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I was wondering what your take was on sharp dogs, and if this is necessarily a good or a bad thing. My dog of west GSD working lines is normally very stable and calm around all sorts of instances--I've taken him everywhere and he goes along, gives me 100% whenever I ask him of anything. He doesn't bark at strangers in the house or outside, in fact you can let him sit in front of people he's never met before and he'll ignore them or lick them if he passes by. He's aloof otherwise, doesn't seek attention from anyone except me and a number of people. The ONLY thing is, he will bark very, very aggressively when certain scenarios happen, namely:

a.) Someone talks aggressively to us or within a certain radius around me, in or out of the house.
b.) A large, dominant-looking male stares at his eyes.
c.) A male does anything he doesn't like, i.e. barge into my room even if he knows him.

Like earlier today, we've passed by a number of people during our walk and he didn't do anything. In fact a woman came screaming at her child behind us and all he did was look behind a little unconcerned. Then we pass by a large man, who stared at him a little too close for comfort, and he started barking aggressively. I corrected him immediately and he stopped and we walked along normally.

He has never done this to a woman or a child or a 'meek' man.

I take great precaution with him knowing his quirks, and he is always under my control (in fact my hand was on his prong an instant before he started at the man earlier)...should I be concerned at all about his behaviour? Will he generally get more discerning of people as he gets older (he's only 12 months)? Should I be correcting him more, like put him on a down in front of the person he offended? If so, will this affect his protection work later in life? The breeder has mentioned the lines are known for suspicion.
 

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Sharpness, IMHO, is an agressive reaction to a stimulus.
Sharpness has a bajillion levels. It can be a very desirable trait for good protection dogs but at it's extream you have a fear biter.
My schutzhund TD said my dog is a little to sharp for JUST sport work. Probably best suited for LE K9. Yet, he's a very clear headed, social dog so he has the ability to "think" through a problem as apposed to a junkyard dog kinda sharpness.
My JRT, on the other hand, will over react to just about anybody and anything. I can easily keep him under control, but I'll never totally trust him to NOT react badly in many situations.
As long as it doesn't become a big control issue, I wouldn't worry about it. Just be a responsable owner/trainer.
 

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I look for dogs with sharpness.they just work out better for me as long as they are stable.
What you described doesnt sound like an overly sharp dog.He could be a little sharp but it sounds like he is just being very dominant to me.Anytime he sees a "challenging" person he wants to make them submit.If they arent challenging then he is cool with them.
A sharp dog will react and not just bark.They want to hurt whatever they see as a threat.A very sharp dog may not bark or growl at all, they will just bite and often they will be too quick for you to catch it if your not paying attention.most people want to avoid this type of sharp dog...or send them to me :lol:

Greg
 

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Bob Scott said:
As long as it doesn't become a big control issue, I wouldn't worry about it. Just be a responsable owner/trainer.
i think that sums it perfectly. then greg added that this is dominance and not really sharpness. again, i agree.

Bob Scott said:
Sharpness, IMHO, is an agressive reaction to a stimulus.
i would only slightly change that for my definition. or maybe it's the same, but the LEVEL of sharpness is determined by the dogs threshold to the stimulus. some dogs get aggressive very quickly. some dogs have to be yelled at, crop swung at them, lots of lateral movement. that type of thing. that would be a "dull" dog. high threshold for when his aggressive response kicks in. the sharp dog never relaxes. he is always "on". it takes very little for his aggressive response to kick in (low threshold).

going back to what bob said, this is where your protection training comes in. you should be working on exercizes where the decoy fires up the dog and then you give the dog a down command and he is to go down immediately and cease barking. things like that to polish his "on/off" switch. the behavior you're describing could be dangerous to someone with no knowledge of dogs and the importance of training. if you never did protection work with this dog, he would never learn to stop this response. i don't think there is anything "bad" with his behavior. the scenarios you describe are ones where you would want your dog to take notice of what is going on, but just not so aggressively...
 

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Sharpness, IMHO, is an agressive reaction to a stimulus.
I have a slightly different take on this subject, because I see sharpness as a DEFENSIVE reaction to a stimulus. The lower the threshold, the smaller the stimulus needed...for FIGHT or FLIGHT. This includes the fear part of the spectrum. Sharpness has to do with nerves in general, IMO.

But regarding Lyn's post, I interpret it as that her dog is NOT overly sharp. I can't say he's dominant either, just because he "rises to a challenge", because I don't interpret her post to be saying her dog is pushy. He's just cool and level headed...except when..etc.

Further, he's still pretty cool when...
A male does anything he doesn't like, i.e. barge into my room even if he knows him.
He just barks, although "very aggressively", instead of chewing up the "intruder".

Needless to say I don't like sharpness. I much prefer dominance and social aggression.
 

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I agree that sharpness has to do with nerves in general.I dont see that as good or bad..its just how it is.
My idea of bad nerves is usually very different than most peoples.I have had and have seen dogs with truly bad nerves.Alot of people judge nerves the wrong way from lack of experience.I dont mind seeing sharpness in a dog.
To me sharpness is the reaction time between the instant a dog realizes that there is a threat and the instant that the dog decides to react (read bite) to the threat.Im not really talking about a dog that just barks.A sharp dog WILL bite.These dogs neeed their confidence built up and control control control!

Greg
 

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I think were all on the same page but it's always interesting to hear the slight differences or interprtations.
Nerves and sharpness are the combination that can make the difference between a good working dog, (sharp with strong nerves) and the fear biter (sharp with weak nerves).
Again, there are a numerous levels in between the two but all might be considered sharp.
 

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I agree with the phrase "Sharp" meaning how fast the dog reacts with a bite to a stimulus. Personally, I don't like a Sharp dog, in the definition above. I prefer a confident, dominant dog. If protection is the reason for the dog, then I like the dog to be confident, dominant and protective with a very level head. Sadly to date, I have had only one dog that fit that criteria, and she was an Alaskan Malamute LOL. Believe it or not, LOL
 

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Liz Monty said:
I agree with the phrase "Sharp" meaning how fast the dog reacts with a bite to a stimulus. Personally, I don't like a Sharp dog, in the definition above. I prefer a confident, dominant dog. If protection is the reason for the dog, then I like the dog to be confident, dominant and protective with a very level head. Sadly to date, I have had only one dog that fit that criteria, and she was an Alaskan Malamute LOL. Believe it or not, LOL
JMO but I don't think a dog can have good protective instincts without a bit of sharpness.
My GSD is total confidence. Absolutely no dominance with family or other dogs (other then my JRT :roll: ).
Again, there are a bajillion levels of sharpness. Some necessary. Some just a pita!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Greg Long said:
What you described doesnt sound like an overly sharp dog..... A sharp dog will react and not just bark.
When I posted this message I always had the dog on a short leash, so he never had the opportunity to bite. So he barked. He roared, more like it, but there you go.

And then he nearly got someone a while back. :oops:

My dog is confident, but I've found that his sharpness makes him "react" to things I would otherwise never notice. e.g we were walking along, and some guy just passes by us at the other side of the street a bit of a distance away. A few people have already passed us but he didn't take notice. This time his ears went up. A bit later I noticed the guy had strayed to the middle of the street and was wobbling and talking out loud to people. He was drunk.

The dog just "notices" a lot of things, and so far we've been working on making him simply not react unless told to or there is direct threat involved. But certainly he is always 'on his toes', which means I need to be always on MY toes, but it doesn't mean that he's unstable or nervy or anything...far from it. I don't believe sharpness is related to those things at all. You can have a sharp nervy dog, or a sharp not nervy dog. By what I've learned so far, I define sharpness as the dog being quick to react to things.
 

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Bob Scott Wrote:

JMO but I don't think a dog can have good protective instincts without a bit of sharpness.
My GSD is total confidence. Absolutely no dominance with family or other dogs (other then my JRT Rolling Eyes ).
Again, there are a bajillion levels of sharpness. Some necessary. Some just a pita!
Yes, I think I know what you mean. Do you mean that some sharpness would allow the dog to react with a bite or worse when the stimulus was warrenting enough to do so???? In that I agree. I was meaning that I don't like any sharpness to show up in anything less than a direct threat to the handler, family or dog. A kind of threat that would be beyond a mistaken loud voice or yelling, or mistaken running at by a child, etc.
I don't know if I'm explaining this well, but I'm trying
 

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This is an example of the type of Confidence, dominance and protective display this Malamute would do: some may call it sharpness, but I don't look at it that way, I could be wrong. "one example - walking her on lead around our neighborhood, a man and his tall teenage son stopped to ask about a stray dog we had all been looking for over a long period of weeks. The two men faced my dog and I directly in front and only a few feet away. My voice rose in anger about the missing dog and the Malamute responded to my tone of voice with an instant alert to these two men that she would not tolerate this threat she perceived that I felt. Her focus on them was steady and her posture was that of a dog ready to defend me if needed, but she gave a very good, clear warning to them. Although the dog was dominant by nature, she always treated people and strangers with an aloofness but acceptance with no signs of fear or dominance. Her dominance only showed itself in situations like the one above. So maybe she could be described as a "sharp thinker" LOL
I would be happy to hear any opinions on the type of dog trait I have just described. It would help me understand more about this subject.
 

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I understand what your saying!
Regardless of the level of sharpness, it's all about control and some dogs require more responsability ( restrictions) with the extra control needed.
I love the edge that my dog has but he's still sound around my grandkids.
 

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Liz Monty said:
This is an example of the type of Confidence, dominance and protective display this Malamute would do: some may call it sharpness, but I don't look at it that way, I could be wrong. "one example - walking her on lead around our neighborhood, a man and his tall teenage son stopped to ask about a stray dog we had all been looking for over a long period of weeks. The two men faced my dog and I directly in front and only a few feet away. My voice rose in anger about the missing dog and the Malamute responded to my tone of voice with an instant alert to these two men that she would not tolerate this threat she perceived that I felt. Her focus on them was steady and her posture was that of a dog ready to defend me if needed, but she gave a very good, clear warning to them. Although the dog was dominant by nature, she always treated people and strangers with an aloofness but acceptance with no signs of fear or dominance. Her dominance only showed itself in situations like the one above. So maybe she could be described as a "sharp thinker" LOL
I would be happy to hear any opinions on the type of dog trait I have just described. It would help me understand more about this subject.
although it's hard to tell from just that example...i wouldn't necessarily call the dog in that situation "sharp". she keyed off of your tone of voice. the sharp dog would have keyed on those two before they got to you. in my opinion the handler raising their voice to a person is a moderately high threshold of stimulus...
 

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So the dog in question isn't sharp, right?

I would go along with that basic theory. For me a sharp dog bites first. The fact that you are tightening on the leash and a little scared that he is gonna get someone is not helping. Stop going along with the behavior and tell him to quit it, and I am sure it will go away. Not like these people were out for your life, and I am sure the dog thinks it's funny to see them jump. Sharp??? no, buttwipe??? yes. I have had this dog. They are funny.



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