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So what's the deal with this? Seems like every one I talk to with a GSD has reactivity issues. Whether its with dogs, people whatever. I was talking to a friend the other day who owns a dog training business and she was telling me that literally EVERY GSD she gets in class is reactive. They all have trouble focusing because they are "scanning'' and all of them fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. It got me thinking about it and honestly it seems that pretty much every person I have talked to, has this problem with their GSD. Some outgrow it, some don't.

So is this something that goes along with the breed? Are these just ALL incorrect dogs? Bad handlers? I am just trying to get some perspective in this, seems to be a very common issue.
 

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Not all. Not by a long shot.

I have two GSDs right now, both rescues. The female is very chill, then again she's pushing ninety. The male can be, but isn't always. He's a young adult and we're getting a late start in training, but for him it's mostly genetics (aka poorly bred).

Have had GSDs most of my life and the ones that came from a responsible breeding program were just worlds apart from my rescues. My conclusion is that breeding plays a huge role, handling and training an equally important role.

As far as scanning constantly, they're herding dogs. What does your friend expect from a breed that was developed to monitor and direct herds of dozens of moving animals? Also, if a personal protection dog doesn't have a natural inclination to watch, what use is it, really ;) One thing *all* of my GSDs have had in common: They totally know *every little thing* going on around them. Whether they react, though, I think is a factor in their breeding/handling/training equation.




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My male is 4 yrs old and not reactive,he has a fairly high threshold in most situations. He's been this way since puppyhood. Very neutral with other dogs and is aloof to strangers.
I agree with JackandMattie/ I want my dogs to be aware of their surroundings yet think before they react. That shows balance in the brain.
It sometimes comes with maturity, sometimes it never appears.
Not sure how many breeders place value on it, they are too focused on looks or the sport side. Many sport dogs are lower threshold/reactive but not so much aggressive, they just love to go off because they can and the off switch isn't much more than a dimmer switch.
 

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My pup is leash reactive towards dogs but his is just frustration from not being able to greet and play with dogs while on leash. Off leash he is great with dogs if not a little bit over enthusiastic. But I wouldn't go as far as to say its bad breeding and I am a novice handler but I wouldn't call myself a 'bad' one. I attribute a lot of this to his age, he's 10 months old and an intact male... Also when we're training and herding he COMPLETELY ignores other dogs and pays them no mind even if they're in the pen with us so I have hope that he just needs to mature a bit.

There are a lot of variables but I know where I train, my local GSD club there are quite a few GSD's who can't be near the other dogs or who lunge and snap too.
 

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Agreed Carriesue! Maturity is a factor I left out of the equation. Also, socialization. My sometimes reactive Jack missed that during the critical puppy weeks.


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My 3 year old female isn't reactive. She gets a tad excited to meet other dogs but she's not reactive or charging in.
 

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My 4 year old byb male GSD is not reactive. He has no issues whatsoever with humans or other animals.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is what I mean though...most of the GSDs I know that are reactive are not bad dogs, they are not from bad breedings and most have handlers that have worked really hard with them. It just seems like a very common go to behavior for a lot of GSDs. It just makes me wonder where it comes from and why it's so prevalent in the breed.

I have a GSD that is from a very nice breeding that is reactive. For example a few months ago we walked into the barn we normally do agility in and that day there happened to be a horse running around in circles (don't know what you call that lol) in the arena we work in. The instant he saw the horse he totally flipped out, full on reaction. He got a slip collar correction and we stood there for a minute for him to look at it. He calmed down and we went about our training. Next time we saw the horse he got a little ruffled but was fine.

My other GSD exact same scenario, looked at the horse, thought about it a second, decided he didn't care and we went about training. THAT doesn't seem to be what you commonly see in GSDs.
 

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I've had 7 GSDs and only 1 has been what I would call reactive. Mauser was attached by another GSD at a training session and is now large dog aggressive/reactive.

He has no problems with small dogs - just the large ones.

My other 6 GSDs had no reactivity issues at all.
 

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From what I know or been told about my two..female is probably from a back yard breeder and the male seems to be on the well bred side. My female is great with everything and doesn't react at all, she has good nerves and is very well balanced and always has been. The male reacts to dogs on a leash, even the ones he lives with. He has a great temperament, so we are thinking it is not in the genes but in the lack of training. I can't wait for the day when he doesn't react and we will work on it until we get there. I here the same thing from the vets. They are amazed by my female and how she is, they say that she is a true representation of the breed and they wish all of them could be like her. The reason I got a second one was because of how great she was, I wasn't counting on getting one that was even a little reactive..Its not his fault, he does have potential.
 

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I think you are drawing your conclusions from a very limited sampling, there are reactive dogs, but there are many that aren't what I call reactive, and many that are quite docile.
 

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it's the people handling the dog. they don't know how to train,
socialize, take general care of the dog, bad trainers, no consistency
in training or socializing. reactivity isn't breed specific.

So what's the deal with this? Seems like every one I talk to with a GSD has reactivity issues. Whether its with dogs, people whatever. I was talking to a friend the other day who owns a dog training business and she was telling me that literally EVERY GSD she gets in class is reactive. They all have trouble focusing because they are "scanning'' and all of them fly off the handle at the drop of a hat. It got me thinking about it and honestly it seems that pretty much every person I have talked to, has this problem with their GSD. Some outgrow it, some don't.

So is this something that goes along with the breed? Are these just ALL incorrect dogs? Bad handlers? I am just trying to get some perspective in this, seems to be a very common issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think you are drawing your conclusions from a very limited sampling, there are reactive dogs, but there are many that aren't what I call reactive, and many that are quite docile.
Your right I only personally know about a dozen or so GSDs (the majority of which are reactive) and its possible that the dozens of GSDs my friends who own training businesses see are maybe just problem dogs. Kinda like how most dogs vets see are unhealthy.

Just seems like a pretty common problem, maybe it's local.
 

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the common problem is the owner/owners of the dog and it's far
from local.

Your right I only personally know about a dozen or so GSDs (the majority of which are reactive) and its possible that the dozens of GSDs my friends who own training businesses see are maybe just problem dogs. Kinda like how most dogs vets see are unhealthy.

>>>>>> Just seems like a pretty common problem, maybe it's local.<<<<<<
 

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Your right I only personally know about a dozen or so GSDs (the majority of which are reactive) and its possible that the dozens of GSDs my friends who own training businesses see are maybe just problem dogs. Kinda like how most dogs vets see are unhealthy.

Just seems like a pretty common problem, maybe it's local.
It's also possible that your friend's clients are inexperienced GSD owners... Unless she's a dedicated working dog trainer, Schutzhund/IPO trainer, could be she's more likely to see the dogs from "pet" breeders; dogs who were bred for looks over temperament and sold to first time owners. Could still be great dogs, but the dogs who exemplify the best of breed standards are often purchased on a waiting list and trained with just as much consideration.


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it's the people handling the dog. they don't know how to train,
socialize, take general care of the dog, bad trainers, no consistency
in training or socializing.
Sorry, but that's totally not true.
 

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Your right I only personally know about a dozen or so GSDs (the majority of which are reactive) and its possible that the dozens of GSDs my friends who own training businesses see are maybe just problem dogs. Kinda like how most dogs vets see are unhealthy.
Exactly. Many owners only seek out training beyond puppy school when there is a problem instead of being in training for the fun of it.

Of my 3, only 1 is reactive. She had a tough puppyhood and is weak nerved. The other two (both of which are BYB and 1 rescued at a year old) are not reactive and the rescue is the most stable in the group.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm really starting to believe more and more that temperament is in fact largely genetic. I used to fully believe in nurture over nature but I have seen and personally experienced that you can make small changes to temperament but largely it is what it is.
 

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Haven't read all the responses, but this is becoming more and more true for all dogs, not just GSDs. It's what happens in countries with minimal regulations on breeding, little to no attention to the "standard," and very little regard to temperaments and nerves.

EDIT: Also a piece to the puzzle is owners humanizing dogs, treating them like children, giving no boundaries, terrible training, etc...two way street...genetics and training, both are equally important pieces to the overall puzzle imo.
 
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