Can't Hit Send on the Rescue Application... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 02:02 AM Thread Starter
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Question Can't Hit Send on the Rescue Application...

This weekend I started filling out the GSD Rescue application, then deleted it. I'm not sure this is the right breed for us.

I'll introduce myself by saying that somehow I have had GSDs imprinted on my brain since I was a little girl. I had a large stuffed GSD that was my favorite stuffie, and my Barbie had a plastic GSD that I named "Duke". ( I played with Duke more than Barbie. ) My husband also admires them - they are his favorite breed. So we thought that "someday" we would get a GSD and as we are now middle-aged with children mostly raised, perhaps "someday" is now? But I am nervous about this "high-maintenance, high-energy breed best for experienced dog owners". (sigh, why couldn't I have fixated on toy poodles...?)


- My eldest is now driving a car and getting ready to go off to college. Second child is in middle school. Now the house feels quiet & empty. I work from home in my upstairs studio from 9-3.
- House in small college town with a soon-to-be-fenced yard. (6' wooden privacy fencing)
- First-time dog owners!!! Repeat, never had a dog before!! Have had fish, hamsters, cat, guinea pigs.
- I concentrate intensely while I work (I do design). Doggy disturbance NOT welcome. If I need to crate the dog or shut it out of the studio, I will. But I like to eat lunch on the deck and would be happy to toss ball a bit too, before going back to work.
- I can promise a 30min -1 hr walk every evening. I already go every day.
- I can promise a long hike on weekends unless weather is nasty - hiking is our favorite family activity.
- Very unlikely to get involved in any schutzhund, agility, and other event-based training. ( Daughter busy with soccer games/playdates/school projects on weekends and needs rides.)
- Houses in our neighborhood are close together. Quiet neighborhood with zero barking...
- Financially no worries. Our dog will never lack for vet care, quality food, etc.
- I think I have a small gift with animals? There were 3 of us sharing the cat/apartment & I became the official "cat-washer"...when he looked dirty/greyish, I just stuck him in the sink and washed him. I was mystified that everybody else would wind up with deep bleeding scratches. I tamed my uncle's guard-dog - no one else dared go near her because she was snarling viciously from the back of the cage, and by afternoon she followed me around and showed me that she knew "sit" and "come." I was the only one who could get the guinea pigs to hold still while I clipped their nails (I am quite good! Anyone need their piggy's nails clipped?) I love animals...
- Training Philosophy: I believe in love/trust/empathy/bonding as the basis for discipline. It worked beautifully with my children. ( For example, some parents "sleep-train" their kids but we rocked ours to sleep and picked them up every time they cried. They were good sleepers. ) I am against "hard" or punishing training methods - if GSDs require this, I will be unable to train them.

So experienced GSDers, that's the good & the bad of it, we seek your honest opinion...

Best to get an "easier, more low-maintenance, starter" breed? Or stick to dream of pet GSD?

Thank you, if you've read all this!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 09:31 AM
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It really depends. All sounded fine for an adult rescue that really meets your needs. But, you sound a bit rigid about training and your time. Every dog, regardless of breed is unique and you need to start where the dog is not where you are. If you found a rescue that is on the lower end of the energy scale and on the lower end of the drive scale and already mostly trained you might be okay. I was going to say regardless of the dog, after a month of settling in, building trust and bonding (which takes effort and you investing of time!) take a training class. Dogs are opportunists and if you don't set a structure you risk them and any training falling apart. If you have never owned a dog you need to get trained up as a dog handler. Love and trust and all is fine but there is also structure and understanding. They are not like any of the animals you have had before, they are not fur babies, or fur people or magical creatures. They are dogs that do best when you understand them as dogs. I wouldn't give up but I would do a reality check by talking to lots of people and trainers and rescues about exactly what you wrote above.

My two cents.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 10:02 AM
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I am against "hard" or punishing training methods - if GSDs require this, I will be unable to train them.
For what you're looking for, a companion, a dog to learn with, I can tell you that we've raised and or lived with every different breed we've owned the same basic way. All dogs do well with structure and a general routine. Rotts, Boxer, Lab, English Setter, Shepherds. There's differences in the breeds and they mostly had different temperaments so the details of training would be different and sometimes depend on what we were doing in a formal venue, but their general routine was what our life set with them.

You need to think differently with what you mentioned about hard or punishing. Its their perception that matters. Think in terms of fair and being clear. Its not a matter of anything overly harsh, because that crosses over into unfair, but a physical consequence, a pop on the leash may be the most fair for this dog. Saying no and withholding something may build enough frustration that it will lead to more problems.

If you're looking at rescue, does that mean you're not looking to raise a puppy? Go out and meet some of the people and dogs, see if they have something 3-5 yrs old that has a temperament that will settle into how you live. Hanging out at work and at home is the majority of my dogs life, and he's fine.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 10:09 AM
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These dogs need mental and physical stimulation. While I don't trial in anything, both of mine have done advanced obedience classes, nosework classes, dabbled in agility(just because they enoy it). Honestly, I don't think a gsd is for you. Example why: As I'm typing this, both of mine are laying almost at my feet, just waiting to see what we're gonna do today. But to me, it's not a distraction, it's part of what I love about this breed.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 10:16 AM
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If you go the gsd route, I think an older dog is your best bet. Go through a breed specific rescue that fosters so you exactly what you're getting.

That said, even older Shepherds can be intense. You might want to consider other breeds.

Also what forms of training are you for/against?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 11:38 AM
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I've placed many, many adult GSDs successfully in pet homes very similar to yours:
first time owners, no training background with no interest in IPO (but open to competing a basic obedience class), not long-distance marathoners but the dog gets walked daily and goes on weekend adventures, etc. As long as the rescue is being thoughtful about putting a relatively easy-going, low-drive dog in the home, these placement can be fantastic for adult dogs. We tend to have dogs we classify as "experienced owner only" and "great for a first-time owner." Lean on the rescue to help you identify the right dog, and wait until they have that dog.

Realize that many of the regular posters here have (or claim to have) working line dogs. That's not the kind of dog usually in rescue (though some rescues do see them from time to time, often as adolescents when first-time owners have an "oh no! what have we done!" realization). Most of what we see in rescue are "pet line dogs" who don't have the same intense need for stimulation and a "job." They still need exercise (walking, hiking, playing fetch in the yard, etc.), some training (at least basic obedience--which ALL dogs need), and a routine with clear boundaries in the home....which you are ready to provide. You should be able to find a good trainer whose philosophy matches yours for a basic 6-week course -- and they'll make you a better owner by teaching you specific techniques that help you manage and shape behavior.

Many of these adult rescues have already lived in a foster home where they were house trained, crate trained, and maybe even leash trained to be good walkers.

To be very honest, my favorite adopters are the ones who are most thoughtful and careful about worrying whether it's the right breed for them. They tend to make good decisions and be fully committed to whatever they decide. They work with our adoption team in an open, thoughtful way to help us find them the right match -- even if it takes a few weeks or months.

One tip though: many rescues will want to wait until your fence is up before placing a dog with you. The reason is that you're a first-time owner, so you don't have a history of keeping a dog safe without a fence. Don't be surprised if your application gets put on hold until the fence is up -- it's not an insult, but just a common protocol.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 11:43 AM
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My husband and I adopted one and later another adult GSDwhen we were middle aged scientists away from home at least 9h a day. I strongly urge you to find the mostreputable rescue organization that will adopt to you and work as closely aspossible with them. It needs to be aplace where the dogs live with foster owners-the foster owners then learneverything you can imagine about their dogs. They also become the dog’s advocate, wanting only the best possible homefor them. If you are completely candidabout your habits and how you envision your life with a GSD, there is thestrong likelihood that the rescue can identify a dog that will fit into your family.

Our experience has been wonderful. Our current dog is simply a jewel (and the first dog lives in my heart). I hope you find the same.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 11:49 AM
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We were where you are around this time last year. We ended up with a gsd mix that had been fostered for several months. It was an ideal situation. His foster knew him quite well and that was SO helpful. He lounges whiles we're at work, and then we take a decently long walk, and he is content. On weekends we do more extensive activities and obedience training. It's been wonderful.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-26-2016, 01:38 PM
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Yes, you can get an older, trained German Shepherd rescue with a mild temperament. When you read about difficult or challenging GSDs on this forum, you aren't getting a complete picture. Those are usually puppies or young dogs, often working line, bred and bought for their energy and working abilities. I have owned German Shepherds that ranged from high drive, high intensity and high energy to complete lazy couch potatoes that needed prodding to take a 30 minute walk. Even the high energy dogs start to mellow after age 3-5. A good rescue will help you find the right dog for your family. Be patient and wait until you get the right dog. See if you can test drive a dog, maybe foster after it has been evaluated, with the option to adopt. Only take a dog with a known history. No strays which could be unpredictable.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-27-2016, 11:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you, all!
This is very helpful.
Thanks for reading all that, and sharing your thoughts.
Your replies have made a difference.

I had already convinced myself to get a more "low-maintenance" breed, but my husband is still set on GSDs.
(That's because he hasn't done as much research and I suspect, he knows he won't be the main caretaker...;-)
He is actually a middle-aged scientist/professor :-)

Thank for all the tips!

If we apply, I will mention something like "mellow, middle-aged GSD content to be a family companion" and say that we can promise the minimum of: one 2-3 mile walk a day (that's my exercise, so I could use a buddy) plus training/hiking on weekends, + a fenced yard.

I know realistically what 5-10 years of DAILY walks & play & training MEANS, and I would rather UNDERcommit upfront than overcommit, if you know what I mean...I am not going to be one of those people that says, "Oh Yeah! Hours of training and play every day! Will get dog titled in Schutzhund!" and then a year later, the dog is crated all day...:-\

Yea, perhaps too idealistic about training. Kids probably does not equate dog? An obedience class sounds fine - get out and about, meet other dogowners & figure out how to get your dog to understand you. (This is a horrible 'competitive parent' kind of thought...but I bet GSDs are usually among the best in the class? Bumper sticker:"My Dog is an Honor Student in Obedience Class." Just kidding! )

Yea, it was always ONLY rescue I was looking at. Heartbreaking that so many animals are euthanized. I can't imagine what it would be like to live at the shelter for weeks, and then be dragged down the hallway to Death...Since we are just looking for a pet, I will rescue/adopt. Our cat and our guinea pigs, all came from rescues.

Have a good day, all!
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