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Old 06-14-2014, 09:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can we handle a GS puppy?

We just had to put our 10 year old GS dog, Krok to sleep......very hard and sad. I know we could never replace him, but I do think about in the future getting another GS. The deal is.....Krok came to us as an 8 year old retired TSA bomb dog.....trained and calm from age. It was not too hard to handle his energy needs, training etc. at that point. His handler had died and my hubby knew Krok from working at the airport--we are not likely to ever encounter another situation like that.

So I wonder about a puppy. But......I know puppies are a lot of work, especially a breed like that. I don't want to bite off more than we can chew. But we have all fallen in love with this breed now.....so thought I would honestly ask for opinions here.

We are not dog training people by nature.....however, the youngest of my 6 kids is 6 years old now so I have the time to be now (have done training classes with dogs in the past)....and my 15 year old son would be good at that and is interested. We have a fenced yard.....but the fenced area isn't that big. It's enough to get out and enjoy the weather, but not for "exercise" per se. We have a lot of property, but that doesn't count so much as it's not fenced. I do run.......so I would love a GS to run with. Wondering if that would be a good outlet.

So......tell me about the energy needs of a young GS. What would we need to do to have a well trained, well exercised dog? Well loved is easy--with 6 kids Krok was loved on constantly! lol.

I love this breed.....but I want to make sure a puppy/young dog isn't too much for us. It wouldn't be fair to the puppy if our situation wasn't enough for him. I know you guys will be honest.

Thanks!!

Dee
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:11 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had a White Swiss Shepherd. Not a German Shepherd but I'd say pretty close. I got him when he was 9 weeks old and from my experience they are a LOT of work.

Puppies are adorable but they are a lot of work! You got to do the foundation training like basic commands, socialising, toilet training, being conditioned to grooming and touch etc. I think there's a saying where your German Shepherd will only be so good by the amount of time you spend conditioning the dog during it's first two years?

When my dog hit teenager stage he became a VERY energetic boy. He was running with the Kelpies and he would literally play fetch until he was about to drop. Loved going on long walks, loved going to the beach and he would try to climb trees to be with me or get his ball/toy down. I could go swimming with him for an hour and play fetch with him for an extra 30 mins and he would still be ready to go and do something else. Loved the swimming part, I would actually kind of swim with him. It was like holding onto his collar and we would swim together, we went really fast doing that.

But he did have an off switch! When I would sit down and paint for a while he would go to his bed and either watch me or go to sleep.

Puppy hood is fairly full on and a lot of work, but I would still keep doing it! I guess you would need to consider if you are willing to put in all that work and if you can handle the energy.

Also, so sorry to hear about your dog. My dog died just before he was two.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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First off, so sorry for your loss! I've raised a number of GSDs from pups and they can be a handful; without question they need lots of continual attention and regular, strenuous exercise if they are to remain non-destructive. Crate training from an early age can be a real God Send in that it helps get them house broken with minimal effort and also gives them a place where they feel truly safe. Running would be excellent exercise! But keep in mind the breed needs lots of mental stimulation along with physical exercise; training classes are a good source for such mental 'work outs'. The breed does much better with controlled socialization regarding other people and dogs at an early age. Doing this can and will take a bit of the 'edge' off the breed's natural protectiveness and tendency towards territoriality. My current GSD companion struggles with canine ADHD; in addition he's almost 3 years old but still requires hours of exercise a day just to be able to sleep at night. Thankfully being retired in rural south central Alaska I can walk him multiple times a day off a lead and just allow him to wander and investigate any and everything although because moose, grizzly and black bears prowl the area I never let him out of my sight. Given you have a family willing to share in raising a GSD I should think you'd be fine with a pup! Your small fenced in area should be good for allowing a pup to get out and relieve itself say in the early mornings or late at night but you will need to take the pup out walking, running and similar as well.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I agree with Yoshi's post.

We adopted Maddie when she was a year old. She was trained and had good manners. Being a teenager she required a lot of exercise and GSDs are always challenging in some respects.

In comparison to our puppy, however, Maddie was a piece of cake. I love Linus but raising a GSD pup is a real commitment in time, patience and training. I thought I understood what was involved but ended up underestimating how much is required. I'm also having more fun with him than expected which more than compensates for a temporary loss in other social activities.

You might consider adopting an older pet. There are lots of really nice, well-trained adult dogs looking for a home like yours including retired service dogs.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've raised one GSD pup from 16 weeks old, one from 20 weeks old, two from 9 weeks old, and one from 10 weeks old. The older pups were much easier to housebreak since their bowels and bladders were more mature, giving them the capacity to hold it longer and to recognize when they had to go vs the younger pups. But it is nice to be able to shape a dog right from the very beginning, and not have to undo someone else's mistakes. Cassidy, the 20 week old, probably didn't have enough socialization when we got her, and she definitely had no training or manners. She was a sweet dog, but she was already over 40 pounds and big enough to jump on the furniture when she came home.

You're right that a puppy is a lot of work, but the fact that you're aware of that (many people seem surprised that their puppy doesn't already know that s/he's not supposed to pee or poop in the house, can't understand why it pulls on leash, and thinks normal puppy biting means they have an aggressive monster on their hands, lol) puts you ahead of the curve.

Do you have good resources for training classes in your area? If you've never raised a puppy before and don't know a lot about dog training you'll probably need some help. I think if you're committed it's definitely doable, but adopting an older dog again is also an option. For me, the most difficult time of puppy raising was up to 6 months old. Those first few months at home are certainly fun, but it's also a lot of work. Not only are you dealing with housebreaking and bite inhibition, there's the chewing to consider, so it will need pretty much constant "eyes on" supervision unless it's crated or otherwise safely contained. You have enough people to do that, as long as the kids are on board with the program.

I also do a lot of work on default behaviors during this time - sit, down and eye contact, I work on impulse control, manners, name recognition, and reinforcing any behavior I like and want to encourage more of. Remember, the work you put in early on will help shape the dog you're living with for the next 10+ years, so it's worth the time and effort to do it right.
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am new here, and learning so much from this forum. I have 2 new GSD puppies and a 10yr old Chocolate Lab. I also had a 10yr old Akita, but I had to say good-bye to her a couple of weeks ago (Cushings).
I too, LOVE the GSD's. But I have to say, I spend every waking moment working with the pups. I am single Mom and work full time so it is very tough. I have my "holy cow" moments and always worry I am not doing enough, but overall I see progress and am committed . I know I will be able to shower 'some day'! haha
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Atika View Post
I know I will be able to shower 'some day'! haha
That's what crates are for!
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Old 06-14-2014, 12:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassidy's Mom View Post
That's what crates are for!
LOL, absolutely! And I thank God for them every day!
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Old 06-14-2014, 03:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Don't count on a teenager to pick up the slack. If you are not "dog training people" I would never get a GSD puppy because training is the only thing you will do the first 18 months if you want to end up with a well behaved and trained dog. I am happy you are thinking it over As long as you are in doubt, don't it.
Why not look for an older dog? The only good thing about puppies is that they are cute .
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Old 06-14-2014, 05:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks you guys. I guess when I say "puppy" what I really mean is a young GS in general. I am not worried about the general "puppy" part of training, housebreaking etc. We've had puppies before and I am well aware of the work involved in general, for sure!

What concerns me most is the energy and mental stimulation requirement of this breed in general (puppy and teen GS)---given we've only had an 8 year old.

When I say we're not dog training people, I don't mean we are not willing....what I mean is it doesn't come naturally. lol. I am willing to do obedience classes--have done so in the past. And we do have a training place that specialized in German Shepherds, so that's good.

I really appreciate everyone's detailed descriptions of their dogs. When I hear some one say they spend every waking moment training their dog, that does concern me b/c I know we cannot do that. When I hear someone say their dog needs to run for hours or they can't sleep at night that concerns me too.......our fenced in yard is not enough for a full sized dog to run for hours. So we're more realistically looking at a good long run and another walk in any given day for the main exercise. We are home full time (home school six kids) so there would always be someone to play with or love on, practice training, etc. But I know we cannot devote our whole day to training.

I guess I need to do some more research and soul searching.

Dee
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