignoring the friend. He just layed in the shade of a tree watching them work.

I'm curious, because it seems as though Hondo created an imaginary barrier of where the gate would be, was he thinking he was protecting Hubby? Perhaps, if the friend passed the gate then he'd become a threat? Was it like a line drawn in the sand in Hondo's head?

I would think if the 'barrier' was a safety line for Hondo and he was reacting out of fear aggression, then when the friend stepped forward, Hondo would have backed up instead of moving forward. Or maybe even bitten. Hondo's never shown fear aggression, but he's never had a real chance to test his threshold.

onyx'girl 04-15-2014 10:24 AM

If he's never shown fear aggression, I'd say he was protecting his property.

Blanketback 04-15-2014 10:32 AM

I'm not going to guess, but I will say that all my GSDs have respected gates, and even if the gates are open they still know that this is a boundary of sorts. I've had my dogs barking on one side of an open gate before - or at the edge of a property line. I look at this as a territorial behavior, protecting the property, and I wouldn't expect mine to bite just because they were barking. I think there'd be lots of lunging and jumping, with some growling, before a bite came into it. From what I've seen with my dogs though - since I don't know Hondo.

Gretchen 04-15-2014 12:04 PM

Sounds like property protection. I really appreciate your story as Molly has an imaginary line at our office. She just made this up in her own head also, we did not teach her to be protective. At the office we have a half dutch door that customers can come up to, if they try to bend or stretch too far over it, Molly growls. The only people who can walk past her are my BIL and a couple police officers that have grown up with GSDs, are very familiar with them and have no fear. We can bring other friends in and let Molly know its OK, but then they can't leave past the imaginary line on their own. Its a process to let them out.

Hondo seems like such an intelligent dog, between this story and the one when your sister was visiting. Hope your husband and his friend weren't too shaken up.

Sunflowers 04-15-2014 12:08 PM

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Good boy, Hondo.

Lilie 04-15-2014 12:15 PM


Originally Posted by Gretchen (Post 5379089)
Sounds like property protection. I really appreciate your story as Molly has an imaginary line at our office.

I think it surpised me that he had the 'line' in his head. I didn't think they looked at things in that way. I know someone can walk down the road and he won't bark. Turn and walk down my drive and he'll bark. But I thought that was more like a 'direct' approach and not an actual property line.

Just when you think you've got things figured out, they throw in something new......

Hubby was more worried about me than he was Hondo. Our 'rules' include the dogs are not to be out when he is on the tractor. Too many things can happen. But you know what happens when the adults are away...the children will play....

carmspack 04-15-2014 12:24 PM

el perfecto ! bark and hold and guard d'objet combined.

perfect self control .

This is what we want . GOOD DOG

Castlemaid 04-15-2014 12:42 PM

One thing that I have noticed with GSDs as opposed to the other dogs I have had (mutts), is that they seem to have an instinctive sense of territory and bounderies.

Blanketback 04-15-2014 12:49 PM

Yes, that's one of the traits I love about them. And also how they can be the sweetest little darlings out in public, but don't you dare mess with that territory once they're home, lol. GSDs are awesome dogs!!!

Sunflowers 04-15-2014 04:57 PM

179 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by Blanketback (Post 5379457)
Yes, that's one of the traits I love about them. And also how they can be the sweetest little darlings out in public, but don't you dare mess with that territory once they're home, lol. GSDs are awesome dogs!!!


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