1) Always approach a GS from the side, never the front. Approaching from the front may trigger guarding behaviors.
- This happened to me only once, in class. I have interacted with approximately 50 GS's and only encountered a guarding response once, when I approached from the front.
Fact or fiction?
Sort of a composite of both - the safest way to approach a dog you don't know, of any breed, is from the side. That's how dogs approach each other
, and the kind of frontal face to face greeting that people do with each other can
be seen as confrontational by a dog. Not necessarily every dog, but if it's an unknown dog and you don't know how it's going to react, it's just prudent to use non-threatening body language.
That being said, approaching a dog from the front isn't going to trigger guarding behaviors unless that particular dog already has that tendency, which is why you've only seen it once. This is not specific to GSDs, this is basic dog body language.
2) I am consistently told that you need to be firm with a GS from the get-go to ensure they do not develop inappropriate guarding behaviors.
Thoughts on this? The most well behaved, well adjusted GS's I've encountered have been raised by people who subscribe to this.
Again, a strange composite of stuff. My strategy for raising a dog who won't develop inappropriate guarding behaviors isn't really about being firm. I do think that in general, but especially with a powerful breed like GSDs who get big and strong fast, consistent leadership is important. I guess you could characterize that as "being firm", but it's much more than that. What do the people who tell you this mean when they say to be "firm"?