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Leila 11-14-2012 02:53 PM

Potentional first time GSD owner with ?s - Advice GREATLY appreciated!
Hi everyone,

I am wondering if getting a GSD would be a good idea at this stage in my life and would love to get advice from you all.

I am a single 25 yr old woman, currently living in a large house with a moderate sized yard with pool in a suburban neighborhood in a beach city in southern California (very temperate climate). I am mainly interested in getting a GSD for companionship, but also for protection since I live alone. At first I was interested in getting a dog specifically trained for protection but was put off by the price (it seems these dogs cost about 25k? Please correct me if I am wrong) and also the potential liability. I realized that I probably would be fine with a GSD who would at the minimum bark at intruders or threatening strangers.

I've never owned a dog before (only a cat, though I have no pets currently). I currently work from home and am rarely out of the house for more than 4-5 hours at a time. I also love being active and am looking forward to having a companion to take with me for jogging, walking, and hiking. How much daily exercise does a GSD need on average? Would I be better off getting a puppy or an older dog, considering that protectiveness is a trait that I definitely want? I want a dog who is not too friendly with strangers; I'd prefer that he/she be aloof and protective of me. Is this a reasonable expectation? How would I go about ensuring that the GSD I get has this type of personality? I am a very petite woman, so I assume I will also need to go through lots of training with the dog so that I am confident in handling him/her.

I also was wondering if it would be okay for me to leave the dog outside in my backyard while I am gone during the day, or if it'd be better to keep him/her confined. I'd also be fine giving him/her free reign of the house if that would be preferable. I also had a question about traveling. If I were to go abroad for a couple of weeks would that be ok, and if so what would be the best options for the dog's care while I am gone?

Elaine 11-14-2012 06:40 PM

Yes, a GSD would work for you. No, you don't need one trained in personal protection and, yes, those dogs are hideously expensive with a huge liability. Exercise totally depends on the type of dog you get. Some are couch potatoes, some can never get enough, and there's a lot in between.

I would highly recommend you get an adult dog as this is your first dog. Preferably one that's well trained before you get it. A retired dog from a breeder would be perfect.

Leaving a dog outside unattended can be a very bad thing. Not only do you have to worry about freaks either hurting him or coming in your yard and getting bitten, but your dog could escape, be stolen, or bark all day annoying your neighbors. Keep the dog in the house whenever you can't watch him.

Gretchen 11-14-2012 07:33 PM

Yes, your lifestyle sounds like a good fit. I work from home too, or if I have to go to the office (it's a tow yard, not a corporate office), my dog comes with me. Leaving a dog alone for 4-5 hours should be fine, they sleep.

I've raised two puppies as an adult, a GSD mix and my current 100% GSD. Puppies are very challenging and take a lot of energy, although neither of my pups destroyed the house. The positive side to that is that we really trust each other, if I wanted to chew a raw bone with my dog, she would let me share it with her. The positive about finding a good dog from a GSD rescue is hopefully it will be basically trained and it's temperament will already to developed, so you'll know what you'll be getting.

As far as keeping your dog outside when you are gone, I'd say no. Just for the barking factor alone, but people can be cruel or stupid around dogs, so for the dog's safety, no.

Exercise depends on the dog, they will acclimate to your lifestyle. Generally during the work week, my dog gets a 20-25 minute walk early a.m. with a few minutes of ball chasing in a tennis court. Late morning my daughter walks the dog around the neighborhood for 30 minutes, after dinner we tend to get more running in and go out for about 45-60 minutes.(We have no yard).Weekends are more active of course.

As far as protection goes, we never our trained our dog to be protective but she has a definite natural ability for it. She seems to sense who to keep an eye on. GSD are always "on call", very alert. Both dogs scan up and down our sidewalk as we leave the house, and peer down every alley way we pass. One night while it was raining hard on one of our walks, Molly sensed that there were people hiding in the bushes of a commercial building about 30' away from us.

Leila 11-17-2012 06:07 PM

Thanks for your responses! Elaine, is there a list of breeders somewhere that I might contact about getting a retired dog? I actually visited a GSD rescue event today and fell in love with a female who'd been used for breeding.

I have a few more questions, though. I am leaning slightly towards getting a male because I did want a GSD that serves as a good warning to unscrupulous strangers (though this is, of course, not my primary reason for getting a dog). The rescue volunteers kept saying that this or that male would be "too big" for me to handle as a first time owner; is the general consensus that first time owners should only have smaller a GSD?

I was also wondering how much training I will need to do with the dog if I get it from a rescue - they say the dogs are "basically" trained.

Also, if I do go the route of getting a dog from the rescue, how much say will I have in having certain specifications met, such as color, certain temperament attributes (such as more aloof with strangers, not too hyper, etc)? Is it ok for me to ask for things like that?

Thanks again for all the advice.


MattLink 11-17-2012 06:36 PM

Your options will be limited when getting a rescue, but they shouldn't have a problem taking questions.
I'd def. suggest an older dog, and females are just as capable as males but tend to be easier to handle. You want a protective dog, but when a 120 lbs boy pulls toward someone on your jog, you might not be able to hold him back, and you're responsible for his/her actions.
As for training, they'll likely come knowing the basics, and will just need to learn your rules and manners, though its always possible they're missing something significant. Just take care of your GSD and she'll take care of you.

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Leila 11-17-2012 07:00 PM

MattLink, Thanks for the tips. At 120 lbs, the dog would be several pounds heavier than me. :P

What are some other options for getting an older GSD besides rescues? I was under the impression that breeders only sell puppies, and I've been advised to not get a puppy.

kelina 11-17-2012 07:08 PM

Hehe, love this question.

Start off with a baby shep! Personally, males are more... "wild" then females, BUT females are more hyper! But to be honest the males are a little more intelligent, females are just as smart but my boy learned to sit in a matter of minutes. My female took an hour or so. But that is your choice hun!

Now, HONESTLY I dont really live in a huge house. I have a reaaaally big backyard but my house is a normal sized home. Which is perfectly fine with my babies, shadow and apollo.

Leaving your puppy outside can be a little hectic. I mean, they dig.. a LOT. My pups tend to eat rocks so Im always on the look out. As long as its not raining, dont leave your pup out. They can get sick.

Pups are a lot of work! They are crazy, wild, hyper, funny, teething gets really bad at 3 months! Thats when it starts lol. Make sure you walk them DAILY! seriously cause if you dont im **** sure that they will run everywhere.

You dont need a protection dog. Show your dog affection and such and they will love you a lot.

My female pup shadow still gets jealous when someone tries to hug me ahaha.

So dont worry about getting a dang expensive dog lol!

KEEP ME UPDATED HUN :)!! goodluck! If you need any tips please message me! Im free!

Elaine 11-17-2012 07:18 PM


Originally Posted by Leila (Post 2632295)
MattLink, Thanks for the tips. At 120 lbs, the dog would be several pounds heavier than me. :P

What are some other options for getting an older GSD besides rescues? I was under the impression that breeders only sell puppies, and I've been advised to not get a puppy.

Jeez, who has 120# GSDs? This really isn't an issue as most are in the 60-90# range. If you get a retired breeder, chances are it will have manners and be a fairly settled sort of dog.

I do suggest you take whatever dog you get to dog school so you can learn how to handle it appropriately. It's not hard to learn how to handle the dog well enough to be able to take it jogging without incident.

From a rescue, you can ask for whatever sort of dog you think you are interested in and be sure to up front on your dog background and lifestyle so you can get matched with the correct dog.

If you want a retired breeder, that is also a very good option for you. Put it out there that you are interested in one and it shouldn't be that hard to find one. Many breeders will either give you the dog for free or for a very small charge so long as you can provide a good home.

I don't ever recommend a first dog owner to get a puppy as they are so much work. Getting an adult first leaves out all that puppy stuff and allows you to learn about the breed and about how to live with a dog. You would be way more ready for a puppy for a second dog.

Emoore 11-17-2012 07:26 PM

120 pounds! Holy cripes! My two boys are both in the 80-ish pound range.

I am also a single woman. As you can see from my signature, I have two, both males. Your body size doesn't have much to do with your ability to control the dog so long as you train him/her. Get whichever sex you fall in love with, and then get into training.

If you are going to leave your dog outside, the yard must be extremely secure and you can't be worried about the yard's aesthetics. Also, the dog needs to be spayed/neutered.

Leila 11-17-2012 07:38 PM

Yes, I've definitely decided to not get a puppy, as Elaine and others suggested. So, does 4-5 years old sound good, or a bit younger? Elaine, what's a good way to find reputable breeders?

Emoore, my fence is over 6 ft tall and all three of my adjacent neighbors keep their dogs in their yards, but I also have no problem giving my GSD free run of the house. I don't know if GSDs like to wander around but there would be plenty of space for him/her to do that, even indoors.

The GSD rescue requires a home visit. I'm slightly concerned bc I just inherited this house from my father, who did not keep it up at all, so right now there's not a lot of furniture and a couple of the rooms I am using purely for storage bc there is still a ton of clutter I need to organize/throw away. It's not really set up right now like a true house and looks a bit transitional. I hope they won't disqualify me for that. My yard is well maintained and nice, though the application asked if my pool is fenced, which it isn't. I figure this won't be an issue with an older dog, right?

Thanks again, everyone, for taking the time and trouble to respond. I really appreciate it!

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