What do you expect when a child runs at your dog? - Page 4 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #31 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-06-2019, 09:27 PM
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She was all over Luna and then I said okay bye and we walked away the kid followed us all over the store and the dad just walked away. If I remember right I had to hunt the father down and tell him no more. At the park young two kids ran up and one wrapped there neck around Max’s neck and the other around his hips. They were so fast I did not even see the second kid. I told them in calm way not to go up to strange dogs as the parent was about 6 feet away and said not a word. I did not get angry and I did not yell. Max was fine he wanted to play Max got lots of praise from me. At a play ground one can expect that but now I am more watchful. For the most part parents watch their kids but it takes seconds for the kid to do their own thing. I had a young kid run after us as we walked through the park and parents scream and yell for them to stop and chase their young kids in a fury. We just kept walking. I learned from loose dogs that would charge us on walks that if I yell or scream stop and get heated my dogs will follow suit if not told otherwise when they were learning the rules of life.
Good job Luna and you! I have stopped letting kids pet Deja. She needs to ignore them, which goes really well. Whenever I have a young pup I 'idiot-proof' it by gentle pulling on ears, tighter than normal hugs etc. That paid off big time when I took my big adult mutt to a garden nursery and an employee squealed in over-drive, "Oh, a puppyyyyyy!" and hugged him without my permission. The dog was calm and almost oblivious due to idiot proofing when he was tiny. I don't get it when people do this; he looked like a blond Rottweiler! I think it is crucial for any pup to learn this as they can always encounter someone without dog-sense.
Yeah having kids help with much proofing to which I know helps. there a lot of people think all dogs love all I had strangers not only pet but bear hug get down in hands and knees to wrestle. I see a lot of people like to get right into a dogs’ face a few times. I had some almost try to swallow my chihuahua up. Life is easier just to say no and it became easier the more I said it -as it sure seems to be a different world now.


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post #32 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-06-2019, 11:46 PM
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Um, okay but neither of my Goldens would have bit any kid who ran at them in any manner. They wouldn't have bit the kids, it would have been fine. I think that is how the general public (including kids) thinks dogs act.

I am starting to realize that Jupiter has a completely different temperament. He is just naturally more bitey and less accepting of people and dogs than the Goldens were. He's been through puppy obedience, obedience 1, and now is in obedience 2, has been extensively socialized with adults, kids, and dogs, but he's still pretty unpredictable. Of course he is only 7 months or so and has been cooped up because of an injury, but he's obviously just wired different than the calm and accepting kind of dogs. Perhaps with training and maturation he'll become much more tractable, but we didn't do anything with the Goldens to make them that way.

When he was just a few months old, I used to take him to the park with my daughter. At first, he accepted kids petting him, but after a month or two, he would sometimes nip at them and I realized he couldn't be trusted around him. And of course the kids think he's a big stuffie and is cute, and they want to hug him or kiss him. Experience shows that they don't obey me when I tell them how I act. Therefore it's on me to keep him away from kids.

I always wondered how GSDs could be #2 in AKC registrations when I never see them walking around. Is this why I never see them, because they're hard to control?
Let's think about the breed of dogs you mentioned and how and for what they came to be. A Golden Retriever is a bird dog. Nothing wrong with that. They have the energy and ability to hunt with their owner. They were created for successful hunting, which means obedience in the field, and instinctive bird-dog behaviors, like hunting, pointing, setting, retrieving, flushing, etc. The Golden Retriever is the retrieving type. If they will flush a bird that's cool, I don't know. I do know that they are bred to be obedient even when doing what they were instinctively built to do. And they are bred to retrieve a bird without injuring it further, meaning they have a gentle soft mouth. At no point were they bred to protect the hunter from people or animals. That is just not in their job description. They are big like German Shepherds, but their down-ears and soft features generally do not instill fear in parents or children. That in an of itself probably prevents incidents. Will come back to that.

The German Shepherd Dog was created at a time when farmers in Germany were not loaded with money. They needed a dog that would both herd sheep/cows, etc, and not bother the chickens and other farm animals, but would also protect the family and farm creatures from both man and beast. It IS in their job description to be suspicious of strangers, especially if they are acting nervous. The upright ears, large teeth, and interesting reputation of the German Shepherd Dog gives a LOT of people pause. They are fascinated by the breed, but a little afraid of it too. They want to be brave and they want to pet the magnificent creature, but they are also wondering if it will bite them. If I had a nickel for every time a stranger offered my dog their hand to smell and then ripped it back when the dog started to sniff the hand, I could probably buy something real. The dog is bred to be obedient and work with their owner, and to sometimes work independent of their handlers.

I saw a early German tape/video from 1920s I think of a German Shepherd Police dog walking the beat. On its own. Finding a drunk man and alerting, not biting the dude, but his handler was able to come up on them and take over the situation. Interesting. The way the shepherd works sheep with a dog in the US is different in Germany. The dog in Germany has to move 200-300 sheep or more down a busy thoroughfare, keeping the sheep out of the road and out of the crops, to get to the grazing land. The numbers the dog is working makes it impossible for the dog to get a lot of support of a shepherd.

Because of their trainability and intelligence, both Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds have been used for Seeing Eye dogs. They are different here too. The GR will do exactly what the blind person wants, every time. The German Shepherd may be more likely to employ disobedience when necessary, or even find a better route/way to do something. This can be good and bad. Also, most of the blind-person with seeing eye dog muggings happen when the seeing eye dog is a bird dog -- lab or Golden, and not a GSD. They are different creatures and made for different work. You can still see a lot of GSDs used for police work. GRs may be used for sniffing bombs, but rarely are they full-fledged police dogs (here in town we have had a Labrador as a police dog -- not impossible) it just isn't their forte.

Now, when does a dog bite? A dog bites most often when they are afraid. When a dog is comfortable, and the people around it are comfortable, and no one is giving off any bad vibes, bites are not the norm. So, your GR is probably perfectly happy to have children run up to it, it is not in his job description to protect you or himself, the children are not nervous and probably the dog has enjoyed many of these scenes from puppy on up. The German Shepherd dog commands some respect, even from children. Children may run up to them, but probably a lot fewer over the year of upbringing than the friendlier-looking GR. Adults and children alike are a lot less nervous around the GR, so the GSD who has had fewer encounters of this sort, is now faced with tension often coming from the strangers, maybe from the children, and very possibly from its own owner, who has probably tightened the grip on the leash which immediately tells the dog, "it's going to get real."

A child or adult who is not nervous around the dog, is going to offer their hand in a relaxed fashion that the dog will sniff and receive pets for. The owner is happy, and everything is fine. The child or adult that is nervous, you might think, will be slow and careful. Maybe some are. But when someone is scared, they are much more likely to shoot out there hand, take a swipe at the dog, and then pull their hand back quickly. What NOT to do. But that is what they WILL do. What self-respecting GSD is NOT going to try to grab something shooting toward it, probably toward the top of his head??? What self-respecting GSD is NOT going to go after a retreating hand, especially when he smells the fear all over the person??? It is actually pretty amazing that not more German Shepherds have left scars on people.

Understanding the dynamics of the breed and the fear/reputation, what goes on, is helpful in setting your dog up to succeed.

Don't think puppies are safe. They are not. Rushie was not more than 4 months old when a full grown, big man was scared to death of him. Dark shepherds, Black shepherds are often viewed as more likely to bite from folks that are afraid. Not sure why this is. Rushie was blanket back, that looked bi-color, and the sweetest dog ever. But everyone wanted to pet Babsy and Jenna, either of them who may have bitten giving cause, whereas Rushie was very unlikely and got a lot less requests. I think because he was much blacker. I've been lucky through the years. I have had a five year old run up and throw his arms around Cujo who was out with me, but lived with my parents. He didn't do anything, but if he did, it would have been tragic because I was trying to pay for something and didn't see the kid coming. I was paying for his grooming. So he had to be there. The kid's owners should have been whipped for letting her do that. I left before I let my mouth get me in trouble.

We have chosen to own dogs that have protection, which includes biting humans, as a part of what they were bred for, so we have to be careful when we have them out. We cannot tarnish their reputation further than it is already. We need to be ultra-responsible with our dogs. We need to keep them safe.

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post #33 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 12:50 PM
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The advice given here is excellent, but it’s from people with a lot of GSD experience who think quickly in a difficult situation. The average dog owner doesn’t watch their dog or their surroundings, so they are more likely to have an unexpected situation and to be unprepared to act correctly. I take full responsibility for the child screaming at my dog because I took two risks. I walked through a crowded area that was full of children rather than walk around because I was looking for someone. I was also not paying attention to my surroundings or to my dog. If I had been thinking about it, I would have not walked through that area. It’s not something I would do with my younger dog, so why would I protect him more than my older one? If I had been watching the people around me, I would have noticed the little girl darting all over and her mother ignoring her. I would have steered clear of her.

I had an interesting experience in pet store with my black dog. A man walked in while I was waiting for something with two dogs who were loosely leashed but all over the place. My dog observed for a while, then gave an “I’m here” bark when one dog approached us. I made him sit and he was calm and still observant but the other owner demanded I be removed from the store. I didn’t know at the time, and instead walked to the other end of the store. A woman kept coming up to me and telling me how scary my black dog was and why did he look like a German Shepherd. She would not leave me alone, so I explained briefly then walked away. She kept pestering us anyway and he finally barked at her when she lifted up an item and shook it at him to show me something. Yeah, that was weird. Again, a controlled bark. The store asked me to leave. I did and went back a week later to talk to the manager. The end result was that they had store video which they watched during that week and realized how well trained and well behaved my dog was and that both people and dogs were harrassing us, not the other way around. I got an apology and they kept a good customer. I learned a hard lesson. People don’t watch their dogs and always blame the GSD, especially the black one. People are not very dog savvy. Who goes up to a big dog they are afraid of multiple times even when the owner walks away? Who lets their dogs stare down someone else’s strange dog and approach them? Most important, do I want to put my dog into stressful situations where he even thinks he needs to bark? I did that. I didn’t plan to, but it happened anyway. He was exceptionally calm and looked up to me after he barked for guidance. But it had to be stressful enough that he barked. I don’t want my dog barking in public unless it’s an emergency and he usually doesn’t. So what do I do next time? I haven’t decided yet.
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post #34 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 01:49 PM
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The advice given here is excellent, but it’s from people with a lot of GSD experience who think quickly in a difficult situation. The average dog owner doesn’t watch their dog or their surroundings, so they are more likely to have an unexpected situation and to be unprepared to act correctly. I take full responsibility for the child screaming at my dog because I took two risks. I walked through a crowded area that was full of children rather than walk around because I was looking for someone. I was also not paying attention to my surroundings or to my dog. If I had been thinking about it, I would have not walked through that area. It’s not something I would do with my younger dog, so why would I protect him more than my older one? If I had been watching the people around me, I would have noticed the little girl darting all over and her mother ignoring her. I would have steered clear of her.
You can't have a bombproof dog without setting off some bombs

Sure, learn from this to be more aware of your surroundings when your dog is with you out and about. But don't continually expect or even try to avoid situations like this, or how will you ever "know" your dog will be able to handle it?


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I had an interesting experience in pet store with my black dog. A man walked in while I was waiting for something with two dogs who were loosely leashed but all over the place. My dog observed for a while, then gave an “I’m here” bark when one dog approached us. I made him sit and he was calm and still observant but the other owner demanded I be removed from the store. I didn’t know at the time, and instead walked to the other end of the store. A woman kept coming up to me and telling me how scary my black dog was and why did he look like a German Shepherd. She would not leave me alone, so I explained briefly then walked away. She kept pestering us anyway and he finally barked at her when she lifted up an item and shook it at him to show me something. Yeah, that was weird. Again, a controlled bark. The store asked me to leave. I did and went back a week later to talk to the manager. The end result was that they had store video which they watched during that week and realized how well trained and well behaved my dog was and that both people and dogs were harrassing us, not the other way around. I got an apology and they kept a good customer. I learned a hard lesson. People don’t watch their dogs and always blame the GSD, especially the black one. People are not very dog savvy. Who goes up to a big dog they are afraid of multiple times even when the owner walks away? Who lets their dogs stare down someone else’s strange dog and approach them? Most important, do I want to put my dog into stressful situations where he even thinks he needs to bark? I did that. I didn’t plan to, but it happened anyway. He was exceptionally calm and looked up to me after he barked for guidance. But it had to be stressful enough that he barked. I don’t want my dog barking in public unless it’s an emergency and he usually doesn’t. So what do I do next time? I haven’t decided yet.
It's awesome that the store cared enough to review the video! And at least from my point of view, your dog behaved perfectly!

I had a similar experience at the vet recently. A GR came charging out around the reception desk as I was checking in, and my dog let out a single, loud bark that stopped the dog in its tracks (and all other activity in the office too, briefly LOL!). I told her enough, then come and we went and sat down far enough from the desk to let the GR and its owner pass, and then I praised my dog lavishly for her awesome behavior! I then had her stay there sitting while I walked back up and finished checking in.

The biggest difficulty for most people is learning to stay calm in these situations. But if you don't stay calm, your anxious feelings are clear to your dog and he'll act accordingly...can't fault the dog


Honestly, I want my dog to give a warning bark at a strange dog running up to us like that (or at some human acting odd like you described!). Whether you do or you don't though, it's never bad to expose your dog to stuff like that, it's a great training moment IMHO!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #35 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 03:01 PM
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While on walks, I stopped allowing strangers to pet my dogs a long time ago. It is amazing how few people know how to properly approach and pet a dog. I tend to keep moving along - in another direction, if necessary. That said, my dogs are kid/people safe. Although, Shelby did bark at a construction worker today who was singing loudly in Spanish. I guess she either couldn't understand the words, or didn't think he was a good singer.

As for kids, they will always be unpredictable. Some parents don't know enough about dogs, or dog etiquette to properly instruct their children. Even if taught, children forget. Some children have special challenges that make it more difficult for them to understand. It will always fall on us to protect our dogs. I do agree with others who feel your dog may have reacted to your responses.

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post #36 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 09:16 PM
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I was actually feeling a little bummed about that aspect today. The spring weather is beautiful and I am going to go walking with a friend next week, and she wants me to bring Rumo. Practically the first thing I will have to say to her, is give that warning that he does not like petting from strangers....sigh. I mean, he likes certain people who behave in certain ways...but there are a few times when I reluctantly said yes, and then Rumo got a few hearty thumps on the head and growled at the person. I said yes to my client, and he grabbed Rumo playfully by both ears...that did not go over well, even though his own dog probably loves it! So short of giving a “tutorial 101 in animals”, sometimes it’s easier to just say he doesn’t like being petted by people he doesn’t know well.

I have never been growled at by other people’s dogs...ever since I was a kid, I had a sense about animals...I don’t impose myself on them unless they “ask me” ( I.e. a nose butt with a tail wag). If at somebody’s house I sit down and chat, and if their dog comes over, I will greet him. I always took this for granted - but I realized that a large number of people are “tone-deaf” when it comes to animals. They love animals, but don’t understand what the animal is saying with its body language, and are not patient enough to let an animal get to know them at its own pace.
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post #37 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 10:28 PM
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Hahaha I don’t blame you. They were around the ages of 5-7. Somewhere between there. Young enough to not really know any better and to not quite have that learned impulse control.

Today at club our club member had her one child there who is 4. He was running around with his Spider-Man hoodie up, and even had his HotWheels bike that made the engine revving sounds. He ran by and close to Ryka multiple times when she was in her long down, and Ryka didn’t care. She watched him of course, but she never broke her down because of him. No aggressive or worried behaviour, either. He even ran along behind the fence within inches to where she was on the other side, and she was fine with it. I had her tied to the fence post just in case, but I was far away and she was fine.

I think the trigger was the fact that someone ran up towards me, both my SIL and I gave off “don’t approach us/we don’t like this” vibes, and Ryka acted on it. Because that’s two different extremes to me. I would definitely prefer that Ryka looks to me before doing those behaviours next time, rather than thinks and acts on her own. So it’s something we’ll work on.

As for suggestions with the muzzle, I muzzle trained her from when she was a puppy just in case I ever needed it. I don’t think she’s the kind of dog that does at this time. Her dam is known to consistently produce dogs that are successfully placed in LE, so it’s something for me to reflect on how that might impact her decision making process. However, if things ever escalate from here, I will have her professionally assessed by a behaviourist and see what management and changes we might need to make. I don’t believe it will come to it, but I’m not narrow minded enough to think my dog is above others who need that type of help.
Not a fan of children, or adults, in general at the best of times. I muzzle Shadow anytime that we are likely to be near humans. Not because she is mean but because people are stupid far to often and lack common sense, common courtesy or respect for personal space.
My theory is that if she is muzzled she cannot be blamed for anything and it has the added bonus of scaring all but the stupidest into giving us space.

Last week I had Shadow in her crate, in the truck with the door open while I was loading it. A grown man walked up to the truck and ignoring her barking and growling stuck his finger in her crate! Why would we expect these people to raise children who know better?
Yes he got bit. He is also on camera coming out of his room and glancing at my room and walking directly to my open truck full of gear and the dog. He did it in full view of myself, two other guests, the maids and the motel owner who was furious with him.

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post #38 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 11:43 PM
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I have never been growled at by other people’s dogs...ever since I was a kid, I had a sense about animals...I don’t impose myself on them unless they “ask me” ( I.e. a nose butt with a tail wag). If at somebody’s house I sit down and chat, and if their dog comes over, I will greet him. I always took this for granted - but I realized that a large number of people are “tone-deaf” when it comes to animals. They love animals, but don’t understand what the animal is saying with its body language, and are not patient enough to let an animal get to know them at its own pace.
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post #39 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 01:26 AM
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I sold a dog 8 years ago, and 3 years later I sold a second dog to this person. She bred them together a few years later, and had a bunch of dogs. She started working with her dogs and many others of mine that she re-homed among her friends and work-acquaintances.

What she does with my dogs, and the dogs she has rehomed to her friends/workers, is that they work with developmentally challenged people on how to walk the dogs, how to approach dogs and their owners. Some of the folks have trouble with self-control so learning how to approach and practicing it really helps them. It's cool that they use my dogs for this sort of thing. It's hard to measure non-events. But if even one of those folks do not get bitten because of what they have learned it is a success.

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post #40 of 68 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Well, I went for another walk today. Same as always.

Once again, the young girl and her brother were along the path that we have taken every day for the past three years. I used all of the advice I was given - stern voice, very obvious “do not approach” hand language, and put Ryka in a sit behind me. Surprisingly - or maybe unsurprisingly? - she listened to none of it and kept approaching. I simply turned around and walked away. Ignored her completely and just walked in a different direction with my SIL and our dogs. That seemed to work.

Thankfully, Ryka was her normal aloof self. No barking. No growling. Just watchful. And when I ignored the girl and went on our way, she was happy to follow alongside with me. So there’s that. She got plenty of praise and pats for that.

Of course shortly after when we were walking along the strictly on-leash, bi-law sign riddled park, an off-leash dog charged at us. This is the third time this has happened in the past two weeks, each time a different dog. Ironically, the “sit, stay behind me while I sternly say NO and put my hand up” worked with the dog. He tucked tail and ran, though not towards his owner yelling after him... lol.

I feel like the crazies are out. I’ve been doing this walk for two years with Ryka, and three with my SIL. We’ve rarely, if ever had these kinds of constant issues. Maybe once in a blue moon, but lately it’s basically once a week and goodness is it frustrating.
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