German Shepherd dog running on the beach

Owning a German Shepherd: What You Need to Know

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Anyone who owns a German Shepherd knows that it can certainly be a rewarding experience, But, German Shepherd owners also know this can often be a tough love situation. Owning a German Shepherd and training a big breed dog such as this, takes a significant amount of time, expense, and personal commitment. This article dives into some training basics as well as how German Shepherds may interact with other people and pets. 

German Shepherd Name Training

Name training means teaching the dog that it is important to know and respond correctly to its name. You should teach your dog to come when you signal, whistle, or call its name. Always use friendly pets or other positive rewards when your dog comes or responds correctly.  But, never punish the dog if it doesn’t come or respond the way you want.  When that happens, just take a breath and repeat the command till the dog comes correctly.

You can also use name training to teach your dog to stop unwanted behaviour. For example, if your dog barks excessively, say its name to redirect its behaviour. Name training is a simple and very effective way to shift your German Shepherd’s behaviour.

Training and behaviour are critical when a German Shepherd is brought home as a pet. It only makes sense that proper training helps these large dogs learn to become well-behaved and obedient pets. Using consistent training and positive reinforcement, your German Shepherd will be a well-mannered and loyal best friend.

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Owning a German Shepherd – Time and Commitment

German Shepherds are energetic dogs that need a lot of physical and mental exercise. You ought to be able and ready to spend a minimum of an hour each day exercising your dog. It really doesn’t matter whether that exercise is just taking the dog for a walk, playing fetch, or agility training.  The point is that the exercise is important for the dog’s health.  How you go about it depends on you and whether the dog is a pet or a working dog. 

While you’re at it, don’t forget that all German Shepherds need frequent grooming to keep their coats clean and healthy.

German Shepherds are smart dogs that need frequent challenging mental stimulation, as well as good training. Both will naturally build a tight bond between you and your dog. Keep in mind that mental stimulation and exercise should both be key to your training routine.  Realize that it may take several months before you actually see the desired results.

German Shepherd’s Relationship to Owners and Other Pets

German Shepherds are very loyal and protective of their owners. While they seemingly idolize their owners, they are often wary and skittish around strangers. They need socialization beginning at a young age to make them comfortable around new people, pets, and situations. German Shepherds tend to bond closely with one person. Because of this, everyone in the household needs to be regularly involved with the daily care of the dog. 

German Shepherds can get along okay with other pet dogs and cats if they are socialized. But, they have a strong prey drive which means they aren’t good dogs for homes with small animals like rabbits or guinea pigs.

Purchasing or Adopting a German Shepherd

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Want a German Shepherd?  You can buy a purebred puppy from a breeder or adopt a pup or grown dog from a rescue shelter. Both options have pros and cons so it’s essential to do your own research. While there are no guarantees, your careful research will help you find a reputable breeder or shelter.  A word of caution: don’t rely on internet recommendations.  Why not? Because some of them may not be unbiased or legitimate — they just aren’t reliable anymore.

To be sure that you’re getting a healthy registered or shelter German Shepherd do your own due diligence. Ask questions about the dog’s pedigree, health, vaccinations, history, etc. and do background checks on the business and its owners.

When adopting from a shelter or pound, ask about the dog’s history and any potential behavioural or past owner abuse issues. Many shelters offer training and behaviour support to help you and your new dog.  Be sure to ask about that!

Owning a German Shepherd can be a rewarding experience if you’re prepared for the time and commitment. Proper sourcing, training and socialization makes a big difference in your happiness and allows for excellent dogs becoming best friends with active owners.

Working and Show German Shepherds

a security German Shepherd undergoing training

German Shepherds are famous for their versatility and athleticism. This means the breed makes great working dogs. They are often engaged as police dogs, search and rescue dogs, guide dogs, and service dogs. German Shepherds are also fantastic guard dogs due to their intense loyalty, dedication, and protective nature.

Police Dogs and Search and Rescue

German Shepherds have an inborn instinct to protect and serve making them ideal for police work. They are very intelligent and can be trained to detect drugs, explosives, and other dangerous forms of contraband. German Shepherds are also popular as search and rescue dogs due to their keen sense of smell, agility, and trainability.

Guide Dogs and Service Dogs

German Shepherds are great guide and service dogs due to their intelligence, loyalty, and protective nature. They are often raised and trained to assist people with disabilities.  Also, German Shepherds are often trained as therapy dogs due to their calm and gentle nature.

Working Dogs vs Show Dogs

German Shepherds are usually divided into two main categories: working dogs and show dogs. Working German Shepherds are bred and trained for their natural athleticism and intelligence. Working dogs require lots of exercise and special training. Dog show German Shepherds are bred for their appearance, agility, and competitive skills. They are more competitive but they have a less aggressive temperament and need less exercise than working German Shepherds.

Note that not all German Shepherds are made the same. There are several different types of German Shepherds. For example, there are solid white German Shepherds and those with more common black and brown coat colours. Purebred German Shepherds without pedigree anomalies including potential inherited health issues are often hard to find.  That said, they are worth the extra effort if you are looking for a loyal and intelligent companion dog.

Owning a German Shepherd: Is It For You?

German Shepherds are great pets if you are looking for a loyal and intelligent companion. They are great for active singles and active families alike. They are not recommended for families with small children though. 

German Shepherds are very versatile and can be trained for a variety of purposes.  Specifically, some of these are police work, search and rescue work, guide dog work, and service work. If you are considering owning a German Shepherd, it is important to consider whether you want a working dog or a show dog and to do your research to find a reputable breeder or shelter.


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