Hmm.. a few random tidbits off the top of my head:
- Basic obedience classes are mandatory IMO. Even if you have experience with other dogs, GSDs really benefit from having an owner who knows exactly what they're doing. Learning to train them on your own is super important too, of course. But classes will help get you on the right track and offer a great opportunity to help socialize your dog.
- On the topic of socialization: it is VERY important for puppies to be properly socialized from the get-go.
- Read up on common issues, like food sensitives, HD, possible aggression issues, and so on. If you're looking to get a puppy, then buying from a reputable breeder should help you avoid most (if not all) of these issues, but you can never be too careful. Better to be well-prepared.
- Exact energy levels and drives vary quite a bit between dogs, but you should expect to spend a BARE MINIMUM of 1 hour a day doing exercise for LOW energy shepherds. And by exercise, I don't just mean a walk; I mean stuff that leaves them all tuckered out. A well-exercised dog should be able to retire in the evening without complaint, and shouldn't act out due to having pent-up energy.
To give you an example: I have a low-energy shepherd. (low as in low for a GSD, not low in general) She gets a minimum of 40 minutes of fetch (split into 2 sessions) and a long, 35-40 minute walk per day. I also do things like scent/nosework to help tire her brain out. Lastly, I try to train at least 10 minutes a day. (not including recall, which I work on during fetch using the two-ball technique)
This works well for my dog, but I imagine that most shepherds would require a bit more than that to tucker them out.
- As others have mentioned, GSDs are velcro dogs. They follow you EVERYWHERE. If you don't like clingy dogs, then GSDs probably aren't for you.
- They are smart cookies. Which is great... but can also be a bad thing if you don't provide enough physical and mental stimulation. These are not dogs that like to just sit around and look pretty. Most like having jobs to do; a purpose. They are eager to learn and to please, so make sure you have plenty of time to dedicate to training, raising, and caring for them.
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Butters - 10/11/14