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The GSD in general

2083 Views 10 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Timber1
I am sure this forum will be a little biased...after all it is a GSD forum...however, I wanted to get some of your general thoughts on the breed itself.

1. Do you think that the GSD is one of the better breeds for success and ease with housetraining (provided the owner does not make a ton of mistakes)?

2. Do you think that the GSD is generally instinctively prone to be a well-behaved dog? I say instinctively because I know that once the dog is born the rest is up to the owner...without proper training any dog can be a nightmare. But I think some dogs, even with a lot of effort for training on the owner's part, are instinctively mischievous and even obnoxious. What are your thoughts on this and how the GSD fairs overall?

If any of you have owned different breeds I'd love to hear comparisons between the GSD and other breeds you have owned or worked with.

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I think these are great questions...

In my opinion, the answer to both your questions is "yes." GSDs are an intelligent breed. Freaky intelligent! So that gives them the capacity to be wonderfully well behaved, well trained companions. Most GSDs are easily housetrained in a matter of days. Mine was.

They are so-called "velcro" dogs, because they want to be with their owners--all the time! They have a strong desire to please--as long as you can make it clear to them what will please you.

BUT (big BUT) they require an owner who's smarter than they are...and one who really can step up to the plate and take an active leadership role. This isn't a dog that will just "turn out okay" left to their own devices. A GSD that isn't socialized well as a pup, and given at least rudimentary obedience training, and consitent leadership could be a big, destructive, even dangerous liability. I'd say they also need more activity and exercise than many other easier breeds. Many GSDs need a job.

I've owned: several daschunds, a lab, a dalmation mix, and currently also have a corgi. This GSD is my "heart dog." I can't ever imagine having a dog that I can communicate with in the same way.
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1) yes
2) not without exercise, training, and mental stimulation. If someone is looking for a dog that is prone to be well-behaved without quite a bit of exercise and mental stimulation, then they need to get a lower-energy, dumber dog than a gsd. A GSD who is not exercised and trained will channel their substantial energy and brainpower into doing things that humans consider "bad."
Wow! Talk about some loaded questions! lol

In anwser to your questions, however, and all kidding aside..

I think that the GSD is definately one of the better breeds for success and ease with housetraining. Once the pup is no longer an infant and has the physical ability to hold their bladder and bowel for a bit. They seem to "get it" and understand that the inside of the home is not a toilet! But, of course you have to be vigilant about taking them out to relieve themselves and quite often at first.

Question #2 is not so easy to answer. I think that some GSDs are much more mischievious than others. Some of them I have known absolutely DREAD making mistakes and having their beloved owners scold or reprimand them. So they seem to try harder to be "good".
Some other GSDs seem to have a bit more "sauce" to their personalites! I had one once that would seem to laugh at me and had a tremendous sense of humor! He didn't care all that much about getting in trouble and would be either really goofy or really naughty to get attention. I wouldn't say that guy was exactly well behaved in general, but when it was a serious situation he was all business.
So, I suppose what I am saying is it depends on the individual whether or not he/she will be mischievious as an adult.

The easiest dog I trained was my male Golden Retriever. He was not smarter than my GSD, but he was incredibly and naturally obedient. He wanted nothing more than to be Perfect all the time! One in a million, I always said!

The most difficult dog I ever trained was a female Jack Russell Terrier, what a pistol! Smart as whip and didn't give a rat's *** about anything other than exploring, diving (yes diving into a river from a dock or the bank..over and over and and fighting with other dogs, sheesh. What a package!
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I think the GSD is very intelligent and easy to train. But they are also honest- if they so not get what they need in terms of exercise and mental stimulation they will be, and therefore drive everyone else around them, bonkers.
I really have limited experience and only with GSD's, so take it for what it's worth. I had a psycho lab once, but I think she got dropped on her head as a puppy or something. The girl was a fruit loop. Could not learn. What I taught the two GSD'd I've had in five minutes she never got. A better trainer could have probably taught her, but she was way too hard headed for me!
1. Yeah, I've owned two, and the second one came trained already (Benefit of adopting a rescue), but the first, Shadow, was house-broken within a week of coming home, BUT I did have to take her out every fifteen minutes to accomplish this.
As far as wanting to be good or whatever, I'm going to say depends on the dog. Bear is an awesome dog, whom I love, and he will "wait", "go to his bed" "shake", but you know what? As much as I hate to admit this, he "comes" when he wants to. Its something I'm working on.
1. Yes, I think so. Although, I think larger dogs are in general easier to houstrain than toy breeds. I can count on less than 2 hands the number of accidents total we had housebreaking the puppy, thanks to a crate and a tether. They really do seem to "get it" fast.

Of course, I think it depends on the situation you get the dog from. A good breeder encourages cleanliness, and that transfers to the pups. Or a dog coming from a home that has already done the work for you.

I do know one dog that came from a shelter as a puppy mill rescue. She had actually learned to go to the bathroom in her crate. (She had been left in her crate for too long and pottied in there on herself and when she went to her new home she would go in her crate and was then let out to clean the crate) It took months to retrain her.

2. Smart I think is a great word to describe the German Shepherd. Easily trained for sure. However, it's a bit like having a gifted child. Sometimes they learn things you don't want them to learn. Sometimes they learn things you have inadvertantly taught them. These are usually not their problems, they are your problems. I agree that some are more people-pleasers than others, so personaility of the individual dog can make a difference. But they definitely need exercise and training to help them be their best selves.
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1. I think the GSD automatically wants to please the owner, so if the owner wants pee and poo to stay outside, that's what the GSD will do. Except for accidents that were my fault or due to diarrhea, I only had to tell Brenna once "NO" (firmly but not loud or angrily) when she peed inside, she ran away so fast she forgot to stop peeing! After that she has always held it in as long as she can. Even when she has the runs she will do everything in her power to wait until she gets outside.

2. Yes, I think they are so willing to please their owners and smart so they catch on to training. Sometimes they may even be TOO smart. lol If they are mischievous it is usually due to boredom or pent up energy.

In comparison, I grew up with beagles. They are somewhat trainable due to extremely high food motivation but tend to have an ADD-type personality and not quite as much in the brains department as the GSD.
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1. Yes.
2. Not a good dog for the casual owner. If someone drags home exhausted after a 40 minute commute following their 8 hour workday and just wants to collapse into an easychair with the remote for the evening but let the dog out in the yard to entertain himself, all I can say is: "DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!"

For an owner prepared to outthink his dog nightly to the point that he can tire the dog out MENTALLY as well as physically with training games, for the owner willing to hire someone to come in mid-day and walk the dog, for the owner who invests time into going to classes, meeting with a trainer, then doing the HOMEWORK.. at HOME.. DAILY with this dog.. then yep, ok, they tend to be a well-behaved dog. And let's not forget that there are a few sweet goofballs amoung the breed, but many are extremely strongminded and ASSERTIVE, even many with a strong rank drive, and others who desperately crave a loving, benevolent, but strong leader... leadership skills that the dog can relax around need learned (no rolled up newspapers, please-- but using bodyblocks, NILIF, etc) to be tailored to what your dog needs to feel relaxed and settled with the strong leader that some of these dogs crave to feel comfy in their world. All that said, it takes deep thinking to motivate, keep things positive, use treats, clicker, whatever-- to keep the dog open and wanting to participate-- as some of these tougher characters are also sensitive.. whodathunkit? So, a complex breed that may need a mix of training perspectives to communicate and listen and guide them into being what we want in the end-- a happy, well-behaved companion. Add lastly that the physical excersise requirements needed so that the dog CAN focus enough to be trained varies, (again, forget letting the dog out into the yard to excersise himself alone-- this requires your intensive involvement) with many GSDs needing to 'power out' several times a day before it will be fair to ask them to focus and learn and retain what is taught.

Casual dog owners should consider another breed.
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Arwen was a nightmare to housetrain, but that was my fault. Frodo was a very hard dog -- meaning you could crack a two by four over his head and it wouldn't phase him. (Not saying I did.) It would often take a stiff command to get him to do what you wanted. He was my first GSD and I was not the right owner for him. Arwen on the other hand was a bit soft, meaning a raised voice would crush her. Add that to the fact that she had to stay inside all day while I went to work, and well you could see how important getting her to potty in the morning was. As my anxiety and frustration increased, her ability to perform this task completely disappeared.

All the rest of my GSDs were very easy to house train. In fact, they practically housetrained themselves. Believe it or not, where you get your puppy from makes a big difference in house training. If you get a puppy from a pet store, chances are he will have no issue with eliminating in the crate and one of your best puppy potty training tools is not available to you. If you get your puppy from a breeder that leaves the puppy in squalid conditions, they may not have the same desire for keeping their sleeping area clean. If you get your pup from someone who has made a decent effort to keep the puppies clean and has provided them with enough space where they can choose to potty here and sleep there, potty training can be a lot easier. With luck, this breeder will have introduced them to crates as well.

Well I remember my parents' English Setter and how it took two years to get him completely potty trained. Again that was in part our fault as we covered the entire breakfast nook with papers and never would have gotten him trained if we hadn't broken down and used a crate.

About the dogs being prone to be good, not mischeivous, not obnoxious. Well, it depends on the dog. Most of the GSDs that I have, all that I currently have, have no greater desire than to please me. That is their greatest ambition. They want to do what makes me happy. That is their nature.

Are they sometimes mischeivous? Sure. We encourage that a bit. When the puppy comes out of the bathroom streaming toilet paper behind him it IS hard not to laugh and thus encourage. Dubya did this and much other theiving as a pup. We have very intelligent dogs, they are unlikely to lie on their pillow all day being perfect.

My current cheif toublemaker is my Jenna. In many ways, she is my favorite. She is beautiful (in my opinion). She is extremely intelligent. She is very athletic and has a lot of energy. She is loaded with personality. She is very lovey but not overly needy. She is an escape artist. I let her get away with murder.

Are they obnoxious? Mine are not. But some lines have super high drives and require a lot of excersize to keep them from becoming obnoxious. Your best bet is to talk to a lot of breeders and let them know exactly what you want. A lot of people want a police dog. They think that they would be the most trainable. They are very trainable for people who know what they are doing. Not all GSDs are likely to be trained for police work, though I think that the dogs with less drive would probably do just fine. For the average owner, buying a pup from a breeder who claims the pop was a police dog, or from someone who regularly has their dogs going to police departments, is not necessarily the best bet. Police dogs are often bred for high energy, high drive, hard nerves, and an independent, dominant attitude. However, the better breeders could pick out pups that would not have as much drive, not be as dominant and independent and give you a great dog. It comes down to the breeder really.
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I agree completely. My GSD was easily house trained and the GS rescue I had was fine.

As for comparing with other breeds, the GSD puts family and friends first. My son has two yellow labs. One is very close to world championship caliber in dock diving. But I swear if any of you walked into my son's house and told the dog you were going to take him for a swim he would go, and be friendly as heck. There is a difference.
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