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The best dogs I've owned were social butterflies when they were young.
I really enjoy having social dogs. That trait definitely does not have to preclude bonding strongly with an owner, or having sufficient drive. Halo was friendly with our team dogs, but tended more towards being dog neutral in general. In the flyball ring she didn't care about anything but doing her job. She never went to say hi to other dogs or people, even those she knew and liked. She'd been chased in the runback area, she'd been body slammed a couple of times by other dogs, and she never came off her tug. She was one of our team's "bombproof" dogs, we'd use her in training with green dogs because she wasn't going to interfere with them and didn't care if they interfered with her. Out of the ring, she was very friendly with people, she would suck up to anyone for a treat and was sweet and kissy with guests to our house.

Cava is VERY social, both with people and dogs. I think wanting to meet other dogs will be our biggest challenge to overcome as we train, but she's also still young and that may become less important to her as she matures. Right now we're just doing restrained recalls, working with a variety of different team dogs and having different people restrain her. Side by side recalls are going very well, she's driving hard to me for her tug. Opposite direction recalls, where the dogs are running towards and past each other is a bigger challenge. We start out with a lot of distance between the dogs and will have a gate barrier or human blockers as necessary at first, then we start to fade those out and reduce the distance between the dogs, which simulates a passing scenario.

What I was hoping to get with Cava, (and so far she is turning out to be exactly that), is a friendly, social dog out of the ring, who can turn it on in the ring. A dog with plenty of drive, a great off switch and excellent engagement. These are traits that her dam has, as well as being very fast and athletic. If she becomes more neutral to dogs and/or people with time, that's fine. If she stays a social butterfly, that's fine too, as long as her work ethic and drive for the sport remains, which I fully expect based on what I've seen from her so far. Because so much of the training in my sport depends on being able to hand her off to anyone, known to her or not, it's very important to have a dog that is not nervous around unknown people or weird about being touched by them.
 

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It makes senses to me, Steve. Halo certainly did not lack confidence! One of the orthopedic specialists that we saw commented on it. She was loose and relaxed while he examined her, manipulating her body in a variety of different ways. She clearly liked him and was very comfortable being handled by him. He said she was the easiest dog in the world to examine (hyperbole, but he did say exactly that) and that a less confident dog tends to tense up and freeze, making a physical examination more difficult.
 

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I do not equate dogs that have little use for strangers as one lacking in drive or confidence. Being aloof or having social aggression are not traits tied to a lack of nerve, confidence or drive. That is simply not true.
 

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I do not equate dogs that have little use for strangers as one lacking in drive or confidence. Being aloof or having social aggression are not traits tied to a lack of nerve, confidence or drive. That is simply not true.
I agree with you. I have, however, seen people mistakenly think their dog is “civil” or “aloof” when the dog is actually fear aggressive and avoidant. I’d like to think dog savvy people can tell the difference, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #186
I tend to look at social being related to confident. I imagine you can go a lot more in depth and sight examples of this or that contradicting that opinion, but I like looking at it that way.
I'm curious, are you referring here to puppies, older dogs, or both? Because I kind of see it as MAWL stated. Lots of older, confident dogs have appropriate suspicion of strangers...
 

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Saying that a social dog is likely confident is not the same thing as saying confident dogs are usually social. That's how I took Steve's comment anyway.
 

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I have seen plenty of nerve bags that are social. Most of the social dogs I know exhibit a lot of environmental issues. I just can't see sociability being linked to confidence although both can occur in a dog.
 

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My WL is more social than standard, but as he matured, he became less social. It was partly him and also the way I began rewarding or discouraging behaviors. Our trainer said WL dogs should be aloof. He doesn’t have any stake in whether my dog is social or not, but he actually said that when you get a WL you want natural aloofness (and no, he doesn’t read this forum, his experience was as a WL handler, detection and apprehension). By age 2-3, he stopped pulling to greet people and learned some natural aloofness. He is social with some dogs and not others. His job at home is watch dog. He is not a PPD but I expect him to alert me and to let strangers know they are being monitored. So for that reason, I would not want him to be overly social. If I get a therapy dog, I will need a very different personality and maybe a different breed.

The confusion here between confident dogs and nerve bags is confusing me. By now, we should all be on the same page about breed standard and when it’s Ok for a GSD to deviate from breed standard.
 

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I have seen plenty of nerve bags that are social. Most of the social dogs I know exhibit a lot of environmental issues. I just can't see sociability being linked to confidence although both can occur in a dog.
That’s a really interesting observation. The more social GSDs I have seen have also been really solid environmentally. I’m talking appropriately social, not social in the way a Golden is. My own nervebag is not social at all, and also a wreck environmentally. Granted he is just one dog.
 

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I pointed out something I like in puppies and young dogs. Something I've observed, but I admit I'm generalizing and someone can always find a contradiction to it. You can always dissect the parts of their temperament down to whatever, I'm comfortable with what I've seen over time.
 

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That’s a really interesting observation. The more social GSDs I have seen have also been really solid environmentally. I’m talking appropriately social, not social in the way a Golden is. My own nervebag is not social at all, and also a wreck environmentally. Granted he is just one dog.
My comments were generalized to all dogs but I have seen the same in German Shepherds. I was talking about a more social dog, not ones that are social on their own terms.

Think about it this way. On a personal level with dogs that you have known, but not necessarily your own. How many of those dogs would you consider social? Out of those you would consider social, how many of those tolerate fireworks? You can generalize that to all breeds or just GSDs and I bet you get the same results across the board.
 

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My wife's new pup has turned out to be social and very confident. He also has a very calm nature around other dogs and his calmness appears to rub off on them too, even reactive dogs will settle around him. It's like he emits a sedative or something.
 

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My wife's new pup has turned out to be social and very confident. He also has a very calm nature around other dogs and his calmness appears to rub off on them too, even reactive dogs will settle around him. It's like he emits a sedative or something.
Do you think he will have the natural ability to protect without training as the breed standard calls for? Honest question.
 

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My comments were generalized to all dogs but I have seen the same in German Shepherds. I was talking about a more social dog, not ones that are social on their own terms.

Think about it this way. On a personal level with dogs that you have known, but not necessarily your own. How many of those dogs would you consider social? Out of those you would consider social, how many of those tolerate fireworks? You can generalize that to all breeds or just GSDs and I bet you get the same results across the board.
It has not been my observation, generally, that dogs that are more socially open are environmentally fearful. I have definitely seen dogs who appear social, but are actually insecure and offering appeasement behavior be less sound environmentally. I have owned dogs like that in the past, and I have several friends and acquaintances who have dogs that would fit that description.

I’m not tying to argue or say your observations don’t hold water. It just hasn’t been my experience, which is why I commented that it was interesting.
 

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It has not been my observation, generally, that dogs that are more socially open are environmentally fearful. I have definitely seen dogs who appear social, but are actually insecure and offering appeasement behavior be less sound environmentally. I have owned dogs like that in the past, and I have several friends and acquaintances who have dogs that would fit that description.

I’m not tying to argue or say your observations don’t hold water. It just hasn’t been my experience, which is why I commented that it was interesting.
Actually, I think we are talking about the same thing. I do classify those dogs who offer appeasement behaviors as social dogs.
 

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Do you think he will have the natural ability to protect without training as the breed standard calls for? Honest question.
We wondered about this early on and joked about his personality, but he's fine and is maturing nicely, We are sure that all the pieces are there plus some attitude to go along with it. He has a ton of confidence and zero problems environmentally. I have no doubt he represent the breed well.
 

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We wondered about this early on and joked about his personality, but he's fine and is maturing nicely, We are sure that all the pieces are there plus some attitude to go along with it. He has a ton of confidence and zero problems environmentally. I have no doubt he represent the breed well.
Did not mean to imply that your dog did not meet the standard.

My intention was to stress to others that the standard calls for the ability to naturally protect regardless whether a dog is social or not.
 

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Discussion Starter #200
I stood by, for a bit today, watching two little boys trying to get their dog to drop a ball he'd just fetched by hitting him with the chuck-it, or kicking him, while their dad talked on the cell phone ignoring the scene.

Of course the dog did not drop the ball ever, but the kids were equally committed to their "task" and didn't take non-compiance for an answer. After just a few minutes I couldn't take it any longer!

So, I explained and helped show the boys the two ball technique, which I personally have never used with my own dogs, but have with others...and violla, their dog started dropping its ball right away - no hitting or kicking required!

Just another day at the dog park, which due to circumstances we visited 3 times today...
 
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