In 2017, a German Shepherd police dog named Finn was named Hero Animal Of The Year at The Mirror’s Animal Hero Awards after it bravely protected its handler from a knife attack. An act that perfectly embodied a German Shepherd’s protective nature.
But you probably already know that German Shepherds are protective dogs. What’s unclear though is if they do such protective acts, like shielding their owners from a knife attack, without training.
Will My German Shepherd Protect Me Without Training?
German Shepherds are instinctively protective dogs and will thus generally protect their families. However, it would be difficult to tell whether an untrained German Shepherd will protect you in the way you expect, as you’ll never know how an untrained dog would react in tense situations.
To understand further, this article will look into the German Shepherd’s protective instincts, their means of protection, and the uncertainty when it comes to an untrained GSD.
A German Shepherd’s History And Its Protective Instincts
In 1899, a German Cavalry officer, Captain Max von Stephanitz, made it a mission to develop the ideal herding dog. Through that mission, he and other like-minded breeders from Germany soon bred the ancestors of the modern German Shepherd Dog.
Meaning, German Shepherds weren’t developed for police or military work but were instead bred for herding and protecting sheep. As such, the German Shepherd came to be by breeding dogs with qualities ideal for herding such as a protective disposition.
Uncertainties About Protecting Without Training
If German Shepherds are naturally protective, then why the uncertainty when it comes to them protecting their owners without training? Well, again, there’s no telling how an untrained German Shepherd would react to potential threats.
Think of it this way. Suppose we have two people, person A who is an average person, and person B, who is combat trained. Who do you think would be able to react and defend themselves better in a high-pressure situation like in the presence of an intruder?
Generally speaking, it would be person B. Now, that’s not to say that person A won’t be able to protect him or herself. But relatively speaking, a combat-trained person would probably have a better chance of doing so.
The same goes for German Shepherds. A trained German Shepherd will have a better grasp of threat assessment and how to react to threats in general. Whereas, an untrained German Shepherd, while having the same protective instinct, may not necessarily know how to respond to threats appropriately.
So, while a police dog, for example, may know when to jump in and bite an intruder, an untrained dog may just bark. While both are manifestations of their protective instincts, they won’t necessarily produce the same results.
How Will A German Shepherd Protect You?
I don’t know if I’ve just seen too many movies but when I think of a dog protecting its owner I imagine one jumping in, attacking the bad guy, and eventually saving the day.
I mean it is entirely possible that a German Shepherd may act that way to protect you. But it’s well worth noting that such an act is likely a trained response, and an untrained German Shepherd’s protective instincts may manifest in different ways.
Dogs may bark for a variety of reasons like boredom, to respond to other dogs, or to protect you.
For instance, your German Shepherd will bark to alert you of possible threats and, at the same time, act as a deterrent by proclaiming its presence and that it’s protecting you and its territory.
Staying Close To You While Posing As A Threat
If your German Shepherd senses that you’re in danger, it may stay close to you while trying it’s best to deter the danger by posing as a threat. In such cases, your dog will assume an aggressive stance by exposing its teeth, growling, and by being ready to pounce.
Finally, your German Shepherd may attack. Again, while usually a trained response, it isn’t impossible for untrained German Shepherd to protect by attacking.
The Dangers Of A German Shepherds Protective Instincts
While it’s great to know that your German Shepherd, be it trained or not, will most likely protect you, there are some dangers that come with your GDS’s protective instincts.
For example, if your German Shepherd grows to be overprotective, it may mistake innocent situations as threats. Your dog may view someone trying to hug you as someone trying to hurt you, and thus may get aggressive due to a harmless gesture. Sometimes your dog may even unleash its fury on a person or pet that simply comes near you.
This is of course unideal as you’d want your dog to protect you from threats, not limit you from some of the pleasures that life has to offer.
The Importance Of Socialization And Training
Given the dangers of a German Shepherd growing to be overprotective, it is thus important that you socialize and train your dog properly to prevent unnecessary risk.
Socialization will introduce your German Shepherd to different environments and situations, and will help develop its understanding of the world. Through socialization, your dog will learn how to interact with other people and pets, thus reducing the risk of it unnecessarily attacking others.
Obedience training will teach your dog to follow commands and allow you to have better control of your dog’s actions.
Protection Dog Training
If your primary intention in getting a German Shepherd is protection, then consider protection dog training. This type of training will address the uncertainties mentioned earlier and assure that your dog will be able to assess and respond to threats appropriately.
Also, as with obedience training, protection training will allow you to control your dog’s actions better. Meaning, you can control how your dog protects you and stop it from going overboard.
In the end, it’s not really a question of whether your German Shepherd will protect you without training. As with their protective nature, German Shepherds will tend to protect you when you are in danger. However, the question is how they would do it, and if their way of protection is what you’d expect.
If you think your untrained dog would jump in and shield you from danger, well, while that could sometimes happen, there’s no assurance that your dog will do such an act. In some cases, your untrained dog would only go as far as staying close to you and barking to deter a threat. So, if you really intend to have a protection dog, your best bet is to have your dog undergo training.
When Do German Shepherds Become Protective?
German Shepherds usually become protective and start guarding at around 12 weeks of age.
Will German Shepherds Attack An Intruder?
As a way to protect you, German Shepherds can indeed attack an intruder. However, this will vary from dog to dog, and each dog can react differently to the presence of an intruder. For instance, Protection Trained German Shepherds will have a higher probability of attacking an intruder as compared to an untrained one.