It may not seem like it, but the fierce and noble dog you often see accompanying police K-9 units and rescue operations can actually make for a wonderful addition to your family. In fact, many of the same characteristics that make a good guard dog also make for a great pet. These dogs are athletic, strong, and most importantly, loyal. However, before you run to your nearest breeder or animal rescue on the hunt for a German Shepherd pup, you should know what you are in for.
1. Research the breed. The German Shepherd dog is a unique breed of animal. Because they are both large and have tons of energy, without proper training they could destroy your home, or worse, become dangerous. Make sure you read everything you can find on this breed before you decide to bring one into your home. Knowing what you are getting into can save you a lot of heartaches and expense.
2. Ensure your family is ready for the responsibility. A German Shepherd takes longer than many other dogs to become mature. While some dogs are considered fully grown by 1 or 1.5 years, a German Shepherd will not be full grown and mature until they are approximately 3 years old. Deciding to take on one of these puppies is an undertaking that you should not underestimate. If you want a well-behaved and happy family member, these intelligent animals will need lots of energy, patience, and above all, commitment.
Training Your German Shepherd
While it is possible to train a German Shepherd on your own, it is probably a better idea to enroll your puppy in a training class. This is especially true if this is your first time with this unique breed of dog. In addition to the input from a professional, a dog training class will also help ensure that your puppy grows up well-socialized. If you want to curb any potential dominance issues, socialization is essential so he understands what behavior is acceptable in public or around other dogs.
If you want to train your dog at home, here are a few things to remember.
1. Start as soon as you get your puppy. It is never to early to begin training a new puppy, especially when it comes to socialization. Because of their loyal and protective nature, without proper socialization, a German Shepherd has the potential to develop aggression towards strangers or other dogs.
2. Provide plenty of exercise. You need to ensure that your German Shepherd gets daily rigorous exercise. This breed of dog is strong and has very high energy. They need plenty of time devoted to playing and exercise. Without enough physical activity, they will quickly become restless and bored. Lots of energy and no outlet is a recipe for a very destructive German Shepherd.
3. Be consistent. Before you bring your new puppy home, gather all the members of your family and discuss your rules and methods of enforcement that you expect. If one person in your family lets the pup get away with a bad behavior but another forbids it, the dog will only become confused on what is expected.
4. Make sure you are the leader of your dog’s pack. The German Shepherd is a working dog and has been bred to respect and follow their leader. If you do not step up and ensure that your dog knows you are the boss, they will attempt to fill the position themselves. The goal is to prevent this from happening. You should start establishing that you are in charge as soon as you bring your puppy home, that way there will be no question that you are to be obeyed. You will find that your dog, pure bred or a mixed breed dog. is much easier to manage and train.