Is it a "soft" breed or is it just puppy age? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2018, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Is it a "soft" breed or is it just puppy age?

Hello guys!

My Rex is 9 months old. His attitude is super nice and friendly. Confident and curious. Kids he wants to play with. Other dogs he sees when we are walking, always wants to go, meet them, greet them, play with them, big or small. Not afraid of cars, trucks or sounds. Does not bark or aggressive lunging. Barks only when he hears someone at the door as in alerting. Goes directly to greet etc etc. Not timid at all.

So....decided to go to the local dog park. Small neighbourhood style park. Went in. There were mostly small sized dogs compared to the size of Rex who is now 70 pounds approx. Intact if that makes a difference. When we went in, there were maybe three dogs. I felt he was a bit overwhelmed with the smells. He was smelling everywhere etc...But he was not himself wanting to play. He did play, but cautiously this time. The first dog played with him a little, then barked at him. Rex moved away and sat down. I sat next to him.

More dogs came and they were maybe 4 or 5 together playing. He stood up and played with them, did not get over excited. I thought he had a balanced attitude. Smart somehow as if he was evaluating. Then, he played with a female who the owner said was mix GSD with something else. She was half his size but quite comfortable in there. After a bit of playing, she started to be aggressive, barked at him, he backed off and started moving away, then she took off after him barking aggressively, he ran away, not like running for his life, just trotted away looking back at her seemingly startled.

I ran after and the other dog owner as well, we both said "hey hey" loudly and she said "no" to her dog, who I felt was almost going to nip Rex from the back but she went her way after I reached them.

Rex sat down directly and I felt that he was scared. Not yelping or anything. Just worried. He did not want to stand up again. I did not push anything, so I sat down next to him and petted him. We stayed there for 5 minutes. He stood up again. A smaller pooch came by and Rex greeted but cautiously. Some scuffle broke out away from us between 4 or 5 dogs. One dog was removed by the owner and that dog was screaming and barking. All the dogs I am mentioning were small to medium sized. No large breeds. Rex who is a GSD looks like a monster wolf comparatively!

Didn't really like the scene and did nt feel Rex was enjoying it. So told him to come with me to where I had my leash and bag, leashed him and we left calmly. I felt he was uncomfortable a bit after we went to the car. Went home, payed with him tug. Went out for a pipi. Saw a dog we knew. Went there. All greets and normal behaviour.

I know that Rex is friendly and not aggressive but I had thought that if he was going to be barked and bullied somewhat, that he would react differently. I have zero disappointment or anything. I am just curious about all this. As I searched here dog parks and read about lots of GSD puppies who were bullied, were timid, were attacked etc..

So I am trying to understand. Is this a breed thing when they are puppies they are "soft" despite their size? Are all puppies regardless of the breed like that, kind of vulnerable or is it a GSD thing? If he was say 2 years old, would the experience been different?

Thanks for your input
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2018, 04:02 PM
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IMO he was giving calming signals to the other dogs which were being ignored by some of dogs.He seems like a confident well balanced boy.Not soft.If he was continually put in situations where his good nature and signals are ignored he could very well become defensive and reactive to other dogs.It's best of all of his interaction with other dogs remain positive.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-30-2018, 04:46 PM
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You should be PROUD of your boy.... What a great puppy you described but you only want to bring him around well balanced dogs. I am only a fan of dog parks when they are empty.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 01:47 AM
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Let me echo what the last two posters said. Be careful at the park, better to find stable nice well-mannered dogs for him to play with somewhere else. Or go to the dp when it’s empty and play fetch. He’s much more likely to learn bad habits and bad manners at the dog park.

Also, Rex is still young. Beau was like your pup, sweet and calmly placating, until he got older. Over the last 2 years he’s gradually become less and less tolerant of other dogs’ aggressive behaviors, however minor. Now, at nearly 3.5, he won’t take any guff from any dog. But he’s also sometimes kind of a bully, now, too. Not often, but sometimes.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 07:14 AM
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People too often make excuses for the breed. This is a submissive dog with less than good confidence. Also, being a bully is not a sign of confidence. Dominance is a different issue and you would see that at a very early age, not appearing at 3.5 years. The breed is plagued with nerve/insecurity issues. There are some very good GSDs out there, but you have to do your homework. Mozi said his/her dog is, "Not timid at all," and then described how timid he was at the dog park. Too many GSDs have holes in their temperament. I have seen some dogs that look very strong in most areas and then you expose them to a certain environmental stressor and they shut down. This has been an ongoing problem with the breed since its beginning. There is an old story about the founder of the breed becoming frustrated at the dogs' nerves at a Seiger show and went into the ring firing numerous gunshots resulting in all but a few of the dogs bolting. And this was supposed to be the best of the best German bred dogs.
What you are describing is not a puppy or breed thing, but a nerve thing.
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Last edited by Chip Blasiole; 10-31-2018 at 07:16 AM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 10:15 AM
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Honestly just avoid dog parks if you dont want to have a bad experience occur. If you choose to keep going then be aware it will continue, you cant control other peoples dogs. I had a mutt that I took to a park and he had bad experiences with other dogs that changed him from that point forward around other dogs. Dogs dont need parks to be happy, theyd rather just play with you or a dog they are close friends with. Theres no structure at dog parks. Also please beware that most dogs are spayed/neutered so when there is an intact dog, it can make other dogs aggressive and reactive towards that dog. They can smell the scent from the intact sex organs and that can make some dogs very insecure or trigger them seeing it as competition. That is not your fault, just how dogs work.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 10:44 AM
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He doesn't sound soft to me. He is 7 months old. He still has a lot of puppy in him.

I'd recommend avoiding the dog park and if possible finding some well-balanced dogs, some of similar age and size, to play with on a one-on-one basis if you want him to socialize. At this age, I'd be worried if he had tried to dominate or fight. He doesn't have experience with this situation, and he's still very young. Nothing screams poorly bred about the described interaction. He sounds like a nice pup to me.

Plenty of confident dogs will walk away from or avoid a barking-yipping small dog. I've seen it from the most confident. Basically, they want nothing to do with that dog, don't consider it a threat, but don't want to be harassed, so they leave. Perfectly acceptable behavior. Far better than going after the little dog or trying to hurt/kill it.

Also, it is perfectly reasonable for an intact male to avoid or even "walk away" from a less friendly female dog. If a male tries to challenge, hurt/fight a female, I consider that a real fault in temperament. Again, plenty of very nicely bred confident males will avoid/walk away from a snippy female. Perfectly natural.

Enjoy your pup. From what you've described, he sounds like a very nice boy.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 11:53 AM
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Yes, just avoid them.

Beau is a social climber for sure, pretty rank obsessed when younger, not as much now but not done with it either. I suppose it could be a nerve issue, but it doesn’t look like fear to me.

When he was around 10 months Beau started trying to mount every dog he saw at the dog park, some clearly older, bigger, and way out of his league. They would back him off and he would stop. At that age there were no fights about it. Sometimes he would succeed, not often. I started calling him off other dogs when I saw it lead to fighting with two other dogs, and could stop his mount if I got there in time.

I stopped going to the dog park at busy times when Beau started seriously fighting off dogs that tried to mount him. As he matured he went through several stages of how he responded: when young accepting the mount, then at a little older just scrambling away from a mount, then snarling and air-snapping to discourage a mount, then turning on and chasing a dog away, and finally, fighting a dog who tries to mount. At 2.5 when a dog ignored his earlier warnings and tried to mount him for the 3rd time, he turned on the dog very aggressively, no more warnings, not to back him off but to engage. Happened the next time on the first attempt. Around the same time he started snarling back at dogs who were telling him to back off when he tried to mount them. That’s when I started avoiding the dog park crowds. Wish I’d stopped going a lot sooner.

He doesn’t try to mount much anymore, mostly on walks if he doesn’t ignore them he wants to greet and move on with other dogs. Unless they bark aggressively at him - then he wants to respond in kind. He doesn’t look fearful, but trash-talking excited and once very ready to fight. I am working to get him to ignore those dogs when they’re on leash or behind a wall and having some success. But sometimes he suddenly decides to try and mount some nice friendly strange dog he’s greeting and he gets really nasty if they object. I call that bullying, and don’t give him the opportunity anymore.

My point to the OP was that his dog’s behavior will likely change as he matures, and the dog may not always tolerate other dogs’ abuse, or remain nice to other dogs in general. He may also learn bad manners, and to be more dog-aggressive than he needs to be, if he keeps getting exposed to pushy ill-mannered dogs. Beau is still sweet to a couple dog friends that he has, but we might have fewer issues with strange dogs if I’d stopped going to the dogpark sooner. Or never gone at all.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 01:33 PM
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Saco, the OP said the dog ran from another dog and seemed startled and scared. It is not about him having a lot of puppy in him, it is about insecurity.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-31-2018, 01:51 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the input. I am enjoying the discussion.

I was trying to interpret what I saw. I said he ran away, but then qualified with trotted away while looking back at her. There was no panic. It was running away casually I guess. Maybe it s my words. Yes, he sat after that. I also said he looked scared after that episode, and I said he looked worried. To be honest, I dont know what "scared" would actually look like. That is why I said "looked". I am trying to interpret as he was not all happy and dandy like the video below playing with husky. He did not whine or make any noise, nor did he try to hide behind me. He just did not react to her "aggression" and seemed startled to me.

What spurred my post is that I never saw him startled. He jumps in the water like crazy, swims, lunge after cats when on leash (I hate that), every dog we see when we walk he wants to go to. Strangers comes in the house, he is all over them. This episode in the park seemed out of character. So I was trying to understand better the possible reasons.

Here is a link to a video of him with a husky in day care. Maybe this adds color. This is akin to his general attitude.

Last edited by Mozi; 10-31-2018 at 02:04 PM.
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