Know Your Breed
At a Glance
A German Shepherd isn't the breed for you if you're away from home frequently or for long periods of time. When left alone they can become anxious or bored, and are likely to express their worry in ways you don't like — barking, chewing, and digging.
The German Shepherd is an active and intelligent dog. He must be kept busy learning, playing, and working. Daily exercise, both physical (such as jogging and Frisbee) and mental (such as training sessions), is a must.
German Shepherds can be aloof and suspicious of strangers. To raise a social and well-behaved dog, expose your German Shepherd puppy to many experiences, places, and people. Obedience training, beginning with puppy classes, is important for getting him used to other people and dogs, as well as teaching him basic canine manners.
These dogs shed, shed, shed — in fact, their nickname is the "German shedder." Brush him several times a week and buy a good vacuum. You'll need it.
Crate training is not only a wonderful way to housetrain a puppy, it helps teach him to be calm and happy when separated from his owner. This is especially important for the German Shepherd, who sometimes suffers separation anxiety, or extreme anxiety when left alone.
He's got a reputation for being a great watchdog — and he is — but the German Shepherd should never be chained or tethered just to stand guard. No dog should; it leads to frustration and aggression. The German Shepherd is happiest living indoors with the family, but with access to a large, fenced yard, where he can burn off some of his natural energy.
To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
German Shepherds were bred specifically for their intelligence, a trait for which they are now famous. In the book The Intelligence of Dogs, author Stanley Coren ranked the breed third for intelligence, behind Border Collies and Poodles. He found that they had the ability to learn simple tasks after only five repetitions and obeyed the first command given 95% of the time. Coupled with their strength, this trait makes the breed desirable as police, guard and search and rescue dogs, as they are able to quickly learn various tasks and interpret instructions better than other breeds.
German Shepherds are moderately active dogs and are described in breed standards as self-assured. The breed is marked by a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose. They are curious, which makes them excellent guard dogs and suitable for search missions. They can become over-protective of their family and territory, especially if not socialized correctly.
They are not inclined to become immediate friends with strangers. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and obedient, as well as being protective of their owners.
What to Expect in the First Few Days
If possible, bring your puppy home on a Friday so that you have the entire weekend with him before he is left all alone for work on Monday. The first step when you arrive at home is take him from the car to the place that you would like him to relieve himself. Let him wander around and sniff and decide where he wants to go. Praise him when he does.
Inside, the best way to introduce him to family members is to have everyone sit on the floor at his level and let the puppy go from person to person.
Don't hold or restrain the puppy just let him get to know everyone on his terms. Neighbors and other family members can meet him in a few days.
The first interactions with your new German Shepherd puppy need to be calm and quiet. No wrestling with the puppy or play fighting. Instead, show him that his new home is safe and in no way threatening to him.
In the first few days, don't be surprised if he cries. This is normal as he is in a new surrounding and is also missing his mother and his littermates. You shouldn't run to him every time he cries. This could lead to bad habits.
These few days will be tough for you and your new puppy. He'll probably wake you up a few times during the night, have accidents in the house, he might cry and whine, and he might play fight with those sharp puppy teeth. Just react calmly to all these circumstances as your confidence will help him be calm too.
Puppies need a schedule. Regular eating times, sleeping times and play times are very important . Make time for your new puppy.
The following are very important things for you to make time for with your new puppy:
Your German Shepherd puppy will be living in a world with more people than dogs and needs to know how to behave in his new world. Month 3 is the best age for socialization so you can't procrastinate on this. Take your puppy to new places and let him hear different sounds like sirens and cars. Try to introduce him to something new everyday.
It doesn't have to be big. Something even like opening an umbrella. Let him sniff it and tell him good boy. The idea is that you want your puppy to see the world as a happy place and to not be afraid of different things.
Training your German Shepherd puppy is an ongoing process that will last a lifetime.
The basic training steps are:
The most important thing above all is enjoy every moment with your German Shepherd puppy and make every interaction pleasant and fun and everything else will fall into place.
But don't forget that if you are not sure about something or you need help, contact your breeder for advice. They will be more than willing to help.