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OK, I am posting this here because I specifically want to know how you all handle this. I was told not to let people pet Wolf when he was a puppy. Now I am having issues and I think that he may not BH because of this.

We just went to Petsmart and a man and his 12 yo son asked to pet him, I told him probably not a good idea. We started talking and the man had owned a Schutzhund GSD before. I let loose some of Wolf's leash and he was smelling the son and of course, the boy reached down and Wolf barked and lunged. Needless to say all involved were a little upset.

Before you all criticize me, I take FULL RESPONSIBILITY...Please don't tell me that I screwed up......I know that. Too many people; too much going on. Wolf was probably on overload.

I just want to know where I go from here. How do I get Wolf to be non-reactive? Will it come with more maturity and more exposure to social situations? As I have said before, Wolf goes with me to horse shows. He does fine as long as no one makes a sudden move behind us or comes up to us too fast. I am fine with a dog that ignores people, but don't want to have to worry that he will bite a friendly stranger.

And we did stay in Petsmart and walk up and down the aisles and by lots of people and kids and dogs and no more incidents.
 

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How old is he and what does you club say about his problem? Just curious, who told you not to socialize him as a pup?
 

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I think sometimes people take the advice too literally...usually when people talk about the "no petting" rule it refers to strangers coming up and molesting your dog.
 

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I think this depends on the dog you have in front of you. If you have a social dog that tends towards being overly friendly, then you might adjust in favor of minimizing or eliminating the petting so that he does not view others as rewarding.

If you have a dog that likes people but can be a little shy or overwhelmed, I think not letting people pet the dog but be close by while you talk can allow the dog to gain confidence in people. I think too many people DO rush in and maul a puppy, and I've seen a lot of pups get a little scared by an overenthusiastic greeter. And usually the overenthusiastic greeter happens before you can stop it. Even really good dog people can get stupid. Personally I always pet my dogs at the same time as other people. I never let my dogs interact with a stranger without also being a part of the equation. A stranger or a kid wants to pet my dog, I am immediately down on a knee with my dog petting it at the same time as the person.

If you have a sharp dog or a reactive dog, then you have to work on lessening the reactivity. Reactivity has to do with the nerves of the dog. A reactive dog has more nerve activity than a non-reactive dog. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You'll probably find your obedience is flashier. But it will mean that your dog is more likely to react first-think later...and you'll have to compensate for that in the way that you train and deal with your dog. Grab your dog from behind sometime when he's not expecting it...what's the reaction (bet you can predict without even doing it)? I've got a dog that will turn quick and automatically put his mouth on my arm and start to compress and let's go once he processes that it's me- more reactive. I've got another one that barely glances over his shoulder and gives me the "What are you doing?" look- non-reactive.

The goal behavior should be an aloof dog that is non-reactive to stimuli and you do what training and socializing you need to achieve that. Training fills in gaps in the personality of our dogs to achieve the ideal.

And, no one deliberately touchs your dog in the BH. I think more gradual exposure to stimuli and maturity will clear this up. But you have to be careful about the parameters you set for the experiences. Define where he gets strange. Is it movement? Like the boys hand? Or was he a little tense before or during the verbal interaction, and the motion was what did him in? Was he fine when the leash was choked up and he was close to you? Did his calm behavior change when he had more freedom on the leash? Was he keyed up just being in the environment? Go through the situations you've had and see if you can pinpoint where he started to lose his composure. Start there. If he started to tense or key up as soon as he came into the store then he needs more exposure to the environments. If it was as soon as the people started to talk to you and come within your personal bubble...then he needs more people around you in your space, not petting the dog. You ignore the dog and keep talking to the people, maybe sliding him treats just cause until you see him start to relax and ignore the people. And so on and so forth.
 

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Define where he gets strange. Is it movement? Like the boys hand? Or was he a little tense before or during the verbal interaction, and the motion was what did him in? Was he fine when the leash was choked up and he was close to you? Did his calm behavior change when he had more freedom on the leash? Was he keyed up just being in the environment? Go through the situations you've had and see if you can pinpoint where he started to lose his composure. Start there. If he started to tense or key up as soon as he came into the store then he needs more exposure to the environments. If it was as soon as the people started to talk to you and come within your personal bubble...then he needs more people around you in your space, not petting the dog. You ignore the dog and keep talking to the people, maybe sliding him treats just cause until you see him start to relax and ignore the people. And so on and so forth.
Really excellent post! I have a dog that is reactive (Madix) and in much the same ways. He does not like having people come up and pet him - with the exception - if it is a trainer that is going to "work" with him - then he is fine. But, sitting for multiple people to pet him really works him up - still.

However, when he was younger, as few as 2 people wanting to pet him would send him off (he would growl and bark and hackle - now he nips and tugs on their shirts if pushed too far).

Above is exactly how I worked with him and now we can go to Petsmart and various other stores and classes and he is fine, he accepts treats from the cashier fine etc. I do not allow people to pet him otherwise though - ESPECIALLY if it's more than one.

So, learn what bothers your dog and help him through that. Mine used to be nervous if someone came close and spoke to me, now he is fine with that, but still not ok with being pet by multiple "friendly strangers". I tested his threshold again today and he STILL isn't comfortable with multiple people focusing on and touching him (this was practiced at my Schutzhund club, not with strangers out and about on the town!). So, we back up again and go back to only allowing certain people I can trust to pet him in these scenarios - or only allowing 2-4 people to pet him, any more and he gets nervous. Also, my dog hackles up before he gets nervous enough to nip - so watch for your dog's "tells". It might be something really slight, like a tensing of the body or his ears might go down or he might just get a more "intense" facial expression.

I also recommend a good behaviorist - not saying that you couldn't work through this without, but it gave me a lot of confidence and really drew clear lines for me to understand what I should be doing and how to read Madix. He's much better now than he was at 10 weeks. Everyone keeps telling me to keep working with him/managing it and at 3 years I'll be surprised how solid he is. Stay positive - my point in all of this, I've been where you are and it does get better. Also, once they get to be adults, less people (in my experience) want to pet them and also believe the "no thank, he's working" more easily than when they are cute little puppies - which makes training a LOT easier and less stressful on me (you).
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
:)JKlatsky, thanks for the very helpful advice. He was keyed up before we went into the store. Not barking or lunging, just very excited. So I walked him around outside and worked on his obedience commands until I felt that he was calm. I immediately put him on a Platz, away from the registers, but close enough to them and the door so that he could get use to all of the activity.

He was fine until I loosened the leash and let him sniff. He was fine until the boy actually reached down. Tail wagging and I think that's why the boy did it. He has only reacted similarly recently at 2 different horse shows. The first time when a boy ran up behind us and made a grab for a pet on his back and the second time when a young man went running up down the aisle past us. I corrected him on both occasions.

He was never tense. After the incident, we walked around the store pushing a basket. I always put myself between him and people, not so much that I am worried about him, but for the comfort of citizens. He will platz by my feet while I am browsing. We went to Tractor Supply last week and no problems.


I think that he is probably going to be good with the "I ignore you and you ignore me".

We are going to the feedstore and to get my truck inspected tomorrow and sometime later in the week, to the vet's office to pick something up.

Thanks again. I'm glad for the understanding and advice. I am trying so hard to do things right.

And FG167, glad to know that others have had similar experiences and have worked through them. I am definitely going to back it up a couple of notches. And Petsmart was VERY crowded. Lots of dogs, kids and people. Previously, other than horse shows, I pick a day and place that has people but not busy. As with your dog, a couple of months ago, he did not like people in "our space". Now he will tolerate it and pretty much ignore them. I see progress everyday with him.

Still proud to be Wolf's momma and glad I found you guys.

As I said in my OP, I feel that I tried to push him too far, too fast.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Sorry for the multiple post. Elaine, he just turned 1 and his Schutzhund club trainer told us this at the very beginning of our training when he was just 6mos.
 

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Sorry for the multiple post. Elaine, he just turned 1 and his Schutzhund club trainer told us this at the very beginning of our training when he was just 6mos.
No one has perfect advice, so its a good idea to venture around and train with lots of other great trainers. You may find some parts of some advice isn't that applicable to your dog, and some is. Seeing a whole bunch of trainers perspectives/methods/etc will help you see what is right for your dog, and you being able to see what is correct for him is critically important. If you don't understand your dog at best you are only slowly producing results, and at worst you are undoing things that professional trainers have accomplished with him.
 

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No one has perfect advice, so its a good idea to venture around and train with lots of other great trainers. You may find some parts of some advice isn't that applicable to your dog, and some is. Seeing a whole bunch of trainers perspectives/methods/etc will help you see what is right for your dog, and you being able to see what is correct for him is critically important. If you don't understand your dog at best you are only slowly producing results, and at worst you are undoing things that professional trainers have accomplished with him.
That was perfect advice.
 

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No one has perfect advice, so its a good idea to venture around and train with lots of other great trainers. You may find some parts of some advice isn't that applicable to your dog, and some is.
Yes. Also remember it is YOUR dog, YOU have to live with him. Some things that are important to me are not important to other people, and vice versa. For example it's important that my Schutzhund dogs have good household manners because I keep them indoors. If I kept them kenneled, that would not be an issue. It's important that they have the appropriate threshold for my living situation. There are often people coming and going to/from my house that the dogs do not "know" and I can't have a dog that is overly reactive or suspicious toward such people. Some people have cats and small animals so they need more control over prey drive whereas I don't have small animals or little kids so I don't care if my dogs are wild over squirrels and such. I don't do dog parks or dog daycare so I don't care if my dogs like or dislike dogs other than the ones in our household but for other people, dog socialization and having a dog-friendly dog is really important. I prefer a dog that is calm, confident, and aloof which means the dog doesn't really care about other people, dogs, sights, sounds, etc. Most of my socialization involves taking the dogs as puppies somewhere other than home every day for the first few months. I bring them on elevators, across bridges, up and down all types of stairs (some dogs freak on stairs that don't have backs), around loud and smelly equipment. Sometimes we stop and let people let them, sometimes we just keep moving. The dog should accept a friendly stranger but not always be pulling to get to them. In general I want a dog with a higher threshold for suspicion and a dog that will react in defense to a real threat which I define as someone intentionally challenging me or the dog. I don't like high levels of suspicion or a dog with so much prey drive that they want to go after ever bicycle and skate board. But, that's just me...
 

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And, no one deliberately touch your dog in the BH.
Not true. Before she can even start with the BH the Judge goes to the dog, checks the tattoo number or the Chip. If the dog even attempts to lung or barks...at least in Germany she'd be out! If not even a kid can reach out to him I doubt he'd let a judge touch his ear to check the tattoo number. So I would train that with as many different people as possible. THAT is how they get through the BH not because they have super socialized dogs in the American way of sense.

Also, it depends, if the Judge can see that the dog is a little unstable he might actually have the group close down on the dog. I don't know if they'd do that in the States but in Germany they used to do that to see if a dog was stable enough to withhold the pressure from a group of people closing down on him.
 

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When I did my first BH, we did the obedience part first but before we officially started, the judge asked two men to stand up and asked us to informally heel around them, just to make sure the dog safe around strange people before we began. For the traffic part, we had to heel in a group, heel in a line (dogs nose to butt but not touching). Then we each tied our dog to a tree in a row of trees, hid out of sight, and they drove a vehicle with a honking horn, had a jogger, a bicycle, and another dog go past the row of dogs. No one touched my dog, not that it would have mattered since he is used to being touched for shows. Usually they ask me to show the tattoo so I turn the ear out. His tat is readable without having to look really close though.
 

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Different Judge, different rules. It also depends on where you are and how good you know the people.

I could tell you guys some stories about dogs that went into the woods for the traffic part, far away from any car because they would have never made it through the city-traffic. But those are the kind of BH's nobody is talking about and if they do, they don't mention the dogs or handlers name because it was a "rigged" BH just to get the dog through the parts where minimal socialization is required.
You know why? Because a lot of dogs spend their life in the kennel and all they get to see is the different dog clubs and the dog trailers. They never once get to see a city or a store from the inside. They are not supposed to like other people because they are a sporting tool.

Those are not the people you want to be involved with in the first place. They are VERY old-school and you probably won't find them at the top of the Schutzhundszene.

Those people, however, still exist and stay away as far as possible from them. I can very well believe that somebody told her and ment it literally because I know for a fact that those people are out there and when they go through the BH they don't want anybody to watch.

My personal experience though...
 

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I'm a touch concerned about the "other dog" piece with my female. If they use a big dominat dog for that I'll have a real challenge on my hands
 

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Not true. Before she can even start with the BH the Judge goes to the dog, checks the tattoo number or the Chip. If the dog even attempts to lung or barks...at least in Germany she'd be out! If not even a kid can reach out to him I doubt he'd let a judge touch his ear to check the tattoo number. So I would train that with as many different people as possible. THAT is how they get through the BH not because they have super socialized dogs in the American way of sense.

Also, it depends, if the Judge can see that the dog is a little unstable he might actually have the group close down on the dog. I don't know if they'd do that in the States but in Germany they used to do that to see if a dog was stable enough to withhold the pressure from a group of people closing down on him.

We've done 3 BH's ourselves- 3 different judges and I've seen multiple BH's under different judges. The temperament tests given do vary from an old school German judge who was pretty willing to look the other way to judges who would deliberately do what they could to expose a nerve problem in the dog. I have seen judges make excessive eye contact, maybe loom a little, trying to provoke a reaction...but I have never seen anyone deliberately touch or pet a dog.

Not even in the tattoo check or microchip check. The handler is asked to show the tattoo and the judge just leans in to look...MicroChip scanner was done by the handler and then passed to the trial secretary or judge. We even have a bitch that has a tattoo on her inner thigh...we sit the dog and sit her up so the tattoo is visible...judge just squatted down to look. There might be some incidental touching as the dog passes through the close group, and yes I have also seen the group close down on the dog...but no one comes at the dog and pets it. Most group members will also avert eye contact.

Maybe it's different in Germany?

Not saying that you should think it's OK to have an aggressive reactive dog...but if you're going for a temperament test you should know the parts. Goal should be acceptance of casual contact with strangers- does not have to accept petting in this particular situation. If you have someone accidentally brush his head in the group you obviously don't want the dog to turn around and go Cujo...but at the same time...baby steps. Ignore me, I ignore you is a good way to start.
 

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I'm a touch concerned about the "other dog" piece with my female. If they use a big dominat dog for that I'll have a real challenge on my hands

Club trials will not generally set you up to fail. A nice neutral dog is almost always picked for the BH...not some killer that postures and stares down other dogs. Clubs usually have their dogs entered too and they don't want to fail. If you dog can tolerate another dog walking by (and remember there's a good bit of distance- 10ft) it's usually not a problem.
 

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Club trials will not generally set you up to fail. A nice neutral dog is almost always picked for the BH...not some killer that postures and stares down other dogs. Clubs usually have their dogs entered too and they don't want to fail. If you dog can tolerate another dog walking by (and remember there's a good bit of distance- 10ft) it's usually not a problem.

Yup, most clubs will make it as easy as possible.

However, I know a judge that would set you up for failure just because he had a beef with the Agility people and considered them a "pest". He made it as hard as possible for them to get through and knew exactly how to get most dogs to fail. He was the meanest and most feared judge out there. :wild:
 

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For our tests, the tethered dogs were about 8 feet from the other dog heeling past. Neither dogs could reach each other even if there was a reaction. The heeling dog was just one of the dogs in the group. The judge pointed to my friend and asked her to untie her dog and heel him past the dogs, so I guess the test was a tad harder for him, but honestly it was easier than any CGC (where the dogs heel straight on to each other and are easily within reach of each other if they react).
 

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I am wondering, it sounds like the BH is different from what I've seen in Germany so far. Don't they have to follow the same rules?
 
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