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As the original thread was many, many pages long, I locked it and sent it to the archives. As it is such a popular topic, we'll go ahead and continue it.

From the Original Thread....

Quote: This weeks discussion is on the reputation of the German Shepherd Dog. Let's here some personal experiences from members about reactions, good and bad, you've had towards your dog(s) from the general non-GSD public? I personally have gotten a real mix of emotions displayed towards my dogs over the years but, and I'll have to be honest here, I think most people out there are afraid of them or don’t trust them, except the puppies of course . Some may pretend not to be but it's been apparent to me that they are not comfortable. How about you? What has your experience been? What can we do to improve the reputation of our breed and let others see the beauty that we see?

rhaya
 

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Hi!
My GSD is only 8.5 months old, but I still get some pretty weird comments about him. The one that irritated me the most was from a creepy looking man that was literally STARING at my dog. I was taking my dog out for a potty break while we were at work and this man walks by eye f****** my dog. Of course, my dog stares right back at him. Hello?! Has anyone ever taught you how NOT to piss off a strange dog, Mr.?!

The man asks, "He's not friendly?!" I'm thinking..NO.. you creep, he's thinking you are challenging him with your 5 minute staring contest! I refrained from making such a comment and got Isaac's attention onto the business at hand..going potty


My dog IS friendly. He absolutely LOVES children, and is very outgoing. But he is no Golden Retriever, you have to be proven safe before he will trust you. I don't think that makes him unfriendly, just cautious.

I am constantly suprised at how some people think that every dog should WANT attention from random strangers. They act offended if a dog that they don't even know, doesn't jump to their side for a good rub-down just because it was offered. I feel like I have to explain that they are coming on too strong.

p.s. I feel like It is OK for me to make that comment about the friendly Golden Retriever, because I had two of them. and yes they were extremely friendly to everyone
 

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My GSD actually acts like the Goldens, as he LOVES all people, to him people mean food and treats. He seems to ignore dogs, unless they get to close to us when he is on leash, then he more or less gives a warning growl to the dog, I think he just doesn't want to share what ever treats I have in my pockets.
He is beautiful, but still with ears down, smiling, and tail wagging crazily, I have had people walk around warily. It just doesn't seem fair!
 

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in my so far limited time w/luc (3 weeks today!!!), i've found it's mixed. some people are scared of him when he's behaving like an angel, b/c of how he looks (especially people with small dogs straining at the leash and growling; luc generally seems to find those dogs beneath his notice). when i first got him he nervous strained on the leash a lot - he barely does it now unless there's something unusual or 20 trucks and a couple of buses pass at once, and even there there is improvement - and when he strained he definitely made some people nervous, but i find there's little difference in people's reactions whether he was straining or now when he's not. it seems to be largely who he is, not what he's doing.

but some people really like GSDs. i do get lots of "nice dog!"s.

my mom was quite funny - i told her i was looking at getting a dog, and when i met luc and said 'i'm going to adopt him, he's a GSD X' - well - she'd been a little disinterested in me getting a dog, but a GSD - my mom LOOOOVES GSDs, it's a little scary LOL (in the conversation i had with her yesterday, she said "you know, i can retire, and i could luc for hikes during the day, and i'd feel comfortable being alone on the trails with him (she's been hiking with him twice so far), and i could take him to do training stuff, i was thinking schutzhund might be something that he'd be good at (b/c he's showing some instinctive protective behaviours, and i want them correctly harnessed), and YOU don't have a car, but I do, and I could take him and do the training with him". while i actually like the idea of schutzhund he needs stronger basic obedience and i think he'd need to be a lot more settled/stable - i'm not sure he'd be a good dog for it, but it's something as he settles in i will look at - i thought it was really sweet/funny that my mom is planning all this stuff for him!

i think the reason why my mom loves GSDs is a really cute story though. when she was a little girl, about 5, some neighbours down the street had a large GSD that my mother was just terrified of - it was a big dog! - but it was also a very well-trained dog, and the neighbours realized how scared my mom was, so they invited her to watch the dog show off it's latest trick - blowing bubbles out a clay pipe! my mom was SO impressed, and the neighbours said "well, he really likes ice cream as a treat. would you be able to help us and take him to the store for an ice cream?" and gave her money for two ice creams - one for her, one for the dog. and they told the dog (no leash) to go with my mother down to the corner store, and it walked her there, happily ate the ice cream she got it, and walked her back. they did this every week, so of course the dog thought my mom was amazing, b/c she gave it ice cream every week, and my mom got to be comfortable with the dog, who would faithfully escort her to and from the store and blow bubbles on the pipe for her.
 

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Originally Posted By: jarni think the reason why my mom loves GSDs is a really cute story though. when she was a little girl, about 5, some neighbours down the street had a large GSD that my mother was just terrified of - it was a big dog! - but it was also a very well-trained dog, and the neighbours realized how scared my mom was, so they invited her to watch the dog show off it's latest trick - blowing bubbles out a clay pipe! my mom was SO impressed, and the neighbours said "well, he really likes ice cream as a treat. would you be able to help us and take him to the store for an ice cream?" and gave her money for two ice creams - one for her, one for the dog. and they told the dog (no leash) to go with my mother down to the corner store, and it walked her there, happily ate the ice cream she got it, and walked her back. they did this every week, so of course the dog thought my mom was amazing, b/c she gave it ice cream every week, and my mom got to be comfortable with the dog, who would faithfully escort her to and from the store and blow bubbles on the pipe for her.
This is the sweetest story! I just love it! What a nice owner to take the time with your mom. Trip to the store for ice cream, what a wonderful idea and memory for your mom! Thanks for sharing that
 

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The following paragraph really hit the nail on the head.

"My dog IS friendly. He absolutely LOVES children, and is very outgoing. But he is no Golden Retriever, you have to be proven safe before he will trust you. I don't think that makes him unfriendly, just cautious."

This afore-mentioned sounds like Timber. You have to be proven safe and you cannot exhibit fear. However, I will add that if you like German Shepherds they recognize this and will like you.

My ex, who couldn't even take charge of a goldfish loves dogs. And, darn they know it. She adopted a Chow, who the humane society said should have been killed, and the dog has been perfect. My GSD, is also great around the ex, so it does make me wonder about this Alpha stuff.

Nonetheless, I do think that to some extent the reputation of the dog is deserved. By reputation, I mean loyal, intelligent and protective.
 

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even when luc meets someone, he will not warm up to them for a while. the people who won't/don't listen to my 'just let him sniff you' (and even then he usually will observe the person afterwards) comment that he's 'not friendly' or 'skittish' (b/c he jerks his head back when they try to pet him). i always wonder - would those people be comfortable with a stranger coming up and pawing/touching them? probably not.

people who let luc sniff them, and then leave luc to come them - he's great with, but so far i wouldn't call him an outgoing dog by nature anyways. i would agree that he assesses people first.
 

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Jarn, I have the same personality type in Morgan and have gotten the 'unfriendly' + 'skittish' comments. It's annoying, especially if I JUST TOLD someone that she's a very aloof dog. LOL, sometimes I feel like saying 'Well EXCUUUUUSSSEEEE ME that my dog isn't bouncing around trying to make friends with someone she'll probably never meet again!'
 

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The last three posts are perfect examples of what I experience with my dog. Dog etiquette (sp?) isn't rocket science. You don't pet dogs on top of their heads right off the bat! My dog will duck and quickly move out the way if a stranger attempts to pet him on top of his head. He doesn't snarl or snap, he just gets out of the way.

On the other hand, once you've been accepted into his "circle of trust" he will bounce around, beside himself, with excitement when you visit with him! He is a complete luv bug and extremely social, but only with his friends, one can become his friend but it takes a little time. Except when it comes to children, he instantly accepts and seeks out children, the younger they are the gentler he becomes. It's wonderful and I'm so proud of him for that trait!
 

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As was said a couple of posts up-it's not fair-is it. When Kayla was a baby everyone wanted to come and see/pet the puppy. She loved to meet people. Then she got bigger and next thing you knew people were crossing to walk on the other side of the street to avoid her. Poor baby-she didn't understand why people weren't saying hi to her. She'd sit on the curb and watch them go by, waiting to see if they'd come over. Not everyone passes by though, we get the odd person willing to stop and meet her. Around the neighbourhood we have people who've known her since she was a baby and they always like to come over and see and talk to her still-thank goodness.
 

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Originally Posted By: Eisis Except when it comes to children, he instantly accepts and seeks out children, the younger they are the gentler he becomes. It's wonderful and I'm so proud of him for that trait!
I love that about my dog too - we go to the park once a week just her and I. When she sees toddlers and babies she just perks right up (she can't get enough, I have a son who's almost 4 and 2 1/2 year old twins!)

And it's so cute to watch the toddlers run at her 'Doggie doggie' then they stop about 5 feet away because they realize she's taller than they are - lol, cute it's just human nature, nothing they've learned about the breed just OMG you are HUGE!
 

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My GSD just loves children, and he will want to lick and lay on his belly and ask for that belly rub! But, the parents don't see it that way, they just see the GSD. Man, he must be asking for them to come close so that he can eat them!
 

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My pup and I met a couple with a 14 month old baby who just loved "doggies" Shayla kissed her cheek, I mentioned that "darn, I wish I had my camera, that would have made a cute picture" and next thing the dad is standing behind me with his camera. So I said
"Love baby" (Love mommy always gets me kisses) and sure enough, Shayla washed the little girls face. My 6 month old pup on four legs is about the same height as this little girl standing up.

Mean pupper!
 

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This is a great topic. Many people who meet my dog seem to be leery of him, maybe even afraid, even though he practically wiggles anytime he's around people, because he is an attention hound. They seem to have some sort of preconceived idea that GSD's are blood-thirsty killers who would sooner rip their throats out as wag their tail at them. Not sure why that is because most GSD's I've ever come across have not acted that way. True, my dog is EXTREMELY friendly, but as has already been told, most GSD's I've seen, if approached correctly will welcome the attention.

I live for the moments when, out for a walk, someone will ask to pet my dog which results in very exuberant behavior from him. An actual demonstration of how people friendly these dogs can be is the best form of advertisement I've come up with.

Unfortunately, as much as my dog loves people, he has little tolerance for other dogs. He's okay so long as they don't infringe on his "space", which seems to a be a circle a few feet around him. When that circle is broken, he is very quick to demonstrate that he is the Alpha Dog (actually he's the Beta Dog, I'm the alpha). Of course, many people see that sort of behavior as aggressive, which I don't think is a correct assessment. I see it as dominate behavior. My dog is dominate, but he is not aggressive. He doesn't attack other dogs, he just tries to get them to submit to his dominate position. As I understand the breed standard, this is a common characteristic of the breed. I don't think I'd want a GSD that was not dominate, much as I would not tolerate one that didn't enjoy being around people. That combination of traits is one of the primary reasons that I respect, admire and own the breed.
 

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I get a lot of corner of the eye stares with Otis, though he's only barely 4 months old. People also seem to think it's ok to make judgements about how he will be as an adult "oh he's gonna be huge, bigger than you, better be careful!" Careful of what? I'm well aware that I own a dog, I am responsible for training, socializing, and in all ways taking care of and responsibility for my dog, and that would be true whether he was a GSD or a teeny tiny fluffball.
But what makes me laugh the most is that his favorite friend is a pitbull (ooo scary), who will spend their entire playdate sitting and letting out these loud, put-upon sighs as Otis runs around yapping. You'd never meet a calmer, friendlier dog than Melvin. They love people, they love cats, they love other dogs- so I say too bad for those who miss out on the fun because of their preconceived notions of "viciousness"

 

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You guys got it lucky my German Shepherd she pulls to see people but she is still is aloof in her own way.

What she like to do is to stare at the person and then she likes to smell thair shoes get a pat or two and then thats it and then we continyou on are walk.

what i have found out is that all of the mexacans that see carmail they won't come closer then 10 feet i think it is because she stares at them first and that scares the poop out of them.
 

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I have to reiterate much of the sentiment stated here: many are very cautious, some downright terrified of Sebastian
I go to Petco, the kennell, and the vet and it's the opposite with strangers. He LOVES the attention!! As for the apprehension, I think it's the ears, the dark coat and his size. We have a 7-month old baby boy at home, and I can't tell you how many times I have been asked, "How's he with the baby?" I understand this completely, but GEEZ the mother-in-law won't let it go. It's been a tough road trying to convince her that my boy would DIE to protect little Joshie...besides, this dog is so aware of his place in our "pack," he would obey my son if he were capable of giving commands!!!


I just think it is important that we TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN, and properly excersize (mentally & physically) our GSD's. Socialize as pups, and expose them throughout their lives to people. All for the health and happiness of our dogs, and to the benefit of others who may need to see our GSD's in the correct light. BUT...I will say this: I certainly do not want the breed to be viewed as a dog like a Golden Retriever. I would desire for the GSD breed to be properly, fairly understood. Period. I, for one, appreciate the fact that my home and family are further protected, and that - God forbid - a time comes that he needs to be SCARY, he IS just that.

 

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I took Apollo to a couple of pet stores yesterday, and everyone always comments on him and wants to know things about him. Kids always wants to pet him. He will usually go up to kids and sniff them and want some attention from them. Other people, he just doesn't care!. (That GSD aloofness!) But at the vets office the other day, a woman walked by him on the way out of the office and he went over to her, she asked if he was friendly, and then she started to pet him & he gave her kisses! She said he was so sweet! I was very proud of him.
 

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a friend and i took our GSD's to the local dog park. it's probably a 100yds. long and 50yds.wide and fenced in. there must of been 30 dogs there this morning just running and playing all over the place. i was standing near a man when i heard him say to another man " hey, there's a German Shepherd in here". the other man simply replies " oh yeah, i thinks there's two of them". the first man says " they look vicious". my puppy is 8 months old and my friends pup is 7 months old. they played well. i think GSD's intimidate some people.
 

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I was at PetSmart this weekend and had my sweet Lucy, at 13 weeks old with me. She's a love, and was approached by a mother with some very young children. Lucy did what she does best, giving all sorts of love to the kids....
until.....
mom asked me "what kind if dog is she?" and I said, "Lucy is a German Shepherd Dog puppy" and I think this lady was expecting her to disembowel one of her children after she heard that. I explained that she was a typical well bred example of a GSD. I hope she learned something from my Lucy.
 
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