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by Juno on 11 March 2019 - 12:03

This is a very interesting topic. My dog comes from purely west WL, wether he is all sport or all working I will leave it up to the experts. What I do know is that he is by no means socially aggressive but has very good discernment. As an example, recently we were for our after dinner walk and it was dark, we were walking (on leash) through our neighborhood and I was not paying too much attention when all of a sudden he lunged and started barking and I heard someone cry out “hey, hey, hey..” when I finally go him under control I realized someone was standing in the dark and smoking. I had no clue he was there but obviously my dog picked up on it (I guess that’s what he was bred for). We finally walked away but he kept looking back till we were out of sight. So he definitely has a civil side to him that he has displayed several times. Then again yesterday we were walking when he suddenly turned around and looked and I realized that a little kid had snuck up on us on his bike. We just stepped aside and the kid wizzed by and my dog did not pay him any attention. Same dog two different reactions exactly as I would have expected him to - we did not train for it. He had it genetically. On the sports field he can bite really hard and leave bruises, obedience is not flashy, has an off switch and can go to sleep while waiting his turn unless there is bitework going on then he can get all worked up.

by ValK on 11 March 2019 - 13:03

duke, of course it was, as you call it "breeding in one direction".
and thanks to that the dogs was good for what they was bred. obviously when one select for mating only dogs who from generation to generation did prove to be good in one particular purpose, you cannot expect that their offspring on the snap of the fingers will excel in different fields of use.

and yet, looking at sale adds in which dogs, who mostly spend their life between sofa and walk in the park, in best case with lone weekly visit to local dog's activity club, magically produce litter, from which buyer can pick whatever he or she need. according to seller in every sole litter pups are good candidates in range from LE/PP to PTSD and active companion.

by emoryg on 11 March 2019 - 13:03

Apple, it definitely sounds like you are headed in the right direction and I hope you continued success to you in his training.  I would love to see pics of your boy or better, a video.  I always enjoy watching the dog’s progress and putting a face on them.

I have a particular interest in dogs considered too strong and dominate.  BM mentioned in the opening post about the two dogs being put down because of their dominate characteristics.  It brought back memories of a young dog who is buried alongside several of my four-legged partners.  But this dog didn’t receive the hero’s accolades, the honor guard or flag draped coffin.  The public wasn’t invited; police cars didn’t line in procession and make the drive to cemetery.  This dog was quietly buried and if not for his name on the headstone, would all but be forgotten.  Why?  Because he also displayed those dominate characteristics.  The rookie handler and equally as experienced unit trainer were clueless on how to handle (handler) the dog.  Instead of seeking help from those who worked and trained these dogs, they took advice from those who encouraged euthanasia.   Yes, it rubs me wrong that I wasn’t given the opportunity to work with this dog.  I refrain from saying ‘fix the dog’ as that would insinuate that the dog had a problem.   Being strong and dominate is not a problem with the dog, if anything it is a problem with the handler and trainer’s inability to channel this behavior in the proper direction.  First thing that must be accepted is that you will never get rid of what mother nature bestowed on these dogs.  Time and effort should be geared towards minimizing and redirecting and making sure that the dog understands that displays of this behavior, when not desired, will never achieve their intended goal. 

Unfortunately, some of these animals are often bombarded with such severe criticism that a negative perception forms to the extend that a death warrant is mandated.  In a world with increasing violence, especially at the local LE level, to think that a dog who has such potential and capacity to cope in this environment is a disservice to all law abiding citizens.   

by Juno on 11 March 2019 - 13:03

Emoryg, one of my dog’s litter mates from an earlier litter born in Europe faired the same fate and was put down by the Swedish Army because he was not given a chance to bond properly and was passed on to handler after handler because he was too “dominant”. Apprantly he “mauled” a rookie handler and was put down. Original breeder in Denmark of this litter was very upset as he said that there was nothing wrong with the dog, handlers did not know how to handle him. He said he could have resolved it if given a chance because he had another male from the same litter returned to him for the same reasons and he rehomed him. He is the one who also advised me to really bond with my dog and have obedience down pat before doing any bitework as the males of his particular combination have a tendency of being dominant. To be honest, even though my dog can be a bone head at times, and is crazy possessive about his toys he has NEVER shown any aggression towards me.


by emoryg on 11 March 2019 - 14:03

Juno, I remember my early police dog seminar days.  Those dominate dogs were easy to spot.  They were either assuming the hangman or the whirly bird positions.  The handlers were just as easy to spot.  The bandages on the arm (sometimes legs) were a dead giveaway.  No fault to the dog and most of the time, no fault to the handler as they didn’t know better.  Most often the case the handler had just received the dog and was quickly having to assert himself in an attempt to get the dog certified in the various venues.  Anytime a new handler, especially with little if any experience is placed with a strong dominate dog, the potential for a disaster is set into motion.  This was especially true when the LE dog market was growing fast and the influx of German Shepherds from Czech and DDR was still pretty new.  New importers (some with no experience) were popping up everywhere and word of mouth and good reputation of trusted importers was lost to the lower price and get rich quick schemes.  Not to say you didn’t see the more dominate dogs before, but this would have occurred before my personal exposure and I will leave it to those who were around those dogs to provide input. 

Early in my career I learned the hard way that some dogs came out of the box ready to take on any street thug who preyed upon victims.  But they also came out of the box not ready to bow down or submit to any Tom, Dick or Emory that thought since he had already trained dozens of dogs, that he could just grab the leash and get started on his merry way.  It was this type of negligence, like my own, that led to some of the misunderstanding and subsequent bad reputation a few of these dogs received.  Some who have been around the breed, admire some of the qualities these dogs possessed.  Having worked with some, I swear by them. 

Without seeing the encounters with the handler you would have little clue what was going on with these dogs as they tended to excel in all facets of police work.   You mentioned bonding.  I was later taught that the success in working these dogs is best achieved in a bonding ritual that involves patience, trust, respect, but also making sure you remember what end of leash you belong on.  I conducted a few ‘coming to jesus’ sessions myself.  It was never an issue after that.  Maybe once. 

Referring to the dog I mention, he was put down before I was told about the incident.  The way I understand it, the ecollar was introduced to stop the dog’s behaviors.  I seriously doubt handler or trainer had experience with electricity.  The way it was explained, the dog started going after anything in the handler’s hand.  I can only guess, he figured out where the shock was coming from and was taking action to stop it, then actions to avoid it, you may hear it referred to as a preemptive strike.  As Valk mentioned, these dogs tend to be extremely self confidant, incredibly smart and excel at problem solving.   Of the dogs I police with, the three who displayed the most dominance were also probably the most clever.   

by Juno on 11 March 2019 - 15:03


It is uncanny that you mention the use of “ecollar” to stop the dog’s behavior. That was exactly what happened to my dog’s older litter mates. In fact, the breeder specifically cautioned me against the use of ecollars especially on the males of this bloodlines as in his word “they remember it and will take it out on you one day”. He repeatedly said exactly what you say bond, respect, and get the obedience down pat before any bitework otherwise you won’t be able to control them when you need to control them the most, this from an European breeder who has been doing for decades and personally bred, handled, and tilted many GSDs.

by ValK on 11 March 2019 - 19:03

in regard of initial post from BM, that as you said above "without seeing the encounters with the handler you would have little clue what was going on with these dogs".
could be dominant dogs. could be sharply aggressive dogs with personality sort of "leave me alone".
i also did know some dogs, who awhile after re-homing been shoot due to unmanageability.
and there was nothing in respect of strong dominant nature.
as i mentioned before, quite often people don't understand dog's dominance and link aggression to dominance.
dominance in dog isn't that that dog punishing everyone around by bite. it's about the urge in the dog to control,
to lead and if necessary - force others to submit to his will. serious bite comes as a last resort.

b.t.w. damn, i wish i could express my thoughts in the way you doing. since you retired from LE work did you ever
consider to start writing the books?

by ValK on 11 March 2019 - 20:03

An image

An image

here some article from that time, you mentioned about influx of DDR dogs.
curious if someone in here know breeder, who was mentioned there and how all that "ossi's adventure" ended?


by GK1 on 11 March 2019 - 20:03

Any date time group on this article?

“...they have to want to play with ball...all police dog training is done with a ball.”

Reads as if these Cold War era dogs bred for border patrol were also valued for their prey/play drive. And they played with cats for recreation too.

by ValK on 12 March 2019 - 00:03

seems you need to re-read again. this time not by diagonal but line by line in horizontal direction.

"she said the east German bred dogs she rises and sells to law enforcement share a history that dates back through the Cold War years...
...believed by some to have been bred for sentry duty along the Berlin Wall..."

sometime back in another topic was discussion of differences between border patrol dogs and the "wall dogs". in article seems no one did claim to import and sell dogs direct from hands of acting border guards to LE department. quite opposite, talks only about import from (unnamed sources) of former DDR.

but nice try though. i'm sure next time you'll do better :)

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