Should I let strangers pet my dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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Should I let strangers pet my dog?

Zelda doesn’t like strangers touching her head. She’s relaxed while I’m talking to people and fine with people talking to her. But as soon as a hand reaches for her face, she’ll brush it away. She’s more tolerant of kids, but I can tell she doesn’t like it. She drops her head like she does when I clip toenails.

Although once there was a handicapped child who wanted to pet her. Zelda initiated contact and even licked her hand, which blew my mind because it was so out of character.

Anyway, am I wrong to think for the sake of socialization, she needs to get used to people touching her?

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post #2 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 03:04 PM
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She should not have to tolerate strangers touching her.If you force her she could very likely bite someone when she eventually reaches her saturation point.She may begin to growl or lunge to keep them at a distance.IME it's really best to have her keep a comfortable distance where she can relax and not worry.

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post #3 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 03:07 PM
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I don't really think she has to get used to it. If you want her to accept it because sometimes people refuse to respect instructions or limits, you can work with her. Start with getting her used to you doing it. Don't rush her.

Mine hated having people reach over the top of her head from the front. I never ever let anyone else do that to her when she was a puppy. I worked on that with her at home over a period of months. Now she'll accept it from strangers unless she just doesn't like that person (and sometimes she meets people who aren't deemed a threat but aren't her favorite), but I still instruct people not to do it.
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post #4 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 03:16 PM
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I let people pet my dogs on a case-by-case basis. I almost always let people pet Asher, my outgoing dog, because he enjoys it. I just ask that they wait until he's sitting first. I don't often let strangers pet my other dog, Levi, because he clearly doesn't enjoy it. I usually just say, I'm sorry I'd rather you didn't.

I don't think forcing a nervous pup into uncomfortable interactions with people will be helpful to her. I think that all her interactions with strangers should be super fun and positive, otherwise the encounters might do more harm than good. You could enroll in a good obedience class with her, if you haven't already. There she will be around lots of people and other dogs in a controlled setting. Or you might have some of your friends (strangers to her) offer her treats while she sniffs their fingers, or they could gently scritch her under the chin or something. If she's uncertain, I would go gentle and slow with socialization until she gains confidence.
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post #5 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 03:16 PM
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a shepherd that I showed in Obedience years ago, was very shy, but she would
stand for the examination part of the trial. That was the only time that I
required her to let someone touch her. (she got good scores in CD and got
the Dog World Award, but we didn't go any further due to her anxiety about
staying on sit/down while I went out of sight.

With Wiena, I taught her early on to 'go say hello'. She was not effusive with
anyone (not even me unless I had boarded her for a day and came to get her)
but she would let people pet her.

I think I trained her to go say hello by getting people to approach her and if
she let them get close, I would use the clicker (click and treat...I gave her
the treat, not anyone else. I didn't want her getting food from anyone but me)
Then she would get extra treats if she accepted touching.

But it's up to you, you don't have to allow anyone to touch her, but it is risky
if she isn't trained because people & kids don't always ask if they can pet.
So yes, work with her a bit
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post #6 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 03:20 PM
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Some people think it is best if the dog learns to ignore people. People should be no more important than trees, rocks and bushes. My dogs would be happy with that.

I knew that people would often ask to touch our long haired big-boy. He puts up with it nicely and if he likes someone he may even tease them to play. My stock coat she-pup is a "no pet dog". She is happy watching from a distance. Since she goes willing with the vet tech for medical work, I'm OK with that. When we do man-trailing our instructor has her stop short of the person we are searching for. Often our "lost person" is a kid and we don't want them to be afraid of her if she barks, which is her way of letting strangers know that they are getting a bit too close. With family and friends she is perfectly fine.
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post #7 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:17 PM Thread Starter
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We’re in a STAR puppy class. The trainer said I should keep taking her around and get her used to being petted.
But I wanted to hear from people who really know the breed and have experience with GSDs.
On one hand she doesn’t like it, on the other it’s easier to socialize a puppy than an adult.

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post #8 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:18 PM
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How would people like it if some giant stranger came up, hovered over them and was reaching out to touch their head or face?
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post #9 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joys View Post
We’re in a STAR puppy class. The trainer said I should keep taking her around and get her used to being petted.
But I wanted to hear from people who really know the breed and have experience with GSDs.
On one hand she doesn’t like it, on the other it’s easier to socialize a puppy than an adult.
Socializing a puppy doesn’t have to mean you force them to accept things like being touched by strangers. Socializing can mean exposure. Showing your dog the world, not forcing them to interact with everyone or every thing. In my experience, forcing your puppy to accept being touched by strangers when they don’t enjoy it can backfire. Same with allowing a puppy to meet dogs on leash. You are setting the expectation that those things will happen. This can result in reactivity either out of fear or excitement/frustration. Neither are fun to deal with.
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post #10 of 71 (permalink) Old 11-30-2017, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurse Bishop View Post
How would people like it if some giant stranger came up, hovered over them and was reaching out to touch their head or face?
These "strangers" are the ones in the news lately.
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