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I want my puppy to be a family protector, as I live in a bad neighborhood, gentrifying, but still bad. So I read some articles that if you want your pup to be a guard dog...socialize socialize socialize in the beginning. Now Im reading that too much petting can lead to your pup trusting every person that comes by. Im confused. Again, new owner here needing some advice from you veterans out there. I usually let any woman pet my dog, I let good people around the neighborhood pet my dog. The criminal types usually walk around my pup (funny at 13 weeks seeing a 6'5" 250lb man walk around a little pup, I'm guessing they had some experience with K9's in the past :grin2:)
 

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What are your expectations for your dog as a family protector? A dog that will bark at strange noises and look intimidating(Watch Dog) or a dog that will actually engage and bite someone who is attacking your family / property (guard dog)?

If you want your pup to be a family protector in the second way - then you really should have the pup evaluated by a good k9 trainer. Without specific training for that type of work the vast majority of dogs will not protect you. Lots of shepherds from pet lines and show lines don't have the nerves it takes for that kind of work. But they still make fantastic watch dogs and look awfully intimidating.

I've heard both schools of thought. I'm not convinced either way. I let lots of people pet my pup until he was about 6 months old. Around that time he started getting a bit of the shepherd aloofness and clearly was not enjoying the petting so much anymore. Now he is rarely petted by strangers except for when I give him the "say hello" command. In which he tolerates affection from others.

When he was 4 months old, I ordered a pizza. I was out side giving the pup a potty break when it was delivered. The driver was loving on the pup, then he asked me what kind of dog is he? I told him a shepherd and he practically jumped out of his skin. Leaving a very confused pup LOL
 

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the school of thought behind petting your pup is this: do you want a dog that goes nuts at everyone who walks by? or do you want a more discerning dog that alerts when someone "off" is lurking around your house?
For me, the second one is worthless. Who wants a dog that barks every time they see someone. If you're living in the city, that could be dozens of people every morning. How long before the entire neighborhood (and you) tune him out? How long before the neighbors start complaining to animal control over your dog that barks all day and all night?
To do the first, the dog needs to KNOW people. He needs to know that most people are good harmless people. He needs to know that just because someone is wearing a hat, sunglasses, walks with a cane, has long hair, etc they aren't a danger. He needs to know what "normal" people do to recognize when someone is "off"

Singe is a registered Therapy Dog. He's also an excellent guard dog and alerts anytime a stranger enters the property. Or the neighbor's property though that only gets 1-2 alert "hey there's someone new" barks and then he stops.

If you are concerned about shady people in your neighborhood making friends with the dog, go outside your area.
 

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What are your expectations for your dog as a family protector? A dog that will bark at strange noises and look intimidating(Watch Dog) or a dog that will actually engage and bite someone who is attacking your family / property (guard dog)?

If you want your pup to be a family protector in the second way - then you really should have the pup evaluated by a good k9 trainer. Without specific training for that type of work the vast majority of dogs will not protect you. Lots of shepherds from pet lines and show lines don't have the nerves it takes for that kind of work. But they still make fantastic watch dogs and look awfully intimidating.

I've heard both schools of thought. I'm not convinced either way. I let lots of people pet my pup until he was about 6 months old. Around that time he started getting a bit of the shepherd aloofness and clearly was not enjoying the petting so much anymore. Now he is rarely petted by strangers except for when I give him the "say hello" command. In which he tolerates affection from others.

When he was 4 months old, I ordered a pizza. I was out side giving the pup a potty break when it was delivered. The driver was loving on the pup, then he asked me what kind of dog is he? I told him a shepherd and he practically jumped out of his skin. Leaving a very confused pup LOL
My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector. This may be too much to ask for, I don't know. But I ordered the Koehler book on guard dogs on the advice of a military guy in the area. He said they use a different handbook for their dogs and the Koehler book is outdated but still has some excellent drills and tips for building confidence in a dog.
 

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I socialize my dog with lots of people who ever want to pet him can. Some people I just dont allow drunks or people that act like they are on drugs or whatever thats more of an in the moment call. My dog still will give a few barks if someone is walking through the courtyard or a branch scrapes the window and when its just us 2 home a lone if my brother starts opening the door he also does the bark but melts into a cuddle bug once he sees him. Most dogs and definitely most shepherds will do this regardless of their socialization, because they are on their territory. If you really want a dog that will guard you or you family you could start protection training. Even with all the socialization my dog will light up on anyone if i point to them and give the command, whether that be my brother my girl friend or a decoy. The training is really good for them and you in the case you are in a situation that you want your dog to protect you just by barking and pulling on a leash. An 80lb shepherd doing that will ward off almost anyone. Most protection dogs never get to preform a real life bite. Doing bite work if your dog has the right drive and nerve can give the dog lots of confidence and is good mental stimulation.
Bottom line: If you want a real protection dog do protection training , if you want an alert dog you probably already have one. Socialization wont make too much of a difference

Edit
I just saw you mentioned gun shots. Thats has been a part of training and introducing it to them as a positive while in drive makes them un-phased by them.
Also i live in a busy neighborhood of Chicago so a dog that barks at every person on the street is not what i want and being in NYC probably not what you want either.
 

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I let people pet my pup out and about as I saw he was comfortable and wanting attention. I never forced it on him. He also was not over excited and out of control in doing so. As he grew he would become more reserved with people we saw out and about he would need to check them out and smell them before he allowed a pet and enjoyed the attention. Now out and about he is more reserved with people out and about and I will let someone pet him if I feel he is comfortable and outwardly wanting to say hi. i also learned I do not let everyone pet my dog as I had people try to wrestle my dog , unknown kids attach themselves to the hip of my dog - he made me proud in each scenario as I believed the socializing did pay off in these scenarios.
My dog is incredibly overly friendly to all that come in the house and it does not make him less protective at all.
Also you do not want to force an interaction with your pup if he is outwardly uncomfortable.
It is important to socialize them in many different scenarios and in doing so is not going to make them less protective of you and your family as this is the breeds nature and by you socializing him is helping him take into account what non threatening people look like.
 

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I socialize my dog with lots of people who ever want to pet him can. Some people I just dont allow drunks or people that act like they are on drugs or whatever thats more of an in the moment call. My dog still will give a few barks if someone is walking through the courtyard or a branch scrapes the window and when its just us 2 home a lone if my brother starts opening the door he also does the bark but melts into a cuddle bug once he sees him. Most dogs and definitely most shepherds will do this regardless of their socialization, because they are on their territory. If you really want a dog that will guard you or you family you could start protection training. Even with all the socialization my dog will light up on anyone if i point to them and give the command, whether that be my brother my girl friend or a decoy. The training is really good for them and you in the case you are in a situation that you want your dog to protect you just by barking and pulling on a leash. An 80lb shepherd doing that will ward off almost anyone. Most protection dogs never get to preform a real life bite. Doing bite work if your dog has the right drive and nerve can give the dog lots of confidence and is good mental stimulation.
Bottom line: If you want a real protection dog do protection training , if you want an alert dog you probably already have one. Socialization wont make too much of a difference

Edit
I just saw you mentioned gun shots. Thats has been a part of training and introducing it to them as a positive while in drive makes them un-phased by them.
Also i live in a busy neighborhood of Chicago so a dog that barks at every person on the street is not what i want and being in NYC probably not what you want either.

Hey, just some more follow up questions if you don't mind. Wouldn't exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots? And I have a female dog, she is predicted to get up to maybe 65lbs if I'm lucky. I didn't go with the male because the dad was enormous, like over 100lbs. I really didn't want to deal with such a huge dog, the boy pups were HUGE, so I picked the girl. And can you recommend a protection dog training book, I ordered the Koehler book, not planning on implementing everything written in it for obvious reasons.
 

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My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector. This may be too much to ask for, I don't know. But I ordered the Koehler book on guard dogs on the advice of a military guy in the area. He said they use a different handbook for their dogs and the Koehler book is outdated but still has some excellent drills and tips for building confidence in a dog.
That is a lot to ask of dog. Is your pup working line? What's his pedigree like? Do not count on your dog to attack an intruder unless he comes from lines specifically bred to be civil and you have actually done protection training with him.

It takes A LOT of blood, sweat, and tears to breed and train a proper guard dog. Most dogs - most GSDS are just not up to the challenge. Genetics are key.

I'd suggest going and watching some working dogs in action and seeing if that is even something you would want to pursue. I do some bite work with my guy and it is fun.

How do you expect the dog to understand something is "off" down the block? Dogs don't know a mugger from a mailman at that type of distance.

Most criminals who see a GSD will look for easier targets. Those crazy enough to continue already have a plan to dispatch the dog.

It does seem like you are expecting too much of your pup here. Too much of any dog really.
 

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Hey, just some more follow up questions if you don't mind. Wouldn't exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots? And I have a female dog, she is predicted to get up to maybe 65lbs if I'm lucky. I didn't go with the male because the dad was enormous, like over 100lbs. I really didn't want to deal with such a huge dog, the boy pups were HUGE, so I picked the girl. And can you recommend a protection dog training book, I ordered the Koehler book, not planning on implementing everything written in it for obvious reasons.
Not who you asked but have some answers.

No. You do NOT want your dog on edge. You want her calm, cool, and collected.

A dog that is fearful of gun shots is not the type of dog you want to train for protection in the first place. Weak nerves. They fire starting pistols as courage tests in some bite sports to test the dogs nerves.

Protection training from a book is a bad bad bad idea. You need people who can read your dog, have the magic voodoo do to bring out drives in your dog. Guys experienced in taking bites. This is not a DIY thing.

Try checking out IPO or Ring Sport clubs in your area. Or see if you can find someone who trains personal protection dogs.
 

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I am a first time GSD owner. When I heard how important it was to socialize a dog I thought well I should let everyone say hi to him! I didn't research what that meant and made a rookie mistake. Now that I look back on things I hate that I made that decision! I now have a dog that wants to say hi to everybody. That gets overly excited when he meets strangers and just wants to be loved on. Most people may not think that is a problem but I think it is because not everybody wants to say hi. Dante gets very excited when he sees strangers and some strangers can't read him and actually get scared cause they don't know if he is happy or not.

My mindset has now changed. I think of a well socialized dog as a dog who behaves themselves in public -- who tolerates people and lets people say hi but doesn't find it necessary to want to be petted or be aggressive to another person. So I would think twice before letting him say hi to everybody. I understand socializing is important because you don't want your dog to be aggressive to people but you also don't want her to be overly excited about people either. So now I am working with Dante to teach him that just because there is a person you see doesn't mean that you are going to get petted or that you should even acknowledge that person's presence.

Oh and I take the same view on dogs. I made the same mistake in letting him say hi to every dog he sees as a puppy and now I'm paying the price. Now I choose the dogs he says hi to and the ones he doesn't. He doesn't need to say hi to every dog he sees or you will have a very rambunctious I want to go play dog on your hands because that's exactly what I have now.
 

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My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector. This may be too much to ask for, I don't know. But I ordered the Koehler book on guard dogs on the advice of a military guy in the area. He said they use a different handbook for their dogs and the Koehler book is outdated but still has some excellent drills and tips for building confidence in a dog.
If this is what you want then you really should look into formal training. First, that trainer will evaluate if the dog will indeed bite for real AND stay on the bite while the intruder is potentially inflicting pain.

Second, you need to put the right type of obedience on the dog so you can call the dog off if need be.

Dogs will have natural instincts depending on the breeding. For instance, my boy is super social. Never met a stranger. But as he's matured he takes exception to anyone that is to close to me. He's alerted on people that I didn't think were a threat but were acting odd. It's my job to teach him when to turn it on and when to turn it off. That's where you need the trainer and the obedience.

Another thing I've noticed, while staying in some questionable hotels, is that people in bad areas have a fear of these dogs. I can't count the people that have backed up saying "that's a big dog" "those dogs! They have a history!". Just the dog itself is a deterrent.
 

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I second everything voodoolamb just said. Reading books may help you gain a general understanding of training methods, but if you've never implemented them before, it probably won't help you much. Find a good trainer that can help you achieve your goals. An IPO/schutzhund/PSA club is an excellent place to start.

As for socialization, yes you want to socialize your dog. That does not mean that everyone walking down the street meets her and touches her. It means you expose her to as many different environments, kinds of people, noises, ground surfaces (grass, gravel, shiny floors, etc) as you can. Does she like when strangers pet her? If she does, letting friendly strangers pet her won't hurt. If she doesn't, don't allow it. Just ask her to observe. Just try to make everything a positive experience for her so she gains confidence. That will be a good start.
 

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exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots?
Yes it does make them unfazed and thats what I want! I am training my dog for PSA there is a point in the competition where they have to be in a down while gunshots are fired and you are walking away from them. Other parts the dog has to attack a decoy who is firing blanks as the dog charges. If your dog is startled and on edge during gunfire they may break a command you put them in or they may avoid the decoy and not engage while he fires. The key is building up the dogs confidence. Hearing the loud gun shot will naturally make the dog alert the difference is if they've been exposed to it before they wont get nervous or shut down but it they have they can stay calm and confident yet alert.

My boy is only about 75 80lb but I haven't weighed him in a while. You just really want to keep them lean to be healthy

Honestly I cant recommend a protection book, I dont know of any. But this site is a gold mine of info http://leerburg.com/ For now you should just work on developing her prey drive and and socialize the crap out of her to new environments surfaces sounds places literally anything you can think of and make sure it is a positive experience. She may not want to walk across a play ground bridge because it is rickety but she might trot right across it for a piece of cheese and lots of praise at the end. This kind of socializing build confident and mentally tough dogs. Once she is older get a free evaluation from a working dog trainer. when she is a bit older and her drives really start to show you can start working her with the help of a trainer.

What lines is she out of?
Do you have a pedigree by chance?
 

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A really confident, well socialized dog will have seen enough neutral or friendly people to be able to notice the sketchy one. My female is very calm, confident, enjoys people but not overly so. She remembers who her friends are and is very happy to see them, but a short schmooze and she is done, sitting at my feet.

She was everywhere as a puppy, agility events in the crowd, group classes as a participant but equally as many hanging out behind the sidelines with my friend who was the instructor. Everyone petted her. She loved it. Very social as a puppy.

She has had fan clubs mostly everywhere we have ever lived, usually women and children. On the very few occasions that she or I felt I was in danger, she transformed into an amazing display of a GSD doing what it does best. Would she engage in a fight? I doubt it. She has no protection training, if anything the opposite. But she has never failed to be a force to be reckoned with if the situation warranted it, and never when it didn't. I think she could have been protection trained she is so stable. But at least in her case, allowing her to socialize with hundreds and hundreds of people didn't impact her protective instincts one bit. If anything made them better because she is not suspicious of any normal human behavior because she has seen/heard it all. She is only suspicious of suspicious people in suspicious places doing suspicious things, and she knows the difference.

I do not sense that my boy is as stable and cofident as her with people. But he is young and more may come with age , with him the thing about petting is making sure he is comfortable. And right now he is in a phase where he really doesn't care for over the head petting so I am not allowing much petting while I work on that because I don't want him learning that people make him feel uncomfortable. My thing with him has always been: I give him permission to go greet, if he eagerly walks up to the person, fine. If he doesn't, I say sorry no pets.

So for me it is all about is the puppy comfortable, and then being sure that your value to the dog isn't reduced because they like schmoozi g other people so much. My boy is not super social. He isn't dying to meet everyone he sees. I am fine with this. If I send him to greet and he does so politely he bounces back to me in an instant looking for the big reward which is how I like it. He isn' a therapy dog. I don't need him to be a social butterfly. I like to expose him to stuff and even get him to tolerate things he doesn't love in exchange for a payout from me because chances are somebody is going to pet his head without asking one day or the vet will have to do something or so on.
 

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I only let people pet my dogs in specific settings such as at the vets, Petco, and other "dog" functions. I do take them out for observation and exposure, but not socialization.

Regarding gunfire, a fear of loud noises can have a genetic basis and can be difficult to over come. This is something that I have found in my experience to be uncommon in a working line.

I disagree with the others that the mere sight of a larger sized dog or a German Shepherd acts as a deterrent in the type of a neighborhood that you describe. A larger dog would have worked more in your favor in that regard, but you know your limits on what suits your needs and abilities. You might put off the youngest of thugs, but the more mature ones are fairly adept at gaging what a dog is really made of and will actively engage you and your dog as a test to see her mettle before considering future action, and the key word there is "future".

One last thing I would like to add is that one bad experience as a puppy with the wrong person can be a major setback for you and your puppy. I would adopt a hands off policy, assuming that your dog is a genetically stable dog that does not need socialization.
 

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So I read some articles that if you want your pup to be a guard dog...socialize socialize socialize in the beginning. Now Im reading that too much petting can lead to your pup trusting every person that comes by.
Do you want your dog to be a deterrent, or to actually be trained to attack on cue? If it's the first you don't necessarily need any special training, but if it's the latter, then you don't want to just read a book, you want to find a trainer that specializes in personal protection dogs.

How friendly and social a dog is has a lot to do with genetics. Keefer loves people (and they love him too!). There's nothing I could have done either way to have changed that. He is the most affectionate dog we've ever met, and it's something he never grew out of. He's a gorgeous big fluffy longcoat that is often referred to as "cute" when I'm out with him, but simply due to his breed and size, some people are intimidated by him.

There are definitely several schools of thought regarding letting people pet your puppy, but for me, if I have a social, confident puppy who wants to meet people and we encounter people who want to meet my puppy, then I let them. Socialization can be either simply exposure to new people/places/things, or it can include interacting with that new stuff. But if you're talking about a very young puppy, I WANT it to be friendly and open to new things. As Jax mentioned, maturity can bring a natural discrimination towards strangers, even with a dog that loved everyone when younger. And even some serious hard core dogs will come off the field and schmooze with spectators, so being social does not preclude being protective when the situation warrants. Socialization should be a positive experience for the puppy or it can do more harm than good, but letting people pet your puppy isn't going to ruin her unless she is fearful and you're forcing unwelcome interaction on her.

My expectations are that if anyone enters the house un-invited I want the dog to bark at them and if needed attack. Theres also gunshots and gangs that roam at night, I want the dog to sense something is off maybe down that particular block. I don't want my family to have to fear going outside. A companion/protector.
My dogs will bark any time the doorbell rings. I can't imagine anyone attempting to enter the house with two large dogs barking like crazy, but I also don't leave my front door unlocked. Would they actually attack if someone were to enter? I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure Halo would scare the crap out of them!

Hey, just some more follow up questions if you don't mind. Wouldn't exposing the dog to gun shots make them sort of immune to it? Like un-fazed? Don't you want your dog to be sort of on-edge if it hears gun shots? And I have a female dog, she is predicted to get up to maybe 65lbs if I'm lucky.
If gunshots are normal in your neighborhood I would definitely not want a dog that alerts every single time. For one thing, you're going to hear them too, so why would that even be necessary? Our female Halo is about 55 pounds. Keefer outweighs her by 20-25 pounds, but she is far more serious and intense than he is. If it came down to it, she's the one an intruder would have to worry about, and would likely be more intimidated by, regardless of her smaller size.
 

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the school of thought behind petting your pup is this: do you want a dog that goes nuts at everyone who walks by? or do you want a more discerning dog that alerts when someone "off" is lurking around your house?
For me, the second one is worthless. Who wants a dog that barks every time they see someone. If you're living in the city, that could be dozens of people every morning. How long before the entire neighborhood (and you) tune him out? How long before the neighbors start complaining to animal control over your dog that barks all day and all night?
To do the first, the dog needs to KNOW people. He needs to know that most people are good harmless people. He needs to know that just because someone is wearing a hat, sunglasses, walks with a cane, has long hair, etc they aren't a danger. He needs to know what "normal" people do to recognize when someone is "off".
:thumbup: This!
 

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The best watch dogs, who alert, are the ones that are suspicious as a result of lack of socialization. The best guard dogs are not afraid of people because of intense socialization with them. Deja is well socialized and has a healthy sense of what is normal and what isn't. She also takes her cues from me. I have no doubt that she will protect us all when needed without specific training. If you live in an area with gangs and shootings, no pack of GSDs can keep you safe from a bullet.
When I lived in Europe I knew abut a Belgian Sheepdog breeder who raised watch dogs and protection dogs as pups. The ones destined to become watch dogs were raised in a barn, kept away from most people and only saw their own people. The ones destined for protection were socialized and raised in their home.
 

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The best watch dogs, who alert, are the ones that are suspicious as a result of lack of socialization. .
This statement is incorrect. Suspicion is a genetic trait. My dog had very little socialization. It was the coldest winter we had ever had when he was a puppy. the only people he saw was at home or training.

Can you raise suspicion with a lack of socialization? Most likely. But dogs are what they are genetically. A dog with high suspicion should be socialized a bit more. One with low needs to be taught suspicion.
 

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There are too many dogs raised poorly and lacking socialization that maintain their inherent good dispositions and temperaments. A dog with less than a stable temperament will not fair so well. We see proof of this on a daily basis with neglected, unsocialized, and abandoned dogs who come out of it with no fear, suspicion or ill will toward people.

I totally disagree that a good guard dog is not afraid of people as a direct result of intense socialization. You can't take a dog that is a genetic nerve bag and make it truly confident regardless of socialization. You cannot get out of a dog what is not there to begin with.
 
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