German Shepherd Dog > How do I raise a confident dog (100 replies)
by Chaz Reinhold on 07 July 2012 - 23:38
by workingdogz on 09 July 2012 - 10:49
Yes, I'm a bit late to the game, but after reading through some
great comments and not so great, there are a couple that
jumped out as utter crap.
First one-the above comment by djc.
Do you seriously believe that?
I hope you will clarify that comment. If you are referring
to the often seen 'shoulder check' by most SchH dogs,
then I think you are mistaking some hard handling, (usually a
bunch of pressure applied to clean up the dog in the blind).
If you meant it in reference to what is usually seen in the
Seiger shows, then yes, I can agree with your statement.
Those dogs tend to look like they are ready to head for the
hills rather than stay with the man.
But a dog that is shoulder checking for his handler while guarding?
Thats usually a dog 'telling on' it's handler to the world.
It's the equivalent of the dog saying- I've had my ass kicked in
this blind one too many times.
Maywood, with all due respect, do you truly believe what you wrote?
All I can say is, I hope you never get a truly ALPHA dog, you will be
in for a world of surprise.
To the OP, read and reread what Gustav, Red Sable, Rass
and Chaz have written.
Always always start with a gentically solid/sound puppy,
the rest will come with ease, and come very naturally.
You cannot 'make' solid temperment in a weak puppy,
you can mask issues, and the more talented the handler,
the more 'solid' the puppy will appear. A sound puppy should
basically strut through life thinking everything in the world
is normal, if something does startle him (again, normal),
it is how that puppy reacts/recovers that will speak huge
volumes about his genetics.
You cannot force a dog/puppy to have solid nerve, it has to
be 'wired' in to him from conception.
Can you screw up a solid puppy? Sure, but it usually takes
something pretty extreme/traumatic to do that.
No matter the pedigree of your pup, all lines, working or
show can and DO produce nerve issues. Those that don't
believe that are living right smack dab in the State of Denial
The degree to which those issues affect the dogs daily existence
is determined by how thin the nerves are.
Dogs can appear to be rock solid in many ways,
then something, some issue will throw them off their game.
It may be that 16 mos old male that is almost ready to
be sold to a PD, but, oh--ooops, he 'hesitates' just
every so briefly at a slick floor or a dark entrance.
It may be the dogs ability to navigate stairs, do they
walk up and down with sureness or do they scrabble?
It's one thing for a dog to have to 'learn' to navigate
stairs-ie one at a time-, or perhaps it's a big lanky
youngster that really has no clue where all his
body parts are, but once they have gone up and down a set
of stairs a few times, well, they should 'get it'.
The dog that continues to hesitate/scrabble?
He's telling you something about his nerve.
It's up to the handler to spot these things and
be honest about what they have.
Just get your puppy out to see the world, let
him show you what worries him and what doesn't.
He doesn't have to be mauled by everyone, but it
certainly won't hurt him to meet people, places and
things. The big difference is, with a genetically SOLID
puppy, you don't have to..
by Gustav on 09 July 2012 - 11:41
|I think the OP will be able to go from here....and that's the important thing.|
by maywood on 09 July 2012 - 17:45
|Utter crap huh? That's quite the bold statement to make pal!|
Well I have owned and worked with many types of dogs in my lifetime and I'm pretty confident I have experienced my fair share of "TRULY ALPHA DOGS" (whatever that means). The context in which I made my comment is referring to those that are raising a normal puppy from scratch as the OP indicates. If you are referring to the high drive, whacked out dogs that are handler aggressive as being "TRULY ALPHA DOGS" well then I guess we are speaking a totally different language. IMO those dogs are NOT genetically sound and come with way too many mental problems to be a part of any family home. Bully for you if you enjoy having to beat on these types of dogs to gain Alpha status.
But in general layman's terms, I think it's fair to say 99.9% of all dogs born in the world come with a clean slate. Nature through thousands upon thousands of years of domestication has instilled in 'Man's Best Friend' the innate instinct that we are the Alpha. And as I said, no amount of beating on them is going to instill that any further.
I disagree with those that combine and relate confidence and socialization. Socialization is wonderful and necessary and gives the dog experience in relating to its surroundings in the world but it has nothing to do with a dog's confidence. Confidence has everything to do with how the dog is raised and treated by its owner. If the owner treats the dog with respect and gives them much love & attention combined with lots of praise that really is all there is to raising a confident dog. You guys with your long, technically savvy dictations are making this much more complicated than it needs to be.
by Gustav on 09 July 2012 - 18:17
|@ Maywood, I have been called into many homes where the dog has been treated eminently, and yet they are calling me because once the dog leaves their property, or has to go into basement at home, or has to go upstairs, the dog lacks confidence big time. I mean some of these places treat their dogs better than people, where do you think the lack of confidence is coming from???|
by Rass on 09 July 2012 - 21:36
| It is the old argument of nature vs. nurture.|
I have two dogs and neither was handled harshly. The older dog (5 year ASL) is more confident than the younger dog (2 year WGSL) by a long shot.. and I would not describe EITHER dog as "confident" in spite of a ton of socialization and exposure to new experiences in the most positive way.
In both cases I have seen siblings and dam and all I can say is the apple did not fall far from the tree.
I have also had the great pleasure of watching WL dam and sire siblings working and learning IPO of late.. and again.. the apple does not fall far from the tree.
I used to think that training and handling "made the dog." I do not think that anymore.
Genetics is a HUGE factor in temperament as well as structure.
by workingdogz on 09 July 2012 - 23:12
Actually, yes, what you wrote about a dog simply 'feeding off the owner'
and 'knowing they are alpha and will respect them' is crap.
And who said anything about anyone wanting/having to beat on a dog? or
for that matter, 'high drive whacked out handler aggressive dogs'?
If you don't know that a dog can be alpha in nature but still be able to
function and work with people, well, nuff said my friend.
I think you are right, we are speaking a totally different language,
so we'll have to agree to disagree.
by maywood on 10 July 2012 - 10:44
Well, not knowing the situation at all, I would venture a guess it has to be the owners own lack of confidence in themselves that is causing this behavior. For example, Master Owner is sitting in his recliner reading the paper with Fido lying down next to the chair. Someone knocks at the door and the jittery Owner flies out of the chair startled by the intrusion. Dogs pick up on that shit while the Owner is totally unaware of it. The Owner then blames the dog's lack of confidence on the dog's genetics when indeed it's the Owners own lack of confidence the dog is learning. Nothing you can do about that though Gustav. That's just the way it is. Dogs are constantly focused on us more so than we even realize. Most people take this for granted I think.
One of my favorite quotes that relates directly to this topic I'm sure you can appreciate.
"Show me your dog and I'll tell you what manner of man you are." ~Captain Max von Stephanitz
Oh I'm sure from your POV you deal with "TRULY ALPHA DOGS" (that’s a good name for them I guess) all the time and have managed to get along quite well with them. In fact, I bet your one of those trainers who is so far into them you couldn't even train a normal dog anymore. This is the problem when beginners try to take a normal German shepherd dog to the schutzhund field. They run into guys like you who have totally forgotten how to train them and subsequently ruins them. I have seen this so many times it isn't even funny.
But you should, if you can, try to consider the audience you are speaking to and keep in mind that you are working with a very different animal bred for a very specific purpose that the average Joe rarely needs in a family situation where children are involved. That "Alpha in nature" is a bunch of nonsense because these types of dogs end up competing with the children in establishing pack dominance. They become a huge liability/risk and have no business being in the family home.
Don't necessarily disagree with some of the things you said though if that makes you feel any better.
by Gustav on 10 July 2012 - 11:18
|@ Maywood, you really think all these owners are jittery lounge chair people???? How about the many many many lounge chair people who have confident dogs? OK, you win, people's handling of dogs is main catalyst to confident dogs....see folks I learned something today.|
by Rass on 10 July 2012 - 11:30
|HaHa! Love it Gustav. |
BTW Maywood, a handler aggressive dog is not necessarily a confident dog.
by maywood on 10 July 2012 - 12:11
|Hey man, I'm just giving you an example, like I said I don't know the situation at all. But yes, it is very possible they lack confidence in themselves and are teaching this behavior to the dog. Without any handling whatsoever. Also, based on your smartass reply I'm starting to notice you become quite the little bitch when someone disagrees with you. Don't ask stupid questions then!|
Rass, I never said "a handler aggressive dog is not necessarily a confident dog." To the contrary.
by workingdogz on 10 July 2012 - 18:25
LOL, wow, you seem to read dogs about as well as you read people.
I'm much farther at the other end of the spectrum I'm afraid when it
comes to dogs my friend. I make no bones about it, I am NOT the worlds
best handler, nor do I ever see the need for me to take on a big tough
"rock'em sock'em" kind of dog. Evidently you don't understand that a
dog doesn't need to be some foaming at the mouth psycho that requires
a Louisville slugger for a correction to be an 'alpha dog'.
While I tend to prefer a dog with a little 'get up and go', I don't need nor
want some tough dog that has way more mad skills than I do. It's about
all I can muster to get through the assorted CD's, CDX's, SchH3's etc.
I don't need to add to my plate. So Maywood, you see what happens when
As far as newbies at the field? Again, how very very wrong you are.
We have lost countless leads, collars, tug toys, tennis balls, tracking lines,
dishes etc over the years in our quest to 'help' newbies.
For that matter, we've even reached into our own pockets and paid trial
entries (*gasp*, even for alternate breed owners!)for a few that were
'down on their luck' or stuck between paydays, so please, with all
due respect, do not go 'there'.
My current prospect is now laying happily in the corner of the office, munching
away on his antler. He lives in the house, as a pet. He travels with me occasionally
when I am away for work. He stays in hotels and walks around city center's etc.
He goes to Starbucks, Petsmart etc etc
Does he 'bring it' to the working arena? Sure, but, he's a 'normal' dog when not at
some sort of training. Heck, if it's just me on the way to club, he rides shotgun,
*gasp*, but otherwise he must defer to the wife and take his spot in his crate.
It almost seems to me as though you are confusing "alpha" with a dominant
dog. There are plenty of true 'alpha' dogs that exist peacefully in families,
but a dominant dog is a whole nother mess to deal with.
Gustav, you owe me one, I spit my coffee on the screen reading your reply
by djc on 10 July 2012 - 19:04
|1st @ Gustav:|
" I gave you information on what one of the guide dog trainers said about the breed and confidence, which you chose to ignore because it doesn't fit your premise. "
Even though it may seem that I ignored that comment, I didn't. Do you think that's something new?? Guide dog people have been saying that for at least 20 years! Some GSD's DO still pass their testing albeit not many. My point is ALL dogs, no matter what breed, benefit from socialization as you have stated. Of course the GSD has developed severe problems over those last 20 years or so. There's just no debate there.
Also, you say you go to families homes where the dog is afraid to go upstairs and into the basement, yet you also say that they treat their dog better than most humans get treated? Don't you think that has mostly to do with them coddling the dog and inadvertently reinforcing the fearful behavior?!! That's been my experience with those that hold their dog up too highly! They don't even realize what they are doing. Just a question... not a confrontation.
For your information, I am always open to learning new things no matter what I've learned, been taught and think in the present and the past. That's what makes for a person to continually grow and expand and become better. You are right in that it does take quite some convincing to change my mind once I've seen it and lived it, but I am always open to learning.
2nd @ Red Sable:
Still sounds to me like your female is afraid of men and you have probably reinforced that behavior to make her feel like she is doing the right thing. Just wondering why you think she has a reason? What did you mean by that?? If you mean that she is being appropriate with her aggression, because they have ill intent and are trespassing, then we are NOT talking about being INAPPROPRIATELY aggressive or fearful. If you mean she has had a bad experience with men, then absolutely she is acting out of fear.
"In my early years, I never socialized because I used to think socializing would make them too accepting of strangers, however, time and different dogs have shown me, it really has little to do with it. It is either there or not."
By continuing to make your statements that dogs don't need socialization, that it makes no difference at all, and that it's all genetics, you are disagreeing with your pal Gustav! lol
" Those who think it is crucial must have nerve bags for dogs IMO. "
Socialization IS crucial to some and beneficial to ALL!! To infer that I think that, because all I have are nerve bags, is quite insulting and nasty on your part!! Do you realize you are coming across as a judgmental, argumentative and nasty person? (like so many on this board)To state ones opinions and have differing points of view is one thing, but to insinuate insults, and judge someone you don't even know is taking it too far. I have never intentionally insulted you! Just because we have differing points of view does not mean that we can not get along and respect each other.
3rd @ workingdogz:
"But a dog that is shoulder checking for his handler while guarding?
Thats usually a dog 'telling on' it's handler to the world.
It's the equivalent of the dog saying- I've had my ass kicked in
this blind one too many times".
It does not matter WHY the dog is displaying that behavior!! Whether it's genetics or if they've had harsh/abusive training or a maraud of other reasons!!! The dog is showing lack of confidence.
by Chaz Reinhold on 11 July 2012 - 01:53
|When I go to buy a puppy, I look at the parents, I study the pedigrees, and I know (hope) that the traits I am looking for will be reproduced. That is called genetics. What I do with him, is develope potential. You can promote some things, and you can ruin some things. Socializing is good for every dog, but it doesn't make the dog. Genetics, genetics, genetics. Otherwise, we wouldn't love the breeds we do. We could just go out and buy an Italian Greyhound and mold it into a GSD. Just isn't going to happen.|
by maywood on 11 July 2012 - 16:39
To the OP: Don't be fooled by the pack animals that hang out on this board. Their whole goal is to muddy up the picture and spread disinformation with their long ramblings and smartass responses. Gustav has a tendency to think he is all knowing and when exposed to a new concept he apparently has never heard before he gets very offended and begins to act like a child in an attempt to discredit it.
by darylehret on 11 July 2012 - 17:08
|And also, that humans learn from other humans, so if you hang out on an online forum with numerous A holes, you just might become one yourself. Except for Ibrahim, that guy's untrainable.|
by Rass on 11 July 2012 - 17:40
|Chaz Reinhold said:|
When I go to buy a puppy, I look at the parents, I study the pedigrees, and I know (hope) that the traits I am looking for will be reproduced. That is called genetics. What I do with him, is develope potential. You can promote some things, and you can ruin some things. Socializing is good for every dog, but it doesn't make the dog. Genetics, genetics, genetics. Otherwise, we wouldn't love the breeds we do. We could just go out and buy an Italian Greyhound and mold it into a GSD. Just isn't going to happen.
This is the most concise information you will get. It is stated beautifully.
Dogs absolutley feed off of our behaviors... but the basic dog.. confident or not.. is still the basic dog. One dog may jump out of its skin if you do while another dog will not even raise his head off the floor. One dog will see you stiffen and open your eyes wider and become a nerve ball and be reactive.. while another dog will look at you and at whatever startled you as if to say, "Ho hum.. you are a total head case!"
The difference is genetics. Once the dog is on the ground you cannot change the genes... all you can do is work with what you have.
by Gustav on 11 July 2012 - 17:54
|@ Maywood , I am not all knowing, but I really don't think YOU will expose me to any new concepts. When people feel the need to go personal, which I consider defensive, I usually think of insecurity . Don't worry, I am not going to go down the personal road with you. Too many people are saying the same thing as me to be offended by some......Take care.|
by maywood on 11 July 2012 - 19:41
|Not so fast Gustav. Nobody's getting personal here; it’s about respect or the lack thereof. Your previous post was not only disrespectful to me, but it was disrespectful to the OP and the rest of the board and I'm calling you out on it. So don't sit there and try to spin this around as if I'm insecure or I'm getting personal or whatever bullshit you want to call it. Fact still remains; you presented a situation, asked a serious question, received a serious answer, and then proceeded to make a joke out of it because YOU weren't aware of it to begin with. I don't plan on going down any road with you nor will I lose any sleep over this. But it does seem a little obvious to me now why you didn't know lack of confidence in a dog may have something to do with the lack of respect in the person.|
by fawndallas on 11 July 2012 - 20:51
|OP - I have read through the posts here. Many, if not all, of the responders have some good insight; you just have to weed through the stong talk to get to the basics.|
Here is my take. I am by no means a professional trainer (but I am working on it), so take this all with a grain of salt.
Socialization is all part of raising a dog for the home. How much and where all depends on how you intend for the dog to fit into your family. Here are my examples:
a. Rose - Genetics or not (she is a Back Yard Bred dog), she is my go any where, do anything dog. I have socialized her from day one. To her, all humans are her friends. That is what I wanted. Yes, in the beginning (8 weeks old), she hide between my legs most of the time. By 10 weeks, with daily outings and exposer to people and sounds, every person was greeted with a talk wag and a lick and all sounds were met with a disinterested reaction.
Problem: I missed socializing her with groups of dogs. Not intentional on my part, it just never occurred to me. This became an issue the 1st time I took her to a dog park. She freaked out the first time 3 dogs came running over to meet and greet. If she could have, she would have jumped on my head and stayed there.
Solution: I took her to the park on a daily basis for a week. I worked with her on training and confidence building with all the other dog activity. By the end of the week, she was still a bit shy, but was starting to engage the dogs in some play. After I thought about it, I am ok with this reaction, in real life, there should be no "good" reason that multiple dogs should come up to her for play time. My goal was to not have her freak out; being weary is ok. We got there.
b. Baron - He was not socialized outside of the home. He is the house protection dog. He has his pack and extended pack. Anyone beyond that is met with hair raised and very firm "go away" in dog speak. I have never had someone not get the hint the 1st time and leave out. I have trained him to leave the issue alone if commanded; this has taken professional help and daily reminder to always obey me. He will watch with his undivided attention though. His reaction was never taught, he just did it once he established who his pack was. I think this is an instinctive trait of all dogs; "protect the pack." I think you will get this even from a little designer dog.
Problem: I cannot trust him around anyone outside of my immediate family or even with the "extended" pack. One wrong move, and I am not 100% sure of Baron's reaction.
Solution: He is not allowed free reign when we have guest. He goes to his room and has quiet time. Now that I am " growing up," I have learned that I should have done many things different. You can teach a dog to be weary of all other people, yet not react in an unpredictable way.
How I socialized and trained both dogs was the key. You are the leader. By instinct, dogs follow their leader. If you show hesitation, so will they; if you show confidence, so will they.
Good luck. Decide how you want the dog to fit in your family and socialize / train accordingly. Genetics or not, sounds like you have a good dog that you will do right by. You will make mistakes (all part of life). Your dog will forgive you. You cannot control the genetics, so do not worry over them. Work with what you can control and everything will be fine.