My GSD's reaction when someone kicked her - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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My GSD's reaction when someone kicked her

I have a 2.5-year-old German shepherd, Xena, who we got as a puppy. Like most GSDs, she's territorial and no one can come into our (fenced) yard, much less walk past on the sidewalk, without her letting us know about it. She looks and sounds extremely scary - well, apparently. All I see is a big, lovable goofball. Anyway, this is just background for an incident that happened a couple weeks ago, and I was hoping to get some insight as to her thought process, if that makes any sense ...

Brief background: We were out on a walk near our house and her leash broke, so we cut through an empty lot to avoid pedestrian traffic. A cute little puppy lives in a house next to the empty lot, about 10-20 yards away from where the leash broke. I was holding on to her harness, but her ears pricked and she started to pick up her pace when we got closer to the house. I figured she wanted to play with the puppy and just let her go. Of course, the next thing I know, I hear this man yelling so loudly that his voice literally echoed through the entire lot. I can understand his reaction - he's walking his little dachshund and here's this big GSD running loose.

But he was COMPLETELY unhinged. As soon as I heard him yelling, I ran as fast as I could to catch up with Xena and grabbed her harness - everything happened so fast that I don't remember everything that happened, but I don't remember her barking, growling or anything like that, even as the guy continued to scream and let loose a torrent of words and names that I won't repeat here. Let's just say he used very colorful language to describe her AND me. I finally told him to stop yelling, it wasn't helping anything, but he continued so loudly and forcefully that I started to fear for my own safety. When he screamed out, "That dog needs to be put down!" I finally just lost it and started screaming back at him. I could tell just by his body language that he wanted to haul off and hit me, but then out of NOWHERE, he kicked her! I kicked him back, he kicked me, then I called the cops.

So, all this leads to my question. I was so focused on (at least initially) trying to calm the guy down, and then after he kicked her, trying to defend her that I didn't see Xena's reaction to the whole thing. Even as the guy was yelling and screaming and carrying on, she didn't bark, growl or make any other aggressive moves toward either him or his dog. She never made a move on either of them the entire time. She also never made a move as we continued through the lot toward our house, not barking, lunging, growling, etc., even though the guy and his dog were walking maybe 10-15 feet ahead of us.

I honestly can't express how glad I am that Xena didn't lose her temper and attack the guy - that would've ended very, very badly. It didn't even occur to me until a day or two later to think that a dog, no matter how big or small, would be expected to jump into the fray and defend their owner in a confrontation. But I remember reading that a dog that's confident in his/her owner knows that he/she will keep the dog safe, and probably wouldn't get directly involved unless given a command to. So ... does anyone have thoughts as to what might have been going through her head?
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:20 PM
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Your dog charged a puppy off leash and off your property, I'd probably react the same way.

Why would you let your dog off leash if you saw someone else's leash just broke?
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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:29 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not asking about who was in the wrong. I was clearly in the wrong, and I learned my lesson. And there's a lot more background about this particular guy that I didn't go into because it's not relevant. What I'm asking about is Xena's reaction to the whole thing. (And she didn't charge the puppy - the puppy wasn't even there. The guy was walking an adult dachshund, and I'm pretty sure she didn't charge at them. She wasn't in an aggressive stance when I got to the scene.)

Last edited by gsdforever850; 08-06-2017 at 06:32 PM.
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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:34 PM
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I would expect 99% of GSDs to react the way your dog did. No reaction at all. Most dogs are not bred with the right mix of traits that will make them engage an attacker. I think she was confused by what was going on, and looked to you as the leader to deal with the issue. I would be happy for my dog to do the same.

What I don't understand is why you just didn't just walk away after you got Xena. If the guy was that upset, there is no reasoning with him. Why even try?

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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:34 PM
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Where did you read that a confident dog would let an owner handle it?

Snitches get stitches.
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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:46 PM Thread Starter
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> What I don't understand is why you just didn't just walk away after you got Xena. If the guy was that upset, there is no reasoning with him. Why even try?

In retrospect, that's exactly what I should have done. And will do in the future. I just lost it when he said she should be put down. That's when I started screaming back and he kicked her. And I kicked back because how did I to know he wasn't going to do something worse?

I figured he had to live somewhere in the area (it turns out he lives one block up) and I was afraid he'd do something to Xena just to teach her a lesson (throw poison meat over our fence or something). So I called the cops and said I wanted to report the incident in case he ever kicked another dog.

But yeah, lesson definitely learned. We go through that lot pretty frequently and I've *never* seen anyone there - even so, I've never let her off leash unless she's playing with Sophie (the pit bull puppy, who I think she was just going over to visit with when this whole thing happened).
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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:55 PM Thread Starter
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> Where did you read that a confident dog would let an owner handle it?

I'm just paraphrasing stuff I've read on the subject in the past. Again, paraphrasing here, but GSDs (well, I think any dog) take on leadership roles only very reluctantly, and actually prefer for someone else to take charge. The fact that Xena and I have such a strong bond, I think, helped to reassure her that I was capable of handling the situation without her "help." But I agree with another respondent, that she was probably pretty confused. Nothing like that had ever happened before - and I'm going to take this as a learning lesson to ensure it never happens again.
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 06:59 PM
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I know your asking about Xena's behavior, but I probably would have reacted the same way as that guy. Sorry. I don't know you or your dog. I've had dogs (big and small), unleashed, charge my dogs. And whether they are 20 lbs or 80 lbs, I don't care. It ticks me off to no end. It can cause leash reactivity in dogs and it can make leash reactive dogs worse. I understand accidents can happen (leash breaks), but you stated that you let your dog go "after" getting her back to go say hi to a puppy.

I'm glad your dog reacted well, but I don't think the guy's behavior was unhinged. It's scary to have a large GSD come charging at you or your dog...and I own one. While I love the breed, I don't trust a lot of people who own them. He was clearly fearful for his dog's safety and said some things in anger. However, your dog wouldn't have gotten kicked if you kept your cool and removed your dog from the situation once you knew they guy was upset (you even acknowledged you understood why he was scared). Losing your temper doesn't instill confidence in dogs. The dog got kicked because of your actions. That's not protecting your dog, IMO. Your job is to protect your dog by not escalating the situation. So I'm not sure if your dog's confidence in you would be the reason he didn't "defend" you.

It usually takes training for a dog to defend their owner. And I don't know your dog's temperament/breeding/training to know if your dog has the ability to do that or not.

Just my $0.02.

ETA - I know your dog may not have been charging the guy and his dog, but the guy didn't know that. He only sees a loose GSD. That can be scary enough.
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Last edited by IllinoisNative; 08-06-2017 at 07:07 PM.
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 07:20 PM
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you didn't recall your dog -- that says that you couldn't recall your dog because the dog lacks training .

a trained dog could have , should have been able to do an off-lead heel.

you said "she's territorial and no one can come into our (fenced) yard, much less walk past on the sidewalk, "

well that's not good ! The sidewalk is a public space and people should not be harassed by a flaky "looks and sounds extremely scary" dog of any sort --

she is probably bluff fence reactive -- "postman syndrome"

what happens when someone comes into your yard ?

In many places there has to be guaranteed safe access to the front door . That means , postal, delivery, pollsters,
first responders , girl scouts selling cookies.

all this dog has learned is to be a nuisance barker , chasing people as they pass by .

your dog bolted and ran towards a dog on leash --- The man had every right to be angered .

You know there was a case where a dog bolted and ran towards someone with a leashed dog and the man feeling threatened pulled out his gun and shot the approaching dog . The end.

what did the police say when you " So I called the cops and said I wanted to report the incident in case he ever kicked another dog."

he kicked out of defense. YOU kicked him . Was that mentioned in the report?

your best plan of action is to train the dog . That way you will understand what the dog is at the core of it's abilities and temperament . Don't be fooled by the "fence-action".

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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 08-06-2017, 07:34 PM
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Dachshunds are one of the small dogs that I would never trust off leash. I've met quite a few of them that are either dog or people aggressive. The breed was bred to hunt badgers, so they have to have a bit of an attitude to be able to do that.

It's one breed I would avoid at all costs.
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