Please help me understand my German Shepherds protective instincts - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 07:06 PM Thread Starter
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Question Please help me understand my German Shepherds protective instincts

Not sure if this is the right area for this question, but i am going to ask it here since i could not find a place i thought more appropriate to ask, so here goes. My mom bought a German Shepherd about 2 years ago, and i have a question regarding her protective instincts. I am living with my mom while going to college and have helped raise Nymeria (the german shepherd in question) since she was first brought home. My brother Randy however, has only recently started staying with us for the past three months while he prepares to go back into the army, and her protective instincts are for him, and not me or my mother whom she sleeps on the bed with at night. We tried a test after his girlfriend playfully smacked him in the arm, and Nya started barking and ran at her. She was of course calmed down first, but then my brother Randy smacked me, and she jumped at me and started barking at me. Next, my mom, whom she is the most attached too, was smacked in the arm and she started barking and jumping at my mom! this is so wild to me. Randy is rough when he wrestles around and plays with her, is this protective instinct to Randy because she sees him as the Alpha? i always thought she would be most protective of my mother, but that is not the case, whoever randy touches, she barks and jumps at. What is the reason for this? can someone please help me to understand?

P.S- I know that this could also be an upsetting experience for her, so we have only just tried this experiment and do not plan to repeat it, but we are just curious as to why she is acting that way towards my brother, instead of my mother.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 07:58 PM
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You are expecting a trained response from an untrained dog.. Discernment is not always present without education. Your dog might see your brother as the strong one in the package and is just 'backing him up' as she would another member of the pack in a battle or to take a prey down. Obviously she is wise enough to not engage and attack, but I don't believe it has anything to do with love or protecting him... If she allows you to hug him and him to hug you and others etx then it is most likely what I stated.. If for some reason she doesn't allow this interaction then she might be resource guarding and you want to stop that behavior right away... Just thoughts
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 08:01 PM
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Well it all sounds like it would be confusing for the dog but maybe it's just a play thing for her. Do you use the same motion to signal where you want her? Like for instance if you're sitting on the couch and want her to come up on the couch do you smack the couch to get her attention? In her mind she probably thinks that her attention is wanted on whoever was smacked. If the smacked person is screaming and yelling maybe her prey drive is taking over and she's going to the source.

Either way I have to say the test idea was a bad one. What if she had really went into full out protection mode and bit someone?
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response. Actually, she is trained, just not in any police or guard dog training. She went through 2 months of behavioral training, does not require a leash, knows how to place (trainers version of lay down command) even if me or my mom leave the room, she does not move until we come back and call out "break". She can sit, lay down, heel, and stay right beside us during a walk around the neighborhood. Not sure if you mean by resource guarding, the act of fighting for food, but she is also not protective of food. We made sure to break that habit early, and any of us can walk right up to her food dish and scoop out a pile, or even kiss her on the head and she will just keep on eating with no reaction, or if it is taken from her, she patiently waits until it is placed back in front of her. It just caught me off guard to see her react that way only to Randy, considering she listens to all of us, and knows that she is not the alpha.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 08:16 PM
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I agree, don't play around with something like that.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Yes we do normally pat the couch or bed if we want her to jump up on it, so that could possibly be it. As for the biting question, she has always been very playful, and has had a full 2 month session of professional behavioral training, and has never exhibited aggression towards anyone in my family. We all feed her and take care of her, so to put it simply, we had practically no concern that she would bite us if we engaged in this particular experiment with very light, playful pats. The same type of pats we use on her during play sessions. Luckily that turned out to be the case, and no one was harmed in any way. I understand the cause for concern, however with all the training and attention that is given to her, we knew that she would not attack her own family.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 10:11 PM
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By training I meant for protection not basic training, but good to know she has basic training covered .. Also, resource guarding doesn't have to be food, it can be a specific toy, or place that the dog feels possessive of.. But it sounds more like the first line of thought I offered and that is she is joining in on the 'attack' but is unsure of her place in that area... It isn't a alight to you or your mom, or mean that she loves you less.. She just is acting on instinct but not with any rules or guidelines, so she just jumps in.. Currently doesn't sound dangerous, or that she is trying to protect anyone... Sounds like a nice girl have pics?
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-19-2017, 11:24 PM
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Sounds more like you're just hyping her up. Most often dogs are territorial over their people and that's why they protect, the issue is a dogs natural instinct does not include good judgement of human to human interaction. You should not allow yourself to be perceived as as a possession needing to be protected, this is not a behavior to be messed with in your dog.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 03:51 AM Thread Starter
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I see

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracovich View Post
Sounds more like you're just hyping her up. Most often dogs are territorial over their people and that's why they protect, the issue is a dogs natural instinct does not include good judgement of human to human interaction. You should not allow yourself to be perceived as as a possession needing to be protected, this is not a behavior to be messed with in your dog.

Thanks for your response. Like i said, this was a spur of the moment thing, and we did it mainly to see if those were protective instincts, and if she would act in defense of our mom. To put it simply, me and my brother are not going to be here much longer, so we certainly do not want our mom to be perceived as a possession that needs to be protected, but she does need to be protected. There are evil and cruel people in this world, and i have seen plenty of it myself, as does she as a paramedic. I want to know she is safe when i am not home, and considering she does not own a firearm, i would be much more comfortable knowing that her dog had the ability to ensure her protection, possession or not.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 04-20-2017, 04:04 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Hineni7 View Post
By training I meant for protection not basic training, but good to know she has basic training covered .. Also, resource guarding doesn't have to be food, it can be a specific toy, or place that the dog feels possessive of.. But it sounds more like the first line of thought I offered and that is she is joining in on the 'attack' but is unsure of her place in that area... It isn't a alight to you or your mom, or mean that she loves you less.. She just is acting on instinct but not with any rules or guidelines, so she just jumps in.. Currently doesn't sound dangerous, or that she is trying to protect anyone... Sounds like a nice girl have pics?
Thanks for the feedback, and that sounds about right. I think my curiosity got the best of me because i want to know that she will protect the home and my mom after i leave. I do have some pics, though they are from a cellphone so not the best quality. Ill attach a couple of them.
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