Service work, protection, normal dog? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 04:22 PM Thread Starter
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Service work, protection, normal dog?

So my dog Elios, I have been training to be my service dog for about a year now has the typical protection attitude.
One of the first problems we over came in out service training.
Now for the last few months I haven't done much vest work because I'm letting him grow up and figuring out if I still want him as my service dog. And I was finishing up college and have been massively busy
I have a few mental things that he helps with but I do not need him everywhere I go.
When in the home or on walks (when people approach, VERY seldom)he barks.
I am a small girl and like the fact that his bark will keep people away from me(one of my social problems)
But for the past year I have trained this out of him for service work.
While on vest he is down right perfect.
He knows it's his job and that nothing else matters.
But I've had this fight in my head about, still being protected.
I'd like to bring my dog to a place I will have an anxiety attack and him be perfect, but if also like to bring him on a family hike and be protected.
Now are these two things even possible?
One on vest and one off?
Or shall I just pick one, the one that suites him best?
I don't want to overwhelm him or confuse him. What I've trained him is that on vest he needs to be fully focused and look at nothing. But when on vest (still had to obey of course) he can be a dog and have fun.
What do you guys think?

Elios. 2 year old light liver GSD
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Gizmo. Blue point, kink tailed kitten .

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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 04:27 PM
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What's a "typical protection attitude?"
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 04:50 PM
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You want protection, go to your local sheriffs office and get a concealed carrier permit. Service dogs are for helping you with your day to day life. Just my 2 cents.

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Thewretched View Post
You want protection, go to your local sheriffs office and get a concealed carrier permit. Service dogs are for helping you with your day to day life. Just my 2 cents.

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If you want a service dog, train a service dog. If you want a protection dog, train a protection dog. Each one is a VERY different ball game. I say pick one and stick with it.

And barking at people on walks doesn't say "protection attitude" to me. It says just plain old leash reactivity which is not something I want in any dog, much less a protection dog. I want a protection dog to be one of the most confident self-assured dogs I can find. To the point that they do not feel the need to bark at people on walks.
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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 06:11 PM
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Being a Service Dog is a HUGE job, the dog must be "on" and working pretty much any time you are awake, and sometimes when you're not if the dog is doing medical alert or that sort of job. IMO it's too much to ask a dog to be a Service dog *and* a personal protection dog. Whether the dog has the right temperament for both is another story. A Service Dog by law mitigates the disability of the handler. Personal protection does not fall under the purview of being a Service Dog. Also, if something happened and you needed help or medical attention, you cannot have your Service Dog getting in the way of first responders trying to help you.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-18-2014, 06:55 PM
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Confused....barking at strangers on a walk isn't something a protection dog should do. A lot of people see things like barking and think it equates to protection. Sounds like you just want a GSD with normal GSD traits. I think a service dog (GSD) will retain the innate ability to protect. What is the service your dog provides? Sounds like anti-anxiety/calming/emotional support therapy??

Just keep training your dog for the emotional support role. Also, I'd fix the barking....he shouldn't be lighting up at complete non-threats walking down a trail/road. I hike and can't stand when I round a corner and someone's nerved out, off leash dog, lights up at me for no dang reason other than I'm sharing the trail with their owner.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-19-2014, 12:21 AM
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This would be why I have two different dogs. My golden is the one who helps me with things when I need him to help me and my female shepherd is the one who tells people they best stay away if she feels there is a good threat (she's very defensive of the car). However, if we were just walking down the road or out hiking trails, she is a perfect lady. She will walk right by people or walk up and ask for attention. She's good with everyone that she comes across, canine or human alike. You would never believe that she is the protection dog if you didn't see her in my car or working with the trainer.

Service dogs don't necessarily get to be "off". They should generally always be aware. I have seen the difference between when the vest is on and isn't on in perhaps a level of focus, but it is never fully gone. Times when I feel shaky or find myself on the ground needing help up (thank you totally screwed up left leg), my golden is there. He is very in tune with emotions, and he tends to kind of watch people we are out with if he thinks they may require help through steep or rocky sections, just as he would help me.

Generally speaking the sheer size and look of a GSD will make people think twice because of associations with what they can do. My first GSD was big and all she had to do generally was look at people with her ears forward and tail up to get them giving us some space lol. She was a total bluffer too.
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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-20-2014, 07:48 AM
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It's possible for the right person to train the right dog to do about anything.

Although possible, it is not probable with the average owner & dog.

Like TW said, just get you a pistola, 38 caliber minimum.

For reliability I recommend a revolver.
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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-20-2014, 09:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Deno View Post
It's possible for the right person to train the right dog to do about anything.

Although possible, it is not probable with the average owner & dog.

Like TW said, just get you a pistola, 38 caliber minimum.

For reliability I recommend a revolver.


Ace Von Backyard 3/12/2014
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 06-20-2014, 10:05 AM
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Since OP is probably not coming back at this point, I’ll put down my thoughts on this for others to read if they ever look this thread up, and maybe we’ll get into a fun discussion about this.

I’ve been doing some protection training for a time now, and the person I work with also has experience training PP dogs. In his opinion, a lot of it is the show the dog can put on. Most people, aren’t going to keep coming if your dog is barking its head off at them at the end of the leash. This is something trainable, and even if the dog doesn’t have the perfect temperament for this type of activity…only a few trained/experienced people will be able to tell that the barking is forced and that the dog is showing some sort of anxiety and if truly attacked would probably tuck tail and run.

To that extent, you can take it a step further with the right dog and train it to bite a sleeve or a coat. You can then remove those things and bite hidden sleeves and basically “trick” the dog into biting a “regular presentation” rather than what our sport dogs are used to seeing.

Now, most of protection IMO is an obedience exercise. It’s teaching your dog when it’s okay to do X and when it isn’t. It’s quite fun to teach this to a dog, and over the past few months I’ve taught my dog to turn on and off at a command and it’s pretty cool knowing that at any point that I feel threatened by someone, I can turn my dog on, walk past them, and then turn him off. As my instructor put it, you can easily make the excuse to a stranger that your dog is just aggressive towards everyone or that “he never does this, I don’t know what’s gotten into him” until you’re past the situation. Will my dog bite if given the chance? Yes. But I haven’t yet progressed onto a hidden sleeve and unlikely that I will at this point because I’m not looking for that.

So, can a service dog be taught this. I’m sure it can. But I don’t think it has anything to do with a vest being on or off. I personally wouldn’t want a dog making its own decisions on a hiking trail about what is a threat and what isn’t. I can also imagine there could be some problems if your “service dog” ever acted out like this in public either when it was supposed to or it wasn’t. A dog with public access rights is IMO held to a much higher standard than a regular dog, and if your dog shows any type of aggression…warranted or not, you might be quite a bit of trouble.

The problem with the social anxiety disorder you have is that the dog's service to you is to calm you when you get anxious. The dog learns this and picks up on your chemicals to do this. I do not believe that you can teach the dog that when he's wearing the vest he reacts one way to your anxiety, and when he's not wearing the vest he reacts a different way. It will lead to a lot of confusion, and more than likely the wrong reaction in the wrong situation if he's ever tested. And if we assume you could do that, what if the vest is off, and you get anxious for the wrong reason and the person coming towards you is completely friendly...your dog does what he's trained and attacks. You realize you just lost your dog right?

Last edited by martemchik; 06-20-2014 at 10:09 AM.
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