After that, though, I want him to have a job. I know he will be very good in some field-I'm just not sure which one yet, or what we would both enjoy doing. I need to spend more time actually going to different events to see what they're like now. It's been years since I was actively involved in my local competition scene, and I'm sure it's come a long way since then. I've never been a part of a GSD events--so I'm sure there are some differences.
Anyone know the best way to find GSD competitions or something similar in my area? Is there an all inclusive site that would have that info? Or will I need to do multiple google searches? And for what?
You will have to do searches for different sports, because there is no one club that covers all sports.
Honestly, I'd say your best bet is to find a training club in your area that aligns with your personal goals and values, then explore the different sports offered through that club.
I'm lucky to be in an area where R+, force-free training is the preferred mode for most clubs, so I have a wide variety of excellent schools to choose from. Even within the same training philosophy, however, there's a wide range of styles and focuses among schools.
I started out in an extremely competitive sports club that focused primarily on agility. For various physical and mental reasons, my dogs can't do agility, and this club was all about regional/national-level competition; if you didn't have a BC or Aussie and you weren't gunning for your MACH and Nationals, you were an odd duck in that club. They had a Rally class, and we took it, but there was only one class for all skill levels and pretty soon we hit the ceiling in terms of how far we could go there.
So we switched to another club that focused primarily on competition obedience. It is basically just like the other club except that where the first club was all about high-level agility and didn't even have
a competition OB class, this one is all about high-level obedience and barely has an agility program. Instead of BCs and Aussies (although we have plenty of those!), it's a whole lot of retrievers, Shelties, and a couple of Standard Poodles.
The first club had several national/international level agility competitors as its star instructors. The second club has hardcore obedience handlers as its
star instructors. Both of these clubs are all positive all the time, but they are also very focused on achieving top results in their respective sports. That happens to be exactly what I want, but more casual pet owners who come in just to see what sports are about can sometimes get scared off.
Other clubs in our region target that pet owner/casual competitor audience and offer lower-intensity, more laid-back instruction in their sports. Those clubs are more oriented toward having fun with the family dog. The ones I talked about earlier are the types of clubs where you might start out
with the family dog, but your next dog is probably going to be a working Border Collie or field-line Golden (or, in my case, the best WL German Shepherd I can find).
So... I'd say it's best to go to a couple of different clubs, figure out what the vibe is, what the membership is like, where their emphasis lies, and whether that's consistent with what you want to do with your dog. You're going to spend a whole lot more time training than you are in the competition ring, so if you don't already have your heart set on a specific sport, I would say the most important thing is to find a club that suits you. Then figure out what they offer and take it from there.