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dogtoot2 12-02-2013 02:25 PM

Is a German Shepard right for me?
I'm a teenager currently studying abroad in France (originally from the U.S). I'm staying in a fairly large house with my grandparents who have come to accompany me. That being said I still find myself very lonely. I was thinking a dog would help keep me company and also help distract me from stress of the fact that I'm so far away from home. From there I started thinking about what breed and my first thought was a German Shepard. I'm up every morning at six (three hours before school starts) and have no problem taking him on long walks. The yard is also huge so space to run and play would be no problem. That being said I'm nervous about the training of the dog. I have never trained a dog before and until a few years ago I had a crippling fear of medium-large dogs (I was attacked a few times when I was very young and one of the things that helped me get over that fear was a friend's German Shepard). The fear is pretty much gone now but is a German Shepard too strong-willed of a dog for me? If you think it is what are some other medium/large sized dogs that would be good for me? Maybe more importantly, what tips do you have as to the training of a dog?

Stevenzachsmom 12-02-2013 02:36 PM

What about a nice mixed breed with a wonderful temperament? Are there any rescues or shelters near you? German Shepherds are awesome dogs. You might find one that is perfect for you. I'm not sure, however, a German Shepherd would be the best fit, since you have never trained a dog before and your fear is "pretty much" gone. I don't want to see you get in over your head - be it a German Shepherd or any dog. I hope there is someone local who can help you find the right dog for you.

dogtoot2 12-02-2013 02:43 PM

Yeah that's a good idea, I'll look. And when I say my fear is pretty much gone, I mean I only feel that fear when a large dog that I have never met before starts to bark and view me as an aggressor.

KZoppa 12-02-2013 02:51 PM

I agree with Jan. Find a mixed breed. Probably medium in size with a good temperament.

I also think it might be wise to learn about dogs and their behaviors. Just because a dog barks at you, doesn't mean they view you as aggressive. It can mean any number of things, like maybe the dog is trying to scare you off because they are afraid. Or they can tell you're nervous.

GSDs are a powerful breed and not one I would recommend to a first time owner with tension toward large dogs. The fear may be "pretty much" gone, but you're still going to be tense around them and this breed will find that hole and use it.

Also consider, if you're coming back to the states once finished with your studies, where does the dog go? Are you able to afford vet care? What about vet care emergencies? Or vet care associated with shipping a dog overseas and quarantine procedures? Add in the fun fact that a breed restrictions are heavy here when it comes to the breed. If you ever rent, its difficult to find a place that will allow you to have a large dog, let alone a GSD. Insurance companies will deny you insurance. Some places require you to have a certain amount of insurance to cover a dog bite. Insurance companies for management companies will force them to deny you a rental whether you provide insurance or not. Its difficult. Even if you own a place, homeowners insurance can be interesting to obtain for some as well and some companies will significantly jack up the price simply because you have a GSD.

PhoenixGuardian 12-02-2013 02:59 PM

I think a mixed breed would be a good idea :) What about an already trained dog? They are all over the place if you look. Maybe at an animal shelter?
Good luck!

dogtoot2 12-02-2013 03:04 PM

Yeah I'm still doing research, and I think I have found a few companies that specialize in pet transport. There is no chance I'm going to get one before January (I'm leaving for Christmas break), but before I adopt or buy a dog I'll be sure to have the transportation back worked out. Also do you have any general advice on training dogs?

KZoppa 12-02-2013 03:10 PM


Originally Posted by dogtoot2 (Post 4600609)
Yeah I'm still doing research, and I think I have found a few companies that specialize in pet transport. There is no chance I'm going to get one before January (I'm leaving for Christmas break), but before I adopt or buy a dog I'll be sure to have the transportation back worked out. Also do you have any general advice on training dogs?

general advice? don't wing it lol. But seriously, there are tons of videos and articles you can read that can help. Even just training advice, this board is a good source of information with experienced trainers. Learn all you can before you jump in the deep end.

also keep in mind, transportation changes are made often so the best way to keep up on it, get recommendations from others who've had their dogs transported overseas with good experiences. Weather, seasons, etc can all affect whether its safe or not to transport at any given time of the year. Also costs fluctuate. It won't be cheap by any means.

dogtoot2 12-02-2013 03:15 PM

For example, are there any good books I should read? or how did you prepare for your first dog? and thank you for all the advice, I am taking note of every word.

Vagus 12-02-2013 03:22 PM

The fact that you're coming to forum of enthusiasts to learn and gather advice rather than just going out and getting one right away is great :) Good on you.

They are definitely headstrong dogs, and training is absolutely essential. Perhaps start reading training books or watch training videos as a primer, and to give you an idea of what expect. The training never ends, but its not a chore by any means. If you do look at getting a dog, maybe consider a female as her size may leave you more comfortable. I saw a female GSD the other day (I don't see other GSDs very often) and couldn't believe how small she was for an adult compared to my teenage male. Also keep in mind they're an athletic breed that need daily exercise, although they should be fine with the, occasional off day :p

If you go the purebred route (the earlier suggestion of a rescue is a great one), take the time to find a fantastic breeder - you'll be doing yourself a huge favour.

Good luck :) and continue to browse the forum, its a wonderful learning tool.

KZoppa 12-02-2013 03:23 PM

Oh there's plenty of books you can read. None of which I've read to be honest. My first dog that was totally mine was a pound puppy rescue. Nothing really could have prepared me for him. I didn't have access to this board and all I knew was "pet" people. Everything I did with him... if I could go back and do it all over, I would do everything drastically different but unfortunately with him, it likely would have had the same outcome.

I did Animal Behavior College's Obedience Trainer course year before last because I enjoyed dog training so much. With each dog I've had, I've learned more and more and even more with the help of those on this board with more experience than myself. Socialization, distraction training, bonding time. Spend time with your dog learning to read one another. Train under distractions once you train without them to help build the training solidly for various situations. Socialize. New people, new places, new things (SAFETY FIRST!!!). There's more to it but that's basics for any dog. Gotta go get the kids from the bus.

ETA: If you go the purebred route, rescues are good options. If you decide to go the breeder route, make sure you are aware of health checks on hips, elbows, etc. A dog with bad hips or elbows in their future can have a rough time of it.

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