Hi! Need advice - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-15-2013, 10:13 PM Thread Starter
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Hi! Need advice

Hello fellow dog lovers! I am a new member on this forum, and I need advice.
My husband and I have had two German shepherds, a male and a female, both of whom we adopted from the animal shelter. After many years with these great dogs, we lost them to age-related health problems, one six years ago and the other four years ago.
I miss them so much and at first I didn't want another one (I just really wanted my old dogs back!), but now I really want one. I have puppy fever! The reason I haven't broken down and gotten another is because we now have kids, ages 4 and 6. They love animals and they are great with our two cats. But -- I have read on this forum and others about some GSDs playing too rough with children, even biting or knocking over their kids. I can't have a dog that will bite my kids.
Should I be concerned about this?? (I intend to get a COMPANION dog, I'm not interested in dogs bred for "working" or show purposes.)
Should I wait until the kids are older and if so, how old? Or should I assume that if I get a dog from a good breeder and train it properly, that the dog will be fine and I'm worrying for nothing?
Also, the two cats we had when we had dogs (they have both since gotten old and died too), did not like our dogs. (We had the same four pets for approximately 15 years, and the cats never warmed up to the dogs.) We now have two young cats and I'm wondering did our old cats not like our dogs because they were big and fully grown when we got them? I'm hoping that by getting a puppy they will be more likely to all be friends. Or am I dreaming?
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 12:09 AM
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Hi and welcome!

I would recommend going to a breed rescue and adopting a young dog. Most rescues that are in foster homes can provide a lot of the valuable information on temperament re: children and cats that you are looking for. You already know from your prior experience that rescue/shelter dogs are, more often than not, really great dogs.

All the best,
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 12:37 AM
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Ditto the above advice and don't rule out a dog who is a little older--much easier to handle with kids! Be sure to go through a reputable rescue who uses foster homes and find a dog who is cat and kid friendly.

Good luck!

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 11:12 AM
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Yes, GSD puppies are very active, bitey, excitable. These traits are needed in a good working dog, as time and training will focus all that energy into useful tasks as needed by the handler, but they can be a handful during puppyhood before they have learned to control themselves. I don't think that young puppies and young kids make a good mix. Remember that the little 8 week old pup will be 50 to 60 lbs by the time they are five or six months old - bigger and heavier than small children, and whirling dervishes of playful energy that can just overwhelm, and accidentally injure children.

So I would suggest as others have - look into adopting an older dog. One that is settled, has had some training, has been fostered and found to be good around cats and little kids. It's a win-win situation - homeless dog find new loving family, and new family finds perfect dog!


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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 11:34 AM
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I can't have a dog that will bite my kids.
While I understand what you're saying, and the others do as well, there's no guarantee if you get a puppy from a good breeder, or a puppy or even older dog from a rescue or directly from a shelter, that your kids won't be bitten.
(In fact an employee at a petstore locally said something I'll never forget...when I was looking at an animal at their store, and asked "Do they bite?" the gentleman said "This is what I tell everyone - it has a mouth, it has teeth, if it has those things, IT CAN BITE". Wise words!!)

The main thing about puppies is that when they bite, it's out of play, not aggression. However, many people mistake it for that and try to scold the puppy for this type of play.

The problem is - puppies only know biting when they play. They can't play "Go Fish" or "Monopoly"! They play with their new human families just like they did their puppy siblings.
It's up to their new humans to supervise and to teach "gentle" when playing.

Furthermore, a young adult or even a fully grown dog can bite your kids...the dog is 1/2 to 3/4 of the equation, your kids are the other portion of the equation. Have your kids been around dogs, to know how to treat them? Some toddlers and younger kids are amazingly rough and not very nice to dogs, especially if they aren't taught how to be around them. They will do things like hug and kiss dogs, and many dogs find this unpleasant, so the dog will bare it's teeth (a warning - "back off, I'm uncomfortable!") but the children, sadly enough, don't know or understand what this means so continue with the behavior and are bitten.

That's where strict supervision and teaching your kids the proper way to interact with the dog comes into play.

Kids have to understand that dogs don't enjoy some of the same things we do, when we show each other affection, and care and supervision and teaching must be done.

AND no matter if you get a dog now or some time in the next year or two, PLEASE check out this page.

Family Paws-New parent classes dog and baby
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 11:56 AM
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We rescued our GSD when she was just shy of 2 years old. Great decision for us, as we were looking for a companion too. We knew her basic temperment and drive level. We went through obedience and ultimately she became a Therapy Dog.

We went through a German Shepherd Rescue group specifically, as others have suggested. I wasn't in a position to handle a puppy, so a younger dog, but one who was essentially out of the puppy phase was a perfect choice.

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-16-2013, 12:53 PM
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"Or should I assume that if I get a dog from a good breeder and train it properly, that the dog will be fine and I'm worrying for nothing?"

Getting a pup from a reputable breeder is a good start. They will place you with the pup that fits your needs. Make sure you look into this thread and others, Things to look for in a 'Responsible' Breeder

My children were 5-7 when We brought home Tuke and Zoey, both females, 9 weeks old. We've had no problems with their interactions, always supervised. Neither went through a lengthy alligator phase and seemed to have a built in respect/ caution with our kids. Our new pup, male, came home at 3 months of age (kids are now 8-10). He likes to bite, but is easy to redirect. The youngest, our daughter is ADHD and is hyper and impulsive, she attracts a lot of his attention, but despite still going through the alligator phase they do very well together, its a learning process for both. There will be bumps and bruises, but from our experiences nothing to worry about.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 02-17-2013, 10:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your thoughtful answers!! I really appreciate the insight. I probably would just get another shelter/rescue dog -- if I didn't have cats. I guess I'm thinking that the cats will be more willing to accept an animal that's small (even though the dog won't be small for very long!) rather than spring a giant dog on them out of nowhere (since that didn't go over too well the last time).
So... I guess I will probably wait another year or two. Thanks again for the advice.
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