You want a GSD. You’ve wanted one for a long time. Then you get your puppy and things are not going the way you wanted. There are a few realities of German Shepherds that you need to know before buying your puppy.
Puppies are Cute
Your puppy is adorable and looks so cute. It would never become evil. Then your puppy turns 7 months old and something has gone seriously wrong.
German Shepherds need a firm but gentle hand from the day you get them. They need a solid set of rules and boundaries. They don’t do well to harsh training methods, and excel with Force free because they want your praise over all else. But, when they don’t have rules things can go wrong fast.
Here are a set of rules we impose from 8 weeks:
- We walk through doors first. Your puppy is going to get big. Rushing doors will always end bad.
- No one gets barked at – ever. I have never seen a German Shepherd of any bloodline that needed to be taught to protect its owners. But if you let them decide who gets barked at, this behavior will develop until they are deciding who gets bit.
- We use luring and bait to train. While many trainers tell you not to resist when your dog is biting at your hand to get the treat we assure you they are NOT referring to a German Shepherd. Puppy chewing of any kind needs to be gently stopped.
- No one jumps up – ever.
- ‘wait’ when I say ‘wait.’
- Lay on your side and look at me when the vet or groomer is working on you.
German Shepherds are Not Born Completely Trained
They need training – more training than the average dog! German Shepherds think. Our dogs can open door knobs. My service dog knows my left leg is injured. She can’t fix my leg, but she has put the blame for my pain on my left shoes – so they must all be dealt with. As she is not allowed to destroy them she hides them. .
It took our harly less than 2 days to learn scent detection. Hemi was doing public access work at 7 months old. The point is – German Shepherds are extremely smart. They need to be allowed to think and be trained.
Old method vs. New Method. Some people still hold to the old ‘force’ methods of training. They are fast. But they are only as good as your ability to control your dog. When you can’t then it won’t work. You can have a German Shepherd obey you because it fears force, or you can have a GSD give 110% to please you – you can’t have both.
Puppies and Vets
99% of vets out there are awesome, but they don’t know German Shepherd Puppies. They are thin, lanky, long legged, gangly and lop eared. They eat but don’t gain weight. Be patient, about 1 year old your puppy will balance out.
The other 1% of vets – well, if a vet doesn’t find anything wrong with your puppy than they don’t make money.
What is Wrong With Their Legs? Nothing
Yes, those legs are long, but no longer than Black Russians, Giant Schnauzers, many pointers, etc. Long back legs do not:
- mean the dog has hip dysplasia
- needs a back operation – no the back isn’t compressed.
- has HD
Again, everything will fall into place when the puppy is about 1 year old. Beware of any vet that says your puppy has hip dysplasia before 1 year old. I’ve heard of vets say (all breeds) that a puppy has HD at 3, 4, and 6 moths old. The bones have not even joined together – in fact there are still gaps at 6 months old. It is impossible to tell. The OFA does not test does before 2 years because of this. No vet can diagnose HD before 2 years old.
A walk is not exercise for a German Shepherd. They need to chase balls, run, and play with you. If you don’t give a German Shepherd the exercise it needs then you will have heath problems.
Depending on the dog, you may also have behavior problems. High energy dogs need more exercise. High Drive dogs need more training. These are daily requirements. GSD people divide dogs into 3 categories. 1 hour dogs, 2 hour dogs, 3 hour dogs. This is the amount of work you need to invest daily to maintain that beautiful, well mannered dog. American Show Lines are 1 – 2 hour dogs. Working bloodlines are 3 hour dogs.
With this exercise comes the need for more food. Don’t expect to feed the minimum amount to a GSD, or to use a cheaper dog food. We feed raw. There are many health benefits. Our girls eat 1.5 – 2lb a day when they are not active, and 2 – 4lb when active.