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Hi - for our first dog we were looking at a German Shepherd but instead got a Golden Retriever.

1) We didn't get a GS because of my 7 year old son. He is all of 50 pounds and is a rough but loving kid -- he rolls around with the Golden Retriever, plays keep away and runs around the house with him. Sometimes he can be a little pesky to the dog and give him a friendly push here or there. The Retriever is super accommodating and loving in return.

We now want a second dog and want a male GS. We have a major hesitation because of how my son naturally behaves. Frankly, we're a little concerned that if he did this to a GS, GS would get hostile to him and potentially hurt him because of this. Should we be concerned?

2) Also, sometimes our Retriever gets lonely and anxious when the alpha male (myself) is not around. Will getting a GS to keep him company help with the anxiety and make him less lonely?

Can someone please give us some advice or experience with either or both of the situations above?
 

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1) Can you not teach your son to behave differently? GSD's are different. And they will most likely play as rough as they get played with.

2) Getting a second dog to keep the first dog company and help with anxiety is never a good idea. And...that whole "alpha male" thing? That was debunked by the person who originally came up with the theory.


How old is the GR? If your family is happy with this dog, why get another when you have concerns with your young son and you have a dog that has anxiety when left alone?
 

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I can give my experience so far in regards to your first point.

I have a rough and tumble seven year old autistic boy, which means he plays hard and can’t always read the signs that others give. Our working line GSD is almost six months old and they play together all the time. My pup is very aware of his body and teeth. He seems to instinctually know my kids are tiny humans he needs to be careful with. They run together, tug together, play keep away, two ball and finally, cuddle together. My pup is totally my boy’s best friend. Of course, that didn’t come without work. These dogs are called land sharks for a reason. But my pup has never gotten offended because of rough play with my son. I also notice a difference between how our pup plays with my seven year old boy and my five year old girl. He is very gentle with my five year old and will even lay down for tug with her and let her drag him around.

So short answer, yes. Totally possible. But make sure you go with a reputable breeder that will select the dog for your specific needs.
 

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Is your retriever a male or female? How old is it? How long a time is your retriever alone at home right now? Can you teach your son not to be so rough with the dog(s)? Don't get another dog because in your mind you've created this story that your existing one is "lonely." Just remember, GSDs are herding group dogs. Herding group dogs can work all day if necessary. Are you prepared to give it the time that it deserves? Having 2 dogs isn't going to drain their energy any easier. You're going to have to do a lot more work.
 

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Second dog won't fix the first dog. Step 1 is to deal with the golden retriever's anxiety. Step 2 is to teach your son to be gentle with animals.
After those two things, then consider getting a second dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all so much.

@Jax08 and tc68, yes, we are teaching our boy to be a little more gentle but he's not at all overly rough to start with - just full of enthusiasm and love for our existing dog who is a 1 year old male.

@tc68, we take out retriever out for 40 - 60 minutes a day during a walk. Once or twice a week we go leash free in the park playing fetch four about 30 minutes. If we got a GS, we would do the same. Do you think that's enough? And there will be plenty of love around the house for both dogs :)

@CeraDean, thank you so much for your detailed reply about your boy and your puppy - great story :)
 

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No, it’s not enough.
I would not mess with a good thing, and just have the Golden.
GSDs need a LOT of exercise or else you will have a lot of problems. They need a lot less “love” and a lot more discipline, training, and exercise than what you stated you can provide.
In addition, your first dog is still a pup. It would be ideal to wait until the older one is at least 3 and fully trained before getting a second dog.
What kind of training are you doing with your Golden R?
 

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Your dog is only 1 yr? I would not get another dog. I would instead focus on training and bonding with the dog you have. I like my dogs to be 4-6 years apart. Even 6-7 years for my next one.

If you were to go with a showline, you might find a dog laid back enough to be ok with that little exercise but most shepherds need mental stimulation far above what you describe. Walking at our pace is not really exercise for a dog.

As far as needing less love? I'm not sure I understand that statement. Mine don't get to far from me. But they certainly need rules, mental stimulation and exercise. (And NO, this was NOT comfortable for me)
557003
 

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I agree to not getting a german shepherd. I have 2 scars from my loving, well behaved and trained german shepherd when he has accidentally snagged me with a tooth. The incidents were 4 years apart and both happened while playing with my dog. Also, raising a german shepherd for the first couple of years is like having a challenging, destructive, impulsive human toddler. It's a lot of work, and it takes a lot of patience and diligence. Have a look at some of the threads here on raising puppies. You really don't need a german shepherd puppy in your life right now.
 

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"sometimes he can be a little pesky to the dog." Your dog is still an animal. It can snap at any time. Your boy may pull on that tail one too many times and your dog may bite back. Generally speaking, a Golden Retriever is more tolerant than a GSD. Also Retrievers were bred to have a "soft" mouth. GSDs, not. On occasion I may play a little rough with my dog, and I know when he has had enough...he starts using his mouth hard.

Also, if you can't control your 7yo son right now (sorry, that's what it sounds like), how are you going to control a GSD? I'm not trying to be mean. These are serious things you need to think about. I think 1 dog is enough for your family right now. But if you're dead set on getting another dog...we advise that you don't get a GSD. Get an ankle biter. Or a coach potato dog. Not an active breed like a GSD. It's not the right 2nd dog for your family. A dog doesn't need another dog as a playmate....It needs you.
 

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Anxiety is inversely proportional to exercise. What kind of exercise is this GR getting? Does your GR have a quiet, safe place to escape to when feeling anxious or pushed beyond its limits where NOBODY bothers him? Does he have a quiet out of the way place to eat his food and drink water?
 

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Anxiety is inversely proportional to exercise. What kind of exercise is this GR getting? Does your GR have a quiet, safe place to escape to when feeling anxious or pushed beyond its limits where NOBODY bothers him? Does he have a quiet out of the way place to eat his food and drink water?
OP mentioned exercises here:

Thank you all so much.

@Jax08 and tc68, yes, we are teaching our boy to be a little more gentle but he's not at all overly rough to start with - just full of enthusiasm and love for our existing dog who is a 1 year old male.

@tc68, we take out retriever out for 40 - 60 minutes a day during a walk. Once or twice a week we go leash free in the park playing fetch four about 30 minutes. If we got a GS, we would do the same. Do you think that's enough? And there will be plenty of love around the house for both dogs :)

@CeraDean, thank you so much for your detailed reply about your boy and your puppy - great story :)
 

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If you do get another dog, wait until your son matures. He’s not ready for a German Shepherd. Also, consider a female rather than another male. My females have been much gentler with children and tended to be more family dogs, where the males bonded more with one family member.
 

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I walk my gsd 3 miles a day on average. Then, in the evening, we play fetch in our fenced in yard for 20 - 30 minutes so that he can run (he’s a little under 2 yrs old). If this exercise doesn’t happen every day, he goes stir crazy, which then drives us crazy! I don’t think that’s unusual for this breed. Are you prepared for those exercise needs?
 

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At 1 year old don't assume your GR will continue to be overly tolerant to pesky behavior from a rambunctious child. GRs are not a non biting biting breed like a lot of people think. PLENTY of decent bites come from GRs and Labs.

Stop your son from being pesky. I have 2 disabled kids- an 11 year old with extreme hyper activity and moderate to severe autism and a non verbal 8 year old with CP and probably some autism also. They are not allowed to bother the dogs. Do they always listen? No, they have autism. If they are playing too rough I stop it, if they don't listen I do 2 to 5 minutes of something rewarding with the dog in question and crate him. Or I crate the kid (time out in his room).

Because I am only human and sometimes I am actually cooking and have my hands full, my 11 year year old learned organically that escalating the rough housing with a GSD puppy had a downside. That combined with the fact that I had my puppy's focus and trust that I wouldn't let him be overly annoyed by my flappy chappy panned out into a decent relationship between them.

My 8 year old? They are gentle with him right from jumpstreet. He has some mobility issues. They just seem to know. They mill around him and lick him and such. They don't "play" with him. He is capable pulling hair and tails, not even hard, but still. When I see him doing that he is sharply corrected and sent to time out.

You have to train the kids as much as the dogs. I would hold off on any 2nd dog for a number of reasons. Your current dog is somewhat young enough where you could risk some mild littermate syndrome unless you crate and rotate and understand what to look for and avoid (plenty of info if you google it). Also, wait until your current son understands not to pester dogs. If he can't learn yet for whatever reason, don't add another to the mix.

Kids his age should not rough and tumble with large dogs period. They don't know when it's too much and they aren't old enough to read a dog's avoidance signals when it has had enough. Once you get that message clear, then start researching a good breeding to add to your family.

You said :
" he rolls around with the Golden Retriever"
Rolling around and wrestling can go south quickly- I don't allow it with the kids or even between the two dogs in the house.

"plays keep away and runs around the house with him."
If he is keeping a toy away from the dog, the dog may feel teased. Is it back and forth? Or just your son running from the dog keeping a toy out of reach? I dont allow keep away. I teach kids to play fetch or other mutually gratifying games.

"Sometimes he can be a little pesky to the dog and give him a friendly push here or there."
No peskiness should be allowed and no pushing.

Look up relationship games with dogs. Find some appropriate bonding play they can be guided into instead of the horseplay. You have a Retriever- I'd start with fetch :) Get Retrieving toys. They have a ton on Chewey.com.

Good luck OP.
 

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I have a Golden, a GSD pup (14 months), and an 11-year old daughter who plays rough. My advice: Don't get a GSD.

Jupiter, the GSD, is a good boy who's really calmed down and become quite tolerant of my daughter. She grabs him, sprays him with water, throws leaves at him, and chases him, and he takes it all with good humor. HOWEVER, it took a while to get to this point, and she's four years older than your son, and Jupiter has a nippy, bitey edge that no Golden I've owned has.

My Goldens were both extremely tolerant and as stereotypically gentle with children as any Disney movie. Kids can and did wrestle with them, pull their ears, pull their tails, hang on them, and they were incredibly tolerant. There is no way that Jupiter would allow that. He would most probably escape, but given that he has a large frame and is extremely strong, those kids might get bumped or knocked over and get hurt.

Jupiter also has the normal herding instincts, so he was quite nippy. There was an incident when he "attacked" my daughter, jumping on her and nipping over and over (this was when he was about 4 months, I think?). The behavior was never repeated and I'm still not quite sure what that was about. If he'd wanted to hurt her, I'm sure she would have gotten hurt.

Finally, GSDs are so strong and can be single-minded. Just a couple weeks ago, I made the mistake of playing frisbee with my 11-year old. Well, Jupiter loves the frisbee, and he decided to run after it and catch it in the air, totally ignoring the presence of my daughter. She caught it and then Jupiter jumped up and ran THROUGH her. 80 lbs of young GSD missile. I am so lucky that my daughter wasn't injured... it was stupid on my part of course.

Anyway, just sharing my experiences. Our GSD is one of the nicer ones I've seen, and I've socialized and trained him extensively, but I would still consider the breed significantly more dangerous than a Golden and would be cautious about bringing in a young one while you have a young and rambunctious son.
 

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As far as needing less love? I'm not sure I understand that statement. Mine don't get to far from me. But they certainly need rules, mental stimulation and exercise. (And NO, this was NOT comfortable for me)
I meant coddling the dog and giving it endless babying and affection without training and establishing boundaries.
 

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I have to ask why you think it is OK for kids to treat dogs this way.
What you have described is a disaster waiting to happen.
Seriously injured kids, and dogs that are put down because respect for animals wasn’t taught.

Please consider changes in the way the children interact with the dogs, before something serious happens.

Have the kids feed them. Throw a ball. Teach them tricks. Establish a loving and respectful relationship with creatures who had no choice over being brought into the home in which they live.


I have a Golden, a GSD pup (14 months), and an 11-year old daughter who plays rough. My advice: Don't get a GSD.

Jupiter, the GSD, is a good boy who's really calmed down and become quite tolerant of my daughter. She grabs him, sprays him with water, throws leaves at him, and chases him, and he takes it all with good humor. HOWEVER, it took a while to get to this point, and she's four years older than your son, and Jupiter has a nippy, bitey edge that no Golden I've owned has.

My Goldens were both extremely tolerant and as stereotypically gentle with children as any Disney movie. Kids can and did wrestle with them, pull their ears, pull their tails, hang on them, and they were incredibly tolerant. There is no way that Jupiter would allow that. He would most probably escape, but given that he has a large frame and is extremely strong, those kids might get bumped or knocked over and get hurt.

Jupiter also has the normal herding instincts, so he was quite nippy. There was an incident when he "attacked" my daughter, jumping on her and nipping over and over (this was when he was about 4 months, I think?). The behavior was never repeated and I'm still not quite sure what that was about. If he'd wanted to hurt her, I'm sure she would have gotten hurt.

Finally, GSDs are so strong and can be single-minded. Just a couple weeks ago, I made the mistake of playing frisbee with my 11-year old. Well, Jupiter loves the frisbee, and he decided to run after it and catch it in the air, totally ignoring the presence of my daughter. She caught it and then Jupiter jumped up and ran THROUGH her. 80 lbs of young GSD missile. I am so lucky that my daughter wasn't injured... it was stupid on my part of course.
 

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I meant coddling the dog and giving it endless babying and affection without training and establishing boundaries.
Well in all fairness - No dog should be babied, coddles and not trained. Regardless of breed.
 

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No, I would not add a GSD to the mix. And I would not get another male since you have one. GSDs need a lot of exercise. I would stick to another Golden or maybe a lab. Perhaps see if their's a rescue in your area that has either available that's assessed the dog and knows if it's a good family dog. Maybe one that's 3-4 years old and settled that's used to children.
 
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