What's okay and what's not okay - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:10 PM Thread Starter
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What's okay and what's not okay

So from the recent threads here, a few questions have sparked in my mind. Now I'm by far no behavioral or dog expert.
This is my first gsd and really my first dog.
I've owned horses in the past.

Now I have to a degree a reactive dog. If he sees a bigger dog she will raise her hackles. I'm 21 and don't have kids and don't know anyone with kids so he hasn't been extensively socialized with kids.
With people I tend to keep her at a distance just because I'm super paranoid of the puppy she used to be.
I can take her in public but never had kids jump on her or anything. I don't normally let people pet her unless they just do it anyway and I can't get a body block in. She has never bit or offered to bite.
I made a rookie mistake during a camping trip and had about 10 kids swarm her making sharp movements and quick ones near her face as she was in a down. She kept backing up but didn't bark or bite or lunge.
I guess my question is this. Dogs are animals. Yes we domesticated them but I see a lot on this board where our dogs should be bomb proof so to speak or shouldn't be allowed in public. To me that means my dog is dangerous.
Even though my dog gets scared she has never offered to bite lunge or acted like it since we have worked and worked.
Now with horses I have seen some that were broke to ride and have bucked here and there despite the fact that they know not to. Where it be a saddle issue or spooking at something.
Should they not be ridden or trusted because they don't put up with a saddle pinch or something uncomfortable?
Should a domesticated animal such as a horse or dog put up with everything and anything because we domesticated them even though both are animals and have minds of their own?
What is your take? Are animals supposed to think like a human so to speak and be bombproof through everything and tolerate everything?
Sometimes I feel like I expect too much out of my dog and don't let her go places because I'm afraid of what could happen even though she has never done anything agressive besides bark and she hasn't done that in over a year.
How do you properly teach a dog to be okay with kids crawling on them and people petting them without having "Ginny pigs" or taking a non bombproof dog in public?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 10:41 PM
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bombproof (if they really are bombproof) is a matter of putting your dog
in a lot of different situations. i think starting when they're young is
best way to go.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-12-2012, 11:15 PM
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Do you have a trainer? If you don't, you need to get one. Reactive dogs can be managed. However, their temperament is flawed. I don't know how old your dog is now (that would be good to know) but essentially once they reach maturity they will have 2 modes when they are reactive... fight of flight. So far your dog hasn't gone into fight mode. I wouldn't continue to bet on that horse, though. If your dog is fearful of children, and you can't keep kids away from her then the dog should be muzzled when out. You don't (and can't) know when she'll flip from flight to fight. A trainer can help you read her better, do an assessment of her behaviors, and give you a plan of action. You need one that's well versed in GSD behavioral issues. It's too bad that you ended up with a reactive dog as your first GSD. They are a great breed that's been terribly exploited by idiots who don't know what they're doing. They breed dogs that are mismatched genetically or fear aggressive dogs and that's what you end up with... fear aggressive litters.

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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 12:41 AM
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I'm *not* ok with kids crawling on my dog, lol. That's way beyond bombproof, IMO. Even if my dog didn't mind, I'd still have a problem with it myself. I'm not very tolerant of other people's unruly children, I guess. I don't mind the petting, but that's because my dog likes the attention. And barking is a normal thing that dogs do, so I don't mind if my dog barks - as long as he can be quiet when I ask.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
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My dog is 2.5 yrs old. I've had her since I was 19. We had a trainer. She's been thru basic OB, advanced OB, and open/ utility OB we got her at 4 months passed the prime socialization oppurtunities but have still socialized her every oppurtunity I've had.
We've gone to shopping centers and walked around, pet stores, parks, etc.
her fear of large dogs is partly my fault. In theory she should be able to bounce back from things. I took her to the dog park a few times thinking it would be great for socialization. She got beat up a few times by large dogs.
Every time we go out she's not reactive.
Actually she hasn't "reacted" to anything in quite some time.
I moved to the city about 6 months ago to a large apartment complex. She had to do a meet and greet with the office manager. And she passed, let him pet her.
We go for walks outside the complex with people jogging past, riding bikes, people with kids and other dogs, not a peep.
We go to the pet store on Saturdays when they have adoption events with over 100 dogs and over 150 people without a peep.
We have worked very hard on a solid "leave it"
I just havent moved from watching from afar to having people start coming up to us and putting they're hands on her. We can be approached by people and we can talk and she's fine.
Her main reaction and really her only one is when someone looks in her eyes.
Someone can talk to her without looking in her eyes and she's fine
If they stare her down, she barks.
The only way I see to out train that if you can is just have people do it and get her used to it but I don't want to just ask people to do it.
I don't feel she needs a muzzle. When she was 7 months old and barked at everything and everyone within 50 ft, yes she did.
When we are out she is in a heel always with a prong or martingale.
I haven't found a good trainer here as the reactive dog class I found uses e collars and she
is a soft dog and I don't want to use one on her.
Plus training up here is double what it is where I used to live and I'm not comfortable with just anyone.
The main thing is I haven't taken the next step of introducing people petting her because I'm nervous of what could happen. So I just say no and keep walking.
We almost passed our CGC about a yr ago but she whinned to much at the leave us for 3 minutes and got excited at greet the dog.
She isn't the same dog as she was when we first put her in training I just haven't found a comfort zone yet of having people approach and pet because it isn't a controlled environment.
But I don't think every time I take her out she is going to go ballistic on someone or something. She loves car rides and going places and camping.
When she's been around kids the few times and it wasn't a large pack of them she was fine. She played fetch with a small child at the dog park and my BFs niece could pet her and she her body language wasn't I'm just tolerating this I'm secretly a nervous reck or anything.
I think she was just overwhelmed by 10-12 kids swarming her which needs work because I'm sure it could happen again but as far as when we are out people leave us alone.
Not many ask to pet or come up to pet. And I always have treats on hand to give from a distance.

Last edited by DTS; 11-13-2012 at 04:44 AM.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 07:56 AM
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It sounds like you've one pretty good with her and as she's matured, you've exposed her to all these different situations that she's fine with them. Kudo's to you

I hear you on introducing people to her, it's a catch 22, you want to, but dont know what her reaction will be, so why chance it?

Is there a reason you 'want' people/strangers to pet her? I mean is it going to change her whole world if she has strangers fawning all over her? It sounds like she's happy and excepting of the way things are.

A pack of kids CAN be overwhelming to a young dog, staring at a dog can be viewed as a challenge, so some may not appreciate that either.

I would just keep socializing taking her everywhere you can, as you've been doing.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 08:10 AM
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You sound like you've done lots of work with her, and kudos to you!!! I'm sure your dog appreciates it!

Bombproof - My dog has a bombproof recall and leave it ... I needed those two to be bombproof b/c she is off leash a lot.

Kids - I personally don't have a lot of tolerance for kids (ok, many 1% tolerance) and I don't let any kids come up and pet my dog. Most of them are too hyper, waving their arms, talking in that high-pitched voice that grates on my nerves. It bugs ME to no end, I can just imagine what's going through her mind.

Yesterday at the off leash park a young girl, about 12, very politely asked me if she could pet my dog. I asked her what the rules were to approach a dog, she told me - she was dead on! I called Kyleigh over and introduced Kyleigh to her, and the young girl pet her, and spoke quietly to her. No issues at all. This is the ONLY time I will let a child pet Kyleigh.

In regards to introducing her to other people, I would ask friends if they would be willing to help you out. Give them the rules (no direct eye contact, no waving arms, no high-pitched voice, etc.) and do it somewhere other than your house. Make the contact short and sweet - 15-30 seconds, and then move on. End each "intro" in a positive manner and she'll realize (as will you) that meeting new people is easy.

For you - you WILL need to relax your guard. If you're nervous, she knows it and will pick up on it! Neither of you can move forward, if you're still stuck in the past! Easier said than done, but a very necessary step!

A trainer, albeit expensive, can also be a life saver in the end. Would you rather spend $300 on a trainer / behavioural assessment that will benefit your dog for life? Or $5000 in court defending your dog b/c you misread it and something happened? I'm not trying to scare you ... but you're right - dogs are animals. In flight or fight, if flight is taken away (being on a leash), and if the "threat" is serious enough in the dog's mind, it MIGHT bite.

Good luck

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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 09:07 AM
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It's really the risk you want to take. You know your dog doesn't like being in social situations, so why push it? But there are a lot of people that get a dog, might not have the best nerves, and still put it in those kinds of situations where its a danger to everyone around it. You know what happens when that dog reacts to a kid coming out of no where and hugging it? Well...the kid gets bit, the dog gets put down, the owner has a lawsuit on their hands trying to prove that a 20 lb child scared an 80 lb dog...good luck.

Bombproof doesn't have to mean your dog, it can mean your dog can handle most situations and then you will handle the rest of them by not putting your dog in those situations. I'm lucky, my dog can deal with anything, and yes I mean anything. Kids have run up to him, hugged him, pet him a little too hard, but he doesn't flinch. If anything he just wants to play with them.

So in your example...a horse that has bucked someone off. Well you can take the risk to ride it, but if you're operating a riding farm or something where outsiders are riding I wouldn't suggest putting a stranger on that horse. A dog, that can react in a bad way is just like that, do you really want to take the risk and put it near someone that can cause you more problems than its worth? It's a risk/reward thing. It's awesome to take your dog to fairs/festivals/camp sites, but that one time your dog reacts to a child, you might not have a dog anymore (you is a general you, not OP).
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 09:46 AM
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I don't mean to be rude here but it sounds like you are more reactive then your dog. I think you worry to much. That could be transmitting to your dog. I would do what everyone suggested, just keep socializing her and stay alert for situations. I've owned horses all my adult life too. I personally don't think horses think like dogs. Horses, for the most part, don't form attachments that dogs do. My horses were always happy to see me but if I didn't show up, as long and they had food, water, comfortable living conditions, and other horses it didn't really bother them if I DIDN'T show up. This breed is very owner and home orientated. One of my GSDs got a nasty virus one time. I couldn't understand why my vet didn't just keep her at the clinic instead of sending her home with me. My very wise vet said," Rosemary, ( That's my name BTW ) German shepherds are big powerful dogs but take them away from their home and they give up and die. I've seen it happen over and over again."

Last edited by Nikitta; 11-13-2012 at 09:48 AM.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 11-13-2012, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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I am nervous. I'm a nervous nelly. Not as bad as I used to be and sometimes I don't think I give her enough credit.
I don't want to be one of those people whose dog can't be pet.
I love taking her places and she loves going. I don't want her to be labeled as a bad gsd. I contacted a different trainer and waiting to here back.
My other trainer didn't seem to concerned with her behavior so I'm getting a second opinion.
I don't want to risk anything because people are sue happy and I'm very paranoid about that. I want to correct this problem and we have been working hard I just want to get her thru this next step and over this last hurdle.
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