Teach puppy to accept strangers' handling - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 02:36 AM Thread Starter
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Teach puppy to accept strangers' handling

My pup is 3.5months, starting recently she no longer likes strangers to pet her anymore. However, I want my dog to pass Canine good citizen once she grows up and the second item is: sit politely for petting. She would go sniff/chase/lay beside strangers no problems, but if they bend down to pet her especially suddenly, she would run back a bit and turn around to bark at them. She has no problems accept handling all over her body by me (I practiced lots of "grab-treat-release" to desensitize her), and she is fine if my friends suddenly move to pet her as well. She does not like vet handling her either, but she would give in after I hold her body. She would take treats from strangers, and sometimes allow them to pet her spine but not her head.

My trainer and I have a difference in opinions here. My trainer thinks I should let my pup grow and let her decide whether she wants to be petted or not. But I think I need to do something before she gets worse and I am thinking of teaching my pup to accept petting by letting strangers hand-feed her while they pet her, which my trainer thinks is counter-productive to engagement later on. I can see my trainer's point of view, but I don't like the idea of doing nothing and just hope she will turn out fine. I like aloofness in GSDs, but passing Canine Good Citizen is an important goal for me and also I am worried about her scaring little kids who pet dogs without permission once she gets older and bigger and becomes even more beautiful. Furthermore, I can't tell if this is fear/aggression/aloofness based, and I am worried about it turning into fear-biting when people try to pet without permission once she gets older.

What are your experiences with your aloof GSDs? How do they respond when strangers suddenly bend down to pet them at the bus stop without owners' permission? How did you teach your puppy to accept strangers' petting without hurting engagement and making it lose GSD aloofness?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 07:29 AM
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can't help you too much as I am dealing with the same thing myself. My brave pup has decided that strangers need to be considered carefully before letting them touch her. Most of us humans move in way too quickly. People are already moving in to touch her as they ask "may I pat her". They don't even realize it but my pup does.

My gal is 16 months old now and I tell people that she is not a "petting dog". I ask people to ignore her. It gives her time to commiserate. I will be spending more time simply walking her around people and making sure she has time to watch them. Hopefully she'll learn the body language of friendly strangers.


My boy, on the other hand, has long hair and an adorable face. I understand why some people never let strangers pat their dogs but I just knew that we would constantly be asked "can I pat your dog". He learned from very early that most strangers are safe, thankfully. Some people just can help but reach out and touch his fur simply passing by in a crowd. Starting around 4 months old we walked in a tourist area nearly every week. He figured out that we would stop and chat with people, he might as well lay down and wait. He learned that we would never let a stranger hurt him. He would watch us give treats to people to give to him. I'm not sure if that is what helped him learn to be patient with strangers or if it is simply his temperament. It is probably both.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 08:06 AM
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I don't let strange adults pet my dog. He is not a fan of people eyeing him, nor a fan of people leaning over him. Kids on the other hand are a different story.
Gsds were bred with a bit of human aggression and sometimes it's difficult to pass the cgc for them. Not all are like this.
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 08:11 AM
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Aloofness is completely correct for a GSD. All the dog has to do to pass the CGC is remain neutral to strangers.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 11:17 AM
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Treats. Lots and lots of food. Some puppies go through stages where their suspicion is kicking in. Start there and evaluate how the puppy is responding. You may have one in a stage or you may have a more suspicious dog that will always be aloof.

As far as the CGC, while they do just have to remain aloof, they also have to accept a stranger doing things like brushing them and they have to be left alone with them. So make sure you have your obedience and make sure you, at a point down the road, practice these things.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:09 PM
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It's tough to make a GSD act like a Golden Retriever. I decided to forgo the CGC and just train her to behave in public and remain stranger-neutral to dogs and people.
Example: on the trails yesterday: a guy with a female lab, pulling on leash and snarling at Deja who sat next to me and the bike. Guy said,"She just want to play. Can she say Hi?" I told him flat "NO". Deja kept her sit and happily ran off after my OK! Proud of her.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:23 PM
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Sometimes it's a phase that will pass.Sometimes it never does,in which case if you continue to force him he may eventually bite in order to keep strangers away from him.Backing away and avoiding is preferable to him feeling he must forcibly protect himself.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:23 PM
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" I wouldn't touch him son. He don't take to pettin." John Wayne

Heres what it looks like to a dog- a random stranger coming at them, hunched over like a predator, clawing at their head. Or even worse, darting squeaking children. I don't let strangers touch my dog.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 12:45 PM
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I don't push Enya to allow people to pet her. When people asked to pet her I'd tell them if she wants you to, it's up to her. I'd tell them to put out their hand and I'd tell her to 'say hello'. If she didn't move toward them I'd tell them 'sorry, she doesn't want to today, maybe next time'. And I'd talk or walk on. At about four months or so she suddenly decided she wanted people to pet her. Now I have to watch that she waits for me to tell her to say hello.


You never want to force them to do something that is fearful. By not having to be petted she saw people were not something to be fearful of, so she decided to try it out and liked it. If forced into something fearful it just escalates the fear. Odds are as she matures she'll go back to being aloof and ignoring them, which is fine. But since she has no fear of them she'll be able to handle someone touching her, a vet or a tester for CGC better than a dog that was forced to be handled by strangers she was fearful of.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 01-23-2017, 01:01 PM
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I wouldn't have people pet her. I would have people toss treats on the ground below her nose. this is how I allow children to interact with my dogs.

Adults...meh...they do too many stupid things so I just tell them no.
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