You’ve adopted, rescued, or purchased a new German Shepherd Dog (GSD) and whether you brought home a tiny pup or a mature, adult dog, you’ll be learning about your new pet over the next several weeks, as they will also be learning about you and your home. Hopefully, you’ll set rules and boundaries so that your dog will find it easy to adapt and understand what is expected. This should be the practice with either a puppy or an adult dog.
A young puppy will need a lot of attention and you should face the facts:
- It is going to be a long time before you can leave your dog out of your sight, until you are sure they’ve been thoroughly house trained, that they are not going to chew everything in sight, that they understand basic rules of the household and you feel you can trust them. This may happen sooner if you’ve adopted or rescued an older dog. With a young puppy, you are going to need to allow as long as two years before your dog isn’t puppyish and prone to getting into things. While GSD are amazingly intelligent, they are still allowed to have their puppy years…and these will be filled with chewed socks, house plants, and kid’s toys. Accept this and keep your new puppy in the same room with you at all times, tethered to you on a leash is great, so that you can watch them 24/7.
- You’re life is now going to be filled with dog hair – lots and lots of dog hair. You’ll find dog hair underneath your sofa that will look like a rabbit at a quick glance from time to time. You will find hairs on the sofa that your dog isn’t supposed to be on. You will swallow hundreds of hairs over the next few years. You won’t feel them, most of the time. Oh but they are there, floating in the air and finding their way into everything you own. You will learn to have a lint roller in the car so that you can touch your clothes up on the way to work. No lint roller will be good enough to get every single hair. Your GSD will blow his coat in the spring, meaning that his gorgeous, thick winter coat will be loose in the spring. Chunks of fur will fall out every spring and you will want to brush your shephard daily – outside. Brush your dog where the hair can blow outside and the birds will gather it to make soft nests from. Your neighbors will think there is a cottonwood tree nearby.
- You will find comradery with other GSD owners because you are proud of your handsome animals. Strangers will fear them because of the enormous size and the fact that they are known as working police and military dogs for a reason. You become part of a GSD pack when you own this breed because in reality, the breed owns you.
- You will need to be the leader of your pack and training is absolutely necessary. If you don’t have a dog that is well socialized and trained, he will be hard to handle because they get big. These dogs need a leader who is firm but fair. They are smart and very tenacious. If they don’t respect you, they will simply bowl you over on the way to what they want, figuratively and literally.
- If you aren’t active already, get active because this is an active breed and they need their exercise requirements met. The GSD is a very athletic dog, able to jump incredible heights, use their strength to pull things, and more. This is why they are police dogs and military working dogs. Their intelligence has also earned them much respect as seeing eye dogs, dogs for the mobility impaired, seizure response and more. The GSD will always be a challenge to raise because of their intelligence. They are gifted problem solvers, which means that a simple slide-lock on a gate isn’t enough to keep them in if they decide to open it. They are clever indeed. Popular mixes of this breed are also extremely intelligent and good at problem solving. German Shepherd husky mixes are common and you may read more about them here.
- Be prepared for a dog that is vigilant to the point of pacing when something is amiss. Very little goes by unnoticed by the GSD. They are known for the ability to think for themselves and make choices sometimes better than other breeds, being able to discern the danger from the idle stranger who is passing by on the street. Once they perceive there is a threat, they are always willing to spring into action. For this reason, make certain that you’ve trained your shepherd well. You don’t need them to always make the decisions but when you do need them to protect, be certain that they will, with loyalty and tenacity. Ask any officer who has ever worked with a GSD. They will tell you that their GSD would take a bullet for them without question. This is a loyal and fearless breed, with a majestic look. The erect ears and sharp line of the jaw and blocky head makes them a distinctly recognized breed, known to virtually anyone. From the days of Rin Tin Tin, to the war in Vietnam, the GSD has held a place in the hearts of Americans.
- Get used to people wanting to pet your dog. The GSD is a popular breed with characteristics that humans associate with wolves. There will be those enthusiasts who are enamored with the look of the breed who will want to walk right up and pat your dog on the head, falling in love with them on sight. Conversely, others will cower and steer clear, crossing to the opposite side of the street because they’ve seen the police dogs and war dogs in action and are terrified. You’ll get to know each type of person and understand how to put them all at ease.