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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 3 month old white GSD. Very friendly dog with other dogs, very curious of people until the people hover over him and reach to pat him on his head, then he rears back. If a person is not paying attention to him, he's sniffing the person and right up next to the person, and curious and friendly with other dogs. I know all about the importance of socialization and he goes with me everywhere - to the pet store, to the park, to school around kids, he's in a puppy kindergarten class currently, etc. But he doesn't like to be patted on top of his head. He has a great temperament, his tail is never tucked and his hackles are never raised, but he doesn't like to be approached by someone who's going to touch the top of his head. I wouldn't want someone to do that to me either, but it seems like everyone approaches dogs this way. Invariably, the person will say, "Ohh, it's a shy dog!" Is this behavior normal in a puppy? Or do I have a spooky shepherd? :( Thanks!

(I'm sure this has been asked before, so my apologies.)
 

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Your dog is what he is, spooky or not. You need to manage the behavior. Yes some shepherds will generally see the hand coming down on the top of the head and look up to see what approaches. When they look up, the mouth falls open, and everyone then is afraid the pup will bite. Whether or not that is the pup's intention, they then reppidly remove their hand which may or may not seem like teasing or an invitation to play.

Here are some rules to follow:
1. Allow NO one to pet your dog unless they ask first.

2. Explain to them to offer the hand, and scritch under the chin. Normally you can then move up along the cheek and to the top of the head.

3. The more people who pet your dog, if the dog is not overwhelmed all at once, the easier it will be for him. So when people ask nicely, you should help them to have a successful petting session.
 

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My puppy does not shy away when people pet him. My 9 yr old smothers him with love so he's probably just gotten used to being mauled.
 

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The younger they are, the more outgoing they tend to be.

My pups are usually more outgoing than yours at the same age so I'd ACTIVELY work on giving your pup more confidence without overwhelming him. He's got a bunch of fear stages coming up and if he's already getting a bit worried you may be in trouble.

Be packing him up in the car to visit everyone. PUPPY CLASSES are ideal at his age. Safe environment and he can play while learning (as can you).

Lots of exercise if you can get that too, out in the real world rather in the house/yard.
 

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I wouldn't say my pup is an atention seeker, but if someone talks to him in a silly voice and pet him he melts like butter. He doesn't moputh me, but I still have work to do with the mouthing to other people. Once the petting is over, he is Ok too.
 

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But he doesn't like to be patted on top of his head. He has a great temperament, his tail is never tucked and his hackles are never raised, but he doesn't like to be approached by someone who's going to touch the top of his head. I wouldn't want someone to do that to me either, but it seems like everyone approaches dogs this way.
Just like humans, dogs can be the same.. Not every dog wants or needs strange people always touching or petting them..

If he needs to greet people then you need to speak up and have them approach him in a different way..
 

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Just like humans, dogs can be the same.. Not every dog wants or needs strange people always touching or petting them..

If he needs to greet people then you need to speak up and have them approach him in a different way..

Agreed!
 

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My puppy wasn't outgoing at all, he didn't like strangers. I socialized him, I took him alot of places, he just didn't like to be payed attention to. He would go up to them and sniff them but the second they looked at him or reached to pet him he would run away. He's fine now at 8 months and loves when people come over, he just want so play with everyone. Keep socializing your puppy as much as you can he's probably just in a fear stage. Jackson started actively acting scared around 3 months and it lasted for a good 2 months, it got worse before it got better but he's ok now.
 

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Argos as a puppy loved absolutely everyone.

Cade was different. Not that he didn't like people...but he could be overwhelmed. What I dreaded was (and no disrespect intended) slightly older women who LOVED puppies. They would invariably loom over the puppy, squeal and talk baby talk in a LOUD high pitched voice, and rub the puppy in the ground or heaven forbid try to pick him up. Cade did not care for this, and at one point cried like someone was killing him. After that incident, I decided no one touched the puppy except close family friends or dog people I could trust. Cade got to be around all kinds of people and I continued socializing but no one touched him. Often with more sensitive dogs like Cade what I found was that the damage was usually done before I could open my mouth to explain. So the default became "please don't pet the puppy". This worked out great and as he gained maturity and more positive experiences he now accepts just about anything readily. He has his CGC, is just about ready for his BH and We even took him to the Medieval Fair with absolutely no problems.
 

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Argos as a puppy loved absolutely everyone.

Cade was different. Not that he didn't like people...but he could be overwhelmed. What I dreaded was (and no disrespect intended) slightly older women who LOVED puppies. They would invariably loom over the puppy, squeal and talk baby talk in a LOUD high pitched voice, and rub the puppy in the ground or heaven forbid try to pick him up. Cade did not care for this, and at one point cried like someone was killing him. After that incident, I decided no one touched the puppy except close family friends or dog people I could trust. Cade got to be around all kinds of people and I continued socializing but no one touched him. Often with more sensitive dogs like Cade what I found was that the damage was usually done before I could open my mouth to explain. So the default became "please don't pet the puppy". This worked out great and as he gained maturity and more positive experiences he now accepts just about anything readily. He has his CGC, is just about ready for his BH and We even took him to the Medieval Fair with absolutely no problems.
Aww poor Cade :( Jackson freaked out when people talked in squealy voices and went nutso over the "cute little puppy" too. Every puppy is different and just do what works best for him, but one more word of advice, don't let him get overwhelmed. If you feel like he has just too much going on and he is stressed, remove him from the situation.
 

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Socialize him now because around the 4 month old age they seem to become even more suspect of things. I will always have greeters bend down and have them wait until my puppy approaches them , then they can give a fist to smell and go from there.
 

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Thank you so much for all your responses. I've been so worried that I picked a fearful puppy. Buck has a very sensitive temperament. He totally respects my senior Lab (who's the big alpha male of the pack, but also has seizures if he gets over-stressed from having to defend his position), he's gentle with my 2 kids and he cries when I wipe his paws off when he comes into the house from playing in the mud. So you think I just need to keep socializing him (again, he's taken out every day for social experiences and is in a weekly puppy kindergarten class) and not let him get overwhelmed? If people are patient and bend down and reach out a hand, he'll eventually come up to them to investigate, but most people want to approach him from a standing position and reach down to pat his head, which I think he interprets as an intimidating greeting. I think the nagging fear I have is despite my best efforts, is he going to grow into a fear biter? Will time tell? If I keep socializing him with positive experiences, will he outgrow this or get worse (since he's apparently not in the fear stage yet)? I feel encouraged by how your dogs turned out, PupperLove and JKlatsky - thanks for sharing! Buck seems similar to Jackson and Cade. Yes, Buck is happy to have people around until they turn to him and want to pat him.

You all are awesome! I really appreciate your help/advice.
 

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There is a whole range of GSD puppies and how they act with strangers. But great advice here to socialize socialize and socialize as much as you can and get your pup used to all kinds of people approaching and even petting him when you say ok. I always also got as many people as possible to give him a treat or two if they would when they met him.

But my pup was VERY outgoing and even pushy friendly (still is as long as the people don't look suspicious (too him). Even today at 3 yo and about 90= lbs. he still thinks that everyone will love to meet him and pet him when we go into the local Western Farm Supply store. And that the clerks will all give him a treat or two when he hops up on the counter!

But his litter brother was not like him at all - much more reserved as was his only litter sister that we kept in touch with.

But even he doesn't like a few people (can't figure out a pattern though) to pet him on top of his head! he doesn't back up just ducks his head or else flips his snout up at them when they try it although he will still take a treat from these folks.
 

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sargsd........

The reason you want to make sure you bring TREATS for all the times people meet your pup, is because not only will a yummy human treat (do not use dog treats, you want chicken/cheese/liver/hotdogs...) but when I have a treat in my OPEN palm (like you feed a horse and how you will tell people to feed your puppy)..........

this 'forces' all the new scary people to come in low to your puppies head/mouth to give the treats.

This is much less threatening than our normal human way of coming up high, over their heads which may FREAK OUT a puppy.

so TREAT TREAT TREAT, don't leave home without a ziplock bag full of pea sized treats. I do a bunch of baggies at once, toss them in the freezer, then just grab one out when I leave the house.
 

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Kaiser is 7 months and even when I first brought him home he's always been overly friendly with people. I really do think every dog is different. She sounds well socialized since you take her many places. As long as she's not aggressive I wouldn't worry about it.
 

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Rem isn't crazy about large men, I've noticed, and he doesn't like beagles AT ALL - a trait he inherited from me, I think :p. For instance today when my dad hugged me in the driveway, his eyes went O.O and he huffed under his breath. Otherwise, he kind of leers at similar men, and keeps his distance. He's not mean, but he's not outgoing, either. I'm fine with it as long as he's not biting anyone. I want him to protect me, and I want others to know that he is.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all your help! The last week I've been bombarding Buck with positive experiences from strangers. Many people will happily offer a treat and crouch down with a hand out to Buck, I've noticed. His confidence is really going up big time. He will happily approach many more people now . . still not wild about people approaching him, especially with a hand on top of his head. But, he's definitely coming up to people who take a non-threatening posture. Thanks a billion for everyone's recommendations!!!!! I feel so hopeful. :)
 

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Rem isn't crazy about large men, I've noticed, and he doesn't like beagles AT ALL - a trait he inherited from me, I think :p. For instance today when my dad hugged me in the driveway, his eyes went O.O and he huffed under his breath. Otherwise, he kind of leers at similar men, and keeps his distance. He's not mean, but he's not outgoing, either. I'm fine with it as long as he's not biting anyone. I want him to protect me, and I want others to know that he is.

You know, Buck isn't crazy about large men either. It's really weird. Was Rem a rescue? Buck was from a breeder and I got him at 10 weeks, so it's possible he had a bad experience early on. Hmm.
 
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