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Hey, I'm a newcomer here! I grew up with dogs, but never owned a GSD, & my husband & I are very interested in having one join the family in the next year or two. My question is this: for those families out there with babies and/or toddlers, what are your experiences with adding a puppy? (We have a 1-year-old.) How did that work out, with having little children & a pup? Would an older dog be a better choice, & why would you think so . . .? Just curious for the thoughts of those of you who have done something like this before.

Thanks!

Whitney


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Unless dog training and socialization is your passion it would be much easier on you and the kids to get a 3 + year old dog that is known to be trustworthy around children. Make sure you test the dog and get references. A dog that throws himself easily on its back and is not obsessively interested in your kids is a good sign.
I see a lot of families (as a trainer) where the only safe place for kids is standing on the couch until the pups grows taller.
 

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What I am about to say is JMHO. I know other people have diffrent views and this is just mine.
I was in the same boat as OP. Do I adopt an older dog or get a puppy. I really struggles with that for a long time. I have small kids my toddler was just a baby at the time. After some real soul searching I decided to get a puppy.
If I had been in the situation of having older children I would have adopted. It was just scary for me getting an older dog from a shelter and not knowing its history. Would it bite if my baby crawled over to its food bowl while I was destracted, could it handle two very active boys running around the house? It was to many ifs for me. I decided on a puppy. It was harder having a 4 week old pup and a baby to deal with at the same time. I am sure if I had gotten an older dog who was potty and crate trained it would have been so much easier. It was pretty hectic the first few months training a puppy and having a baby. I also had a toddler who I had to teach not to pull puppy ears and hair.
I would say now (2yrs later) I made the best choice for my family. Lily is sooo attached to the kids(especially my youngest) they act like litter mates. She will follow that little girl all over the house and yard. She will lay and just watch her while she is playing with her toys, they will roll all over the living room floor playing with each other. Lily is never startled by the kids running in yelling or falling on the floor. She has nerves of steel. I dont know if an older dog would have adjusted to our large family like a puppy did.
But thats my story. I went with a puppy and it was hard at first but really paid off in the end.
 

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Hello! I raised both my kids with GSDs. Here is what I learned: you must always supervise. Puppies do goofy things and young children do goofy things. You put them together without close supervision and unbelievable things can happen.

Puppies mouth, nip, scratch, jump on and knock down toddlers and young children. It is what they do. And as parents, we have to be constantly vigilant to the behaviors. And we have to realize going in that we cannot take the easy way out and banish the puppy to the back yard to live. Some breeds are harder than others, and I think the GSD is a difficult breed to raise in general.

We have to realize going in that regardless of how busy we are as parents, we still have a responsibility to exercise, socialize and train the puppy. That means taking walks every day (maybe even multiple times a day), even when it is a pain in the neck to walk a puppy and push a stroller at the same time. That means getting your puppy out in the community multiple times a week, even when you have been up all night with a sick child. That means paying to attend training classes, even when your finances are stretched thin already with the cost of raising a child. And even if it means paying a babysitter in order to be able to leave the house long enough to attend the class!

It is hard to raise a puppy correctly. It takes a ton of time and effort. And also raising a human baby at the same time makes it that much more difficult. But many of us have done it successfully. It isn't rocket science, because I have been able to do it and I ain't no rocket scientist!

It can be much, much easier to go to a reputable, breed specific rescue and adopt a 3+ year old dog that has lived successfully with children. Look only at dogs that have been in a foster home for at least 3 weeks, hopefully for at least 4 or 5 weeks.

Regardless of purchasing from a breeder or adopting from a rescue, be patient! You have specific requirements for important reasons. Take your time finding the right match.

Good luck!
Sheilah
 

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Knowing how much work it takes to get a well trained 1.5-2 year old GSD, I don't know if you'd have time to do that with a toddler that is just starting to walk.

A reputable rescue will easily be able to tell you the history of the dog. In a lot of cases they are fostered with full families that expose them to all sorts of things to see if the dog has issues with any of them. You can also go through a breeder that might be selling/re homing a returned dog or a dog they kept back and it just didn't work out. I know Robin on the forum rehomes a lot of older "pups" that are a year old or so because they didn't work out the way she wanted to for her breeding program (still great dogs with good temperaments). Lots of breeders do this.

I've devoted 2-3 nights a week to training my boy at a club. I know this is way more than average, but its so much easier to do this when they're young than to start later. If you've raised dogs before you'll understand the commitment it takes and you should weight that and see if you can handle it.

Don't worry about the bond/connection. It might take longer than with a pup...but an older dog will bond to the family eventually, and get protective over the family just like any other dog/puppy would that grows up with the family.

As a side note...we just had a club member return her 8 month old GSD to the breeder because she couldn't handle her and give her the time she needed because they have a 4 year old girl. This was someone that understands GSDs but just got in too far over her head when it came to this particular one (lots and lots of drive).

IMO...an older dog is a much smaller risk than a puppy.
 

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Knowing how much work it takes to get a well trained 1.5-2 year old GSD, I don't know if you'd have time to do that with a toddler that is just starting to walk.
Very good point. I have successfully raised several non GSD-pups during the times when our kids were little. However, looking back on how much training time and sometimes anguish it took to put WD on his feet, I don't think I would have had time for my children or the other way around. One of them will suffer in lack of attention or raising/training.
 

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Wanted to mention that a pup or a child can't tell the difference between eachother's toys. Pup will mouth (destroy) baby's toys and baby will mouth pup's toys.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you, everyone, for your responses! Very helpful & much appreciated. I'll keep in mind the tips/warnings of what puppies involve!

I am especially interested in any firsthand experiences anyone may have had in adopting a puppy with toddlers/babies. Any regrets, or (like lily's master) experiences that (though difficult) were in the end the "best decision"?


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My MIL was looking for a rescue GSD last year and the biggest hurdle she ran into is just about every one mentioned "ok with children 12 and older". She watches the grand kid most weekdays and he was 1.5 years old at the time. She ended up finding a good breeder with the perfect pup. She also lucked out because the breeder had started PT and he pretty much had it down when she brought him home. There is two of you, so as long as as you and your husband are both on board a puppy is doable. The key is to find the right breeder.
 

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I have recently gone through having a puppy and a toddler and honestly it really wasn't all that hard.
i didn't commit myself to training outside the home and the result we have is wonderful. :wub:
I got a puppy as I know his history, his fathers history, his mothers history and he was selected for us knowing he was coming into a home with children......the breeder knew her dogs and was sure they were great with kids.....so first step....find a great breeder who knows their dogs.
Yes it requires constant supervision but again just set your house up so you have puppy spots and toddler spots.
If you are not looking at becoming a champion in some sort of dog sport you don't have to spend hours and hours on training.....just everyday things raising a puppy with children become training.
Up to you and I guess it depends on the person but I didn't find it all that difficult but then I have had children around ALL sorts of animals so maybe I am just desensitized to it ;):)
 

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They weren't my biological children, but I took care of five kids between the ages of 2 months old to 12 years old. The ages were 2 months, 2, 6, 9, and 12...and they were all boys except for the infant.

It was very hard running after the two year old and a twelve week old puppy while trying to keep everyone quiet enough so the baby could sleep...I'm not going to lie to you about that. Getting ready for a walk was a twenty minute process and by the time everyone was ready someone had peed on themselves and the process started all over again. :) I can't count how many times phrases like, "Luke! Don't chew on the dogs' bones..." "Finn, that's not your toy..." "No, don't give the baby's bottle to the dog..." came out my mouth during the day. By the time my husband came home from work to take over so I could pee by myself, I wished I had a kennel to go into and sleep! Both Luke and Finn had inuries caused by each other; Finn scratched Luke across the back and it bled in a rambunctious game of fetch and chase...Luke bit Finn on the ear after Finn stole his toy...and Luke wasn't allowed to play with Crayons and Play-Doh while Finn was out of the kennel after Finn ate the crayons that fell on the floor and Luke fed Play-Doh bones to Finn.

At the same time, I wouldn't have done it any other way. Now, Finn loves kids. He lays down calmly and nicely to allow kids to pet and love on him. He doesn't chase or knock them over, he moves calmly and slowly around them. His 'leave it' is impeccable and he does it every time. The kids have a love for dogs that you wouldn't believe. Each one got to participate in the training and care and they all learned something about how to train dogs and how to deal with them.

As long as you go into it understanding that it isn't going to be perfect, it's going to be hard work and some nights you're going to pull your hair out and wish that you never decided to bring a dog into your life, when your kids are older and you are looking back on their younger days, you will smile fondly of the memories of the day when you bathed your pup and kid at the same time because they got into the finger paint.

Good luck with whatever you choose.
 

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My experience: Unlike the OP, I have children that are a bit older (7 and 9 yr old twins at the time) but my concerns with children and a dog are similar. I grew up with GSDs and respect the breed very much. After speaking with very patient and knowledgeable breeders and trainers, we opted to find and older puppy or young adult that was trained and still with a breeder. This would give us some measurement of the dog's temperament, full disclosure of the GSDs lineage yet young enough that we can create a true bond. Our dog was 7 mos old when we got her from a breeder. She was house and crate trained, obedience trained for a 7 month old and socialized. Upon her arrival into our home, we hired a private trainer to educate not only the dog but my family as well. My husband and I thought it was important to set a proper foundation and respect for all of us. Satie is very friendly and has a great temperament. I won't elude in any way that I am completely comfortable with a dog and children but that is the reality of a dog and children regardless of the breed. Obtaining a trained older puppy from a breeder is a bit more time consuming and more expensive but it has been an amazing experience for my family and we couldn't be happier. Good luck!
 

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Let me just start I have 4 kids. A 7 month old, 2, 6 & 7 year old. Our new girl has been with us for a month and it has been easy imo. I'm still in baby mode, so not a big transition. If anything she makes me a better mom as I have to be more disciplined. No she is not tossed in a crate or the yard. She is created at bedtime or when I can't supervise like if I take a shower etc. Since she is currently indoors, she only goes outside supervised.
 

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I have a fifteen month old and we got our GSD pup when my son was 8ish months old. It really depends on YOU. I love dogs, they are like an extension of my children, I train one of my dogs in SchH, and the other is in Rally. They get along great with my son. I wouldn't change it for the world, they all get along splendidly. I wouldn't say it is hard at all. My dogs are hardly ever crated (unless it's bedtime or we are out) and they have not destroyed anything.

But this is me, I have friends and a sister who are NOT crazy about dogs, that I would not recommend getting a puppy when they have a baby. Because they don't enjoy training and socializing puppies, the dog would most likely not get trained.

My dogs (usually both) go everywhere with me. I can't tell you how many people look at me and say,"wow, you have your hands full." When I am walking downtown with a stroller and two dogs lol. But they are trained well, walk on leash fine, and I don't think they get the shorter end of the stick because of my son.
 

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I actually have a newborn and the way I introduced my adopted 4 month old GSD/Bullmastiff is by burning her energy at the park, then letting her smell my son's blanket before entering the house. I also established firmly that she has to keep a respectable distance from him unless I invite her to smell him. I personally think its amazing to have a puppy and baby so they can grow up together and they are easily trained. An older dog may be more calm but also has habits or an intolerance you may not know about until later.

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Puppy and kids - going through it now

We got our GSD puppy about 3 weeks ago. We have twin 9 year olds and a 2 year old baby. It can be a challenge sometimes to keep things running smoothly (ie diapers, laundry, getting the dog housebroken all at once), but it isn't bad. Zora (our pup) quickly stopped jumping on the baby after she got used to her and doesn't steal her toys at all (although she does like baby shoes if you dont watch her). From day one, our daughter gave the dog biscuits, so Zora is pretty convinced that our daughter is a god!

It's all about how much time you have. Puppy training can be time consuming, between crate training, housebreaking, and obedience training. We have to hire a babysitter to watch our daughter when we go to obedience training. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, its all part of the gig of having kids and a puppy.

One thing to keep in mind when looking, is that you may find that a breeder that has puppies may also have older dogs (already trained) available. We actually were given the choice of our puppy or her mother (who was 4 and fully trained) for about the same price.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks, everyone, for your responses! It's very interesting to hear of others' experiences. It will be a year or so before we're at the point of getting either an adult dog or a puppy, but I appreciate you all taking the time to share!


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Shasta came to us as a 12 week old puppy. My son was just under a year old. We had no problems. She potty trained easily and is good with kids having been raised around my two energetic kids. She goes with the flow pretty nicely. Very easy going girl. She's good with kids outside out family as well. Never was a big nipper. Was pretty easy with her.

Dax came home to us last week. Today marks his 9 weeks old bday. My daughter is five and my son will turn 4 in a couple weeks. Dax is your typical mouthy GSD pup. He loves the kids and wants to play with them but we're having to work with him on whats acceptable play and whats not. He's done really well this first week with us and it really hasn't been that difficult to slip back into puppy handling. I do have to get up in the middle of the night every 2-3 hours to take him outside to potty so he doesn't mess in his crate but otherwise, pretty easy. Everyone is different however.

IMO, raising a puppy with little ones is relatively easy and gets easier the more the pup understands whats expected of their behavior. Also makes it easier to know they're good with little ones. But it all depends on what you feel you can handle.

Keep in mind, some pups are NOT thrilled with crate training while others take to it like a fish to water. Shasta hollered the first 3 nights at home in her crate and now she's beautifully behaved about it. Dax.... well he's less than thrilled. He screams and I do mean screams when he gets put in his crate. In time he'll get over it but for now, he's determined that the crate is the worst thing on the planet and we're trying to kill him by putting him in there, when reality is, it's for his safety when he cant be supervised. He has improved the last couple nights as the hollering doesn't last as long but he's still not happy about it at first.
 

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I have had the experience of raising GSD puppies with toddlers twice! I was a single parent of three kids, the youngest being 3 and it was the best experience in the world. Yes there were times I questioned what I did to get an 11 week old pup with 3 little kids but because our experience with Jach was so great we went back to his breeder to get our next pup just 4 weeks ago.

I have started all over and we have a 3 year old and I basically have done everything that I did with Jach with this one. His name is Gucci.

First, know your breeder and know what kind of dog you want. I wanted a pet that we can put to work in laid back arenas like therapy and/or service work so we went back to Jach's breeder and was referred to her co-breeder. I met the grand sire of Gucci and put my 3 year old down on the ground to walk every time we visited which was often to see how he reacted.. and she as well as she was so comfortable with a big dog. (scared of little ones so we were pleasantly surprised)

Once we chose that breed we chose with the help of his breeder the pup thaw worked for us. They were all laid back, every single one of them.

Once home we started crate training and every day consists of teaching our daughter how to interact with Gucci. To date (he is 12 weeks) he follows her everywhere.. we have taught her to walk and not run. She is very strong willed and even though she runs and he nips she has taught him NO BITE! better than me!

She knows not to touch his private part :D (hey she is 3) and is gentle with his ears and legs. He is learning to be touched quite extensively. He has walked up and down our street full of kids and even though he is scared of dogs.. the kids who walk up to him he lavishes with kisses.

I never leave them alone, can't take my eyes off of them and to be honest my 3 year old is causing more of the work because she IS so strong willed and gets him all riled up. It will be worth it in the long run. They will be the best of friends forever.

Hope that helps and let us know what you decide!
 
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