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Reaction To My Dog


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You have helped me so much so far and I am so grateful.

My German shephered dog is an oldie - 11+.

Deaf, can't see that well, walks slowly (his hind legs are slowly giving away).

I love him dearly and he is a big part of my life (especially after having lost lately a close family member).

Nelson is well behaved, always on a leash at a decent distance from people and dogs.

I walk him early in the morning to avoid crowds and other offleash dogs attacking him. People often stop me and compliment him on his beautiful "old" demeanor.

I live in a suburb with a predominantly Asian population. Many middle aged women have small fluffy dogs. Whenever they see my dog they recoil in horror, quickly grab their dog and anxiously watch me walk by. I say that my dog is ok and not to worry. But slowly I am getting sick of it - why should I make excuses for this beautiful intelligent breed? German shepherds make such a valuable contribution to our community.

I heard one saying to her child not to approach us as “these dogs are dangerous”.

Yesterday another episode - a woman was holding her little white fluffball and screaming in panick when I walked by (I might add that often these small "cuties" run lose and bark at my dog)

I just wonder if any forum members have had a similar experience and how you cope

Edited by GSDowner
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Your dog sounds lovely :)

it's not personal..or directed at your dog - it is a cultural thing ..and ,although it can be disconcerting , remember the people doing the worrying are the ones who have the problem :) many times they are just not used to larger dogs ..and many may have experiences of feral dog packs ... it happens .

I remember once training guide dogs - we were doing lift training in a department store . The dog found teh lift , I pressed a button , and we waited. The lift arrived, and upon the door opening- it was a scene reminiscent of a Horror House ride!! A whole lift full of little asian school kids- scared to death of suddenly being confronted with a large dog - while they were in a confined space :( poor little kids . I removed myself and dog very quickly, and left them to settle again ...

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I've had it walking with Dory, she's all of 14kg and doesn't quite make it to my knees. We've been walking minding our own business and had people scream in terror and run across the road. Dory wasn't even looking at them.

I just ignore it. I figure so long as my dogs are behaving themselves and are under control, what more can you do?

In the distant past, I even had someone follow me down the road ranting at me about my 'viscious, child killer and one day I'll wake up dead in my bed' ( :laugh: wake up dead...yeah).

They really aren't worth the wasted breath because you won't be able to change their mind with words. The best comeback is a dog that is biddable, well behaved and under control, so you can swiftly and gracefully cruise past the nutters without turning your head in their direction.

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I also live in an area with many Asian people, there are different reactions, some of them like my small dogs and ask about them.

Others look at them in horror and cross the road or try and squeeze themselves into gateways etc. I've had people shriek as well ....

I've learned to give them a very wide berth if we are on the same path or cross the road.

I asked a Chinese lady I work with if she was frightened of dogs and she said that she was brought up to believe all dogs were diseased and dangerous and would bite her so she was terrified of them - no matter what size.

So it is very much cultural.

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As for the off leash dog scenario - there is a problem in my area but only one dog is small, others are much larger. None of them are with their owners, they are all wandering loose .... usually the same households that are just totally irresponsible and no matter how many times the council visits (and I'm talking about over the YEARS), these morons don't change.

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It is not always just a "cultural" thing. I have a similar reaction by many older ladies with SWFs when I walk my very sedate Labrador. I think it is more a personality thing - the personality of the owner/s of the SWF. The SWFs invariably try to get to my dog in a very aggressive manner. And the owners generally hurry them away, looking daggers at me and my dog over their shoulders. Don't think there is much we can do, except smile sweetly and keep going.

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Where are you walking him early in the morning that there are so many people around? I walk my dogs reasonably early in the morning and rarely do I see another person. If I do it's someone also out walking their dog and we simply exchange a polite 'Good Morning' and keep walking.

Where are you finding all these middle aged women with fluffy dogs and mothers with kids at that hour of the morning?

Ignore people who make stupid comments because they're are afraid of big dogs. They're showing there ignorance.

Find an area to walk your dog where there is less people traffic.

When I was walking my well behaved Rottweiler I would occasionally get good natured comments such as 'who is walking whom' because I'm short and of slight build and I was walking a large dog.

I'm surprised you meet with so many people early in the morning.

Simply ignore negative comments and those people who are terrified enough to clutch their dog to their breast when they see a large dog. They don't know any better.

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My GSD boy Rex is also 11 yrs old and his back legs are going too...have him on glucosamine which helps but he still has trouble walking so I don't. He can hear but his sight isn't good now...unfortunately GSDs don't live very long.

We hope he'll live another year...but who knows and we'll miss him terribly when his time comes. When you own a GSD the first thing you notice is how people are scared of them and I don't care what these people think...and you shouldn't either.

These people are very ignorant and your not going to change their attitude...so why get upset it's not worth it. We know how wonderful the Breed is and that's all that matters. :thumbsup:

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It seems to me that most people are ignorant fools, particularly about dogs. I wouldnt worry about it or else find another place to walk if it bugs you that much.

I have the opposite problem lots of people come shrieking up to Jonah to fondle him especially kids and I have had to be rude a few times to dimwits who wont listen when I ask them not to touch him as he is very fearful of people reaching for his head and bending over him.

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I see your elderly (and rather delightful GSD) AND the two muzzled greyhounds and raise you three muzzled greyhounds!

Yeah, shrieks, grabbing fluffies, screaming that my dogs are vicious, threatening to shoot my dogs (yes, really), dirty, diseased, disgusting....... Sometimes I educate, most of the time I just can't be bothered. I walk where I want, avoid small fluffies where possible (two non-fluffy safe greys), step off the path and out of the way in case someone tries to take a swing, smile and cheerfully say 'Good (time of day)!'

The ones I do try to educate are the people I see regularly, some of whom have started in horror and fear, and ended up being delighted when my guys recognise them and leap towards them for cuddles. Others have stopped screaming and started standing still and watching me carefully. The kids I also try to educate, mainly because they're fascinated by both the dogs' size and the muzzles. Hermon adores children so that helps. We try to talk about how to approach strange dogs, what muzzles mean (that you should always ask the owners permission and that usually muzzles do mean a dog might be dangerous so to be extra careful.) And over time, the parents ask more questions too.

I try to remember that it isn't me, it's them. And that there are times when I am very cautious about dogs and some specific breeds (dachshunds, staffies, cattledogs and any fluffies, and any thing which is bouncing on the end of the leash with the owner not in control. Big fluffies like huskies also set my lot off because they've been aggressively approached in the past). And that, as bewildering to me as it is, there are people who just don't like dogs. And that's fine. It's my job to keep the buggalugs out of their way and be as unobtrusive as possible. And in 99% of cases I've ended up with vastly improved relationships with all other people on my walks because I am polite, get my dogs out of the way and under control and clean up after them.

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Best way to cope with this sort of thing IMO is to change you reaction to their reaction! I have a SBT and a mastiff x, loads of people cross the road when they see me walking one of the dogs.

I wave and sometimes yell out Thanks when they cross the road (personally I don't like unknown dogs heading towards each other nose to nose, so I will cross if they don't).

So if I was you, I would start crossing the road before they did, and if it was someone I had seen before who did the whole shrieking thing, I would probably do the same to them and their dog (although you obviously can't pick your dog up!). Would make walking the dog so much more fun :laugh:

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Shrug it off! You love your dog, that's all that matters. :) People can be very thoughtless sometimes and say or do things that hurt our feelings. I often get comments about my dogs - 'Eww they are so skinny!' (IG and Greyhound), 'Look at its funny haircut!' (Std Poodle). I don't care, they are my dogs and I know the truth. I just smile and judge them in silence lol.

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Guest donatella

I am not Asian but I have small fluffies who are very dear to me. When approached by a larger dog of any breed I pick mine up as I don't know the dog in question. I was at the vets the other day and picked mine up as there were 3 larger dogs wanting to say hello with the owners going 'don't worry they're friendly'.

I don't think they mean it personally to your dog but they are thinking of the safety of their own. I would give you a wide berth on the footpath too because my dogs safety is my prority no matter how friendly you say he is.

Edited by donatella
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It is not always just a "cultural" thing. I have a similar reaction by many older ladies with SWFs when I walk my very sedate Labrador... I think it is more a personality thing - the personality of the owner/s of the SWF. Don't think there is much we can do, except smile sweetly and keep going.

Glen, I agree with you.

But understanding of the other side can be helpful. There can be reasons for the reaction of some people with smaller dogs.

First, they may have had a bad experience. When I owned 2 shelties, I had a bad experience with one German Shepherd that came flying at us at high speed (its owner's back was turned talking to people). I'm not afraid of dogs, but my heart nearly stopped that time!

Second, older ladies can feel more physically vulnerable about all sorts of things. And don't feel as sturdy to deal with any possible argy bargy.

Third, numbers of those who react, old or young or of another culture (or whatever), are just not familiar with bigger dogs, so carry an inaccurate stereotype. And can't make a realistic assessment of a big dog... like what happens with the OP's harmless dog.

Add on some understanding for the owners of the innocent bigger dogs... just like the OP. Must feel horrible to get a response that your dog is a natural born killer! Now, I own smaller dogs... all of whom have had good socialising with big dogs. Their best friends are the racing greyhounds next door! So, when out with them, I'm always happy for them to socialize with 'good' big dogs we meet. I've found the big dog owners pleased for the opportunity.

There's not a lot of time to go into history, tho', when strangers meet strangers with their dogs... so I think your last sentence is great advice.

Edited by mita
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