I joined this forum to become more informed about the GSD, since I have been referring to these threads anyway over the past few months to try to learn as much as possible.
I'm 22, from California, and I'd like to have a German Shepherd someday, although I really wouldn't go about getting a puppy until I have a stable job, my own place with a fenced yard, and some money put away. That might be about 2-3 years away.
Even still, I do love the breed and am doing what I can to learn whatever I can. I'm doing my best to stay open-minded about everything and become as educated as possible before getting a dog. So far, I know about the history of the German Shepherd, the basics about the different lines, and I've read about drive and temperament, but only online. I also own some Leerburg training DVDs, and have tried out marker training (though I'm still not very good at it).
Currently, I only have experience with helping raise my two family dogs at my parents' house, a Golden Retriever (a rescue from a puppy mill) named Houston and a terrier mix (a rescue from the street) named Oliver. We got both as puppies.
I have never been exposed to "dog people", never been exposed to dog sports or even proper dog training. I had never even been aware that those things existed until maybe a couple of years ago. The only dog people I know are the kind who treat their dogs like humans and really don't know anything about dogs at all, and I still feel like I have absolutely no knowledge myself.
As you can tell, I'm very green, but I don't want to stay that way. I was drawn to the German Shepherd because I admire the strong nerves, intelligence, and loyal nature of the breed. I DO currently feel that this is the kind of dog I want, but I'm here to further investigate that, be honest with myself, and figure out if I can really make a dog like the GSD happy when I have the means to comfortably own a dog.
I'd love it if you guys could offer me books, videos, and websites to study that will help me better understand the German Shepherd and dog behavior/body language/needs in general. I'd also like to know if there's anywhere in Southern California I could go to meet other people who are into dogs (and would be willing to share their knowledge!). Currently, I just volunteer at a shelter because it was the only dog-related place I knew to go. Most of the volunteers don't know much about dogs, let alone German Shepherds, and none of my friends know much about dogs either (and quite frankly, they're tired of hearing me talk about them). So, any guidance would be appreciated!
Thanks for your help!