So do I let people pet my dog or not? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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So do I let people pet my dog or not?

I want my puppy to be a family protector, as I live in a bad neighborhood, gentrifying, but still bad. So I read some articles that if you want your pup to be a guard dog...socialize socialize socialize in the beginning. Now Im reading that too much petting can lead to your pup trusting every person that comes by. Im confused. Again, new owner here needing some advice from you veterans out there. I usually let any woman pet my dog, I let good people around the neighborhood pet my dog. The criminal types usually walk around my pup (funny at 13 weeks seeing a 6'5" 250lb man walk around a little pup, I'm guessing they had some experience with K9's in the past )
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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 01:19 AM
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What are your expectations for your dog as a family protector? A dog that will bark at strange noises and look intimidating(Watch Dog) or a dog that will actually engage and bite someone who is attacking your family / property (guard dog)?

If you want your pup to be a family protector in the second way - then you really should have the pup evaluated by a good k9 trainer. Without specific training for that type of work the vast majority of dogs will not protect you. Lots of shepherds from pet lines and show lines don't have the nerves it takes for that kind of work. But they still make fantastic watch dogs and look awfully intimidating.

I've heard both schools of thought. I'm not convinced either way. I let lots of people pet my pup until he was about 6 months old. Around that time he started getting a bit of the shepherd aloofness and clearly was not enjoying the petting so much anymore. Now he is rarely petted by strangers except for when I give him the "say hello" command. In which he tolerates affection from others.

When he was 4 months old, I ordered a pizza. I was out side giving the pup a potty break when it was delivered. The driver was loving on the pup, then he asked me what kind of dog is he? I told him a shepherd and he practically jumped out of his skin. Leaving a very confused pup LOL
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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 06:38 AM
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the school of thought behind petting your pup is this: do you want a dog that goes nuts at everyone who walks by? or do you want a more discerning dog that alerts when someone "off" is lurking around your house?
For me, the second one is worthless. Who wants a dog that barks every time they see someone. If you're living in the city, that could be dozens of people every morning. How long before the entire neighborhood (and you) tune him out? How long before the neighbors start complaining to animal control over your dog that barks all day and all night?
To do the first, the dog needs to KNOW people. He needs to know that most people are good harmless people. He needs to know that just because someone is wearing a hat, sunglasses, walks with a cane, has long hair, etc they aren't a danger. He needs to know what "normal" people do to recognize when someone is "off"

Singe is a registered Therapy Dog. He's also an excellent guard dog and alerts anytime a stranger enters the property. Or the neighbor's property though that only gets 1-2 alert "hey there's someone new" barks and then he stops.

If you are concerned about shady people in your neighborhood making friends with the dog, go outside your area.
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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 07:10 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by voodoolamb View Post
What are your expectations for your dog as a family protector? A dog that will bark at strange noises and look intimidating(Watch Dog) or a dog that will actually engage and bite someone who is attacking your family / property (guard dog)?

If you want your pup to be a family protector in the second way - then you really should have the pup evaluated by a good k9 trainer. Without specific training for that type of work the vast majority of dogs will not protect you. Lots of shepherds from pet lines and show lines don't have the nerves it takes for that kind of work. But they still make fantastic watch dogs and look awfully intimidating.

I've heard both schools of thought. I'm not convinced either way. I let lots of people pet my pup until he was about 6 months old. Around that time he started getting a bit of the shepherd aloofness and clearly was not enjoying the petting so much anymore. Now he is rarely petted by strangers except for when I give him the "say hello" command. In which he tolerates affection from others.

When he was 4 months old, I ordered a pizza. I was out side giving the pup a potty break when it was delivered. The driver was loving on the pup, then he asked me what kind of dog is he? I told him a shepherd and he practically jumped out of his skin. Leaving a very confused pup LOL
My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector. This may be too much to ask for, I don't know. But I ordered the Koehler book on guard dogs on the advice of a military guy in the area. He said they use a different handbook for their dogs and the Koehler book is outdated but still has some excellent drills and tips for building confidence in a dog.
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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 07:17 AM
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I socialize my dog with lots of people who ever want to pet him can. Some people I just dont allow drunks or people that act like they are on drugs or whatever thats more of an in the moment call. My dog still will give a few barks if someone is walking through the courtyard or a branch scrapes the window and when its just us 2 home a lone if my brother starts opening the door he also does the bark but melts into a cuddle bug once he sees him. Most dogs and definitely most shepherds will do this regardless of their socialization, because they are on their territory. If you really want a dog that will guard you or you family you could start protection training. Even with all the socialization my dog will light up on anyone if i point to them and give the command, whether that be my brother my girl friend or a decoy. The training is really good for them and you in the case you are in a situation that you want your dog to protect you just by barking and pulling on a leash. An 80lb shepherd doing that will ward off almost anyone. Most protection dogs never get to preform a real life bite. Doing bite work if your dog has the right drive and nerve can give the dog lots of confidence and is good mental stimulation.
Bottom line: If you want a real protection dog do protection training , if you want an alert dog you probably already have one. Socialization wont make too much of a difference

Edit
I just saw you mentioned gun shots. Thats has been a part of training and introducing it to them as a positive while in drive makes them un-phased by them.
Also i live in a busy neighborhood of Chicago so a dog that barks at every person on the street is not what i want and being in NYC probably not what you want either.
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Last edited by girardid; 05-06-2016 at 07:21 AM.
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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 07:33 AM
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I let people pet my pup out and about as I saw he was comfortable and wanting attention. I never forced it on him. He also was not over excited and out of control in doing so. As he grew he would become more reserved with people we saw out and about he would need to check them out and smell them before he allowed a pet and enjoyed the attention. Now out and about he is more reserved with people out and about and I will let someone pet him if I feel he is comfortable and outwardly wanting to say hi. i also learned I do not let everyone pet my dog as I had people try to wrestle my dog , unknown kids attach themselves to the hip of my dog - he made me proud in each scenario as I believed the socializing did pay off in these scenarios.
My dog is incredibly overly friendly to all that come in the house and it does not make him less protective at all.
Also you do not want to force an interaction with your pup if he is outwardly uncomfortable.
It is important to socialize them in many different scenarios and in doing so is not going to make them less protective of you and your family as this is the breeds nature and by you socializing him is helping him take into account what non threatening people look like.
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Last edited by Jenny720; 05-06-2016 at 07:40 AM.
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by girardid View Post
I socialize my dog with lots of people who ever want to pet him can. Some people I just dont allow drunks or people that act like they are on drugs or whatever thats more of an in the moment call. My dog still will give a few barks if someone is walking through the courtyard or a branch scrapes the window and when its just us 2 home a lone if my brother starts opening the door he also does the bark but melts into a cuddle bug once he sees him. Most dogs and definitely most shepherds will do this regardless of their socialization, because they are on their territory. If you really want a dog that will guard you or you family you could start protection training. Even with all the socialization my dog will light up on anyone if i point to them and give the command, whether that be my brother my girl friend or a decoy. The training is really good for them and you in the case you are in a situation that you want your dog to protect you just by barking and pulling on a leash. An 80lb shepherd doing that will ward off almost anyone. Most protection dogs never get to preform a real life bite. Doing bite work if your dog has the right drive and nerve can give the dog lots of confidence and is good mental stimulation.
Bottom line: If you want a real protection dog do protection training , if you want an alert dog you probably already have one. Socialization wont make too much of a difference

Edit
I just saw you mentioned gun shots. Thats has been a part of training and introducing it to them as a positive while in drive makes them un-phased by them.
Also i live in a busy neighborhood of Chicago so a dog that barks at every person on the street is not what i want and being in NYC probably not what you want either.

Hey, just some more follow up questions if you don't mind. Wouldn't exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots? And I have a female dog, she is predicted to get up to maybe 65lbs if I'm lucky. I didn't go with the male because the dad was enormous, like over 100lbs. I really didn't want to deal with such a huge dog, the boy pups were HUGE, so I picked the girl. And can you recommend a protection dog training book, I ordered the Koehler book, not planning on implementing everything written in it for obvious reasons.
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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 11:16 AM
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My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector. This may be too much to ask for, I don't know. But I ordered the Koehler book on guard dogs on the advice of a military guy in the area. He said they use a different handbook for their dogs and the Koehler book is outdated but still has some excellent drills and tips for building confidence in a dog.
That is a lot to ask of dog. Is your pup working line? What's his pedigree like? Do not count on your dog to attack an intruder unless he comes from lines specifically bred to be civil and you have actually done protection training with him.

It takes A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears to breed and train a proper guard dog. Most dogs - most GSDS are just not up to the challenge. Genetics are key.

I'd suggest going and watching some working dogs in action and seeing if that is even something you would want to pursue. I do some bite work with my guy and it is fun.

How do you expect the dog to understand something is "off" down the block? Dogs don't know a mugger from a mailman at that type of distance.

Most criminals who see a GSD will look for easier targets. Those crazy enough to continue already have a plan to dispatch the dog.

It does seem like you are expecting too much of your pup here. Too much of any dog really.
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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by NYCgsd View Post
Hey, just some more follow up questions if you don't mind. Wouldn't exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots? And I have a female dog, she is predicted to get up to maybe 65lbs if I'm lucky. I didn't go with the male because the dad was enormous, like over 100lbs. I really didn't want to deal with such a huge dog, the boy pups were HUGE, so I picked the girl. And can you recommend a protection dog training book, I ordered the Koehler book, not planning on implementing everything written in it for obvious reasons.
Not who you asked but have some answers.

No. You do NOT want your dog on edge. You want her calm, cool, and collected.

A dog that is fearful of gun shots is not the type of dog you want to train for protection in the first place. Weak nerves. They fire starting pistols as courage tests in some bite sports to test the dogs nerves.

Protection training from a book is a bad bad bad idea. You need people who can read your dog, have the magic voodoo do to bring out drives in your dog. Guys experienced in taking bites. This is not a DIY thing.

Try checking out IPO or Ring Sport clubs in your area. Or see if you can find someone who trains personal protection dogs.
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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 05-06-2016, 11:29 AM
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I am a first time GSD owner. When I heard how important it was to socialize a dog I thought well I should let everyone say hi to him! I didn't research what that meant and made a rookie mistake. Now that I look back on things I hate that I made that decision! I now have a dog that wants to say hi to everybody. That gets overly excited when he meets strangers and just wants to be loved on. Most people may not think that is a problem but I think it is because not everybody wants to say hi. Dante gets very excited when he sees strangers and some strangers can't read him and actually get scared cause they don't know if he is happy or not.

My mindset has now changed. I think of a well socialized dog as a dog who behaves themselves in public -- who tolerates people and lets people say hi but doesn't find it necessary to want to be petted or be aggressive to another person. So I would think twice before letting him say hi to everybody. I understand socializing is important because you don't want your dog to be aggressive to people but you also don't want her to be overly excited about people either. So now I am working with Dante to teach him that just because there is a person you see doesn't mean that you are going to get petted or that you should even acknowledge that person's presence.

Oh and I take the same view on dogs. I made the same mistake in letting him say hi to every dog he sees as a puppy and now I'm paying the price. Now I choose the dogs he says hi to and the ones he doesn't. He doesn't need to say hi to every dog he sees or you will have a very rambunctious I want to go play dog on your hands because that's exactly what I have now.

Last edited by GSDCrazy1787; 05-06-2016 at 11:33 AM.
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