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post #36 of (permalink) Old 11-05-2016, 12:40 PM
Cassidy's Mom
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Originally Posted by MissChloe View Post
Bumping this thread because it speaks to me and, I think, to anyone else thinking of getting a GSD for the first time.

It's the descriptions of intense training that make someone like me wonder. I imagine this is for working line GSDs and young GSDs in general. Would an older, softer working line GSD work for someone with medium energy?

All the puppy threads I've read have convinced me I'm not up for a GSD puppy. You've confirmed what I've been thinking. Maybe an adult GSD 5 or 6 years old.
We've had GSDs for 30 years - 2 American lines, 2 West German show lines, and one West German working line, in that order. Each of them have been SUCH individuals that it makes it very difficult for me to make generalizations about lines. The two that have been the most similar are the two we have now - Keefer, WGSL, and Halo, WGWL. There are also distinct differences between them, but it's interesting that he's more like her than like his half sister Dena.

My first dog as an adult was a GSD, and other than going through a destructive chewing phase (she liked plastic flowerpots, garden hoses, cardboard boxes and newspaper, and it didn't matter how good a job we thought we did of keeping them out of reach she still managed to find and shred them, lol), Sneaker was extremely easy. We took one obedience class with her and she was good to go. She sold me on dogs in general, and GSDs specifically. She lived to 14-1/2 years old.

Our next dog Cassidy was totally different. Well, except for the destructive chewing phase, lol. Super reactive, basically a temperamental mess. We had pretty much forgotten the little we knew about dog training by the time we got her after Sneaker died, and spent a lot of time in classes with her. I'm by no means an expert, but probably at least 75% of what I know about dog training and behavior can be attributed to her.

We lost her at 4 years old to discospondylitis, and after that we got Dena, who was pretty much perfect. I did a lot of training because everything I'd learned from Cassidy was still fresh in my mind. She aced all her classes, she loved people, especially kids, and she got along great with other dogs. Not a reactive bone in her body, not a chewer, and she was trustworthy around the house from a very young age. Where Cassidy was difficult, Dena was easy. She was so wonderful that when a half sibling became available about a year later, we jumped at the chance.

Keefer is a big sweet mush of a dog who loves everyone. He is a bit leash reactive, but it's due to him being overly social and wanting to meet every dog he sees. He gets frustrated when he can't, so he'll bark at a dog at a distance but is friendly with dogs right in his face. He's 11 now and slowing down with age, but when young he was much more energetic than Dena who was very laid back, except when it came to tennis balls which she was obsessed with. Like his sister, he was never a destructive chewer. Sadly, we lost her at 4 years old too, to lymphoma.

Halo is my working line girl who we got a few months after Dena died, and I was a bit wary about making that leap. Would she be too much dog for us? I didn't know, but she was a confident and fearless pup, so I threw everything I could at her. I started training her immediately, she went into puppy class 3 weeks later, and was in four more basic classes after that. She is intense, focused, and driven, but also sweet and affectionate. She's less interested in people in general than Keef, but if she likes you she can be obnoxiously kissy. She won't start anything with another dog but she will not take any crap either. She's good on leash walking past other dogs but does not like them in her face. She'll also snark at dogs that snark at her first if we're out walking. Even though she is a drivey little beast (around 55 pounds), she has a terrific off switch and is very easy to live with around the house. But at nearly 8 years old (her birthday is next Wednesday), she still sometimes finds things to chew. Because she's so athletic I found a sport for her to compete in, flyball, which she's excelled at.

I will say that Halo went through kind of a spooky phase when young and has been a challenge in some ways, so she's been an education for me for sure, even after raising 4 previous shepherds. I was up for the challenge though, I'm very determined and have access to very good training here in the Bay Area. I think she was more dog than I was expecting, but not more than I could handle. I just needed to learn what to do with her drives and how to channel them appropriately. She and Keefer are similar in energy and enthusiasm, the main difference is her intensity and work ethic. She works hard, plays hard, and then sleeps hard. She is assertive, determined, charming, devious, and a lot of fun!

If you're interested in a GSD puppy I think finding a good breeder is key. And then be VERY honest with them about what you're looking for, and what you can and can't live with. They will know their lines, and if they're producing the kind of dogs that would be a good fit for your home, or not.

Cava 1/6/18 *** Keefer 8/25/05
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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