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Zelda doesn’t like strangers touching her head. She’s relaxed while I’m talking to people and fine with people talking to her. But as soon as a hand reaches for her face, she’ll brush it away. She’s more tolerant of kids, but I can tell she doesn’t like it. She drops her head like she does when I clip toenails.

Although once there was a handicapped child who wanted to pet her. Zelda initiated contact and even licked her hand, which blew my mind because it was so out of character.

Anyway, am I wrong to think for the sake of socialization, she needs to get used to people touching her?
 

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She should not have to tolerate strangers touching her.If you force her she could very likely bite someone when she eventually reaches her saturation point.She may begin to growl or lunge to keep them at a distance.IME it's really best to have her keep a comfortable distance where she can relax and not worry.
 

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I don't really think she has to get used to it. If you want her to accept it because sometimes people refuse to respect instructions or limits, you can work with her. Start with getting her used to you doing it. Don't rush her.

Mine hated having people reach over the top of her head from the front. I never ever let anyone else do that to her when she was a puppy. I worked on that with her at home over a period of months. Now she'll accept it from strangers unless she just doesn't like that person (and sometimes she meets people who aren't deemed a threat but aren't her favorite), but I still instruct people not to do it.
 

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I let people pet my dogs on a case-by-case basis. I almost always let people pet Asher, my outgoing dog, because he enjoys it. I just ask that they wait until he's sitting first. I don't often let strangers pet my other dog, Levi, because he clearly doesn't enjoy it. I usually just say, I'm sorry I'd rather you didn't.

I don't think forcing a nervous pup into uncomfortable interactions with people will be helpful to her. I think that all her interactions with strangers should be super fun and positive, otherwise the encounters might do more harm than good. You could enroll in a good obedience class with her, if you haven't already. There she will be around lots of people and other dogs in a controlled setting. Or you might have some of your friends (strangers to her) offer her treats while she sniffs their fingers, or they could gently scritch her under the chin or something. If she's uncertain, I would go gentle and slow with socialization until she gains confidence.
 

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a shepherd that I showed in Obedience years ago, was very shy, but she would
stand for the examination part of the trial. That was the only time that I
required her to let someone touch her. (she got good scores in CD and got
the Dog World Award, but we didn't go any further due to her anxiety about
staying on sit/down while I went out of sight.

With Wiena, I taught her early on to 'go say hello'. She was not effusive with
anyone (not even me unless I had boarded her for a day and came to get her)
but she would let people pet her.

I think I trained her to go say hello by getting people to approach her and if
she let them get close, I would use the clicker (click and treat...I gave her
the treat, not anyone else. I didn't want her getting food from anyone but me)
Then she would get extra treats if she accepted touching.

But it's up to you, you don't have to allow anyone to touch her, but it is risky
if she isn't trained because people & kids don't always ask if they can pet.
So yes, work with her a bit
 
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Some people think it is best if the dog learns to ignore people. People should be no more important than trees, rocks and bushes. My dogs would be happy with that.

I knew that people would often ask to touch our long haired big-boy. He puts up with it nicely and if he likes someone he may even tease them to play. My stock coat she-pup is a "no pet dog". She is happy watching from a distance. Since she goes willing with the vet tech for medical work, I'm OK with that. When we do man-trailing our instructor has her stop short of the person we are searching for. Often our "lost person" is a kid and we don't want them to be afraid of her if she barks, which is her way of letting strangers know that they are getting a bit too close. With family and friends she is perfectly fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We’re in a STAR puppy class. The trainer said I should keep taking her around and get her used to being petted.
But I wanted to hear from people who really know the breed and have experience with GSDs.
On one hand she doesn’t like it, on the other it’s easier to socialize a puppy than an adult.
 

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How would people like it if some giant stranger came up, hovered over them and was reaching out to touch their head or face?
 

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We’re in a STAR puppy class. The trainer said I should keep taking her around and get her used to being petted.
But I wanted to hear from people who really know the breed and have experience with GSDs.
On one hand she doesn’t like it, on the other it’s easier to socialize a puppy than an adult.
Socializing a puppy doesn’t have to mean you force them to accept things like being touched by strangers. Socializing can mean exposure. Showing your dog the world, not forcing them to interact with everyone or every thing. In my experience, forcing your puppy to accept being touched by strangers when they don’t enjoy it can backfire. Same with allowing a puppy to meet dogs on leash. You are setting the expectation that those things will happen. This can result in reactivity either out of fear or excitement/frustration. Neither are fun to deal with.
 

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???
 

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I'm one of those people that's for hands on socialization depending on what you plan on doing with your dog. If you have a farm dog that rarely goes out in crowds and public then no... probably not. However if you plan on taking this dog everywhere I think it's a good idea getting the dog comfortable for its own safety. Even when I take my SDiT out in public with his DO NOT PET vest on people grab at him and try to pet him when I'm not looking. Be your dogs advocate and tell people no if your dog doesn't like it... but if you bring your dog into those situations expect to be caught off guard occasionally and train your dog to be comfortable enough so it doesn't bite someone and get put to sleep. A happy medium is what I would aim for.... in an idealist world all people would ask first before petting. Forcing a dog that hates people and is scared to be pet will only make matters worse... you can't have unrealistic expectations of a dog and make it be something it's simply not.
 

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Zelda doesn’t like strangers touching her head. She’s relaxed while I’m talking to people and fine with people talking to her. But as soon as a hand reaches for her face, she’ll brush it away. She’s more tolerant of kids, but I can tell she doesn’t like it. She drops her head like she does when I clip toenails.

Although once there was a handicapped child who wanted to pet her. Zelda initiated contact and even licked her hand, which blew my mind because it was so out of character.

Anyway, am I wrong to think for the sake of socialization, she needs to get used to people touching her?
I am a human. If some random person walked up to me and put their hands on me I would hurt them. If my dog wishes to greet you fine by me, but if she doesn't it's up to me to enforce her wishes.
No one expects to be allowed to put hands on someone's child, no one walks up to strangers and randomly touches them.
So why would we expect that our dogs are public domain?

Sabi liked making friends, especially with children. I allowed it as long as people respected her. Shadow is shy away from home, people need to leave her alone. Bud was indifferent to humans and animals away from home, but I never allowed touching. Both Bud and Shadow were taught to sit quietly if I needed to converse, but no touching. And if at any point my dog stiffens or moves away from your approach, you need to back the heck off.
 

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I think @Gandalfthesheperd makes a good point. It's wise to teach your dog to tolerate it even if she's not entirely comfortable....because it's likely to happen sometime if you take your dog to public spaces. That being said, the way to do that, should you decide to work with her on this, would be to take it slow. Start at home with only a single person so your puppy doesn't get overwhelmed. She may change her attitude on petting as she matures also, so no rush. But your dog should either not be taken to public places, or should be tolerant of an occasional pet from a stranger - within reason IMHO.
 

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When people ask if they can pet my dog i look at her to see if she looks like she is comfortable before i answer, but if i let them i always tell them to not come down from above her because she hates that. if someone pets her she prefers them to come from the front or side. She's never threatened to bite but I don't want her uncomfortable. When she shows her cues that she's done being petted I will tell the person that she's had enough.

I've also gotten between people and her if i sense she doesnt like them.
 

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I never discouraged strangers from petting Finn. We live in the city so I couldn’t avoid walking through a crowd at bus stops or construction crews etc and people like to pet puppies. I allowed it and he wasn’t shy.


That type of socialization worked out to be a good thing for us.
He’s very tolerant of adults and kids.

Also. I find that most strangers ask if it’s ok to pet Finn.
 

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If the dogs likes it, sure, otherwise no.

Some of my dogs are happy to be pet, by anyone, and those I allow to be pet. The others, for random strangers it's a no. For friends, relatives, etc. I can control the situation, and then my dogs are happy to make friends, and will remember that friend for life, so that makes it easy next time.

But, for the general public, my dogs aren't a petting zoo. With a shepherd, I've never had a problem with strangers wanting to say hi. Or maybe I just give off a vibe.
 

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Dogs are NOT public property. Other people do not have a right to touch your dog. If she doesn't like to be touched, but is non aggressive about being around people, why would you force her to be touched?

Shepherds are supposed to be aloof. Sounds like that is what you have.

I don't like to be touched by strangers either. Personally, after many adults doing stupid things, I tell them all No. Children I always tell yes or let them interact in some way even if it's just dropping a treat on the floor. Why don't you just have the person give her a treat and move on with no touching?
 

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people look at katanya like she is going to eat them usually when in fact she's just an 86 pound love bug. she loves kids too. She belongs to my 15 year old daughter actually, but she acts as my autistic son's emotional support dog
 
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I think @Gandalfthesheperd makes a good point. It's wise to teach your dog to tolerate it even if she's not entirely comfortable....because it's likely to happen sometime if you take your dog to public spaces. That being said, the way to do that, should you decide to work with her on this, would be to take it slow. Start at home with only a single person so your puppy doesn't get overwhelmed. She may change her attitude on petting as she matures also, so no rush. But your dog should either not be taken to public places, or should be tolerant of an occasional pet from a stranger - within reason IMHO.
I do this with pups, calling it "idiot-proofing" which at least has saved one from being bitten in the face by an unstable previous dog.
 
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