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Hello. I'm new to this forum and a new GS owner as well. I have owned other smaller dogs, mostly muts, but my wife and I chose (after doing research) GSD's as our next family member. Our puppy is 7 and a half months old, male, not neutered, pure bred. He is very smart, smartest dog I have owned, friendly and loyal. He has his usual puppy issues (still nipping/biting during play, very hyper) but one thing happened that gave me concern...

My puppy, wife, and 2 year old son were playing in our back yard. Onyx always barks whenever someone walks by our wall and is very protective/territorial and good at letting us know when someone is near. Onyx did not know I was home yet, (and my wife was in on this) so I put on several layers of clothes that were not mine, put on a mask, and approached the wall from far away. Onyx immediately started barking when I came near. But this is where it went wrong. He saw my head over the wall, I jumped the wall and ran towards my son (scaring the crap out of him) and my wife screamed. But Onyx RAN AWAY!! With his tail between his legs! Still barking. I grabbed my son and "wrestled" him for like three seconds and all Onyx did was bark at me from the corner of the house. I stopped and ran away towards the wall when my wife ran at me but Onyx stayed. He didn't even chase me away.

This was concerning to my wife and I, especially since we have seen how close my son and Onyx are. So my question is this, is this just because he is still a wimpy puppy? Will he grow out of this? And when will it happen? Is there anything I should do or be looking for? Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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A seven month old puppy is still a puppy. Your expectations that he will attack or protect are very unreasonable, and your little test may have caused a lot of trauma, that I hope won't have any long-term effects.

GSDs are slow to mature, around 18 to 24 months, and in some lines of GSDs, known for solid nerve and strong protection instinct, it may be as late as 3 or 4 years old before mental maturity kicks in! Protection comes from a place of inner strenght and quiet confidence. A seven month old that barks at every noise and random strangers walking by, minding their own business is not being protective/territorial, but fearful. Might have made you feel better to know that his bark was acting as a deterent, but I feel sorry for young dogs growing up in a constant state of fear, feeling threatened by every little thing.

Think of a child puppy as still a child, (since you are a Dad, that should come easy for you, :), ) Children should grow up carefree, feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that Mom and Dad will protect them. Once that child is an adult, then the positive upbringing will give them a sense of inner confidence where they know they can face and deal with threats. The 8 year old will hide behind the parents if some punks approach and start harassing,is depending on the parents to keep him safe. The same child at 20 years old will stand in front of others and stare down the punks, and stay calm and confident as the threat escalates, only fighting if there is absolutely no other choice.

A puppy's mind develops along the same way. As someone who is involved in protection sports, seven month olds are never subjected to actual threat pressure in training, it is all just a fun game of tug at that age, setting a foundation for required skills. It is only once the dog is mature that they are pushed to get their protection instinct out.

Not all dogs have that inborn strength to be protective either, police dogs, personal protection dogs, dogs doing protection sports often come from specific lines that have been bred for generation after generation to have the nerve strength to stand up to a threat and not back down. If you did not get your dog from a breeder that actually works and tests their breeding dogs fro this trait, there is a lower likelyhood that they will protect.

So apologize to your puppy for putting him through this, and hope that he forgives you. His physical presence should be all the deterrent you'll ever need. I mean, what person in their right mind would go and still jump the fence with a barking GSD on the other side?

Just enjoy him, let him grow up feeling safe and secure and unthreated, adjust your expectations to his development level. If you are interested in having a dog that will protect for real, look for a trainer and have him evaluated, and get into some training. I don't recommend sending him away for training, too many horror stories. If you want a protection dog, then you and your wife need to be protection dog handlers, so you have to be involved in the training yourself.
 

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Who started the idea that GSDs are naturally protective anyway? They posture really well, looking big and bad, but in the end they are gonna run. At least the ones that are right in the head about how to deal with people. Protection dogs take months/years to train up right, at least properly done dogs.

The absolute best thing a dog can do is call in the cavalry, the cavalry being a human with the big stinking brain and opposable thumbs. Besides protection dogs carry a liability issue around. One instance wherein a trained dog bites and the authorities find out it's been trained for that purpose and the dog's next stop is that much closer to a needle in the leg.

I train mine to raise holy **** when a strange car or person comes by(not very often here, maybe 4 times a year). I have a gun, I am better equipped mentally and physically to handle intrusions upon my property.
 

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It seems your dog made noise to alert his humans. That should be what you want. Do you really want your dog to jump in and bite/attack. What happens when your son is playing rough with a new friend?

Don't scare your pup on purpose, I hope there aren't a lot of ill consequences from this experience.

Teddy was 15 months when we brought him home. He was fearful of a lot of things (baby toys, small dogs, some strangers etc) he is now 25 months has learned confidence and trust. He would probably bark and maybe run in the same scenario, just as I'd want him to do. Jmo, you don't want a protective dog with kids, unless you truly know what your doing.
 

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A seven month old puppy is still a puppy. Your expectations that he will attack or protect are very unreasonable, and your little test may have caused a lot of trauma, that I hope won't have any long-term effects.

GSDs are slow to mature, around 18 to 24 months, and in some lines of GSDs, known for solid nerve and strong protection instinct, it may be as late as 3 or 4 years old before mental maturity kicks in! Protection comes from a place of inner strenght and quiet confidence. A seven month old that barks at every noise and random strangers walking by, minding their own business is not being protective/territorial, but fearful. Might have made you feel better to know that his bark was acting as a deterent, but I feel sorry for young dogs growing up in a constant state of fear, feeling threatened by every little thing.

Think of a child puppy as still a child, (since you are a Dad, that should come easy for you, :), ) Children should grow up carefree, feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that Mom and Dad will protect them. Once that child is an adult, then the positive upbringing will give them a sense of inner confidence where they know they can face and deal with threats. The 8 year old will hide behind the parents if some punks approach and start harassing,is depending on the parents to keep him safe. The same child at 20 years old will stand in front of others and stare down the punks, and stay calm and confident as the threat escalates, only fighting if there is absolutely no other choice.

A puppy's mind develops along the same way. As someone who is involved in protection sports, seven month olds are never subjected to actual threat pressure in training, it is all just a fun game of tug at that age, setting a foundation for required skills. It is only once the dog is mature that they are pushed to get their protection instinct out.

Not all dogs have that inborn strength to be protective either, police dogs, personal protection dogs, dogs doing protection sports often come from specific lines that have been bred for generation after generation to have the nerve strength to stand up to a threat and not back down. If you did not get your dog from a breeder that actually works and tests their breeding dogs fro this trait, there is a lower likelyhood that they will protect.

So apologize to your puppy for putting him through this, and hope that he forgives you. His physical presence should be all the deterrent you'll ever need. I mean, what person in their right mind would go and still jump the fence with a barking GSD on the other side?

Just enjoy him, let him grow up feeling safe and secure and unthreated, adjust your expectations to his development level. If you are interested in having a dog that will protect for real, look for a trainer and have him evaluated, and get into some training. I don't recommend sending him away for training, too many horror stories. If you want a protection dog, then you and your wife need to be protection dog handlers, so you have to be involved in the training yourself.
For me this is a very good post, as I have two GSD pups and new to raising them.
One other thought occurred to me is it must be $ucks to be a GSD....I read somewhere here in the forum that a man pay a surprise visit and scare the owner and the GSD, ended up the GSD bit him and the owner talking about putting his dog down, and now this GSD don't attack? If I were a German Shepherd Dog I won't like human very much lol.
 

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Possibly the worst experiment ever. Putting your dog and family in a stressful situation just to see. A dog needs training and a dog handler needs training before they can access a dogs skills. An experiment like this proves nothing. Even if the dog went after you for a bite, Is that how you want your pup acting with someone jumping over the wall. Barking and alerting is all you can ask a 7 month old with no training. If you want to test it in different scenarios you need to train it first to give it some chance of knowing what you want from it. All trainers will build confidence in a pup before exposing it to dangers. Everything is controlled until a dog is older if you want the best out come.
 

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Your 7 month old puppy was probably barking and growling at passersby out of fear....not from a place of confidence.

The rest of this is a rant....so if you don't want to read that, then stop here.....


( **** Rant removed by ADMIN - this is an attack on the OP when posted as a reply in the OP's thread - have a rant, start a new thread not aimed at anyone in particular **** )
 

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A seven month old puppy is still a puppy. Your expectations that he will attack or protect are very unreasonable, and your little test may have caused a lot of trauma, that I hope won't have any long-term effects.

GSDs are slow to mature, around 18 to 24 months, and in some lines of GSDs, known for solid nerve and strong protection instinct, it may be as late as 3 or 4 years old before mental maturity kicks in! Protection comes from a place of inner strenght and quiet confidence. A seven month old that barks at every noise and random strangers walking by, minding their own business is not being protective/territorial, but fearful. Might have made you feel better to know that his bark was acting as a deterent, but I feel sorry for young dogs growing up in a constant state of fear, feeling threatened by every little thing.

Think of a child puppy as still a child, (since you are a Dad, that should come easy for you, :), ) Children should grow up carefree, feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that Mom and Dad will protect them. Once that child is an adult, then the positive upbringing will give them a sense of inner confidence where they know they can face and deal with threats. The 8 year old will hide behind the parents if some punks approach and start harassing,is depending on the parents to keep him safe. The same child at 20 years old will stand in front of others and stare down the punks, and stay calm and confident as the threat escalates, only fighting if there is absolutely no other choice.

A puppy's mind develops along the same way. As someone who is involved in protection sports, seven month olds are never subjected to actual threat pressure in training, it is all just a fun game of tug at that age, setting a foundation for required skills. It is only once the dog is mature that they are pushed to get their protection instinct out.

Not all dogs have that inborn strength to be protective either, police dogs, personal protection dogs, dogs doing protection sports often come from specific lines that have been bred for generation after generation to have the nerve strength to stand up to a threat and not back down. If you did not get your dog from a breeder that actually works and tests their breeding dogs fro this trait, there is a lower likelyhood that they will protect.

So apologize to your puppy for putting him through this, and hope that he forgives you. His physical presence should be all the deterrent you'll ever need. I mean, what person in their right mind would go and still jump the fence with a barking GSD on the other side?

Just enjoy him, let him grow up feeling safe and secure and unthreated, adjust your expectations to his development level. If you are interested in having a dog that will protect for real, look for a trainer and have him evaluated, and get into some training. I don't recommend sending him away for training, too many horror stories. If you want a protection dog, then you and your wife need to be protection dog handlers, so you have to be involved in the training yourself.
Great post. Sums this subject up perfectly. You should make this thread a sticky or at least this post - if that's possible. This might save a few puppies/dogs from having to go through unnecessary trauma from everyone that thinks a barking puppy/adult GSD is being protective.
 

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Who started the idea that GSDs are naturally protective anyway? They posture really well, looking big and bad, but in the end they are gonna run. At least the ones that are right in the head about how to deal with people. Protection dogs take months/years to train up right, at least properly done dogs.
Perhaps those who created the breed?

ADULT GSDs should be naturally protective, as stated by the standard. Training develops confidence and judgement through experience, but the instinct has to be there in the first place in order to train a protection dog.

I'm not saying it is the case with the OP's 7 months old, but I'm really sorry you have only met GSDs that in the end are gonna run. That shouldn't be :(

To the OP... My best advice is do not over-think over a once in a time incident. Don't cuddle him, don't obsess over what happened, nor make excuses or reasoning about everything that happens from now on is because you startled him once. Just let go and the pup will let go too. I'm sure despite being frightened for one time in his life won't change what he really will become. If he has good genetics he will be a good protector, if he doesn't have good genetics he won't be a good protector and that is. Nothing that happens to a healthy 7 month old once in his life should scar him for life.
 

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Well thank you. Some of you anyway. Its nice to see that out of 10 replies, one person is concerned for my son. By the way, he is fine. He knew it was me because I showed him the mask the previous day. It still scared him but he was and will be fine.

As for the "experiment", I got the idea from a neighbor. He is a middle aged man who has about a 6-7 year old female german shepherd mix. He told me someone jumped in his back yard (with bad intent) without knowing the dog was there, and he told me she ripped into him and chased him away. He heard it and saw the last portion of it. She is not a fearful dog. She is the most well trained, happy, obedient dog I have ever seen. She walks everywhere with him calmly and without a leash. Always obeying every command, happily. It was an act of defending what matters (the pack and den) from something that sought to cause harm.

My dog is not fearful either. He is a very friendly, obedient and loyal dog. He stays by my sons side when we go for long walks in the woods, never getting more than 20 feet from my son. Yes he barks when people walk by the wall or come to the door, we trained him to do so. First time he heard the doorbell ring he looked at it and barked. We praised him and have been since. It is a natural thing for dogs to do. They are pack and den animals who are territorial. He is doing this first of all out of instinct, and secondly to please his pack. He does it out of joy, like he enjoys his role. If you think that every dog who barks at a passer by while he is in HIS OWN DEN is fearful, you are either ignorant or oblivious.

I observed my puppy staring at a bird on the fence while he stood about four feet from his food bowl. The bird swooped down by his food bowl and my puppy ran away again. Do you think my puppy is fearful of birds or traumatized by them? No, he is just a puppy. I have seen other dogs, and even wolves on tv, bite at or chase birds who swoop down and bug them.

My story was long but my question was simple: At what age will he outgrow this puppy timidity? I'm not being cruel, I didn't traumatize my puppy, he's not abused, he's not being trained to be a ravenous attack monster. It's a simple question to which the first person to reply gave a mostly acceptable answer. (the exception being the assumption that I caused my puppy "a lot of trauma")
 

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She is the most well trained, happy, obedient dog I have ever seen. She walks everywhere with him calmly and without a leash. Always obeying every command, happily. It was an act of defending what matters (the pack and den) from something that sought to cause harm.

My dog is not fearful either. He is a very friendly, obedient and loyal dog. He stays by my sons side when we go for long walks in the woods, never getting more than 20 feet from my son. Yes he barks when people walk by the wall or come to the door, we trained him to do so. First time he heard the doorbell ring he looked at it and barked. We praised him and have been since. It is a natural thing for dogs to do. They are pack and den animals who are territorial. He is doing this first of all out of instinct, and secondly to please his pack. He does it out of joy, like he enjoys his role. If you think that every dog who barks at a passer by while he is in HIS OWN DEN is fearful, you are either ignorant or oblivious.



My story was long but my question was simple: At what age will he outgrow this puppy timidity? I'm not being cruel, I didn't traumatize my puppy, he's not abused, he's not being trained to be a ravenous attack monster. It's a simple question to which the first person to reply gave a mostly acceptable answer. (the exception being the assumption that I caused my puppy "a lot of trauma")
Your neighbors dog is older, but one should not depend on their dog to protect them. We are the ones that should protect them. You really don't want your dog barking at everything, because when the time comes that its something dangerous or important you won't be paying attention because your dog barks at people walking by, the doorbell, etc. I have 2 GSD's that hardly ever bark, but when they do I know something is going on. They will stare people down as they walk by, once they feel that the person walking by is just that, they turn around and continue on. If they are not trusting the person walking by, they stare them down until they are down the block, it has to be a very uncomfortable feeling for the person. Your dog might never stop being timid. You could very well cause damage to your puppy by what you did. At 7 months they are still babies, but they don't forget.
 

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Well thank you. Some of you anyway. Its nice to see that out of 10 replies, one person is concerned for my son. By the way, he is fine. He knew it was me because I showed him the mask the previous day. It still scared him but he was and will be fine.
And for the record, I would NEVER allow my childs father to use my child in an experiment like this. That is terrifying for a child and at two they don't know the difference. I'm sure there are other ways you can experiment and not scare the crap out of the baby or the dog.
 

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To me it's a bit like testing your 4yo old with a supposed break in to see if he will "step up and be a man". It's nonsensical to me.

At 7 mo old, your puppy is just that a puppy. He may look like a full grown GSD, but he is not. He is a baby. He still depends on you, his family, his pack, to protect him. He is no where near old enough to be able to process and react in the way you want.

As someone who has worked search dogs for the better part of her life, he had your scent. You can't hide your scent with new clothes and a mask. All you can do is add another and confuse the bejesus out if your pup. Who is trying to figure out why "dad smells funny and why the family is acting scared". They have done expensive testing on trying to confuse dogs with masking scents. It does not work.

My concern is that your dog no longer trusts your scent or your ability to protect the family. YOU are supposed to be the benevolent leader. YOU are supposed to protect your family.

I don't know your dog or family in any way. So I cannot say if your pup will have lasting effects. What I can say is that you have shown your dog that you can't be trusted and that he is helpless.

If you want a confident dog, this was the wrong way to go about it.

I am very glad to hear your son is okay.

In response to the original question, most pups of good nerve and temperament may be 2-3 years old before overcoming the " puppy" fearfulness. That's about the time they fully come in to themselves and start responding as an adult.


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@llombardo

My son is a baby and he is and will be FINE. He doesn't and will not remember any of this. Stop being so dramatic. I wanted to see what my puppy would do in a realistic situation. It may have been scary, but it was real. And like someone else said, it won't scar him for life. But you will NEVER be able to do a pull-up unless you practice pull-ups! Get it?

I admire what your GS's do and that is very controlled, intelligent, and is something that you can be proud of. But you need to do some research and get your facts straight.

By saying, "...one should not depend on their dog to protect them." you are completely oblivious and ignorant to the entire history of the modern dog. From wolves, ancient man befriended them and created a somewhat symbiotic partnership that benefits both. The wolves would defend their territory (and the pack which now included man) from bears and other threats, help them hunt, and in turn man would feed, protect and shelter the new best friends. Dogs have always been used to help man for specific purposes and have been bred to improve on certain things. Look at the Dachshund. It is long and thin with short legs, bred that way to get into holes and hunt foxes, badgers, and other burrowing animals. GSD's were bred as herders but as we have observed, they are incredibly intelligent and well suited to be work dogs.

By me wanting my dog to protect my other "pup" I am not being unrealistic in any way. Every member of a pack has a specific role but defending the family, and especially the puppies, is everyones responsibility. Please educate yourself before you post anything that just flies out of your mouth. If you are not going to be helpful and try to inform people, than perhaps you shouldn't say anything.
 

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My dog is not fearful either........... At what age will he outgrow this puppy timidity?
He is just a pup. Maybe you should acknowledge that and go and research dog training and behavior before trying any more experiments.

Yes he barks when people walk by the wall or come to the door, we trained him to do so. First time he heard the doorbell ring he looked at it and barked. We praised him and have been since. It is a natural thing for dogs to do. They are pack and den animals who are territorial. He is doing this first of all out of instinct, and secondly to please his pack. He does it out of joy, like he enjoys his role. If you think that every dog who barks at a passer by while he is in HIS OWN DEN is fearful, you are either ignorant or oblivious.
See I have a different philosophy and that is for the dogs not to react to the little things. The door bell rings, so what, that is my guest calling no need for the dog to go crazy.

Someone is walking up the street, so what, children are playing football, so what, not the dogs business.

Let your dog grow up and let it relax and it will learn what is normal and when it needs to actually protect the house it wiwll rather than being a bag of nerves barking at anything.
 

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the title of your thread is "will he grow out of this fear"?


Well thank you. Some of you anyway. Its nice to see that out of 10 replies, one person is concerned for my son. By the way, he is fine. He knew it was me because I showed him the mask the previous day. It still scared him but he was and will be fine.

As for the "experiment", I got the idea from a neighbor. He is a middle aged man who has about a 6-7 year old female german shepherd mix. He told me someone jumped in his back yard (with bad intent) without knowing the dog was there, and he told me she ripped into him and chased him away. He heard it and saw the last portion of it. She is not a fearful dog. She is the most well trained, happy, obedient dog I have ever seen. She walks everywhere with him calmly and without a leash. Always obeying every command, happily. It was an act of defending what matters (the pack and den) from something that sought to cause harm.

>>>>> My dog is not fearful either. <<<<<


He is a very friendly, obedient and loyal dog. He stays by my sons side when we go for long walks in the woods, never getting more than 20 feet from my son. Yes he barks when people walk by the wall or come to the door, we trained him to do so. First time he heard the doorbell ring he looked at it and barked. We praised him and have been since. It is a natural thing for dogs to do. They are pack and den animals who are territorial. He is doing this first of all out of instinct, and secondly to please his pack. He does it out of joy, like he enjoys his role. If you think that every dog who barks at a passer by while he is in HIS OWN DEN is fearful, you are either ignorant or oblivious.

I observed my puppy staring at a bird on the fence while he stood about four feet from his food bowl. The bird swooped down by his food bowl and my puppy ran away again. Do you think my puppy is fearful of birds or traumatized by them? No, he is just a puppy. I have seen other dogs, and even wolves on tv, bite at or chase birds who swoop down and bug them.

My story was long but my question was simple: At what age will he outgrow this puppy timidity? I'm not being cruel, I didn't traumatize my puppy, he's not abused, he's not being trained to be a ravenous attack monster. It's a simple question to which the first person to reply gave a mostly acceptable answer. (the exception being the assumption that I caused my puppy "a lot of trauma")
 

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You really don't want your dog barking at everything, because when the time comes that its something dangerous or important you won't be paying attention because your dog barks at people walking by, the doorbell, etc.
Yup - so true. I can totally relate to this with my two older dogs (well, Levi passed away recently). But, Leyna barks at almost everything and it is quite annoying. Now, if she barks, I just tell her to be quiet and I don't even look at what is going on. Heck, she was barking at something at 3am the other night (multiple times, and she usually doesn't bark in the middle of the night) and neither my husband or I could even be bothered to get out of bed - I just shut the window! If Levi (RIP) barked, I always looked (and you can bet I would have tried looking outside at 3am if he had barked). He was never barky and I knew if he barked, something was amiss.

I mean, the barking thing may be fine for the first little bit, but after years it just gets old.
 
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