Question about owning this breed. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-15-2017, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Question about owning this breed.

I apologize to everyone, if this is in the wrong section of the forums.

I have a question, what is truly like, owning this breed.. In terms of temperament. Can a confident German Shepherd dog walk calm in public, without the need to nip, and or bite, and relax near people, and play without having to target someone / biting their own handler?

Or, is it a breed, that must be handled by incredibly experienced handlers?

I ask this question, as I am in-love with the breed, but, because of being a first time buyer ... Bad mistakes were made, and my dog, is incredibly fear aggressive (one of the worst cases). I love him with all my heart, but
because I love the breed, in the future.... 10 Years from now.. I would love to own another one.. As it's the only breed, I am incredibly attached and want.

I am curious.. What owning a properly bred Shepherd would be like, simply because.. I am terrified of going through all of this again. I did do my research on Shepherds, but, owning a fear aggressive dog, really changes my outlook on them for the worse, and my mind goes blank on all the research I did.

So my question for all of you is,
what is it like to own a CONFIDENT Shepherd? Can they be walked in public without showing aggression.. Can they be near strangers without the need for aggression? Do they make good dogs for someone who wants to bring their dog everywhere? Do they ever show aggression towards their handler, or other dogs?

I have many questions.. Another one being, were you a first time dog owner when you got your Shepherd? Or experienced, and what do you believe this breed is mostly directed for? And what is it like to owna confident Shep.

Thank you, all.
I am just incredibly curious, because of my bad luck.
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post #2 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-15-2017, 11:44 PM
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The right dog is worth every second. I don't worry about my dog biting someone out of fear at all, no handler aggression, etc. I'm comfortable with my daughter around my dog. This breed done right is amazing.

I googled my answer
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post #3 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 12:51 AM
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I'm curious. What did you do with your dog initially? How old is your dog? Were the mistakes your fault? What type of breeder did you go to?
I believe in off leash time, confidence building, and balance in the upbringing. Training, yet freedom.

I googled my answer
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post #4 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 02:44 AM
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Hey Sad Tales,

The first thing I wanted to say is don't give up. How old is your dog? What kind of support have you sought out.My dog was fear aggressive but I worked him out of it. I have never met a perfect dog or a perfect handler , it is all a learning experience whether you are experienced or a newbie.Find a local reputable trainer and get in touch with your local German Shepherd Club. Have you already done that? There are many resources that can save you and your dogs life. It is never to late. If ultimately you feel your dog is to much to handle contact a local established German Shepherd rescue group who could adopt your dog out. Keep in touch. You obviously care about your dog or you wouldnt be on this site.
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post #5 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 08:40 AM
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Singe is a 6 year old (intact) Czech-line GSD. We do "Meet the Breed" events with our local kennel club. He's a titled Therapy Dog. And we just go out to wander the town at least once a week. That's on top of all of the dog events we also do.
Being intact, he can sometimes be snarky with other males but for the most part he ignores them.

Have you had your current dog evaluated by a trainer or behaviorist who is experienced with the breed? Many dogs can be managed with the right techniques. Others simply aren't wired right but steps can be taken to minimize the risk in public.


Working the crowd at the annual Turkey Trot parade


Met some strange looking "dogs" at the event too!


ran into some really BIG "dogs" on a walk through the neighborhood (first time seeing full size horses)
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post #6 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 09:58 AM
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I've had GSDs since the 1980's, and the only dog that wasn't 100% trustworthy with other people was a rescue my room-mate found wandering the streets of Scarborough. She was fine if someone didn't try to get right in her face, or hug her, or try to get into her 'kennel' (our house or car) without being invited. Even when she did 'go off' on someone, it was more bluster than a full-out attack. The few times she actually bit someone, it was never more than a warning that left a scratch or red mark on the skin.

Fear aggression is NOT normal for the breed, and it's something that's crept in due to breeders paying more attention to showring points than temperament!

Last edited by Sunsilver; 04-16-2017 at 10:00 AM.
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post #7 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SadTales View Post
I ask this question, as I am in-love with the breed, but, because of being a first time buyer ... Bad mistakes were made, and my dog, is incredibly fear aggressive (one of the worst cases). I love him with all my heart, but
because I love the breed, in the future.... 10 Years from now.. I would love to own another one.. As it's the only breed, I am incredibly attached and want.
Bad mistakes were made??? Hmm well don't wanna pry. But you know ... crap happens, what's done is done. The past is not important now but what you do going forward is.

You appeared to have landed in the deep end of the pool with your current dog?? I'd be happy to try and help you swim out if you'd like?? The only things required are the ability to walk your dog, a bit of determination and the ability to make better choice with the dog in front of you.

As for what you seem to consider to be a as I put it ... "my cross to bear ie ... ten years of obligation to a mistake?? For me ... I am a Bully Breeds guy and I added a "Big furry dog with a pointy face to pack" (my first OS GSD) ... that did not work out so well in the short run! But in the long run ... it worked out fine. Rocky and my story is here. :

What would my dog do?

Rocky and I got her'er done as it were and we'er not that special. I'd be happy to try and help you out ... if you'd like and welcome aboard in anycase and sorry it's a bumpy ride.
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post #8 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 01:18 PM
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All of my comments hinge on one major component: how much the dog has been trained. Below, I am assuming a dog that has been intentionally trained on how to behave (if you don't teach them, they don't know).

Quote:
Originally Posted by SadTales View Post
So my question for all of you is,
what is it like to own a CONFIDENT Shepherd?
Like having any well-behaved dog plus a little more. When GSDs get into the groove and they're confident that they (and you) can handle whatever comes at them, it becomes almost like a partnership. They act with dignity, tranquility, and know just what to do (because you've told them). It takes a few years before puppies get to that point, though.

Quote:
Can they be walked in public without showing aggression..
Of course. Jack gets to come with us to the market, on trails, dog-friendly stores/bars/restaurants. He likes going and watching the people, and he usually gets heavily rewarded for his good behavior (dog treats, bird feet, pieces of yummy meats like bacon, or in the case of trails, off-leash time.

Quote:
Can they be near strangers without the need for aggression?
Yes, provided there is no logical reason for them to display aggression. Like someone threatening you or acting strange towards you.

Jack has no problem with being around strangers, though he's hesitant about strangers petting him. He'll usually duck away when someone reaches over his head and if they persist, he barks at the person (we correct this, and he's getting better, but I think that's also an understandable response--we allow one bark and then he has to sit and be quiet). But we just ask folks to let him sniff them first, and then he's good to go and will accept petting very happily.

However, if there's a small child that absolutely loves him, he'll be the friendliest, most playful, and gentle dog. No reservations. He loves my neighbor's 3-year-old, and treats her gently while doing everything in his power to keep her giggling and clapping.

Quote:
Do they make good dogs for someone who wants to bring their dog everywhere?
Yes. GSDs, when well trained, are some of the BEST dogs to take everywhere. Primarily because they're so handler-focused and are more interested in what you're doing vs everyone else.

Quote:
Do they ever show aggression towards their handler, or other dogs?
Unprovoked? No. Provoked? Yes, if they can't avoid confrontation first.

Jack prefers to avoid conflict where possible, but I've seen him unafraid of pushing back against another dog that's being a bully to him.

He's also gotten very annoyed with us on occasion (like clipping his back nails). It's always our fault for putting him in that kind of position an not listening to his warnings or telling him what to do first. Accidents happen, and we both back up and take a breather before trying the thing again later (if it was something we need to do). There's never any ill will afterwards.

And when I mean the above, I don't mean a serious attack. Just growling in protest or trying to wrestle out of the way. He's snapped a couple of times, but always with perfect restraint. Never anything more than teeth touching the skin (or neck in the case of a dog). That restraint had to be taught when he was very small--exactly how much pressure to ever apply to human skin.

Now, there is something he does that LOOKS like aggression, but is pure overexcitement. Whenever he runs outside and gets very hyper, he'll sometimes grab our ankles or arm, and chomp a little too hard.

Quote:
Another one being, were you a first time dog owner when you got your Shepherd? Or experienced, and what do you believe this breed is mostly directed for?
Not a first time dog owner, but a first time GSD owner. Which might as well mean I'm a first time dog owner. XD

Shepherds need a job, somewhere, somehow, sometime. They are bred to WANT to work. They love working, especially when they understand the tasks and the rules of engagement. Work can mean anything that involves focus, training, and physical execution of some kind of task.

And this falls into all other realms of their lives. They're a breed that thrives on rules. They like rules, and they like knowing the rules. This makes them happy, obedient, and confident. I think this is why you've probably read that GSDs need a "firm" handler. By firm, they mean that you're willing to establish rules and keep to those rules. I've learned you really can't pussyfoot around with these dogs. You can't let them just get away with bad behavior. They seriously need good leadership or they'll start making decisions of their own accord. They aren't like a lab that will automatically default to your will. Shepherds only default to your will if you prove that you're worth listening to. That really doesn't take much, and it doesn't take heavy-handed treatment; it just requires clarity and consistency.


But then, I've got nothing on the people on this forum who've owned GSDs all their lives... They know even better than I.
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Last edited by Kyrielle; 04-16-2017 at 01:21 PM.
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post #9 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-16-2017, 01:25 PM
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No, fear aggression is not the norm. I'm sorry you are dealing with it. I also have a fearful reactive/aggressive dog, and I know it's not fun. What I can say is finding a good trainer really helps. The fear is still there, but you learn ways to manage it. You learn ways to keep your dog and the public safe.

As always, be careful who you trust for advice with a fear aggressive dog. A lot of well meaning people give really bad advice. I would seek out help, in person, from a reputable trainer. This kind of behavior is something that really needs to be assessed in person. If you are willing to give your general location, perhaps someone can suggest a knowledgeable trainer to help.

But, as to the breed as a whole being like this... definitely not. My second GSD is as stable and neutral in public as they come. I can literally take her anywhere and she is completely fine.
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post #10 of 129 (permalink) Old 04-17-2017, 12:18 PM
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Our first GSD was wonderful with all people at home, out in public, etc. She was great with dogs that she knew, but would go ape ***removed by moderator*** when she saw a dog she didn't know. We really had to avoid other dogs at parks and what not because of it. Now, she did not bite, but she would pop them in the head with her front paw.

Our current dog does not react to other dogs in public. Maybe a stare if the other dog does it first. I also noticed at the vet he would stand and pay close attention if our kids got near another dog then sit back down when they returned. No barking, no pulling, etc. He will let any child pet him and most adults. He tends to shy away from being pet by people that are timid. At home he's a bit different though. If he knows a visitor it's no big deal, but he has started barking at new people. It's quite intimidating even if he is 6.5 months old.

Last edited by GypsyGhost; 04-17-2017 at 07:46 PM. Reason: Pseudo-swearing
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