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Discussion Starter #1
I have a question about a well trained Sch dog.

That is, should a Sch dog be able to decide on their own to protect their owner from attack?

OR should the dog only bite when given a command by their owner.

Now realize that i am not talking about actions on the practice or trial field but in actual live action on the street.

If I am walking down the street with my dog and a mugger comes toward me threattening me - WHEN should the dog go into action? Only on command or when he/she decides the threat is real? How about if the mugger is coming from the back and I don't see him - but the dog does? Should he also wait then until a command is issued?

Just curious!
 

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On the SchH field, dogs are not given a command to bite. Actually as of some (stupid PC attempt) rule changes a few years back, we aren't allowed to give the dog a "bite" command. We can release them to go, but can't command them to bite. And in some exercises, such as the escape, the handler is out of the picture and the dog is acting completely on his own. The dog bites in response to certain cues that come from the situation and the actions of the helper.

I would expect the same in a real life situation. For the dog to read the situation and intent of the "mugger", and respond accordingly. Starting with the lowest degree of aggression (barking) and escalating to biting if needed. I do not expect to have to tell my dog to respond in those situations. Correct GSD temperament and correct protection training, SchH or otherwise, should accomplish this. Though the dog should always be controllable of course, and stop aggressing when commanded to do so.
 

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A good German Shepherd will protect you to the best of their ability from an attack whether it is a Sch dog or not. A dog with un German Shepherd temperament will not protect you from an attack whether it is Sch trained or not. The German Shepherd by standard definition should protect and guard in its duties. This requires the breed to have a degree of active aggression and discerning ability to use it whether it is for family or flock. Many dogs bred today do NOT have this trait and whether they are sch trained or not will not protect you in a real situation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses - a follow up question is "How does the owner develop the needed discrimination to know when a thret is real?"

Do we rely on their instincts or is there a way to help develop this? Besides good socialization of course - we will assume that this socialization is a given!

Does Sch trsining help develop the needed discrimination in detecting a true threat?
 

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Dog rely on body language. It's their understanding and ability to interpret human body language that allows them to assess threat as well as their inherent genetic tendencies. I have a dog that doesn't perceive threats until you are really in his space. I have another dog that will sound off pretty quickly. This has more to do with the dog's individual personalities than training.

SchH training in and of itself will not develop a discrimination of threat. Most people who are serious about training their dogs to perceive and respond to threats on the street go through scenario training. There are different ways to train the protection phase, so ultimately it depends on how you train your SchH dog.

I think SchH training will give you nice control though (out commands are good) and teaches the dog different behaviors to do in response to threats. So a dog that understands it can bark at a passive person or attack a person that threatens physical harm. The dog that has underwent SchH training should also have the confidence to stay in the fight because it should understand it can win. But again, it depends on the dog.
 

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I agree with Jklasky in dogs reading people. I always tell people in my lessons that the first thing they should understand is that your dog reads you better than you read your dog.(in most cases). Therefore, dogs read you to know when you are anxious or fearful or even excited by an approaching person or situation. Just like with a herding dog, the rabbit runs through the pasture, the sheep don't perceive it as a threat and neither does a dog. A coyote is on the fringe, the sheep get restless, and the dog goes on alert. He reads the sheep as he/she will their owner and protect if necessary.
 

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I agree with Jklasky in dogs reading people. I always tell people in my lessons that the first thing they should understand is that your dog reads you better than you read your dog.(in most cases). Therefore, dogs read you to know when you are anxious or fearful or even excited by an approaching person or situation. Just like with a herding dog, the rabbit runs through the pasture, the sheep don't perceive it as a threat and neither does a dog. A coyote is on the fringe, the sheep get restless, and the dog goes on alert. He reads the sheep as he/she will their owner and protect if necessary.
I experienced this first hand several years ago when walking Moose and Gator. I was approached by an obviously drunk guy in a more secluded part of the neighborhood. Both dogs acted in a way that I had never seen before. I have no doubt that this was due to them picking up on MY unease.

I have often wondered how accurate of a predictor of real protective instinct, aggression, and defense SchH is. Maybe someone can explain?

If you have a very confident GSD, it seems that it would be difficult to get that dog to perceive a real threat from the helper. Just one of the factors being because the handler's body language does not convey threat. Is there any way to know if this dog will fight or flight in a REAL situation, and if "no" what does this mean to SchH as a breed test. Is protection work an adequate predictor or true protective behavior?

Tying this back to the OP would it even matter what the SchH dog SHOULD do if there is no way to predict what he/she WILL do?
 

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I have often wondered how accurate of a predictor of real protective instinct, aggression, and defense SchH is. Maybe someone can explain?

If you have a very confident GSD, it seems that it would be difficult to get that dog to perceive a real threat from the helper.
In my case, based solely on body language and pheromones... my dog should be seeing threats in every shadow!! I am that nervous!
 
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