Is a GSD the right dog for me?
Hello! I came across this forum and saw a lot of useful information! I have been researching about GSD's for a while now and I am considering getting one. I'm considering the GSD because I like bigger breeds, and because of their loyalty, companionship, and energy!
A little about myself, I am a college student at the University of Florida and love dogs ever since I was a child! I have experience with dogs, but not with GSD's! I love the fact that they are so loyal and energetic. I am not planning to use him much for protection but for a companion. I know that the GSD's are typically protective over their owner and I am fine with that!
I am currently living in an apartment at the moment that DO allow dogs, but I just have a few worries. Will my puppy be able to hold his pee for longer than 4 hours? I leave for class at 10AM and return at 2PM Monday/Wednesday/Friday and from 12PM to 2PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I live with my girlfriend and she has access to my room and the puppy whenever. I'm just wondering when she's not home, will the puppy be able to hold it for a little while?
Also, barking might be an issue. I know that when puppies grow up and learn how to bark they won't stop until they're tired! I know exercise will reduce the barking, but I am only able to give the puppy my full attention for a long period of time is after class! I just don't want to get a noise complaint from the people living next door to me!
I do realize in my situation living in an apartment, a GSD may not be the best breed for me since it is an active dog and need a lot of space to run around, but I do plan on giving it plenty of exercise, whether it be walking or playing!
I have read that GSD's may not be a good dogpark dog and that worries me because that was my idea of playing with him and letting him socialize! I planned on walking him to the dog park which is about 2-3 miles from my home and letting him play in the dogpark!
I really do love the breed and want to do as much research as I can before I commit to a wonderful breed!
Some GSDs make ok dog park dogs, most do not. Their play is quite rough and can quickly escalate to a telling off. If your main exercise will be based around going to a dog park, you might want to look at other large breeds that fit in easily with other dogs in enclosed areas, there are many to choose from but the breeds I have seen that make great dog park dogs are Labs, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, Ridgebacks, Boarder Collies and quite a few mixed mutts as well.
In the first week or 2 of bringing puppy home, you will need to take him toilet after eating, drinking and waking up. If you feed him and take him out for toilet before you leave to go to school, then you might be lucky with no accidents within 4 hours, otherwise leave some paper or urine mats in an area. My 2 GSDs are 3yo and 5yo and I can leave them for 8 hours without access to toilet.
My experience with barking is that they will only bark if there is a reason to, if they see someone walking past their property, or hear someone etc. Otherwise they are generally not the sort of dogs to bark and bark and bark, but again, as long as puppy is well fed and exercised (not over exercised) then they do sleep a fair bit during the day.
I think GSDs can live quite happily in an apartment, so long as they receive adequate exercise, preferably morning and evening.
They are a wonderful dog, and good on you for doing your research, far better to really look into which breed is right for you than getting a particular breed that you become attached to and further on realise that you made a mistake.
Just a note on dog parks, PERSONALLY, in general I wouldn't really recommend them, especially if you're looking to socialize. The thing of it is, you can't control who comes to the park, nor their behavior while there. There are a lot of good people and great dogs that visit them, but it really only takes one person not watching their overly rambunctious dog to mess up your socialization. The thing to remember (especially since GSDs can be sensitive) is that "socializing" your dog means having your dog experience new places, people, and other dogs in a way that makes them COMFORTABLE. If the situation is scary, it does more damage than good. Any dog you get, you're better off going to a big open park to run around and work on obedience as opposed to a dog park, and schedule doggy visits in ways that you can control.
Here's a great article on it that shows a lot of behaviors that frequently go under the radar at dog parks and how they can harm your dog's socialization:
Well Socialized? No, Well Traumatized -
If you decide on a GSD (or any dog for that matter) it would be a great benefit to schedule his/her arrival during a break from class. Between semesters or spring break or something. That way you can dedicate a couple/few weeks to 24/7 house breaking, crate training, so things go well when you go back to school. The puppy will then be able to wait for potty breaks and will be used to the crate so it won't bark while you're gone.
Dog parks are a terrible place to socialize a puppy and if they haven't had all their shots yet, they can catch nasty diseases there. I personally will never take a puppy or even adult dog to a dog park because there are too many irresponsible owners who don't understand dog behavior and will allow harassing behavior to occur. I should know since I used to *be* one of those people.
A puppy is not going to be able to hold it for four hours at the age of 8 weeks. At 16 weeks, possibly if it is already crate-trained it will be alright. But keep in mind this is a baby dog. I'm not sure I would feel comfortable leaving a baby alone for long periods. Maybe you can get the pup over summer break and spend more time with him/her then?
Regarding barking, if you leave a dog alone for long periods, there is no guarantee they won't bark out of boredom or protectiveness, especially in an apartment. It's a risk you will have to take. There are things you can do to mitigate it but it's not a sure thing.
Have you considered rescuing an adult dog? You could choose one that is quiet and not too high energy. I have a lovely rescue who almost never barks and is excellent whether I want to spend the whole day hiking with her or have to leave her home for 8 hours. There are a lot of great breed-specific rescues that can help you find a GSD, although it will be difficult to find a breeder or rescue who will work with you because you are a student.
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If I may make a suggestion, have you considered a rescue? They are equally as much work as a puppy, in a different way, but it sounds like an adult or older puppy (8mo. +) might fit better in your lifestyle. Larger bladder, less impulsive/jumpy/chewy/mouthy... Just a thought to do with as you will.
(edit: Just noticed Kaimeju beat me to the punch...)
You are currently a college student, right?
Well looking back at my life (and finances) when I was in college and for the first few years after graduating I would NOT recommend getting any dog right now.
A dog is a HUGE responsibility (and cost) for the next 12+ years of your life. And a big dog like a GSD is even more than a small pet. The TIME needed to properly exercise and train is something I didn't have when busy with classes and socializing and parttime jobs. I barely had enough extra money for my car insurance and gas let alone adding vet bills and training classes.
Plus, while you currently live in a place that allows dogs, there is no guarantee that will be the same when you graduate and depending on where you get your first job(s). Hate to have to limit your jobs due to a dog (or set you up to have to give your dog up in a few years because you can't take him/her with you).
So, based on my life in college and for a few years after. I feel the best decision is to focus on THAT! Great grades and doing well. Being able to be free enough to go anywhere in the world for the best jobs AFTER graduation. That way you'll be in an excellent situation in 5 years or so with a GOOD salary and a job that is more flexible to allow a dog and what that involves.
In the meantime, there is so much 'dog' you can do without your own dog. Work in a shelter or for a rescue. Is there any dog training you are interested in? If it's Schutzund then find a club in your area and ask if you can join to help and learn.
So I say to read/research/and learn about all the different breeds so when you ARE in a secure situation to get a dog it will be ideal for you and your dog for it's entire life.
> can you afford a dog?
> Vet bills, food, toys, crate,
training classes, sitter/walker,
price of the pup.
>barking. tell your neighbors
you're getting a pup. i told my
neighbors i was getting a pup.
i gave them a key to house so they
could come in and let the pup out
and treat him.
> when you're attending class find
a sitter/walker to come in and take
care of your pup.
> you need lots of time for training, socializing
and general care.
way it out. maybe you and the pup are better
off together if you wait untill you finish school
and you have a place to live and your making money.
larger bladder, yes, but they still have to go out.
impulsive, jumpy, chewy, mouthy are training issues.
Is a GSD the right dog for me?
First off, thank you for the replies!
I realize maybe a dog park may not be the best choice after all! There is actually a park right across the street that I can take the pup for walks and to play!
At the moment, I plan on waiting till spring break to get a pup which is in the beginning of March. I am a sophomore in college and will probably be in college for the next 6 years of my life because of dental school. Classes/apartment/food is all payed for by financial aid and parents. The money I have is a monthly allowance of 800$ to spend for extra food and for myself. I'm not saying that to brag about how much money I get, but to give a general idea if that's enough to care for a pup let alone a grown dog! Also, the apartments I'm living in for the rest of my college career will be in pet approve homes!
Oh and my girlfriend will have access to my room to take the pup out when I'm in class! Campus is only 5minutes away so I will be able to go home if anything is needed!
I want a puppy because I would love for it to grow up with me, but if I must get an older dog at a rescue, that may be a possibility.
I know vet bills add up and other accessories that may come with by owning a puppy but I'm willing to give up that movie night out to save money for my pup! I'm willing to invest as much as I can afford for the puppy to live a long life.
I'm still researching on the breed and I'm in love with the GSD but will consider other breeds if it suits my lifestyle and expectations.
Thank you all for the wonderful replies!!
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