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Yes, I was posting for you. :) A lot of people feel that their dog going bonkers at the end of a leash when people approach is being protective - but that is complete fear! A protective dog acts calm and in control, and does not over-react. It comes from a place of confidence, not fear.
100% true statement , I agree , that is the nuts and bolts of it. I am somewhat dumbfounded that people with breeds like gsd's do not know the difference. No one sat me down and said listen , if your dog acts like "xxx" its strong nerve and confidence, if it acts like"xxoo" its bad nerves and fear. I read my dog on a daily basis, he knows how I am feeling and I can pretty much tell how he is. Is it just not natural for some people??
 

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Is it courage or lack of intelligence to run right up to it and sniff it?
Good question! Dogs will sometimes do really dumb things if they don't have any natural caution; but we humans don't seem to want a lot of natural caution in our GSDs. We want them to face a threat with no fear, caution, or tenativeness... of course, sport is highly ritualized and the dogs are trained to the point where they know they won't get hurt. But Police dogs may very well be hurt or killed in the line of duty.

But we all like our dogs to be brave, fearless, and willing to put their lives on the line for us. We as humans value this courage, breed for it, and encourage it... but is it really good for the dogs themselves?

A prime example of this would be the fighting Pit Bull. These dogs are bred to have the highest level of fearlessness and willingness to fight, even if it means they will be seriously injured or killed. This "gameness" is highly valued and sought after. A "game" dog will not quit a fight even when he is losing, or in fact even dying. Basically, in biological terms, the dog has no natural sense of self-preservation. In the wild, this would spell their demise as they would attack any living creature without fear, even a pack of wolves or a bear. This of course is suicide for the dog.

It's an interesting philosphical discussion.

There are also some breeds where there is a fine balance between courage and self-preservation. I'm thinking of breeds used for hunting wild boar; these "bay dogs" must have the courage to find the boar and hold it at bay without attacking it, and will avoid being attacked themselves. This self-preservation is valued, as wild boars are extremely dangerous and good bay dogs are expensive. The hunters will then bring in a "catch dog", often a Pit Bull, to attack and hold the boar, as these catch dogs have no regard for self-preservation.
 

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Interesting info, Freestep! Never thought about the balance between fearlesness and self-preservation. Something new to think about . . .
 

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Good question! Dogs will sometimes do really dumb things if they don't have any natural caution; but we humans don't seem to want a lot of natural caution in our GSDs. We want them to face a threat with no fear, caution, or tenativeness... of course, sport is highly ritualized and the dogs are trained to the point where they know they won't get hurt. But Police dogs may very well be hurt or killed in the line of duty.

But we all like our dogs to be brave, fearless, and willing to put their lives on the line for us. We as humans value this courage, breed for it, and encourage it... but is it really good for the dogs themselves?

A prime example of this would be the fighting Pit Bull. These dogs are bred to have the highest level of fearlessness and willingness to fight, even if it means they will be seriously injured or killed. This "gameness" is highly valued and sought after. A "game" dog will not quit a fight even when he is losing, or in fact even dying. Basically, in biological terms, the dog has no natural sense of self-preservation. In the wild, this would spell their demise as they would attack any living creature without fear, even a pack of wolves or a bear. This of course is suicide for the dog.

It's an interesting philosphical discussion.

There are also some breeds where there is a fine balance between courage and self-preservation. I'm thinking of breeds used for hunting wild boar; these "bay dogs" must have the courage to find the boar and hold it at bay without attacking it, and will avoid being attacked themselves. This self-preservation is valued, as wild boars are extremely dangerous and good bay dogs are expensive. The hunters will then bring in a "catch dog", often a Pit Bull, to attack and hold the boar, as these catch dogs have no regard for self-preservation.
Very interesting discussion topic and obviously based on some good thoughts about species preservation.

Also should have a line about "thresholds" if we talk about when a dog should react to a threat.

That is, there maybe some threats that demand a fast reaction with no "THOUGHT" possible - i.e. what would you expect a chase dog to do if the boar runs at the hunter (I don't know much about hunting dogs but i would certainly expect the dog to jump on the boar to save the hunter, a momma dog to fight the bear coming after her puppies, and esp. the K9 to sacrifice itself to save the cop from the bad guy).
 

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Very great article. I always think of aggression as a symptom, not the problem. Dont treat the symptom, treat the problem. Any aggression, in my opinion is fear based, either they are afraid of something happening to them, or they are afraid of something happening to something that belongs to them (owners, toys food, ect) these problems can be treated if you find out what your dog is scared about, and then build up the confidence in your dog that there is no threat to what he desires.

I also believe there is aggression caused by psychological problems and mental disabilities, that would need medication or possibly euthanisation to fix.
 

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Very great article. I always think of aggression as a symptom, not the problem. Dont treat the symptom, treat the problem. Any aggression, in my opinion is fear based, either they are afraid of something happening to them, or they are afraid of something happening to something that belongs to them (owners, toys food, ect) these problems can be treated if you find out what your dog is scared about, and then build up the confidence in your dog that there is no threat to what he desires.

I also believe there is aggression caused by psychological problems and mental disabilities, that would need medication or possibly euthanisation to fix.
"All aggression is fear based" - that sounds like a couple of instructors at my local OB club!

Perhaps I misunderstood your post - you said that all aggression is fear based BUT then you also say that aggression can also be based on "psychological problems and mental disabilities".

So what is aggression really based on, in your opinion?

HUH?


How about agression based on the natural normal drives of dogs?

I.e. Prey drive, pack drive, etc.

For me, it is really hard to think that my dog is acting out of "Fear" when he is at the end of his leash trying as hard as he can to go FORWARD at the bad guy there.
 

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If you want to think about, it is true, as much is true for every motivation in the world. It's not to be a good Christian, it's fear to go to ****, it's not love, it is fear to be alone, it's fear something can happen to your children, your spouse, your friends. You don't fight to be a better person, it's fear not to fulfill your dreams, fear to disappoint your parents, fear to fail.

And don't even let me start on patriotism...

All aggression is based on fear? It may not be false, but is an over, over, over simplification of the subject.
 

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If you want to think about, it is true, as much is true for every motivation in the world. It's not to be a good Christian, it's fear to go to ****, it's not love, it is fear to be alone, it's fear something can happen to your children, your spouse, your friends. You don't fight to be a better person, it's fear not to fulfill your dreams, fear to disappoint your parents, fear to fail.

And don't even let me start on patriotism...

All aggression is based on fear? It may not be false, but is an over, over, over simplification of the subject.

Some people (and DOGS) fight because they like to!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 

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And I wonder what the motivation for liking to fight is? I know in my rescue, it is insecurity - she wants to fight other dogs because she wants to be top dog, and she is insecure about her position.

Gryffon is happy to let others be top dog, but he will fight for real in protection training - his motivation is defense - there is a real and present threat, and he fights to defend himself and over come the threat. One could say that he is afraid of being overpowered and loosing, so there is an element of fear, but there is also an element of confidence and inner strength, because he feels himself capable of winning and overpowering.
 

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All aggression is based on fear? It may not be false, but is an over, over, over simplification of the subject.
Totally agree!

And what about dogs that find it satisfying to dominate? I have a dog that finds it very self rewarding to dominate. I imagine that there are dogs that find the act of aggression to be self rewarding. Kinda like how eating chocolate feels rewarding to me:)

I used to box and for me fighting was a rush that made me feel good. Are dogs capable of that same rush?
 

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And I wonder what the motivation for liking to fight is? I know in my rescue, it is insecurity - she wants to fight other dogs because she wants to be top dog, and she is insecure about her position.

Gryffon is happy to let others be top dog, but he will fight for real in protection training - his motivation is defense - there is a real and present threat, and he fights to defend himself and over come the threat. One could say that he is afraid of being overpowered and loosing, so there is an element of fear, but there is also an element of confidence and inner strength, because he feels himself capable of winning and overpowering.
Wonder how a human can know what the motivation of an animal is?

Is the "protection" training Sch or real personal protection, or K9 type work? That would make a REAL difference in what the dog thinks of what his motivation is. Vast majority of ScH training that I have seen or talked to knowledgable folks about is done in "prey" drive (tug of war game) - not much fear there either.

An insecure dog doesn't "like" to fight, just feels like they have no choice (the well known "fight or flight" response to some fear).

Regarding "like to fight" - some dogs do, just like some people. Some dogs like to track, others to fetch, etc.

Not every dog reaction/behavior is due to a dog fearing something! Sometimes they react because they like to do something.
 

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Wonder how a human can know what the motivation of an animal is?

Is the "protection" training Sch or real personal protection, or K9 type work? That would make a REAL difference in what the dog thinks of what his motivation is. Vast majority of ScH training that I have seen or talked to knowledgable folks about is done in "prey" drive (tug of war game) - not much fear there either.
In Gryffon's case, he has been worked and tested by k9 trainers with experience in selecting and training police dogs, and pushed to test the limits of what he can take. So yes, it was real defense work on a bite suite and the hidden sleeve, and not tuggy prey drive work.


Not every dog reaction/behavior is due to a dog fearing something! Sometimes they react because they like to do something.
True too!! Some dogs just find a behaviour self-rewarding and will then repeat it given similar situations.
 

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And I wonder what the motivation for liking to fight is?
With GSDs, I think fighting with a helper or criminal, fight drive, is a form of advanced play drive. We see young puppies wrestle, chase, and "fight" each other, and it appears they are enjoying themselves. Perhaps the desire to fight is the grown-up version of that. It is FUN for the dog, especially if he knows (or thinks) he will win and won't get hurt. Some dogs fight harder if they do get hurt, I think at that point there is an element of defense (fear) and anger to the fight, and the desire to overwhelm the opponent gets kicked up a notch. Once a dog perceives that his survival is on the line, he may get an extra dose of adrenaline. Of course, at a certain point there is the possibility that he may turn and run for his life if that is an option, because GSDs do still retain survival instincts.

With dogs that truly seem to enjoy fighting and do not care if they get hurt or killed, like a game Pit Bull, it might be seen as a compulsion, a self-rewarding behavior with none of that bothersome "survival" concern. I don't think fear plays any part in it. I don't know if many people have actually seen two game Pits matched in a ring, I have only seen videos, but there is no "threat" display. No growling, no snarling, they may bark with excitement, but there is no hackling, no posturing, no nothing. The dogs are wagging their tails, eager to engage, and going after each other like they are having the time of their lives, despite the fact that they are being horribly maimed in the process. It's disturbing and fascinating at the same time, from a behavioral point of view. What is the motivation? It's not fear, could it simply be play to them? It would be interesting if you could somehow study the brain of a fighting dog while he's in the fight. How is their brain different than that of a normal dog? What hormones are flooding the brain, what parts of the brain are lighting up?

And by the same token, if it were possible to wire up a GSD's brain while he is fighting the helper, what would we find?
 

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A fearful dog is protecting himself, while the protective dog is protecting you? :)
Indeed. Aggression is fear. The fearless dog is not aggressive. My problem though is that my dog is so calm that he often reminds me of a lamb dressed as a wolf. Fearful looking, huge in built, but yet calm and so well tempered to the extent that I am afraid nobody will ever hesitate entering his yard. But make no mistake. Those you dared to enter alone his space have had a very nasty surprise. The calmed and well tempered dog converts immediately into a guard, he groans and he barks just once or twice at the most but if the intruder continues towards the fenced yard or the front door we still do not know what will be coming next. His barks are countable. But only if and where it maters. Whenever we let visitors in with him around he checks them up , he allows them in but he blocks them from going to any of the private rooms alone.
 

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that's funny. i've seen my dog's protective side. he barked
at his reflection in the window. :laugh:

Okay, I understand now Shadow's Mum. :)

Here's my relatively uninformed opinion on protectiveness versus fear...

>>>> Actually, I don't even think I can dare comment since I have never seen either of my dogs act in a way I felt was protective. I don't know what protectiveness looks like, to be completely honest.<<<<
 

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I admit it is hard not certainly clear if the dog is protecting someone or is just fear. Like when I Dante a GS he has attacked a small dog but I'm trying to find out why. Also the other day I was playing with Riley and Dante, Riley started to play too rough on me and Dante stopped Riley. I think Dante is protective of me. Again, sometimes hard to tell.
 

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puppies that are fearless and ready to take on the world, never backing away from anything, but moving forward to investigate and explore. Pups may still go through some fear stages, but they get through them and continue on with no ill effect. The GSD is SUPPOSSED to be a fearless breed, and this is what breeders should all strive for.
Castlemaid, in your opinion do you think a 2 and 1/2 year old GSD male who as a puppy displayed all of the above characteristics and then changed, possibly due to EPI (diagnosed recently and has become fearful over past 6 to 10 months) can go back to their original temperament?

And if so, would he go back to original temperament naturally (on his own) or will be require confidence building and training from me?
 

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I really can't answer that question - there has been quite a few posts on the forum in the past like yours, where a previously confident, not afraid of anything dog, changed and started showing fearful and insecure behaviour. I've never seen it in a dog myself, but I'm sure it can happen. There would be too many variable regarding what was the root cause of the change in behaviour to know what the long-term outcome will be.

My guess (and just a guess), is that these changes in behaviour are rooted in health issues, where the ability to receive and process environmental stimuli has been altered, and now the dog lives in a confusing world that makes no sense to them anymore. Whether the dog would go back to being confident and outgoing when the health issues clear up, again, might depend on a number of things. His core temperament and nerve strength perhaps, or if the fearful behaviour is now ingrained behaviour - perhaps they don't trust their own senses anymore, and thus life in fear that their world is not reliable or predictable and they are full of self doubt.

I do believe that a medical condition can cause some deep personality and temperament changes in a dog - whether the the dog can get back to what it was before, I really don't know.
 
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