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Kaiser is protective of dogs that he considers "friends". He first started showing it almost a year ago. Here are two incidents of it:

Last summer we had two Berners that each stayed with us separately for about a week each. Kaiser interacted with them a little bit but not too much. A couple of months after that we met up with them at a local dog event and spent some time with them. As we were all talking, the three dogs were laying a few feet apart with the two Berners closer to the crowds and K next to me. A dog walked by and barked and lunged at the Berners to which Kaiser jumped up and gave his big bark back and moved himself in front of the Berners and layed on watch to make sure no one messed with the group.

Just yesterday, we were at a large outdoor dog event again. Kaiser and I went up to our rescue's tent and there were two other male GSDs there - one 3 yrs old and the other around a year old. He said hello to them but didn't interact with them a lot. We were there for maybe 10-15 min before we went to walk around. The 3 year old GSD (who was twice the size of Kaiser) also left the same time as us but not with us and ended up about 15-20 feet ahead of us. A small pittie reacted to the other GSD by barking and lunging at him (again, ahead of us and not with us) and Kaiser took exception to it and gave his big bark and tried to go over there. He settled after I told him to leave it.

He doesn't do this everytime a dog barks at other dogs but does it for dogs that are clearly part of our group. I think it's a pretty interesting behavior. Has anyone ever had a dog that does that?
 

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Delgado guards Jazzy, she's a nervous dog and he's watchful of her. He's her big little brother who bugs the heck out of her but is the first to jump to her defense. Like Kaiser, he'll back off immediately when told and of course I don't encourage the behaviour.

In his puppy class there was a GSD that was the bully of the class, after their first confrontation which Delgado backed down he avoided the other GSD completely. He would run with his two other friends but carefully keep away from the louder more boisterous group. In the last class his special friend, a Shiba Inu wasn't there so Delgado played with the other group for the first time. The other GSD would get too rough with the other dogs and Delgado would go right in between the two dogs and bark at the other GSD who actually backed down. I was ready to intervene but the trainer told me he was "refereeing" between the two dogs and it was acceptable so I allowed it. It only took twice before the other GSD changed his play style and we actually had a full pack playtime which hadn't happened before.

He also guards his humans, if we're out walking and we pass someone he steps slightly to the front and watches carefully. No lifting the lip or growling, just the GSD stare watching as the person comes and passes. My sister took my dogs to the dog park last year (Delgado would have been around 8 months) and there was a little pug that was jumping on my sister trying to get her attention as the two owners were talking, Delgado carefully grabbed the pug by the scruff and carried it away like a baby puppy and let it go. The pug ran back and Delgado did the same, no squeaking or protest from the pug so it obviously wasn't hurting but Delgado was firm that jumping on his packmate was not allowed.

I personally don’t mind a dog being watchful and protective, but it’s important to me that he stops when told and knows the limits. Delgado does and it sounds like Kaiser does as well
 

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I think what's interesting to me about Kaiser's behavior is that it isn't guarding. He lets the dogs do their own thing, you wouldn't really know that he's watching and these aren't dogs that he lives with.

I would expect it with family members but the event yesterday was interesting in how quickly he decided that these dogs were part of his group.

Fortunately, there hasn't been a reason for him to be protective over the humans in the family but I don't doubt that he would be. He also does not guard us from people or other dogs.
 

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I think what's interesting to me about Kaiser's behavior is that it isn't guarding. He lets the dogs do their own thing, you wouldn't really know that he's watching and these aren't dogs that he lives with.

I would expect it with family members but the event yesterday was interesting in how quickly he decided that these dogs were part of his group.

Fortunately, there hasn't been a reason for him to be protective over the humans in the family but I don't doubt that he would be. He also does not guard us from people or other dogs.
Could it be he's responding to the behaviour of the aggressor rather then focusing on who it's pointed towards? I agree the nature of the pack mentality causes them to be more protective of the pack more then strangers. It's interesting he would award the same behaviour towards dogs he just met. However if he knew their owners he would obviously smell that they belonged to those owners

I remember seeing several posters refer to GSD's as the "fun police" because they generally patrol and watch everything and respond to bad behaviour whether it be simply barking or herding the aggressor away from the rest of the pack.

I haven't seen Delgado protect a strange dog yet, by the last puppy class the dogs had been together 6 times so they did know each other. He's "protected" Jazzy, my sister, and myself but it's never had to escalate beyond a bark or pushing in between, both of which get shot down fast. More of a "hey, break it up!" more then a "back down or you'll regret it" attitude if that makes sense.

I like how you describe Kaiser's "guarding" as it's not active until needed, yet can be called off. That's Delgado as well
 

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Could it be he's responding to the behaviour of the aggressor rather then focusing on who it's pointed towards?
From my first post:
He doesn't do this everytime a dog barks at other dogs but does it for dogs that are clearly part of our group. I think it's a pretty interesting behavior. Has anyone ever had a dog that does that?
And no, he didn't know the owners. He's like this with any dogs we walk with (we have a meetup group as well) even if he just met them. He quickly gets a sense of who is part of the group and takes on the responsibility of making sure all are safe. He's friendly/neutral with all dogs unless they aggress toward him first and even then he's over it pretty quick and will give another chance.

I like how you describe Kaiser's "guarding" as it's not active until needed, yet can be called off. That's Delgado as well
I wouldn't call it guarding at all. Guarding, to me, is proactive instead of re-active. Actively trying to keep a perceived threat away from an object, person or place. Semantics maybe but terms always have a certain connotation to them.

I understand his behavior and like it about him actually. I just think it's interesting and haven't been around another dog that takes on that role as quickly as he does so was wondering if anyone else has. If I ever thought he was unfair in his reactions then it'd be addressed immediately but I have a lot of confidence in Kaiser.
 
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