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I know what you’re thinking: “Why not? What’s so wrong with strangers petting my GSD?”

Well, you will be surprised. Letting strangers pet your German Shepherd isn’t as harmless as you might think. There are deeper reasons why you should not allow them to approach you and your GSD. 

I feel like this is something not many people know about. We should raise awareness together because not every pup feels like being petted all the time, and not every stranger who approaches you has good intentions. 

When are the occasions in which you can allow petting, and how should your German Shepherd behave? Find out in the article down below.

When Is It Okay To Let Strangers Pet Your GSD?

man pets a german shepherdman pets a german shepherd

Of course, there are some situations where it’s okay to allow strangers to pet your GSD. But, you should still watch your dog’s body language and react if you notice he’s not pleased about being touched by someone he doesn’t know.

For starters, I’d never allow someone who acts all aggressive and impulsive to come near my dog. You never know what that kind of person could do. 

Be the judge of the situation. If the person seems nice and isn’t giving any red flags as he or she approaches and talks to you, then letting them pet your GSD shouldn’t be an issue.

Even then, it’s not okay just to come close to a dog and start petting him immediately. There must be some kind of an introduction.

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I recommend you talk to the stranger and introduce him to your pup’s likes and dislikes. Some dogs don’t like pitchy, chirpy voices or baby talk, so if that’s the case, give them a warning. 

It’s always best to see if your dog is relaxed and happy about meeting that person. If Fido seems alright, you can go ahead and offer the stranger a treat to give to your GSD. Treats and verbal praises should do the magic and win over the dog.

Only then would it be okay for the stranger to reach out, offer the dog to sniff the hand, and then pet him.

This situation is only possible when your German Shepherd is well-behaved. If you didn’t socialize your dog enough, especially if you didn’t put him through obedience training, I wouldn’t consider letting him get too close to strangers. 

When Is It Not Okay To Let Strangers Pet Your GSD?

German shepherd, guide dog for blind menGerman shepherd, guide dog for blind men

First and foremost, I want to rule out something that’s becoming pretty obvious.

German Shepherds are working dogs. A lot of them are being used as service dogs or emotional support animals. As such, those GSDs should not be interrupted while they work. This messes up their concentration and doesn’t allow them to focus on monitoring their hoomans.

Please, if you see a GSD wearing a service dog vest, do not try to pet him. Do not even ask to pet him because the answer would be no, thank you. 

You don’t like being interrupted in your workspace, do you?

Now, here’s something not everybody pays attention to.

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I always repeat this to my friends and clients: watch your dog’s behavior! 

Dogs can’t speak, but they have body language, and if you learn how to read it, you’ll realize it’s pretty much the same as us talking. 

Body language tells us everything about a dog’s current feelings. Maybe he’s afraid. Maybe he’s too excited to be handled. You’ll figure that out once you bond with your GSD.

Man Playing With Dog German Shepherd In ParkMan Playing With Dog German Shepherd In Park

When a stranger approaches your GSD, chances are your dog will respond with fear or anxiety. Clear signs of those feelings are backing away, tucking his tail between his hind legs, hiding behind you, whining, etc. 

Dogs do not like unknown situations or people no matter how trained they are. If your dog doesn’t react well to strangers, move away and don’t expose him to that kind of stress. 

Some dogs don’t just react in fear. Some even have apparent signs of fear aggression when a stranger tries to pet them. Of course, this means a dog will growl, bark, show its teeth, have the hair on its back all spiked up, etc. 

This kind of behavior isn’t just a red flag. Your dog is yelling for you to get out of there and get him away from that person. Otherwise, he won’t be held responsible for their actions. Guarding traits are strong with this breed. Don’t you ever forget that! 

It’s not okay to have people march to your dog and pet him out of nowhere. It’s not okay to ignore your dog’s body language. And, it’s not okay to push your dog into meeting new people if he seems too afraid or shy to do it himself.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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