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Discussion Starter #1
If you had a chance to talk to someone who was thinking about getting their first GSD -- what do you think they would need to know, what would you want to tell them?
 

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I would want them to know how important socialization is. Extremely important!!! Training, puppy classes, obedience classes, happy fun outings EVERYWHERE multiple times a week. You cannot over socialize a dog, especially one with a propensity towards hyperalertness/reactivity/guarding behaviors.
 

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If you had a chance to talk to someone who was thinking about getting their first GSD -- what do you think they would need to know, what would you want to tell them?
I'd tell them that they will never be lonely as GSDs are big time velcro dogs. You'll never go to the bathroom alone again.lol:) On a serious note though I'd tell them to socialize thier GSDs extensively. Socialization really does make a difference it sure did with my girl. She was so leery of everyone when I first started taking her out, but now she is a social butterfly. I really enjoy taking her with me when I can. Socialization really does work.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
What happens when you have a well-socialized GSD and a stranger knocks on the door?

I apologize in advance if some of my questions seem silly or stupid, I have many :)

GSDs and puppy daycare ... does this work? (depending on the quality of care of course)

Velcro dogs -- do they tend not to bolt? Are they wanderers or do they want to be by/with their owners?

Do they sleep on your bed if you let them or would they rather sleep on the bottom floor of the home by the door?

Guarding -- can you describe this to me? What does this look like in day-to-day real life?

Do GSD's need alpha-type owners? I actually really don't like the word alpha. I don't think like that, it's not my nature ... would this not be good for a GSD?
 

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#1 - The description or breed standard you will read in all the GSD breed books, unfortunatly, may or may not be the dog you will end up getting. There are far more dogs that do not fit it than do. Also socialization is not the be all end all. If I have a puppy who is genetically confident and strong of nerve, it's more about environmental socialization. Rather than letting every tom, ****, harry, and fido try to become best friends with the dog.
 

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What happens when you have a well-socialized GSD and a stranger knocks on the door?
LOL, I wouldn't know!!! Hopefully someone with a well-socialized GSD can answer this.
I apologize in advance if some of my questions seem silly or stupid, I have many :)

GSDs and puppy daycare ... does this work? (depending on the quality of care of course)

Not well for us. We tried it on advice of a trainer, and it did not help his reactivity to other dogs, in fact I kind of think it made it worse. And he was miserable there. On the other hand, I have heard people say it was wonderful for their dogs. I guess it depends on the dog.

Velcro dogs -- do they tend not to bolt? Are they wanderers or do they want to be by/with their owners?

They have a good prey drive, so if a critter is passing through you need a very solid recall to call them off. I also had Niko chase a car very unexpectedly one time when he was a puppy. Velcro dog is more referring to how they wish to be near you 99% of the time. They will literally follow you from room to room in your house, keeping an eye on you. :)

Do they sleep on your bed if you let them or would they rather sleep on the bottom floor of the home by the door?

I think this depends on the dog. Do you want your dog to sleep near the door as a burglar prevention tactic? I think many dogs would prefer to sleep in the same room as the person/s they are most bonded to.

Guarding -- can you describe this to me? What does this look like in day-to-day real life?

Guarding behaviors can manifest themselves in many ways. What I was referring to was resource guarding, where food, toys, or even a person can be considered a resource by the dog. The dog will use barking, snarling/showing teeth, snapping as a means to ward any other dog/person away from whatever he is guarding. This is typically an unacceptable behavior. If what you are interested is a guard dog, as in to protect you or your home, you would need to pursue formal training in order to achieve this.

Do GSD's need alpha-type owners? I actually really don't like the word alpha. I don't think like that, it's not my nature ... would this not be good for a GSD?
I don't like the term Alpha either! I prefer the term Mom. Moms can be great leaders. Moms are not pushovers. Google a term called Nothing In Life Is Free in regards to dog training. I used this with both of my dogs and I am convinced that this helped me to avoid having to deal with MANY unwanted behavioral challenges that a lot of dog owners (of any breed) face.

It's also really important to research the breeder where you will get your puppy from. Genetic temperament is a huge factor in everything!!
 

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What happens when you have a well-socialized GSD and a stranger knocks on the door?

I can't tell you what happens when you have a well-socialized GSd and a stranger knocks on the door, but I can tell my experience with a poorly socialized GSD. There was a lot of training that had to be done with a full grown, powerful, animal. It worked out ok for us, but I still have to be very vigilant when someone is coming in the door. I am to the point where she normally just gives one or two barks, an inspection sniff, and then ignoring. I have accepted that this may be the best it gets, but I wouldn't wish the worry of "What if she decides to go for it" on anyone (I'd like to say I don't think it would happen, but 6months of training verses a year and a half of lack of socialization still leaves you wary). Socialize early if you're getting a puppy!

I apologize in advance if some of my questions seem silly or stupid, I have many :)

Questions are great!

GSDs and puppy daycare ... does this work? (depending on the quality of care of course)

I have no experience with this, but I would think it would depend on the dog.

Velcro dogs -- do they tend not to bolt? Are they wanderers or do they want to be by/with their owners?

Velcro dogs=follows you everywhere/is in your business all the time. As far as not bolting goes, I think the fact that they are so loyal makes training maybe easier than a less people oriented dog, but the training still has to be there.

Do they sleep on your bed if you let them or would they rather sleep on the bottom floor of the home by the door?

Depends on the dog. Sasha likes to sleep with me until she gets hot and then sleeps on the floor.

Guarding -- can you describe this to me? What does this look like in day-to-day real life?

I only have experience with her resource guarding me. This is not a behavior I encourage. What she basically does is in a situation where there is no present danger, but there is a friendly stranger around, she will bark/growl at them if they come near me; she will attempt to back them up or she'll push her body into mine in an attempt to get me away from them. This is not good behavior when there is no danger, and once again this is where early socialization is good. I will say there is one time on a walk where she did appropriately guard me. That looked like her putting herself between me and the guy, hair up, low growl, with a very calm stare down.

Do GSD's need alpha-type owners? I actually really don't like the word alpha. I don't think like that, it's not my nature ... would this not be good for a GSD?
I would say they need a firm leader. By that I don't mean like aggressive or anything like that more, "If I make a rule; it's a rule. It's not a rule sometimes; it's a rule all the time." For instance, I have a zero begging at the table rule. She does it and she gets told to go lay down, and if she doesn't listen (as she now knows what I'm asking her), she is lead to the spot I want to to lay down and she is put in a down. Every single time. They're not for wishy-washy people.
 

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What happens when you have a well-socialized GSD and a stranger knocks on the door?

Depends on the dog's genetics/temperment and training as well. You may have a dog that's been "well-socialized" and when the knocking starts so does the barking. Some dogs will want to greet the person, some dogs wont do anything.

I apologize in advance if some of my questions seem silly or stupid, I have many :)

GSDs and puppy daycare ... does this work? (depending on the quality of care of course)
One has to be very careful with this sort of thing. Dog parks included. I'm a firm beleiver in building a strong bond between dog and handler, before any daycare. So if I have an 8 week old I just brought home I'm going to be spending a lot of time with the puppy myself. Does it work for what? If you mean socialization, it can to a degree. dogs think in terms of pictures, so maybe they become comfortable with other dogs at daycare, great. But that may or may not translate to othe places or dogs.

Velcro dogs -- do they tend not to bolt? Are they wanderers or do they want to be by/with their owners?
If i'm understanding what you mean by "velco dogs" yes less likely than a curious, confident, dog that wants to see what the world has to offer. To me by definition a velcro dog only wants to be "stuck" to their owner. Many times these dogs have little self-confidence and poor nerve.

Do they sleep on your bed if you let them or would they rather sleep on the bottom floor of the home by the door?
In general, if given the option a dog will want to sleep on somthing soft and squishy rather than hard and cold. Wouldn't you? My dogs do not sleep in my bed btw.

Guarding -- can you describe this to me? What does this look like in day-to-day real life?
What do you mean guarding? As in guard dog? Or rather personal protection dog? Or simply a dog that barks at stuff outside?

Do GSD's need alpha-type owners? I actually really don't like the word alpha. I don't think like that, it's not my nature ... would this not be good for a GSD?
The term alpha, like dominant, imo is waaaay overused. It's about leadership. Every GSD wont be a good match for you. Same as every dog is not a match for every owner! Get the right dog, do things the right way, and no problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you so much! :)

No, I do not want a guard dog. I want a dog that adores me and wants to watch out for me. It's just me, we would be a pack of two so to speak. I like the thought of being protected but I don't want anyone to get hurt and I don't want to be scared that someone will get hurt.

I love the velcro idea. I don't mind if my dog sleeps in my bed or at the side of my bed, woud definitely prefer that to sleeping in another room. So it's good you say GSD's want to be with you, that's what I'm used to with my golden retriever, and I love it.

I know NILF very well :) If that's all it takes to be the leader, I'm ready :)

I'm just very curious about the guarding behaviors. I know GSD's are essentially guard dogs, just not sure how that manifests itself. I want to feel safe, I don't want to feel afraid of what my GSD might do.

Good_Karna, so much of what you said below sounds very much like my golden retriever LOL But that can't be the case, can it? No, can't be. Daisy loves to say hello, how are GSD's at saying hello? To people they know and people they don't?

I did finally find someone that has GSD's. She has several and she shows them. I'm going to ask her if I can come over some time and just watch how they act, around their owner and around me.
 

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Jo Ellen said:
If you had a chance to talk to someone who was thinking about getting their first GSD -- what do you think they would need to know, what would you want to tell them?
Second what Leah said - socialization

I would inform them about GSD puppies being landsharks and a TON of work. There is a sticky thread here somewhere called "so you think you want a high drive puppy" - IMO that clip is a typical GSD puppy - lots of energy, always wanting to do something - not really showing drive which is not the same as energy.

Encourage them to meet some GSDs. Talk with the owners. Find out what type of GSD they have and what type you want. I've found some people with GSDs that lay at their feet while they watch TV, maybe go for a walk a day or some fetch, and they don't do more training than basic OB. I would not say that is the type of GSD you should use to decide if the breed is a good fit ;)

Shedding. GSDs are called "German Shedders" Make sure you can live with dog hair. Not a breed you can leave in the backyard because you don't like dog hair.

Velcro dogs, When Sage was a pup it took a while to get used to him always being under my feet.

Know the GSD temperament- Read "Elements of Temerament" by Joy Tiz. It is an article you can find easily with a google search

What happens when you have a well-socialized GSD and a stranger knocks on the door? - I do have a well socialized dog but he has bad nerves (bad breeding) He barks. If he knows you he will stop barking and shower you with kisses. If he doesn't he will bark at you until I tell him to stop and even then he might still be uncomfortable with you.

I apologize in advance if some of my questions seem silly or stupid, I have many :) - no stupid questions, only stupid to not ask something

GSDs and puppy daycare ... does this work? (depending on the quality of care of course) I think it depends on the temperament of the dog. A puppy should be fine

Velcro dogs -- do they tend not to bolt? Are they wanderers or do they want to be by/with their owners? I would say they want to be with their owners. Bolting after a rabbit for example would be a training issue IMO. I go hiking with Sage off lead a lot. He will go ahead a bit then turn and run back. If he's going too far ahead all I have to say is his name and he will run back. Wears him out good :) The other day I came out the front door with him. Only had his leash in hand with 1 finger holding on. A rabbit took off right in front of us and he wanted to go after it but once he felt the leash tighten he stopped I also said "leave it" but I think he stopped before I finished speaking. He is 80lbs and could easily pull me off my feet if he wanted to.

Do they sleep on your bed if you let them or would they rather sleep on the bottom floor of the home by the door? There is a thread on this right now. Sage sleeps on the bed, sometimes on his dog bed next to my bed. He doesn't have unsupervised access to the whole house though.

Guarding -- can you describe this to me? What does this look like in day-to-day real life? I don't feel I can describe this properly since my dog does not have proper temperament

Do GSD's need alpha-type owners? I actually really don't like the word alpha. I don't think like that, it's not my nature ... would this not be good for a GSD? If you read elements of temperament you will learn about pack drive. Some dogs will require a stronger leader. My dog I use a very relaxed version of NILF (nothing in life is free) training and we have no issues.
Also, find the "things to look for in a responsible breeder" thread. Lots of general info there on the breed including types/lines, health issues, etc..
 

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1. If you're thinking of getting a puppy- read all of the "help he won't stop biting!" or any post with a subject of something like "so frustrated" so that you know what you're getting into. Even if you're getting an adult...
2. Good breeding effects things you might not think it could. Nerve, bloat, how well they go from excited to calm, you getting a puppy that is right for you.
3. And finally that you can get a purebred, amazing dog from a rescue! Don't just assume that any GSD in a shelter is crappy, mixed, or that something is wrong with them- people just don't know what they are getting into and then dump them. :(
 

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Before you get a dog, go to as many shows, herding, protection sports, obediance, tracking, agility etc. as possible. Try to view the dogs away from places they see everyday. Re: velcro dogs - keep in mind there is a difference between wanting to hang out with you because you are buddies and feeling like it has to hang out with you because it's the only place safe. Temperment will vary from dog to dog. Even in the same litter. I disagree that GSDs are essentially guard dogs. They are a multi-purpose utility dog. A good GSD can do anything. A GSD should have a certain level of aloofness. Meaning that it will certainly tolerate others, but does not lend itself to immediate or indiscriminate friendships.
 

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how are GSD's at saying hello? To people they know and people they don't?
GSDs should be aloof. A friendly stranger is tolerated but will not be seeking out pets from that person.

Sage is not the best example but here is how he is...

Friendly stranger- sniffs you may decide you are awesome and take pets and try to kiss you.

nervous acting stranger (sometimes a friendly one too)- bark at you or watch you nervously, sniff you if able to and then tuck his tail but allow you to touch him. Maybe show you his belly

someone he knows well - watch out! you will have 80lbs of happy singing dancing GSD that is SO Excited to see his "long lost friend"
 

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Discussion Starter #14
By velcro, I mean a dog that would prefer to be near me than off exploring the great unknown. I don't want a timid dog, or a scared dog. Just a dog that is more bonded to me than anything else. I do understand that dogs bolt sometimes, and some dogs are by nature more independent. I want to have a dog that looks for me, a lot. Does that make sense?

Y'all are posting such great stuff, I'm trying to keep up :)

Thank you, sagel, I'll go find that article.

Haha, I have a golden retriever. I live with dog hair, everywhere :p I definitely am not looking to get an outside dog, that is not even remotely appealing to me. Inside with me and outside with me.

Seriously, the more I read these posts, the more I think GSD's and golden retrievers have a lot in common. How can that be?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
A GSD should have a certain level of aloofness. Meaning that it will certainly tolerate others, but does not lend itself to immediate or indiscriminate friendships.
Not like a golden retriever :)

someone he knows well - watch out! you will have 80lbs of happy singing dancing GSD that is SO Excited to see his "long lost friend"
Totally like a golden retriever :D

Just to reassure everyone, I'm not jumping into anything here. I have a long time to do my research and make good decisions, including deciding if a GSD is the right breed for me. I totally love the thought of rescue, that would be special. And I'm not going into this blind or naive. I've had my golden retriever for all but 8 weeks of her life (she's almost 11 years now). We've had some great times, a lot of learning along the way, one dreadful case of bloat (no stranger to that one either), but she's taught me everything I love about dogs.

Thanks again everyone. Very much appreciated. Oh, and thanks for the correction mthurston ;) I have a lot to learn, that's why I'm here.
 

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Oh as someone who has had a golden retriever and now Sasha I would mention that Sasha sheds WAY more than my golden ever dreamed of shedding. When she's not blowing her coat I HAVE to vacuum at least once a week, but could vacuum more. When she's blowing her coat...that's a twice a day vacuuming there. lol!
 

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Not to rain on the parade but.............

German Shepherds are also know to be aloof, that is, my GSD is really not a velcro dog but she listens to me when I give commands. She doesnt sleep with me, but uses my bed during the day when I'm at work.

I got Sadie from a shelter and they guessed she was 5 years old. She was found running along a highway. Nobody at the shelter claimed her, and I was looking for a GSD so I got lucky. I adopted her.

Now, she has gotten out of my fenced yard once. She wandered off and was found up the street by one of my neighbors. I was hoping she would have just stayed around my house but that was not the case. So, GSD, at least mine, sometimes wander. She does it at the dog park too. But she comes to me when I call her. She is aloof.

She does bark at strangers but will greet them if approached. She is not aggressive.

As for shedding, well, I have had a Golden in the past, and their shedding, while a lot, was nothing like what I just went thru with Sadie. SHE SHED LIKE CRAZY!!! Lots of fur clumps. I would brush her and the next day it was like I never did. You learn to live with it.

Hope this helps give you a slightly different perspective on owning a GSD.
 

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Dang it, too late to edit. In my post about the alpha role I told you to read about pack drive...meant to say rank drive. Pack drive would be more geared towards that velcroness


Shedding- Like all dogs, diet and amount of undercoat will impact the amount of shedding. It will always be a lot but clumps of fur should not be coming out in your hands when you pet him/her.
 
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