A German shepherd can certainly make for a wonderful, loving companion, but the reality is that this is not a breed that will suit everyone. Before you consider owning a dog of any kind, you need to take time to choose a breed that is a good fit for you. You may love the look and qualities of a German shepherd, but that doesn’t mean he is a good fit for your home.
German Shepherds are smart animals who were initially bred to be working dogs. When properly trained, this is a breed that will be determined and willing to work, which is not always something that goes over well in every home. You need to be able to provide four key elements if you wish to own a German shepherd.
- Stimulation of the mind
Socialization should begin as a puppy, as this will lead to a well-adjusted adult. Be prepared to put in some time and effort on this element.
Training is just as essential as socialization for German shepherds. Obedience training is the very minimum that should be taught, but the more training you can deliver, the better a German shepherd will be as a family pet. Keep in mind that this is a breed that grows to be very large and powerful, not to mention full of life. This exuberance will be clearly evident as a puppy, when they are inclined to tear up the house at every opportunity if left unsupervised. This behavior may be cute as a puppy, but when your German shepherd reaches seventy pounds, eighty pounds, or more, it’s not quite so fun. Obedience training is not something that you can do in the beginning and then just stop. You need to be consistent and work on behavior even into adulthood.
Once your German shepherd has basic obedience and socialization skills, you need to start thinking about giving this breed something to do. This is not a breed that is happy to hang out on the couch, they need exercise, play time and a sense of purpose. This is something that you need to take an active role in. If you have a sedentary lifestyle or don’t have the time to commit to keeping this breed active, a German shepherd is not for you. This breed of dog is happiest when it is tired and is a contributing member within their family (pack) structure.
Keeping this breed busy physically is a most, but a German shepherd also needs to be kept active mentally, too. This is a breed that thrives on mental stimulation and on being given a job to do. Tasks that require agility and no small amount of thought are what will keep them happy and stimulated. German shepherds are intelligent dogs who learn quickly and are very observant. They enjoy learning new things, being active and spending time with their pack members. This breed is athletic and excels at extra curricula activities such as agility, dock jumping, herding, personal protection, ring sport, schutzhund, search and rescue, and tracking. Extra activities are just one more way to socialize and stimulate their minds.
If you don’t properly assess your situation and take the time to be honest with yourself, you are going to end up with a very unhappy home, which includes the happiness of your dog. If you know that time is not an issue, and that you have what it takes to look after a big, energetic dog, a German Shepherd may be the perfect breed for you.