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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all

I have a 6 y.o. male who has struggled with fearful reactive aggressive response to strangers. I am guilty of not working with him as much as is necessary, but recently started a more structured training/practice schedule.

Today, while walking, I mis-stepped while crossing the street and fell on my face. I crawled, with my Buddy in tow, to the grass, and drivers on the road began to pull over and get out of their cars to see if I was ok. As I laid there trying to ease off the pain (I guess my face was bloodied, as someone called 911), Buddy simply laid by my side with a paw on my abdomen and looked around. I advised the few people nearby that he is not friendly and they should keep their distance, and had my hand slipped into his collar for control.

Even when the police arrived, he did not react. I advised the officer that my dog was not friendly and he just said "sure, they don't like our uniform." Everyone kept their distance and Buddy did not react at all. Didn't even show tension (like that hard look or hackles). Eventually, I was able to get up and contact my DH to pick us up.

I would have expected Buddy to become very upset and reactive with people standing around. While I am embarrassed about falling on my face, and feel pretty banged up, I am so proud and relieved that my Buddy did not require extensive control measures and behaved so well.

Now, off to the doctor tomorrow....
 

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It sounds like he was reacting as a good German shepherd should. The breed is known for its discernment - being able to tell a real threat from a harmless one. They pick up on our emotions, too, much more than we realize, and I am guessing that was what happened here. You were not distressed by the strangers gathering around, or the police officers, so he remained calm.

This makes me wonder if maybe you are tensing up when other people approach, and that is what sets him off, since he remained calm in this situation.

When I did the temperament test with my dog, her reaction to the 'bad guy' yelling and shouting was to look at me, and see if I was concerned. When I showed no reaction, she just watched him very closely until he went back inside the blind. I have no doubt her reaction would have been quite different if I'd shown fear. She'd go into defensive mode quite quickly when I did protection training with her.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Good point about him reading me first.

I could very well be tensing in anticipation of him reacting.

Today, I was caught up in the event and figuring out what happened. I was calm
and spoke calmly to people advising them to keep their distance.

I will think on my own reactions. Thanks for that comment

And thanks Sabis Mom, for your kind wishes. I am sure I am fine, scrapes and bruises only.
 

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What a story. I am glad you only have scrapes and bruises and your dog acted so well.



I agree with the "tension in anticipation" idea. In another thread about that, someone suggested calming techniques, not for the dog but for us. I tried it the other day when we were passing a dog on the other side of the street. My two were interested but much more calm. Granted that was only one situation but I'm going to keep that in mind more often when I see possible issues ahead.
 
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