Cautiousness - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 03:08 PM Thread Starter
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Cautiousness

I am still learning all the different aspects of a GSD. I had a question about how my 11 week old pup reacts to new people.

When we meet new people she is very cautious. She does not run, but she sits a little behind me or my family and watches the new person.

She does not bark or whine. She just watches them.

If they call her or reach for her she will back up a couple steps and continue to watch them. She does not bark or bite.

After a few minutes of observing she will approach the new person and sniff them but will still back away if they try to grab her.

After sniffing she will decide they are fine and will allow them to pet her or she will interact with them. Though she is not the same with them as she is with her family.

She is especially cautious around small children running around and depending on how hyper the child is she may not let them touch her if she can at all avoid it.

This may be becuase we have a 2 year old and she knows to be more aware of children. She does let our 2 year old touch her and she does try to play with our 2 year old. With them we just have to be very observant becuase she does not know that her nips hurt sometimes and I dont want our 2 year old to be afraid of her. Despite a few mishaps both the pup and our 2 year old do interact and try to play with each other.

With strangers she is never aggressive. The only biting she has ever done is nipping at people she knows in a playful way. I have never heard her growl except play growling with her toys.

What do you guys think? Is this normal behavior?
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 03:27 PM
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What is her breeding? Sounds like she has a ton of suspicion.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 03:30 PM
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I don't think it is that unusual, but it suggests a lack of confidence. IMO, the breed has a lot of temperament issues. You could try keeping some good treats like real food, not dog treats and hand them to strangers to feed her and help teach her that strangers provide good things. Tell them to squat down and hold out their hand and let the pup take the food. They don't need to be trying to pet her, leaning over her or reaching out toward her. If they are unable to squat for some reason (you will have to use your judgment such as with the elderly, morbidly obese, whatever) don't ask them to offer a treat. And you don't have to let people touch your puppy, just like you probably don't let all strangers come up and touch your child. Tell them you are socializing her and trying to get her comfortable with strangers, but don't want strangers intruding on her space.
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 04:50 PM
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First, it is not someone's right to touch a dog.. I know that sounds weird, but if we want to put it into a social setting, if someone walked up and hugged you, how would you respond? For a dog, having just anyone assume it is ok to be pet is as intrusive. Tell people that come to your house to ignore her. Let her do her own investigation at her pace, as she gains confidence and learns human dynamics better, she will want to engage most likely.. But some dogs are just not touchy Feely and would prefer less fuss especially from non family... If you make sure that the dog is ok with the pet then you wont be setting up future behavior issues..
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 06:35 PM
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and personally I wouldn't expect the pup to take food from strangers. Think about it like this: there is a creep at the bar. He wants you to come close so he offers you a free drink. You may want the drink but the guy is still creepy. If you want to use food, I'd rather they toss the food away so the pup feels free to get the food and not be concerned that he has to endure being touched to get it.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-05-2019, 06:47 PM
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At this stage I would expose her to people without interacting with them, kinda like as if they belong to the landscape. You can play and interact with her yourself in the presence of strangers but keep it natural and neutral. Your puppy is not as confident at this time and you need to give her some space and keep (frequent) sessions short ( 5 minutes is plenty) during exposure so she will learn that nothing happens to her.
Never will I allow others to feed my dog; it's how they learn to be pushy with strangers and regard them as treat dispensers.
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 08:09 AM
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If you don't use food, what is going to make people more appealing to the pup?
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 09:29 AM
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I too am curious about your puppy's pedigree.

Katsu is very observant in new places. Her breeder told me she would be the kind of dog that would like to sit back and watch for a bit before acting. She wasn't a puppy that wanted to be touched by strangers. Now at 18 months, she is aloof but will interact if we stand close enough for a short period of time (say I'm having a conversation with the person).

I would do what wolfy dog said - just introduce her to people as a part of the environment rather than having people pet her. If it's someone that is visiting your home, just tell them to ignore her.

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 11:40 AM
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She sounds like a resilient but suspicious puppy. This is often normal GSD puppy behavior. Before you start teaching her that everybody is her friend, decide on whether that is something you wanted or not. Why did you get this breed? That can be a deciding factor.

Like others said, exposure without interaction is important. I would caution against forcing people on her, not saying that you are, because you may create some nasty reactivity that you won't really want to deal with.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-06-2019, 01:21 PM
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While the behavior described might be somewhat common, I don't think it represents desirable temperament in a puppy. It is analogous to so many people being overweight and obese that a person with a normal BMI is considered skinny.
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