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Hello, new here. I have a 2 yr old male "Bruno" he is a great dog lives with a cat, a female GSD, a beagle and yorkie gets along with all. He has growld at step son just once or twice. He is typical GSD for he is leary of new people. My problem is if some one gets down to his level ie; in his face, even to just pet him. He will, and not always, and not with everyone, will suddenly get a very low growl which will quickly increase very aggressively After several visits to the vet , he now this last time did not like his visit there. He laid and listen very well in waiting room even let a couple of people pet him on the head, there was a nother lrg dog there trying to get aggressive with him and he didn't even flinch. But when the vet came around the table...well I was glad I was the one that had control of him And he took me by surprise with the aggression he shown that day. Now I have young kids nieces, nephews etc that are right at his height and he doesn't seem to bother them at all...he will lick them in the face, but no aggression. So anyway, whats up ? not enough excercise? And yes, I do have exspeirience with GSD's have had them for 13 , 15 years. But never had one so unpredictable.
 

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I dont see it as a big issue. Dogs typically do not like people getting in their face. If someone where to get in your face, more and likely you will become defensive as well and depending on your personality you can have multiple reactions. Those who are more defensive might swing first, others may warn. It is your job to make sure people do not make your dog uncomfotable. Teach people how to approach your dog in a non threatening manner. And if your dog looks uncomfortable remove him from the situation immediately.
 

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I don't blame him. I don't like people in MY face either. I would just NOT let people get in his face.
 

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"STOP! Please do NOT get in my dog's face. He doesn't like that." Be sure to have that saying with you on walks, around guests, the kid's friends, at the park, at the groomers, when visiting, etc etc. Very handy phrase!

While none of us want growling to be tolerated in our dogs, people also do need to respect a dog's space-- and especially an assertive (not aggressive) breed like a GSD, who may decide to define that space for anyone refusing to respect those boundaries of polite behavior with him. Dogs should NOT just growl when they want to start showing who's boss, but, guests and strangers cannot and should not treat a GSD like a living stuffed animal, either.
 

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My dog is the same exact way...I have to stop people from approaching him at all really. We went to the vet on Sunday and it was absolutely terrible. He was fine in waiting room but as soon as we went to the exam room and the vet tech came in and approached a little...he was immediately red zone. Even though he was muzzled, he tried to snap at the vet tech about 4 or 5 times when she got within 3 feet of him. He growled practically the entire time too. Luckily the vet tech was pretty good and didn't show any signs of fear of him. It was very difficult to deal with and I am worried we are going in the wrong direction. I tried to get him to focus on me as much as possible but he was so afraid his back leg was shaking; its like he turns into a different dog. I don't know if he will ever let people pet him. I had a behavior specialist come over the day prior and let Riley just hang out around him and he was fine, although he did not try to pet him. He suggested Schutzhund training on Sundays with some other dogs as he feels Riley's brain is not being stimulated enough. I'm not sure how or if that will help work out his fear aggression with people. He has excellent bloodlines, but we were told he was abused as a young pup.
 

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I agree, and am very cautious when my GSD is around kids. I tend to think it is one of the things we need to accept about some GSD's.
 

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Yep, I wish this GSD were like my last one, a "living stuffed animal," but he isn't. Lots of stable, sound-minded, otherwise reliable and well-trained GSDs are ASSERTIVE. We work self-control, we work sitting for petting, etc-- but are careful not to just correct for the rare reactive response.. because that can escalate a situation in some reactive dogs.. we move away from the stranger who's actions are either annoying or hyping the dog up. We have to be aware of grabby, in-your-face strangers we meet who may take liberties with our dogs without considering that some dogs do define borders when someone has crossed a line beyond being respectful. Remember too that sometimes, it is someone's off-the-charts zany *energy* that a reactive dog (and sometimes even non-reactive dog!) can feed on and become unsettled by it. Know your dog. Keep an eye on folks who want to disregard the dog's signals and interact however *they* wish to interact with him or her.
 

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If your dog growls or barks at an approaching person or an attempt to pet him, what are you doing to change or correct his reaction? Of course I know you need to build him up to being around people but it seems every time we have a bad experience we go 2 steps back. I've heard 2 different trains of thought: 1. simply remove the dog from the situation (how do you do this at the vet though..where there needs to be someone touching him); 2. tell him to "knock it off" as soon as he reacts...if he does not stop...correct with a quick (not hard) snap of the prong.

Not sure how I feel about either of those methods...both were told to me by 2 different trainers. I worry that NOT correcting a strong-minded dog like him will give him the impression I am OK with it. On the other hand I worry that correcting him quickly with the prong could potentially make matters worse.

Riley has all European show lines and the trainer stated that he may be a "hard" dog due to his bloodlines.
 

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This is not about when a dog growls at someone just coming up to greet him, but when someone gets pushy and in-his-face. A dog ideally should be fine with strangers approaching. Maybe even petting, if you allow it. But not someone getting right up into the dog's face, hugging him, ear massaging, etc etc. without an intro first. Every dog needs vet skills.. accepting handling of feet, tail, all body parts. We practice restraint training at home. Dogs who fire up just at a stranger's approach need professional help. Stable dogs who set limits for grabby strangers who shove right into their space and grab them need us to police those grabby strangers.
 

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I agree that many GSDs have bigger personal spaces than other breeds -- labs for instance.

That said, I think you can work on your skills to avoid this becoming a problem. Use body blocks (of people, approaching dogs, and your dog if necessary) by using your whole body, but especially your legs. Yes, block people. There are people who lunge to pet dogs. Smile and block them. There is no rule that says our dog have to be petted by strangers.

Immediately put your dog to your left but behind you (hold your leash at the small of your back with your hand, so that your dog knows to hang back some) when people approach. Don't walk up as close up to people (and don't let them walk up to you -leave about 3' feet) when you greet each other, even when you're friends, so that your dog always feels like he has plenty of space to retreat.

All of these, BTW, are things that I've learned in various all-breeds classes. They aren't "aggressive" dogs techniques. They're just steps that have been taught when someone is approaching a person or dog that we don't know. Keep our dog back, give him lots of room to retreat, provide some protection until we can assess the situation.

For your dog, I think that doing these as a way of life would be a great idea. As Tracy said, don't let people get in his face. Your goal should be that YOU control every encounter. Then your pup can relax. First, you need to start to anticipate when issues might arise. These are some simple techniques to do so. A good trainer can likely give you more techniques after evaluating you and your dog. It's easy for us to say this is a "standard GSD thing."

But your GSD perhaps feels some anxiety that you can minimize, which would make him more comfortable. Or maybe he really just does have a bigger personal space. Either way, it would be helpful for you to actively learn techniques to give him lots of room, EVERY time, because you can't anticipate when people are pushy, or well meaning but ignorant, or it's just tight quarters.

Finally, I would make an active effort to take him out in public and socialize him simply to be around strangers, but don't push him to do anything he's not comfortable with, like being touched by them (and some dogs hate being patted on the head). There is nothing wrong with simply saying, "my dog is in training, so he can't be petted right now."

And if you're asking if not enough exercise might be a contributing factor, then my guess is that he could use more exercise.
A dog that is satisfactorily tired is not as jumpy AND is easier to train.

Good luck.
 

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my dog is not a gsd but he too dislikes unknown people right up in his face. He'll have to sniff them out and accept a few pets on his terms before he allow new people to get very close to his head/face. some people he doesn't like and will never let near his face. If he accepts the person he will accept and enjoy face and head pets.

just tell people what I do and say "hey, he's a nice dog, but he may not like you right in his face" or something like "he doesn't know you so take it easy and let him get used to you before you get close to his head"
 

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Exercise is not a factor with Riley...we get 2 hrs everyday rain or shine like clockwork.

I've consulted 2 trainers already and while he is fine being "around" people (except in the vet's office)...he is fear aggressive with petting/touching, etc. He will accept treats from strangers and will come up to them and follow directives for treats...but the touching/petting makes him beyond uncomfortable.

We are going to start Schutzhund minus bitework in 2 wks (at the advice of the trainer) as Riley's drive is very high and he exhibits a strong desire to train. He plans to start with basic obedience so that we can begin from the ground up.
 

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Leaving out the protection work is a good idea. And I am willing to bet Riley is not "aggressive" but as said before does not like strangers petting him. I would also consider for your peace of mind, muzzling him in public. You would not want a situation to get out of control and have him bite. That would be devastating and a great liablity for you.

As a previous poster said more sociliazation maybe? With a muzzle you may also feel more comfortable adnd relaxed which will relax Riley too.

My 14 month old, Havoc, is "okay" with people but does not like having people stare at him, most dogs don't but learn to tolerate it over time. Havoc has little patience for it so I am on guard for that myself, so I understand your feelings.
 

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Originally Posted By: KathyW
......but does not like having people stare at him, most dogs don't but learn to tolerate it over time.
And how long does THAT take?

Siren started out not liking people to look at her AT ALL. Now, most people can LOOK for a minute, but too much "interest" on the intruders part is NOT good and she tells them SO.

I also wanted to add that Wrangler is a dog that likes EVERYONE. (Except for my 20yo sister.) BUT, even he does NOT like people to get in his face.
 

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Staring at Grimm is dangerous-- it causes him to suddenly rocket forwards and plant a BIG KISS on your face. He doesn't slurp like a normal dog, either-- it's a sudden, shocking, brief tongue SLAP, barely making any contact-- almost an air-kiss, but LOUD. NOT always appreciated (or expected!) by admirers!
 

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Well Tracy it did not take too long for Grimm!!!!! LOL!!!

I think each dog is different. Kayos is more outgoing than Havoc and it has never bothered her. Max is better about it than Havoc too but less tolerant than Kayos.

I taught Kayos to tolerate it as a pup by making eye contact and rewarding it highly. She generalized it to all humans. Havoc is just a poor pup - I don't think I worked on it as much with him although he has no issue with Joe or I making prolonged contact. I think that dogs that live with us a long time learn some of the nuances of humans - we look each other in the eye more and most pet dogs eventually come to accept it as no big deal with thier families. Some dogs like Grimm and Kayos will generalize to other humans as well.

Some dogs like Havoc, and probably Siren, are less patient than others and do not do well with strangers making prolonged eye contact with them. Why should they? It is a challenge to them. I am trying to insure I reward Havoc for remaining non-reactive when others are trying to get into his space and at the same time I am trying to better about protecting his space so he does not have to. I think pairing those will eventually lead him to realize it is not too big a deal and he can be patient and wait his slow human out.

I don't think this is a dominance issue within the pack at all but I think more dominant dogs are goign to be less tolerant of it from strangers.
 

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Maybe suspicion level plays into this too, Kathy? I dunno! I know genetics affect suspicion levels, different lines maybe having more or less. When hormone levels rise during doggy teenagerhood, suspicion levels temporarily will peak. Maybe suspicion level has nothing to do with it-- I just make this correlation based on the fact that Grimm gleefully welcomes all ax murderers, terrorists, suicide/homicide bombers, howling Himalayan yetis, and anarchists bearing biochemical weaponry-of-doom. (Could just be he wants access to their toys..)


Seriously though, suspicion levels vary from GSD to GSD, and I wonder if dogs like Havoc and Siren just also have that GSD assertiveness at a higher level. The most stable, level-headed GSD with true GSD temperament isn't an Edith Bunker at any rate, but will assert him/herself if need be. I really think there's a range with all these factors, and unlike with some Labs, we just have to police strangers who grab, hug, etc. And for Havoc at 14 months, he is just being true to his nature... staring at a dog IS rude in their world, and as you said, not all dogs adapt to our customs. And, some people ARE just rude.

For some dogs, it also takes longer to get to: "NO, you can't do that to me!" than with others, when it comes to their bodies and space. But, most GSDs display boundary-setting if pushed far enough. I think GSDs also permit some behaviors from some that they wouldn't from others. Example: A neighbor boy is severely retarded, and (before I could prevent this) grabbed Grimm's fur, screeched with joy, and pulllled Grimm towards him by his fur. Grimm cringed in pain, slurped the kid's face. (terrible aim, he always scours a cornea..) A neighbor girl of 14 grabbed Grimm's ear and yanked before I could see what she was doing. He whipped his head towards her. No air-snap, nothing, but he was saying "Knock that off!"
 

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Good analogy Patti. Some are just more tolerant and patient and HAvoc is not one of them and probably never will be but I think I can work with him to develop a bit more too.
 

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Originally Posted By: BlackGSD
Originally Posted By: KathyW
......but does not like having people stare at him, most dogs don't but learn to tolerate it over time.
And how long does THAT take?

Siren started out not liking people to look at her AT ALL. Now, most people can LOOK for a minute, but too much "interest" on the intruders part is NOT good and she tells them SO.
Hand them a squeeze tube of peanut butter to give her?
Seriously, I'm having great luck with Keef not getting all excited and barky when we see other dogs on walks (he's very social and friendly with other dogs at the off leash park) by shoving that tube right in his face. http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1355&ParentCat=303
 

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Originally Posted By: BrightelfStaring at Grimm is dangerous-- it causes him to suddenly rocket forwards and plant a BIG KISS on your face.
Heck, you don't even have to look at Dena for her to do that, lol! She's famous for her drive-by kisses!
 
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