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Discussion Starter #1
would like to have a constructive discussion about nervy traits......why these traits are bred into certain lines..........why it can be good, why its not so good.......and if there is an actual difference between nervy and fearful are they one in the same, or can fearfulness be mistaken for nerviness....i see alot of post lately about fearfulness and thought i would have the more educated people here define things........hoping maybe Cliff and some of the others would step in and explain...

debbie
 

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I don't think fearfulness is the same as nerve at all. It is all very complex. You can have one without the other for sure. A little bit of nerve is what gets you the fast retrieves, flashy obedience. A little too much nerve though and you certainly have problems. Fearfulness, there is no good purpose for even a small dose of that...although it is related to defense. Some defense is good, but again too much and you can have trouble again.
 

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I can't think of anyone *intentionally* breeding for poor nerves or creating nervy bloodlines. It often happens as a by-product of people not paying attention or working to maintain good nerves. But that is different from intentionally breeding it.

Can you specify what "nervy traits" you're referring to?
 

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Kandi, that's a great way of explaining it. I also agree with Chris, I think weak nerves happen when other traits are being selected for,I don't think anyone selects for nerve weakness per se.

Debbie, are you thinking of some examples specificly, like anxious dogs? Separation anxiety? Storm phobias? Fear aggression? Just trying to understand better if you mean weak nerves displayed as fearfulness, or dogs who respond poorly to stress, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ok, let me see if i can define this.....maybe more inviromental nerviness, with to many things going on....also....people nerviness as weary of people.....are some examples...

fear and nervy sharp might be different things, but in some incidences could be mistaken for one or the other.

i actually am wondering more about why the nervy sharp part is bred into some lines.............more for police protection uses is what i have so far learned....not necessarily the fear part but the nerve sharp part......also, trying to understand the low threshold dogs vs the higher thresholds....

i am trying to be as clear as i can in explaining this, but it might have it a bit off.......so, bare with me.....
 

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ok, let me give a better example.........some dogs are like"oh no that tree branch just moved" or "{ that person is staring at me" or "whats tha weird noise" and they react vs other dogs wouldn't give those things a second thought.........would that be a nervy trait or a fearish trait?

hope that makes more sense..........

i can see why nervy sharp would be a good dog for protection since they are in tune with everything.........but also on the same token they need to have the right balance to go along with it.....
 

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Oh yes, environmental issues! Startle responses and such. I'll let the breeding experts weigh in. Thanks for clarifying! Hopefully, you'll get good responses! Good thread idea!
 

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Hi: As you can see, I'm a new poster around here ...but I've been with the breed for 30 years. There is absolutely no good reason to intentionally breed for nervy issues or as I call it: anxiety. These are dogs that react poorly under stress, have a hard time making judgment calls about real threats, and can be dangerous at worst. Nerve problems are on the same off shoot as fear. There are just gradations.

Most police departments that are large and experienced do not want a nervy dog at all. It is a liability, and the dog is not trust worthy. They look for a dog with a high fight drive that will fight under real threat, not react to just anything.

As an owner of a dog with terrible aggression problems to both strangers and dogs, I can tell you that he is highly reactive to anything in his environment that seems different. It is genetic, and training has made him manageable, but he is a liability. He cannot perceive actual threats from the vast majority of life, and he cannot be trusted as he is not predictable. He is lucky I know the breed, and am a trainer. I can't imagine the average person getting him!

Some dogs with nerve problems will simply retreat, but to intentionally or without care produce dogs with this problem is irresponsible.

Just my thoughts.

Kim
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ok, let me clarify....i don't think anyone intentionally breeds for a totally nervy unpredictable dog.......but i know there are some charactoristics with a bit of nerve that are prefered in some cases, as long as they have a good solid Balance.........to go with it.........i would imagine anyone breeding a bit of this would have to be very careful matching up the lines, and i am sure there would be a chance that the neviness could over ride the good stuff in some incidences.......

i tend to agree that fear and nerviness can be darn close to being one in the same if its extreme. and i also agree dogs that can't tell the difference between a non=threat and a real threat are a huge liability.

i still would like to know how, and why the nerviness came about in the breeding lines..........someone must have had a need for that type of gsd......Guard dogs in germany possible? where that type of trait was accepted at one time?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
i think that is important to be able to recognize the nerve trait vs fearish traits......where they are so similar.....

so, anyone care to give examples of nervy reactions vs fearish body lauguage in a situation..........?
 

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I do not see any difference between nervous and fearful. I think both are the same, i.e. insecurity that stands on the way of dog's ability to think. The trigger can be different, the threshold can be different, so we assign different labels to the behavior, but it's still faulty nerve.
 

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I disagree. My Basu was fearful but it was because he was abused. It wasn't genetic, it was environmental...he had solid nerves but 4.5 years of neglect and abuse took its toll on him.

When we first adopted him he was frightened of everyone and didn't know how to do basic things like climb steps, cross bridges, walk into water, etc. After a few years you'd never know his past though.
 

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I agree with Kandi. I always found that a little bit of nerve does give that beautiful flashy obedience. I think that's why you see such beautiful obedience in the Malinois. However, I think if you have some nerve it has to be coupled with good recovery so it doesn't progress to fearfulness.

I think it is hard to define these different dog terms and there are often several different interpretations which cause confusions. I don't consider nerve and nervousness to be the same thing. I think many of the higher level obedience dogs now have a certain amount of nerve that contributes to their performance. I look at nerve as more easily stimulated by the environment or handler, not necessarily anxious.
 

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Nervy can also mean brave can't it. A dog can have strong or weak nerves, or be somewhere in between. How are nerves related to drive?

Benny hackles more than my previous dog but it seem to be, a state of cautious excitement.

Benny is 8 1/2 months now and when through and he has not been at all bothered by the New Years Eve Fire works, the work man using power tools renovating our bathroom. He is good with friendly strangers and ignores strangers who ignore him, unless something strikes them as odd. Today we were stopped at a light and he freaked out barking at a guy in a "Mr Pickles " suit who was jumping around.
He will also lunge at bark at dogs barking and lunging at him from behind fences, like he is saying "Right back at ya". He will also try and attack the vaccum, I think not out of fear, but because he likes to attack it.
 

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Ruth, you made a good point. When I think weak nerves I always mean 'genetic'. I forgot that fear comes from abuse too, and if the dog was born sound then this issue can be corrected, just like Basu did.

I think all our interpretations are subjective. I do not care for flashy obedience, for me a calm confident dog that gets the job done is much more appealing so I may see the nervousness and nerve to be the same thing just a little bit more polished by a trainer, but I may be wrong. Interesting thread.
 

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Again it is all so extremely complex with so many variables.

I have seen a dog with a nervous anxious owner instantly turn into a different animal when someone in control and calm took over the leash.

Environment can certainly play a role. Although I am less likey to buy into this. In spite of any or all bad experiences, I would like to think that good temperament will prevail...even it is takes time to see it...but I can also think of instances where it simply might not or be too much to ask.

And yes, genetics as well.

"Nerve" which is not the same as "nervous", I tend to describe as the quickness in which a dog reacts to a stimuli or how they react. Dog chases ball, accidently drops ball, and frantically chases it to get it back into it's mouth. I describe this as "nerve". Not all nerve is bad. Watching Malinois, it is easy to get a good example of nerve. Many times, they simply do or react, with no thought. They can be almost magnetic to the sleeve. You often hear people describe it is "weak nerve" or "strong nerve". Most dogs with weak nerve do not travel well or cannot handle new environments or routines well.

The problem is, these terms mean different things to almost everyone.

Fear to me, as I stated earlier is more related to defense. Defense is based on fear. Sure, it can look might strong and powerful, but a dog reacts in fear aka defense when faced with a threat...be it real, imagined, or wrongly percieved. All good GSD's should have an amount of defense, but ask any breeder and one of the main goals is to properly match it up with an equal amount of prey to create the "balanced dog". Would be a heck of a lot easier if we could use syringes instead of rolling the genetic dice.

I see many "teenager" dogs appear nervy, or fear based, or defensive, when in fact they are simply not given any leadership. A common example of this is the older pup who starts to sound off at other dogs. Then the owners rush to claim he is dog aggressive when in fact, he is not. He simply has not been taught acceptable behavoir, social skills, or been simply told "he can't" in the form of "knock it off" at level at which grabs his attention and makes him understand. Many dogs without leadership, rules, and guidelines can quickly become "unbalanced". Dogs, like kids, will push the limits to find the boundaries. Once they know where they are and they are defined, they feel secure.

Ok..husband walked in and distracted me....lost my total train of thought....
 

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So what exactly is "nervy" then? Rafi fits the malinois description to a tee. His OB is amazing. He always has one eye on me, no matter what's happening around him. I call him a thinking dog because he's always anticipating what I want from him and often figures it out before I give him a command. He is not uber confident like my first gsd but he is quietly confident, he's really grown into himself. He also gets stimulated easily but not by barking dogs or anything like that...it's tugging, chasing, etc. that get him going. If he is with one of my friends who is not a confident handler he is a completely different dog.
 
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