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I have an 8 and a half month old male WLGSD. Today a family member opened our main gate with a remote and the guest just walked in down our driveway. Our dog saw the guest and run up to him barking aggressively (fur puffed up on his neck). He wouldn't let the guest progress any further down the driveway. The dog had the look that if the guest progressed any further, he would bite. I run up the driveway and grabbed the dog and put him in his crate. I later reintroduced the dog to the guest with me in his presence and the dog was fine with him.

This is the first time I've witnessed this level of aggression/protectiveness in one of our dogs and I'm not sure how to respond to it.
 

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Your dog was displaying passive defensive aggression. That is when a dog displays defensive gestures like defensive barking, hackling, etc. but not biting as an initial response. It is likely that if the guest kept walking the dog would have just kept barking. To say the dog had the look that if the guest progressed any further, he would bite is totally a subjective assumption. What was unique about the dog's "look" that lead you to your assumption? The way to respond is to prevent visitors free access to your property while your dog is out and to train your dog to come to you if someone does get on your property.
 

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Your dog was displaying passive defensive aggression. That is when a dog displays defensive gestures like defensive barking, hackling, etc. but not biting as an initial response. It is likely that if the guest kept walking the dog would have just kept barking. To say the dog had the look that if the guest progressed any further, he would bite is totally a subjective assumption. What was unique about the dog's "look" that lead you to your assumption? The way to respond is to prevent visitors free access to your property while your dog is out and to train your dog to come to you if someone does get on your property.
I think it was the way that he was standing his ground (stamping his front paws up and down, and doing the whole bark/snarl bit); I've never really seen any of our previous GSD that wound up before. The guest afterwards said that he felt as if he would be bitten if he stepped forward. Maybe I'm just overreacting, as is the guest, but I feel this dog is wired differently to our previous dogs (our dogs have always been rather social and tolerant of people coming in and out).
 

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It's pretty simple. Contain the dog if you expect guests. If you have a separate fenced back yard, put him there. Or don't allow guests in until you've put the dog up or are there to control the dog.

Sure, he might have bitten, and that would be a big fat mess, so contain him, train him to come when called, and manage this so it isn't a problem.

It sounds like he's fine when introduced properly, which is a good dog, so you just need to very much increase your vigilance and level of management for him so this mistake isn't made again.

It is who he is, doubtful you can "train this out of him" if you are not there to manage the situation directly. Again, that he was perfectly friendly if introduced, and that he didn't bite, are both good signs. But don't risk it again.

GSD are supposed to carry a level of human aggression. Now that you know, take the appropriate steps. He's a pup yet, and very malleable. But his level of suspicion, etc. are unlikely to change.
 

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It's pretty simple. Contain the dog if you expect guests. If you have a separate fenced back yard, put him there. Or don't allow guests in until you've put the dog up or are there to control the dog.

Sure, he might have bitten, and that would be a big fat mess, so contain him, train him to come when called, and manage this so it isn't a problem.

It sounds like he's fine when introduced properly, which is a good dog, so you just need to very much increase your vigilance and level of management for him so this mistake isn't made again.

It is who he is, doubtful you can "train this out of him" if you are not there to manage the situation directly. Again, that he was perfectly friendly if introduced, and that he didn't bite, are both good signs. But don't risk it again.

GSD are supposed to carry a level of human aggression. Now that you know, take the appropriate steps. He's a pup yet, and very malleable. But his level of suspicion, etc. are unlikely to change.
What you said makes sense. This is the strongest willed / most dominant dog I've had yet, and interacting with him has been a learning experience. He rolls on his back, showing his belly in displays of affection yet also has this bulldozer attitude when confronted with something he doesn't quite trust. He does come when called, and did in this situation, but I grabbed him by the collar anyway as I was uncertain if he'd run back to the guy and continue. Will lock him up in the future.
 

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This is the strongest willed / most dominant dog I've had yet, and interacting with him has been a learning experience. He rolls on his back, showing his belly in displays of affection yet also has this bulldozer attitude when confronted with something he doesn't quite trust. He does come when called, and did in this situation, but I grabbed him by the collar anyway as I was uncertain if he'd run back to the guy and continue. Will lock him up in the future.

Isn't this somewhat the "nature" of a GSD ?????


I'd manage and train your dog when greeting visitors or in any other benign situations with you on the "controls" since the situation you described left your dog to his own devices......I don't know that locking him up in the future will get you and your dog any further down the road. I'd treat similar situations with your dog on a shortened loose lead...under commanded obedience....... with your attitude in the proper mindset....dog needs to follow your lead as to what is a threat and what isn't. Since the dog recalls per your command.....the problem should be easy enough to deal with as you have command and control of your dog...........if you don't..... then default to the safest management practice available........I learned the hard way FWIW.




SuperG
 

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Yeah I would think this is the average reaction from any dog for that matter my Chihuahua would do much of the same. Maybe a overtly friendly lab would be welcoming to strangers entering the gate to private property but many dogs would react the same way.
 

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I've always grown up with GSD, but always showline GSD. This is the first working-line GSD I've had and certainly his desire to protect the property is different from our other dogs. From what I can make out from the responses here, if I'm confident enough with the dog, I should introduce him to guests on a leash. If I'm still unsure, crate him until the guest is in, then introduce the dog?
 

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The thing is, you got a German Shepherd Dog, not a bird dog or a lap dog. Actually a lot of lap dogs would do as much as your German Shepherd did: run out there and bark at the intruder.

To YOU, this was a guest. To your young GSD, it was an illegal alien. Young GSDs sometimes do make mistakes because they do not have enough experiences to draw on. You can train them to accept regular visitors coming onto the property without you being present, like some folks have regular dog-walkers, and such. I am very careful who I let come over to my house when I am not there. Because they are German Shepherds. And any dog will bite if you bait it, but not every dog will send you to the ER. A GSD will, if he is serious.

It is sometimes surprising what people want from their dogs. They want a dog that will sit on command alert to the movements of the guy installing the water softener, but they want the dog to magically know that Aunt Matilda is actually allowed to be there, even thought he dog has never met Aunt Matilda or only saw her briefly once before. Now how would that work. Let's say that your contractor came to work on your work with an employee we will call "James." The contractor and James were at your home for 2 days working on your roof and during that time, they met your dog while you were there and the dog was ok with him being there while you were there. Now let's say James decided to pay you a visit 3 months later, to remove some of your property without your knowledge. Should your dog remember James and be perfectly ok with him riding off with the four wheeler?

Of course, if you want a dog that will protect your property, then you should probably do some training to that end. Some dogs will do what yours did, but if given a stern "GO HOME!" they will back down. If hit with a stick or punched or kicked, they may turn tail. Others will run up and nip or bite right away. Some will wait for the dude to turn away from the dog and then will chicken-$#1+ bite him in the back of the leg or butt. Yours is still a puppy and may be just aggressing out of fearfulness. Hard to say. But your best bet is to manage your dog, manage your perimeter, and manage the visitors.
 
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You should expect you dog to bark or guard the property when a stranger comes on your property- a stranger to the dog if you are not around. I don’t think I ever owned a dog - many were mixed breeds that did not bark if strangers walked on the property - strangers to our dogs the dogs always alerted us. It’s what we wanted them to do and indirectly trained that or directly. Heck I had a parakeet that chirped the minute an unknown person rolled in the driveway. I have not heard of or seen a gsd that would not do the same in my entire life but it could be how the dog is unknowingly trained. If you have a fence around the entire property where it is easy for people and they have to enter your property entering a fence your dog is loose is in I would change that. Make sure the dog is separated from the fenced section people seem to have enter or just lock it up so no one can enter until you let them in. it could be a big issue if you happen to be not around with any dog especially a large powerful breed like the German Shepherd. A strong full proofed recall will keep any dog out of trouble and should be taught.
 

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While this might be the most dominant dog you have had, he doesn't sound like a dominant dog. What kind of training have you done with him? Find someone to help you and work on having that person walk up to you and greet you and shake your hand on neutral territory. Have your dog on leash and tell him to sit at heel as the person approaches. Make him hold the sit and correct him if he starts to ass up. When he learns that you decide if he should display aggression and not him, transfer the same training to your property. I would not try to squash him being territorial when strangers are outside of your fence, but you can progress to meeting people at your gate and having him sit at heel and allow them to come in. Then you can have someone come outside the fence who acts suspicious or off and encourage him to light up. With practice, he should learn to discern and obey your commands to either show aggression or not and still be protective when you are not there.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
While this might be the most dominant dog you have had, he doesn't sound like a dominant dog. What kind of training have you done with him? Find someone to help you and work on having that person walk up to you and greet you and shake your hand on neutral territory. Have your dog on leash and tell him to sit at heel as the person approaches. Make him hold the sit and correct him if he starts to ass up. When he learns that you decide if he should display aggression and not him, transfer the same training to your property. I would not try to squash him being territorial when strangers are outside of your fence, but you can progress to meeting people at your gate and having him sit at heel and allow them to come in. Then you can have someone come outside the fence who acts suspicious or off and encourage him to light up. With practice, he should learn to discern and obey your commands to either show aggression or not and still be protective when you are not there.
He knows sit, paw, down, stay, inside, outside, come, leave it. We have a fairly active house with other adults, another male GSD and a toddler, so he's exposed to many people going in and out. Anyway, I guess I will have to give him some extra 1 on 1 time with some exposure training. Good to know that he's not overreacting.
 

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It sounds like he did what he was bred to do :) My dog was very much like that at 8 months. He would also lunge and rapid bark at anyone who walked up on us staring at him. I worked on it with a trainer who had worked with my dog's sire before and we trained him. A trainer who understands protection breeds is ideal.

My gates are locked in my yard. Once we have greeted company (including my kid's friends) they can walk freely in and out without him noticing. Everyone comes in initially through our front door. I don't like gates with kids/company busy homes. It is just a mistake waiting to happen. So I keep them padlocked. When a new person arrives Valor is told to sit and then released to say hello appropriately. If someone new walked in without knocking or ringing to be let in, he is barking in their face until I call him. It's his nature, and as long as he listens when I call him, and is nice to people I welcome into the home, I prefer a GSD to be this way.

All that only came with training and guidance though. Once people are in he is pretty neutral. Though once he has met someone a few times he is downright friendly and brings them toys to engage. I can have people he knows well come over to let him it and feed him no problem. Had I not asked for guidance and training and if I did not know the breed he would have absolutely been on of "those" GSDs that had to be crated or locked away when you are having company. We had a Chihuahua like that when I was little. It was the pits, and I like company so I wasn't having it again, ever.

Since this is your first WL I can't stress enough how much a few sessions with a breed savvy trainer is money well spent on your dog. I'd either state your area and ask here, or look up your local IGP club and ask there.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!
 

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I would not even get lost in the working line thing I think that maybe your concern here. Pay attention to the dog In Front of you. all dogs are different! The dog was good when you introduced him. I see no issues here. Your view may be one though. Find a balanced reputable trainer that works with german shepherds- regardless of the line!!! it is so very common for any pet dog of any breed except maybe a lab or Golden’s and that depends - to bark at someone walking by near or in their property that they do not know when their owner is not around. You may find your dog may. mr. Personality once be gets to know your friends or family and will be a complete Busy body and rummage through their bags lol butt in the middle of conversations and throw a ball in the middle of the kitchen table. Or he may go to she may go to a spot and take a nap not caring to be bothered either or all is good. So many dogs are miserably mismatched often. If I had to crate or lock my dogs up when people visited and I welcomed them into my home in such a busy house it would be a big mismatch but perhaps a training issue. I don’t see any of this at all in what your are posting -I hope you can enjoy your dog!
 

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The dog was doing his job , and you grabbed him by the collar, an unneeded correction. I guess if you don’t want a protective dog the GSD is not for you, like some previous answers , if you know someone is coming you should have him contained, that way he’s not set up for failure with an unneeded correction for doing his job. Hopefully you can work it out, take care
 

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. I recently spoke to the guest again and he mentioned that the dog did bite him on his trousers (more of a nip actually). Anyway, lesson learned.
 

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A dog with strong, forward aggression will bite hard and hold on, being violent toward the person, often without any training. This type of dog is in the minority IMO. It is more a training issue than a temperament issue.
 

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This should be normal behavior for a well bred GSD. My WL male GSD charged and barked at repair men (no hackles but a deep bark) as a 8 week old less than 24 hours after he flew in from across the country - it was quite amusing but we were quite taken aback. He is by no means a crazy dog and has good discernment but extremely aggressive towards strangers on his own property and also naturally suspicious towards strangers in lonely or dark places (like in the woods) - no hackles just tail goes up, body stiffens and straightens up, intense stare, and he wants to approach the stranger. On neutral grounds - like a mall or walking down the street - he is very neutral in most cases - such as joggers, bikers, kids, etc - on a few occasions he has gotten the same look as described above - usually if someone is wearing a hoody or talking aggressively - this could be because he has been trained to bite and may mistake them as the decoy- not sure but in these cases it caught my attentions also. Having said that he is a safe dog although does have a hair trigger but will recall if I tell him to.

My mixed breed female on the other hand is perfectly fine with strangers till they get to our house then like a switch goes on and she changes - for example we were out for a walk and when we got to our drive way, a contractor who we were expecting to do some house work was waiting for us. She greeted him and was friendly and we decided to walk towards our house - all was well till I opened the door and cross the threshold - the minute that happened she turns around and started barking aggressively and would not let him in till I put her away. She is by no means a biter but will nip and is far more suspicious and aggressive in the house towards strangers than my male GSD. He picks up on her - we jokingly call her the "alerter" and the male the "finisher".
 

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You did say your guest came through your gate. To me it just sounds like your GSD was protecting his territory. That's what they do. Anyone comes through our gate would be greeted the same way if we haven't introduced them to him, which we always do when someone comes over. We greet them outside with our gsds on leash. Ours have had training, but I certainly don't want them to be overly friendly unless we want them to be.If you want licks and kisses get a golden retriever.
 
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