It can work if a first time owner does his research, studies the lines, reads up on dogs in general. I actually enjoy working with first time owners who are committed as they don't have to undo old habits. My first dog, adopted as an 9 month old male, (not a GSD) was very difficult for me but he forced me to look into behavior. Looking back I could have gotten way more out of him but he worked out well and we had him for 11 years. Classes at that time were not readily available but I made the best of it. He was not a typical first-time dog though but I was committed and willing to work with him.