Before you decide to add a German Shepherd Dog to your life, it is essential to think about how your lifestyle fits these dogs’ needs and keep everyone happy.
Are German Shepherds Good for First Time Owners?
German Shepherds are great dogs, with a lot of traits that are ideal for active owners. However, there are some traits that can present challenges for new dog owners that are good to know about before getting one.
Is Your Lifestyle Good for German Shepherds?
Many factors like how much time you spend at home and how your family feels about getting one of these dogs to need to be considered.
A GSD is not a dog that does well being left home alone for extended periods of time. Adding a dog to your home requires some changes like housebreaking the dog, and taking time for obedience training, which may be challenging for first-timers.
These dogs can be poor choices for apartment residents and those who would leave their dog alone in the yard all day. Dogs in these circumstances can become noisy, destructive, or try to escape out of boredom, with an adverse outcome for all.
When you decide to get a German Shepherd, the dog will require activities to help keep them occupied. If you have never had a dog before, you may find trying to come up with activities to keep your pet busy, challenging, and even frustrating.
One of the things that are essential when you share your home with a Shepherd is knowing how to show calm, but assertive leadership. People who have never had a dog in their lives before may have difficulty, possibly leading to behavior issues.
There are also other practical considerations to think about, beyond acquiring the dog. Will the dog go with you if you move? What you go on vacation? Who will take care of the German Shepherd if you end up hospitalized or die unexpectedly?
You’ll also need to think about feeding, grooming, and veterinary costs. Many people who have never had a dog or any kind of pet are unaware of how much of an expense these things might be. Unexpected expenses can be shocking for owners.
Because of the time, money, and personal demands involved with a German Shepherd, these dogs might not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner. Read on to learn more about each of these considerations before making your choice.
Are German Shepherds Okay Being Left Alone a Lot?
German Shepherds do not do well being left alone for more than four hours at a time.
Puppies also shouldn’t be left alone for more than an hour for each month of their age, with a four-hour maximum.
One thing that many non-Shepherd owners don’t realize is how much these dogs bond to their owners, making long periods alone traumatic.
Experienced dog owners will be better prepared to help their pets overcome the difficulties of being left alone. Most people who have had dogs in the past already have a routine that they use for helping their dogs adjust to being left alone.
If you’ve never had a dog before, you might find leaving a German Shepherd Dog alone somewhat challenging without using dog daycare options or having a family member or friend sit your dog when you are away from your home.
An experienced dog owner who knows what to expect from separation anxiety issues and how to deal with them most effectively will be better suited to life with a German Shepherd. Experienced owners can also keep these active dogs busy.
How Do You Keep a German Shepherd Busy?
Trying to keep an active dog of an unfamiliar breed busy can be a bit difficult even for those who have had dogs their entire lives. A person who has never owned a dog may find themselves overwhelmed by trying to find out what to do.
According to Kristina Lotz, it is usually easy to tell when a German Shepherd is bored. However, understanding dog behavior makes these signs easier to spot so you can do something to address them.
Behaviors like pacing or tail-chasing, while somewhat humorous, can be two of the most obvious signs that your dog is bored. If you’ve had other dogs in the past, you’ve probably found useful routines that help keep your dog better occupied.
Taking your dog on regular walks and out in the yard for off-leash playtime are a couple of the things you might need to do to alleviate your dog’s boredom. Other activities, such as tracking or hiking, are also worth considering.
The more you know about dogs and their behavior, the easier it will be for you to think of ways to keep your dog occupied. If you’re unfamiliar with dog behavior, you might find trying to keep a German Shepherd busy quite tricky.
Are German Shepherds Easy to Train?
The answer to whether German Shepherds are easy to train is both yes and no. This breed has a reputation for being a fast learner that learns commands very easily. Many are amazed when they see how quickly GSDs pick up new information.
According to Hello Bark, German Shepherds are the third-smartest among 137 dog breeds, ranking after Border Collies and Labradors.
Because of their intelligence level, these dogs usually learn commands in fewer than five repetitions, as well as follow these commands the majority of the time. This retention rate is one that generally looks promising.
However, these dogs are very independently-minded, having been originally bred to perform tasks that require them to think for themselves. An owner needs to show consistent leadership, which might be difficult for a newcomer to dog ownership.
Your relationship with your German Shepherd needs to be one where the dog sees you as a leader. The idea of being a leader to your dog is being a positive figure; almost like a parent, your dog looks up to for guidance, not a tyrant or bully.
If you understand dog behavior, you will find it that much easier to know how to be the “alpha” leader your dog needs. People who have never had dogs are often unaware of the importance of this relationship between dogs and owners.
Do I Need to Consider Longer-Term Concerns for German Shepherds?
Taking in a German Shepherd or any other type of dog is a lifetime commitment. Rehoming a dog should be done under severe circumstances. Unfortunately, too many dogs end up in shelters or rescues because of poor owner planning.
According to Golden State German Shepherd Rescue, moving is the most common reason for these dogs to end up being abandoned, often in high-kill shelters.
One thing things that many people who have never had a German Shepherd or another large dog fail to keep in mind is that many apartments or rental home managers do not allow dogs this size. You’ll need to make sure the dog is welcome at the property.
If you own the house or have permission to bring a big dog, you’ll also need to think about logistics involving the move itself and any of the costs. Should you be moving to a distant location, will you be driving or flying with the dog?
Will you need to use boarding facilities while you are in the process of moving into your new home? Using a kennel, as well as the costs associated with transportation, need to be considered as a regular moving expense to consider.
What you will do when you go on vacation is also something to consider. Even though German Shepherds are active dogs who love outdoor adventures, not all can manage their dogs effectively. You may need to consider whether you want to pursue this option.
If you choose not to take your dog along when you go on vacation, you will need to think about boarding your dog or having a family member or friend provide care. Vacation arrangements are something that many don’t think about.
Another unfortunate situation that many don’t think about when acquiring a dog is who will care for him or her in the event of sudden illness or death. These circumstances tragically lead to many dogs becoming homeless.
People who are thinking of getting a German Shepherd would benefit from thinking about what would happen to the dog in these circumstances. Having a trusted family member or friend take the dog might be one option to consider.
Another possibility would be a no-kill rescue, preferably one that specializes in caring for German Shepherds. Although rescues may not always have resources to take in another dog, this option may be the best way to find a decent home.
Before you decide to get a German Shepherd, issues such as moving, care during vacation, and emergency care needs to be considered. If you’re a first-time dog owner, some of these situations may be challenging if you are not prepared.
German Shepherds, like all dogs, do best in settings where their owners have been prepared. First-time dog owners may find themselves poorly prepared for the demands that a German Shepherd could require.
Situations such as these are also reasons why German Shepherds may not be a good choice for first-time owners. Although all dogs require care, GSDs, in particular, are vulnerable to disruption to their lives.
Are German Shepherds Expensive Dogs to Keep?
One of the things that people need to keep in mind when they are thinking of getting a German Shepherd is that these dogs, like other dog types, have expenses associated with their care that could build up very quickly.
People who have never had dogs before are often unaware of how much certain costs may vary. It’s not uncommon for non-dog owners to base most of their knowledge of such things on anecdotal information from friends with dogs.
The main types of expenses that must be taken into account include food, training, and veterinary care.
High-protein foods are best for German Shepherd Dogs. The protein helps muscle development and helps the dog maintain a healthy weight.
People who don’t own dogs often feel that just because a food is popular, that means it’s a good choice. However, all brands of food are not alike. Choosing food that suits Shepherd’s needs is better than choosing a generic type of food.
Some people who have never owned dogs are also unaware of how much one of these dogs might eat or about the costs associated with foods on veterinary diets for medical conditions.
German Shepherd ranks as one of the most popular. However, one of the pitfalls of popularity is that many people are attracted to these dogs without understanding their needs as a breed. When people acquire a dog without thinking things through, the dog might be a poor fit.
Many would recommend that people only get a German Shepherd after having owned another type of dog before. Experience with another dog will provide the expertise that you need to be able to cope with the strong will of a GSD.
According to Misty Ridge Animal Resort, average annual veterinary costs for adult Shepherds can run over $400 without any emergency situations.
However, certain medical conditions and emergencies can become very expensive with this breed.
- Hip dysplasia can require surgery, costing several thousands of dollars.
- Gastric portion, or bloat, can also require expensive surgery.
Many people who haven’t owned dogs might not think of some of these issues that play a significant role in a GSD and its wellbeing. For a dog to thrive in an environment, care needs to be taken to respect the dog’s needs.
As this video demonstrates, German Shepherds are a special breed, and they require a particular type of owner. Experienced dog owners will find a lot to love with having a GSD in their lives.