German Shepherds and Training - Looking for Info

Discussion in 'Community Center' started by KBA, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. KBA


    Apr 27, 2014
    The wife surprised me a few weeks ago and asked what I thought about German Shepherds and if I ever wanted one. I figured it was a lost cause considering we have two small fluffy dogs and I never told her I have wanted a GS for 20 years.

    When she asked I just simply said, “Yes, please.”

    So the research has begun and since we have two daughters under three I could use any recommendations on training larger working dogs. And, any info on the breed from those who may have them. It has been a while since I trained a dog.

    Anything I should look for and know about before looking at puppies? Anything on AKC or CKC or those other abbreviated orgs?

    I know the basics of socialization, exercise, patience, consistency, and boundaries but that is about it.

    Thanks for any help and info.
  2. Humppa


    Jul 25, 2010

    I don´t have any experience with German Shepherds nor with training dogs in general. But they are known for being very loyal and brave dogs. Once they are socialised.

    On MY OWN THOUGHTS: I wouldn´t want any dog of some kind in combination with my son (age 2 years in January).
    It would be a very hard decision, I know. And most of the dog bites on small children are not wanted by the dog or were any kind of intention. But it happens.

    My uncle has a socialised German Shepherd, but I try to avoid that Max is getting near that dog. They are still animals, and in their core they are predators.

    I wouldn´t do it. But that´s just me - ask five people and you will recieve six opinions.
  3. Jafarkiller


    Apr 6, 2007

    had one for 13 years, the most lovable, respectfull, inteligent, listening, kid loving, dog I know!
    Just awoid new fashion, back down dogs, there worth nothing!
    Find an old fashionned GS, with straight back, working dog!
    1 000 times worth any money!

    Examples: my nice was playing in front of my porch.
    Her mother came by, thought, "why not stopping now, taking the girl home, will spare driving 2 miles back coming to pick her.
    Naturelly, no tell, no info!

    Counting without "Jo"!

    She tried to pick her daughter up... the dog brought her, (hand in mouth), not biting, but pressuring more or less when coming with him, in front of me, releasing her hand when I told him "it's OK", and then went going to take nap!

    German shepherds!



    PS: threat him well, love him, I was 14 years old when I got him, and he was 3 years old when this stoty happened! At that time, no information was available as today about socialization! Just create love, respect, and leadership!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  4. KBA


    Apr 27, 2014
    Andi, I appreciate the input and concern. We have had dogs my whole life and I was never bitten but again I never had a GS before. From what I have read they are as you say and need to be socialized early and often while given continual amounts of exercise. My wife showed me a thread in a mom's forum talking about GS and the breed was given high praise by those who had them and worries by those who didn't.

    I personally do not believe there are bad breeds, only bad owners. Yet, I do believe in common sense and caution as well.

    J-L - I actually had a GS do that to me in the mountains when I stopped at a house for direction. The GS ran at me full speed, grabbed my arm in his mouth, and lead me to the front dog. I about peed my pants but was highly impressed at the same time. turned out the guy was a cop and it was a cop K9. I don't plan to train my do to be as assertive or defensive. I just want it to be obedient, socialized, and house broken. No attack training needed or wanted here.

    That is the first I have read on "new fashion (back down)" vs "old fashion. I will have to look into that. Thanks
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
  5. sideways


    Feb 19, 2013
    I don't hold it against the dog but I was bitten in the face by a german shepherd when I was young. One tooth pierced between my eyes and another through the cheek. My dashing unibrow covers the scar these days.

    So uhm yeah. You will want to socialize it well and watch it around strange children. Shepherd breeds in general are more reserved with strangers and every one I have had has been willing to protect me when they perceive a threat. That is why socializing is so important. You will want it to be able to tell the difference between a threat and a belly rub especially with how litigious society is these days.

    I will eco the sentiment about horrible hips and genetic problems in show dogs. They are selectively (in)bred to win prizes in shows without adequate regard for the temperament or health of the dogs. The working lines might not be any better though since many are police and military dogs. They will have traits that suit the jobs they are bred for that might not be suitable in pets. Aggression, wiredness (must have a job or becomes destructive and restless), etc.

    I would probably start by going down to a library and picking up a book specifically on the GSD. If you have not looked at dogbreedinfo yet that should be a first step.
  6. wolf-man-12


    Dec 24, 2007
    One of the best dog's I ever owned was a cross between a Black Lab & a German Shepard and even to this day I wish I could find another one ~~ he was good to the kids and everybody that ever petted him and only got mean & dirty when he was told to do so.! One great animal and I would just bet I know who he is sitting next to till this day.!*
    Everybody should have at least one Dog like Smokey was to me & wife & kids in there lifetime.* Still brings a tear to my Eyes at times.! Yes -- get a German Shepard and it doe's not mean it has to be a Registered Shep.or one with papers a mile long.!
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2015
  7. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    Don't get a sloping spine frog dog, the destruction of a once good breed.
  8. shaving sharp

    shaving sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 19, 2007
    We use them at work. With good training they can be amazing animals. Make sure the dog has certified hips. Shepherds are known for hip problems. Contact forum member William.M ( Dr. Bill ). He is a shepherd guy he may have some good info. to share.
  9. Fish Boy

    Fish Boy

    Aug 2, 2014
    The German Shepherd is a ruined breed. You may want to look into a Belgian Malinois. I've had them since the day I was born and they're really great.
  10. gadunz


    Dec 4, 2012
    GSD could be cured with outcrossing to greyhound & working husky. Max von Stephanitz spins in his grave.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2015
  11. sideways


    Feb 19, 2013
    The belgian malinois is even more of a work first dog. Definitely NOT a pet that'll be happy to laze about the house while you are at work.
  12. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    I'd recommend getting an older puppy, at least 10 weeks up to a year old. Socialization, particularly bite inhibition, is a little better in older pups. See if you can find a breeder that breeds to European stock. They tend to be a bit more traditional in their shape and temperament and slightly smaller. Remember, GSDs are not "large breed" dogs. Bigger isn't better in this case. American dogs that weigh over 100 pounds are oversized. You're just asking for skeletal and organ problems down the road. All the advice about avoiding the "show hounds" is good. Many (not all) American breeders are only concerned with prizes and sales, as gadunz' pic shows.

    Training you and the dog to work together as a team is a matter for a trainer that's accustomed to working dogs. Look for a trainer in your area that specializes in positive training techniques (no punishment methods used, only positive reinforcement). GSDs are no harder to educate (easier in many cases because they are extremely intelligent) than any other dog. The problem is in getting them to understand that what they're learning has to become the way they do things in their family all the time. For that to happen, they have to recognize and respect you as their leader. The two of you will need to train together and your wife will need to take some part in the training as well. Both of you will need to be consistent in what you ask of the dog and how you respond to the dog. Consistency is one of the keys to educating any dog.

    If you get an older dog (a year old or more), then he'll most likely understand that your daughters are "puppies" and he'll treat them accordingly. If you get a younger GSD pup, they'll most likely be seen as playmates. In that case I would not leave them alone with him at all. Dog/child problems are 100%, I say again 100%, the fault of the adult human that failed to properly supervise the interactions. In any case, bringing a new dog into the family means that an adult human needs to supervise all interactions for as long a period of time as necessary for y'all to feel comfortable with how the new dog will respond to everyone in the family, including other companion animals.

    Enjoy the ride. Living with a GSD is like nothing else.
  13. KBA


    Apr 27, 2014
    I really appreciate all the input.

    I've read a bit on Belgian Malinois and they just have to much energy. We exercise our dogs now, play, run, social visits, and games, but a Belgian may require more than we provide.

    I do not plan on getting a GS soon but I have a feeling my wife may have already reserved a younger pup for Christmas. I could be wrong though.

    I actually researched a lot last night on the weight of them and was surprised to find so many in a that were over 100 lbs. It didn't seem right to me but I honestly know little of the breed.

    Dalefuller - You mentioned getting an older pup. I have read, and not sure if what I have read to be accurate, but a few sites state that the GS is a pack loyal breed and once bonded with one "family" it is harder for them to bond with a second. That moving them form home to home creates behavior issues. That could be an agenda to push for "forever" homes but it sounds right to me. Would a 1 yr old be to old for him to bond with us quickly? I do like the idea of getting a 10-12 puppy and allow the original owner more time to train it.

    Also, from what I have seen in the breeding areas most go for $1200 and up. Im not sure my wife is going to go for that in a dog that will be fixed and not shown or breed. For health issue and breeding stock I may sell a couple CRKs to pay for it but like I said I think she may have already reserved one. She has been talking about a gentlemen who trains them in city an hour from here, keeps showing me pictures on one, and has named it Booth already.

    As for the breed being ruined. Im not sure, maybe. One of my best dogs I have had was a mix I found at a no-kill shelter for $35. I still believe she was more human and intelligent than most people. That dog was amazing.

    Thanks again everyone.
  14. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    GSDs will bond with their permanent family at whatever age if they respect their humans. Love, acceptance, and kind consistent treatment are what they'll be attracted to. If you haven't yet got a puppy reserved for Christmas, you might think about checking with the various GSD rescue groups. There are even some larger rescue groups that will adopt nation-wide. These dogs aren't free, but they're a lot less expensive than a pup from a reputable breeder. And they need homes, too.

    Legitimate breed-specific rescue groups are very knowledgeable about the breed, the specific dogs they have for adoption, and health/behavioral issues that may come up. They have also had a chance to live with the dog for a while and they can tell you a great deal about individual dogs before you adopt. The trick is to make sure they're legitimate. They'll have web sites, recommendations, they may be a 501c3 charitable organization, they should have links to other GSD information, contracts, home visits prior to adoption (and maybe one or two after adoption to make sure things are going well).

    If your wife already has a pup reserved for you and you have no input into the puppy, just make sure you get all the usual vet visits and shots, find a trainer ASAP (some work as early as 3-4 months old), and find out as much as you can about the dog's parents (check with the pup's breeders). Collect all this info and save it. It'll be good infp later on if you need it. Once the dog is about 2 YO, if he's nothaving any issues, it's a good time for a couple of spine/neck & hip x-rays along with complete blood work just to establish a baseline picture of his health at a good point in his life. You never know when it may come in handy.
  15. mwerner


    Apr 23, 2002
    We've had several, both purebreds and mixes. The best training resource I know of is the publication put out by the monks of New Skete, "how to be your dog's best friend". This monastic order specializes in the raising and training of the GSD and the book is full of good advice, not only on training but on what to look for and the characteristics of the breed.
  16. wazu013


    Dec 14, 2011
    I've owned several German Shepherds. If you decide to let a professional train them you better be ready to spend allot of time re-enforcing the commands. Sometimes house breaking becomes a problem after he's been in a kennel that let's them do their thing in a suspended cage or right on the floor. If you don't have a way to let them run be it on a farm or a dog park he will become bored and that's when some problems could start. Take him to any flea market or fair where dogs are allowed. That will give him a chance to be around people and noise. Don't give him stuffed animals to play with because he may get confused when you child has one in their arms. Give them rawhide chews and heavy rope pulls and the like.
  17. timw1

    timw1 Swamp Yankee Platinum Member

    Sep 28, 2011
    Hi Brett, I wish you luck in finding the right GSD for you. I have had a GS as a house pet for many years. Being a police officer for the last 27 years, I have been around a lot of working dogs. I have always owned shepherds for many different reasons. The main reason being personal protection for my family. For many years I worked the midnight shift, and I felt a lot better leaving my wife and kids at home knowing my shepherd was home and "on duty." Make sure you do a ton of research before purchasing your pup. American German Shepherds have been inbred and the breed is almost ruined. You need to find a breeder that has imported dogs from overseas and introduced the foreign bloodlines into their breeding program. Owning a GSD is a big responsibility, they can inflict great damage. Bloodlines are very important to ensure a well rounded, healthy,stable dog. A proper GSD will make a great guardian for your family and will watch your children as his/her own. The breed as a whole is not ruined, but many American breeders have caused a lot of damage to the breed by greedy breeding practices. My last dog came from here: vandenheuvelk9. The owner Dari, has a great breeding program, and has introduced many dogs into her breeding program from the Czech Republic, and Germany. Purchasing a GSD from a reputable kennel will almost guarantee a dog free of the inherent health problems the american German Shepherds are plagued with, e.g. hip dysplasia. I hope this little bit of information helps.

  18. dalefuller

    dalefuller Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Like wazu013 says, any training should be done with you and the dog working as a team and learning together. Don't "send" the dog out to be trained by someone else. Find a trainer that will teach the two of you how to work together as a team. Then set a practice schedule and stick with it. The training will be 70% for you and 30% for the dog and you'll be amazed at the results. My shepherds have always been well behaved and welcome wherever I went. My last guy that left me in September was my assistant pastor. He visited people in nursing homes with me, he greeted at the door of the church, and he was welcome in most businesses and outdoor restaurants in our area.
  19. KBA


    Apr 27, 2014
    Thanks again for all the insight. One of the reasons I posted here is I knew there was more educated than myself on the forum. I haven't had a chance to carefully read through the new post, as I am at work, but I wanted to throw this out there.

    Please forgive my ignorance in stating this, but the Americanized GS may actually fit better with my family dynamic. Here is why.

    My wife is a stay at home mom and she is wanting a GS to be indoors 80% of the time. Of course we will exercise it and play outdoors, but for the most part it would be indoors. She also wants one to feel safer while I am away and to take running with her in the evenings. My knees are shot and I cannot run with her and she feels a GS would deter while being family friendly at home.

    If she hasn’t reserved one my thoughts are that a European GS with a purer work mentality may be too much for her while I am at work and may have a more assertive temperament within the home. I know training is required for both types but the Americanized does read as a better fit for energy level requirements, temperament, and drive.

    I need to research the heath issues of each more.

    I wonder if Americanized GS are over 100lbs due to genetics or poor nutrition and exercise levels.
  20. conticarbon


    May 28, 2009
    I have a great female czech DDR plush coat GSD. We have 8 pups running around the house. Five boys, three girls. The breed is a great energetic breed. I agree with getting a sporting (non-sloped back) dog. You will have fewer issues with hip health. Any dog can bite in fear. I think the thing you need to look at is that the breed needs a lot of exercise. If they are given a purpose and achievements they do awesome. I usually keep my puppies for at least eight weeks to insure proper socialization. It helps with the puppy knowing to not bite too hard. They like to chew and "mouth" things. You should look at some form of training for protection. An untrained dog may not protect like you may think. I am not saying you HAVE to have a full schuetzen trained bite dog. My female is a schuetzen 3 but that doesn't mean everyone needs or wants that. My dog is a full on inside dog. She is kennel trained but does awesome left to roam. Protection training is more than "mean," it is an excellent obedience training. I like to look at it as would I like my dog to be awaiting my decision process on things or have that unknown factor. There is a great variety of "drive" in any blood lines. Just because the dog is akc or ckc isn't a instant go or no go. Find some good open breeders and bend their ear on what consists of a high drive working dog. Look around for a local training club and ask to maybe sit and watch some different trainers work their dog. Learn what you expect or want. My dog lean is around 79 lbs. Be sure to look at both the Sire and Dam for hip health and if possible the last two generations of health. Most good breeders will issue a guarantee of the health for the dog. My opnions are just that. I'm excited for you!!! Good luck and enjoy that pup when you get it.

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