The German Shepherd Dog truly is a wonderful animal and not only do they make good working dogs, they also make superb family pets.
They are however very different from other pet breeds and need to be handled and trained with a different approach to say your average labrador or poodle for instance.
The German Shepherd Dog is a large, strong athletic dog, which needs a lot of mental stimulation and exercise but a well-trained shepherd can learn to do almost anything.
These dogs positively thrive on challenging activities and they are so willing to serve their master and please.
As a working dog used by most police forces, the very look of a German Shepherd is usually enough to act as a deterrent but when called into action there are few dogs that can match the German Shepherd as an all-rounder.
If you are considering becoming an owner of a German Shepherd then you need to consider the commitment to training in order that you have a happy, well-behaved German Shepherd dog that you can take out safely in public.
If you haven’t previously owned one of these dogs then please do not take on a youngster lightly.
Being involved in German Shepherd rescue I have lost count of the number of young dogs I have had to re-home because owners bought them without doing a bit of research first.
As youngsters, they can be very boisterous and can easily knock over children or elderly relatives, especially if you do not discourage the dog from jumping up when excited.
A bored German Shepherd can be very destructive and if left alone will trash your house and contents with ease using their big teeth and claws.
Unfortunately, these dogs don’t really mature until they are about 3 years old so you are in for the long haul to get through the puppy and adolescent stage.
The German Shepherd needs to be well socialized from an early age and needs plenty of exposure to people and other dogs so that they do not develop aggressive tendencies as they mature.
German Shepherd Dog Training
Joining a dog training class from an early age is a good idea and most clubs will accept dogs into the puppy classes from about 4 months onwards.
This should be good fun for your puppy and allows him to play and socialize but it also serves the purpose of teaching him or her what is acceptable and what is not.
This will prove invaluable grounding for your German Shepherd training.
When choosing a dog training class do check out a few first as not all classes make German Shepherds welcome and if any club asks that you muzzle your dog, please give it a miss and move on and find another club.
No reputable dog training class would require a dog to be muzzled.
If your dog is aggressive towards other dogs there are better ways of controlling the dog safely such as by using a Canny Collar which is a simple effective head collar similar to those used on horses.
The earlier you start training and socialization the better as German Shepherd dogs often develop a tendency to be aggressive towards other dogs and also towards strangers and they can become very protective towards their owners and property.
Another important part of training your German shepherd is to get him used to be groomed because they shed copious amounts of hair and although they only molt once a year, it lasts for 365 days.
So be prepared for dog hair all over your house, your clothes, in your food, and buy yourself a very good vacuum cleaner. Training your German Shepherd should be very much part of everyday life and it should be fun so stick with it because it really will be worth it in the end.
The Temperament of German Shepherd Dog
A sound temperament is a must in a German Shepherd.
By sound, I mean a disposition where one minute you can let protection trained German Shepherd Dog to play alone with your 5-year old child, pull on its ears, pet its head, tug on its tail and never-ever be in harms way.
But the next minute, it should turn into the “terminator” and crush its enemies as soon as it senses an intruder.
There are three conventional methods of dog training that you can choose from in order to train your German Shepherd:
- training with treats
- training with clickers
- training with praise
All three methods of training will work; however, there is one that stands out from the rest. That is oral praise. Why?
Because you want your dog to listen to your commands even when you don’t have any toys, clickers, and/or food.
Imagine your dog wanting to jump at your every command simply because it wants your praise and love and not because you are going to bribe it with treats.
Once your dog gets used to getting treats for performance, it will cease to perform when you don’t have any more treats left.
So, treat your German Shepherd with kindness, and train it with praise!
Training a German Shepherd Dog which has not been genetically selected for working ability is that much more difficult than one that has already been selected for that trait.
In my opinion, the age-old debate about beauty vs. functionality of the purebred German Shepherd was settled by the founder of the German Shepherd breed, Captain Max Von Stephanitz, when he said in his book:
Utility is the true criterion of beauty…
Many American German Shepherd Dogs today have been selected for beauty rather than functionality in order to win dog shows.
In many of these dog shows, obedience and showmanship are separate events, and a dogs’ working ability is never considered in events where the dogs are required to meet breed standards.
Hence, you have the decline of the traits for which the breeds were originated in the first place.
So when you set out to buy your dream German Shepherd, look for temperament, health, and working ability first, and beauty last.
The importance of beauty, however, should not be ignored when it comes to posing your dog for a memorable photograph.
Unlike other breeds, German Shepherd dogs are shown differently in the breed ring.
Posing Your German Shepherd Dog
The proper method for posing your German Shepherd for the breed judges is called a “stack”.
“Stacking” is the method whereby one allows the forequarters of a dog to be shown parallel to one another when looking through the viewfinder of a camera and when one allows the hindquarters of the German Shepherd to be arranged so that the limb facing the camera is placed backward while the limb facing away from the camera is placed forward.
Most professional handlers who pose their German Shepherd dogs for photographers walk them into a “stack” instead of artificially manipulating them into it.
If you plan to stack your German Shepherd for a professional snapshot, remember to compose the image in such a way as to depict it from the tip of its nose to the tip of its hindquarters; NO MORE, NO LESS (please visit my website to view photographs of how a German Shepherd is stacked for the camera).
These topics cover just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowing the German Shepherd breed.
You can learn more about the German Shepherd by visiting my website or by getting involved in breed organizations like the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (German Shepherd DogCA).
With a little more reading, you can become familiar with this wonderful breed and all that it has to offer. And then perhaps you can decide whether this is the right breed for you or not.