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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Met a lovely looking German shepherd in p&h (pets at home) asked the owner could I pet him ,he said yes so went to say hello called it name ...nope wasn't having any of it so crouched down and called its name again ,nope wasn't having any of it , so was going to give it up wen the next min I just felt a big bundle of fur in my arms and a wet tongue lick my face lol :) so I'm really just wondering if I did the right thing to the dog by crouching down by it and letting it come to me I know it's a pretty dumb question but I just want to know did I do the right thing thanks :)
 

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If a stranger came up to you on the street and rubbing your face and scratching you behind the ears, what would your reaction be? :D That's how I look at a dog, I wouldn't expect every dog to appreciate that.


For me it depends on where my dog is. If he's hanging out the car window on the gf's lap, he's all for pets and snuggles. Kids love him that way. On leash, he's tied to me and my energies. He will be friendly, totally cool with meets and greets of people or other dogs. You can reach down and pet him and he's fine with it.

Off leash, he's a different dog, very independant. Will come to you if he wants to meet you, let him come to you. Most kids are great, they ask if they can pet the dog, and he's cool with it, he enjoys kids.I pick him up and hold him, they pet him, makes it easier that they haven't got to chase him.
 

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German Shepherds are regarded as somewhat aloof dogs around humans they do not know. It is a generalization of course but seems to be more true than false. Per the AKC official GSD standard regarding a portion of its temperament " The breed has a distinct personality marked by direct and fearless, but not hostile, expression, self-confidence and a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships."

Since the owner felt confident in a meet and greet, I guess there was no harm but I might be hesitant to do the same if you were not given a go ahead by the handler or it was a strange dog with no handler. I tend to stay standing when meeting a strange dog and let the dog do its thing while I am somewhat indifferent but tend toward the friendly side of the fence of course. If that all goes well and I see the dog is calm, I might then crouch after a period of time of observing the dog's signals and posturing. Putting one's head at the same level of a strange dog can sometimes start a process which might not always go so well, dependent on the dog.

I'm very glad you enjoyed the " I just felt a big bundle of fur in my arms and a wet tongue lick my face"
 

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It all went well, so, yes, that time.
Asking first, excellent.
If the dog shows reluctance, shyness, aloof, then just be neutral. Chat with the owner, don't stare at, or approach the dog. Wait, or allow the dog to want to approach you, and it if it doesn't happen, compliment the owner on her beautiful dog. This puts you and the owner into positive friendly body language, puts the dog at ease, and every one's happy.

And because it's on topic, here's what NOT to do.
Link to a youtube video, a reporter invited to say "hi!" to a police dog in training. Watch the dogs body language and face expressions. The dog makes it clear from the start that he does not want to be petted (fearful) but the humans in the video don't notice until the dog bites.
Some obvious expressions, lip licking, flat ears, whale-eye (whites of eyes showing), probably more.
https://youtu.be/PHLnjiISsOo
 
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And because it's on topic, here's what NOT to do.
Link to a youtube video, a reporter invited to say "hi!" to a police dog in training. Watch the dogs body language and face expressions. The dog makes it clear from the start that he does not want to be petted (fearful) but the humans in the video don't notice until the dog bites.
Some obvious expressions, lip licking, flat ears, whale-eye (whites of eyes showing), probably more.
https://youtu.be/PHLnjiISsOo
Never seen that video before but it is a wonderful example of all the signals you mentioned. I'm a bit surprised the handler had such confidence in his new K9 partner and wasn't a bit more on top of the situation. I'm guessing he didn't allow that to happen again with that dog.

Great video of what not to do, just as you noted.
 

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The dog handler didn't notice those signs? Wow.
My guess is the officer was "camera struck", probably instructed to look at the camera to make a good interview. Watching it, I wince for all three of them. Should have had a 2nd dog handler to keep an eye on things, my comment from the bleachers, of course.

Yes, it looked like a trainwreck coming from the beginning to me, but a 1st time owner, maybe not. For me, a reminder to watch your dog, or others, and maybe folks who don't "read dog" that well (like the journalist) something to watch for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It all went well, so, yes, that time.
Asking first, excellent.
If the dog shows reluctance, shyness, aloof, then just be neutral. Chat with the owner, don't stare at, or approach the dog. Wait, or allow the dog to want to approach you, and it if it doesn't happen, compliment the owner on her beautiful dog. This puts you and the owner into positive friendly body language, puts the dog at ease, and every one's happy.

And because it's on topic, here's what NOT to do.
Link to a youtube video, a reporter invited to say "hi!" to a police dog in training. Watch the dogs body language and face expressions. The dog makes it clear from the start that he does not want to be petted (fearful) but the humans in the video don't notice until the dog bites.
Some obvious expressions, lip licking, flat ears, whale-eye (whites of eyes showing), probably more.
https://youtu.be/PHLnjiISsOo
Thanks for the vid it was helpful :) you could clearly see that the dog didn't like being petted, lol I know it went well that time but I do always chat with owners it's the only time I talk to people when it's about their pets heehee!
 

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I work around dogs daily, and unless I have a reason to interact with a given dog, I only "greet" dogs that obviously want to be greeted. These dogs are typically giving some sort of direct but inviting eye contact, and otherwise relaxed or outwardly excited to meet someone new, either trying to approach me, or obviously looking for me to approach them.

I usually "ignore" dogs that are not showing these signs, as many of them are stressed/fearful by the environment (vet's office), distracted, or overstimulated, and the rest just usually aren't super interested in meeting new people. Ignoring in this case usually means giving a "Hi Puppy!" (more for the owner's sake), and stopping if they show curiosity/desire to sniff, but not usually making direct eye contact or touching unless they initiate it. Having had both aloof and fearful dogs, I came to appreciate people that didn't insist on making my dog like them, and my dogs tended to prefer those people as well.

I usually don't crouch unless a dog is obviously just timid and not giving any sort of stranger danger signs... the typical dog that I would crouch for to encourage them to approach would be making soft eye contact, maybe wagging just the tip of their tail, sitting crooked or even rolling on their hip while approaching, and/or making attempts to approach, but chickening out partway over- nice dogs that just need me to be less scary. I also frequently crouch for dogs that are over the moon excited to greet people and prone to jumping up, as it tends to keep them on the ground, so they don't get in trouble. I'm more apt to crouch to invite "iffy" dogs that aren't with their owner, as they tend to be more true to their body language, and IME, easier to predict the response of.

I've actually met a lot of dogs that get tense when you hold both sides of their neck/face, and that's what stands out to me most with the dog in that video. The dog was nervous and on the fence about biting the entire time, and when the reporter trapped him by holding his head/neck (plus leaned over him), he was done.
 

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approaching a dog at his level is also a very good idea. Most dogs do not like having something over there head or towering over them.
I have read this along with countering opinions ( depends on the dog and the situation) but have always wondered about this approaching at the dog's level mentality. I can appreciate how crouching down to a small dog makes some sense and basically has to happen if one pets a small dog unless one has really long arms or super short legs. But, with larger dogs one is not familiar with or doesn't get reassurance from the owner, I might think twice about approaching at their level as it puts the eyes into play. Unfortunately, too many little kids have taken a bite because of an encounter at the same level, once again it could be other variables. Personally, I would never approach or crouch down to a larger strange dog's level unless I had observed the dog's demeanor and gone through my procedure while standing. I somewhat believe that dogs become accustomed to humans towering above them in fairly short order and it is the smaller humans which puzzle them at times. Face to face at a dog's level accompanied with a straight on approach can create tension in many dogs. When I crouch down to a larger dog when I feel confident I will generally do it so my body is not square with the dog as this profile is less threatening to a dog. I kind of have this feeling that once a human's face comes too close to a dog's face, the fireworks can begin dependent on the dog. I have no problem whatsoever if my torso,thigh,arms or hands are close to a dog's face as this is what a larger dog has grown used to when it encounters humans.
 

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Yeah, I don't crouch unless I'm pretty sure that the dog isn't going to respond in such a way that I need to back up quickly. That's another area where I consider owner presence- I tend to be more wary of nervous dogs with owners vs alone, and afford those dogs more respect in the form of space because nervous dogs with backup (owner) or on leash (no option to flee) IME tend to be more apt to behave defensively vs just avoiding. And I think the slow motion in that video does an excellent job of showing how much slower humans are than dogs- the handler was right there, and still corrected/pulled the dog back well after he was done biting the reporter.

When I crouch, I usually end up crouching sort of parallel to/at slight angle to the dog because it tends to make nervous dogs feel better and it's harder for crazy happy dogs to knock me onto my butt. This also naturally orients my gaze away from them, and makes their chest/shoulder readily available for scratching without needing to reach over/around their head. Honestly, when I think about it, I rarely do standing petting head on, either. My starting point for petting/touching most dogs is the chest or shoulder (depending on their orientation to me), then I'll work my way up for an ear scratch if they seem amenable, and so on. Usually just one hand (except for crazy happys, where I feel like I could have 8 hands and it still not be enough! for them it's usually one hand to keep them off my person, and the other to pet :) ), and the top of the head only if they present that part.

I do think crouching is preferable to bending at the waist to pet a smaller dog, as crouching makes you smaller in general, and when you bend, your upper body tends to loom over most dogs, which is a definite negative for many.

One more thing, while it's important to always ask before petting, don't take the owner's answer as gospel. Some of the scariest encounters I've seen have been preceded by owners saying, "He's fine!", and followed by owners scratching head saying, "Gosh, he's never done that before...?". In several of these cases that I've seen, the dog has looked sketchy to me from the start of the interaction, and I've been more surprised by the owner giving the go ahead than by the dog's reaction. Yes, ask, and if the owner says no, that's it (there's probably a reason!). But even if they say you're good, you still should use your own discretion to determine if/how to proceed.

In the case with the dog in your OP, I would probably have engaged the owner in small talk while the dog was apparently distracted. Then, if the dog turned his attention to you, you could engage if he looked amenable. Either way, it sounds like things turned out well, and you made a new buddy :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I would probably have engaged the owner in small talk while the dog was apparently distracted. Then, if the dog turned his attention to you, you could engage if he looked amenable. Either way, it sounds like things turned out well, and you made a new buddy :)
oh I would have done only owner was already talking to someone else lol , but he gave me the go ahead to pet his dog so I did, I will be careful if theres a next time though , because I already knew that gsds arnt the most sociable of breeds, but I guess the owner must have socialized and exercised the snot out of him and had confidance in him I guess to say I could pet him.
 
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