What to Know Before Getting a German Shepherd

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Are you about to step into the world of pooch parenting for the first time. Or, are you thinking of making a German Shepherd your new best friend?

Either way, you're right to take this decision seriously.  So if you're wondering what to know before getting a German Shepherd, I'm glad you stopped by!

Everyone and their mother will have an opinion on the breed and whether it's the right choice for you.

But this article will take you through the pros and cons of having a German Shepherd in your life.

What to Know Before Getting a German Shepherd: 6 Key Points

The 6 most important points to consider are:

  1. Do you have enough space for this large breed?
  2. Can you afford to pay the high price for a dog from a good breeder?
  3. Can you afford to care for and maintain this breed?
  4. Do you have the time for this energetic breed?
  5. Will a German Shepherd fit in with your lifestyle?
  6. Is a German Shepherd the right breed for you?

Do You Have Enough Space for this Large Breed?

All dogs need space both inside and outside.  But the German Shepherd is a large breed that's also very active and busy.  

So to get the stimulation they need, there should be ample space for them to move, run and play.

A German Shepherd cooped up in a space that's too small will become destructive and moody.

German Shepherds are also quite clumsy during early adolecense.  They have gangly legs and a thick tail.

So any photo frames, ornaments and coffee cups that are ‘in their way' will get knocked over.

So for at least the first year, while they are learning how their big and powerful body works, anything fragile should be moved out of their way.

The Sheperd is also a powerful chewer.  So anything that could be remotely interesting is a target for chewing.

As an example, Ze, my now 5-year-old male, eased his teething discomfort on a chair that's part of my cherry wood dining set.

You can imagine, I wasn't happy.  But it was my fault for not thinking ahead!

Until your German Shepherd is fully potty trained, they'll need to go out for regular potty breaks.

For the first week or so you're looking at potty breaks every 20 to 30 minutes.  So if you don't have a garden, this is going to be tricky.

Get my potty training guide and have your German Shepherd reliably potty trained in 4 weeks.

It's not ideal, but if this is you, then your best bet is to potty train using pee pads.  And then retrain them when they are older.  But like I mentioned this is not ideal.

Crates and playpens can be very helpful during potty training.  But, they do take up a lot of space.  

Although it's only necessary until your German Shepherd is reliably potty trained.

Playpens are very handy but do take up a lot of space. Check these out on Amazon.

So in an ideal world, you should be able to provide your new best friend with large open rooms where anything fragile is out of their way.

And also space in a garden where they can take their toilet breaks and still have room to enjoy themselves.

Can You Afford the Price of a Dog from a Good Breeder?

This point might not apply to everyone…

If you're planning on adopting a German Shepherd, then the price will be considerably lower.  Rescue facilities usually charge a fee that covers vaccinations, spays, or neuters.

But if you're planning on buying a dog from a breeder, you'll be paying top dollar for a healthy, well-bred dog.

A German Shepherd bought from a respectable and ethical breeder can cost anywhere from $500 to $1000.  A fully trained adult German Shepherd is anywhere in the region of $5000 to $8000.

A dog from a reputable breeder will have had the necessary health screening.  And the parents will have been health screened too.

So right now, you might be shocked by the prices some German Shepherds can fetch.

But that's just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the monthly expenses.

This brings me to the next point…

Can You Afford to Care for and Maintain this Breed?

No matter how you look at it, dogs are expensive.

And the bigger they are, the more expensive things start to get.  The reality is that you'll be spending a chunk of those greenbacks to keep your doggo happy and healthy.

For starters, there are the regular goodies your German Shepherd will need.

Check out these reviews for the best options available for German Shepherds:

Beds

Crates

Chew Toys

Tug Toys

Harnesses

Training Programs

And then there are other everyday things like bowls and blankets.

Not to mention the most important thing…

Food.

I'm giving this one special attention because it's where good canine health starts.

The cheapest food will give you the most expensive results – high vet bills.

German Shepherds are renowned for their sensitive skins and digestive tracts.

So chances are you might need to feed them a specialized diet, which comes at a higher price tag.

So it's a good idea to budget for the best food you can afford.

Next, you'll be forking out for vaccinations and deworming.  Although, personally I believe vets and owners over-vaccinate, these are necessary none the less.

Especially if you need to book your pooch into the boarding kennels from time to time.

And then, I haven't even mentioned the vet bills yet…

Vet bills are through the roof nowadays.  Mostly because the treatments available are so advanced.

‘Putting a dog to sleep' because of health issues is not the go-to option anymore.  Our vets can treat almost every serious ailment with great success.

For example, my 10-year-old GSD Charley had a femur head amputation in December 2015 due to hip dysplasia.

Essentially is means she no longer has a functioning hip.

If it wasn't for the technology we have today, the only option would have been euthanasia.

But thanks to medical advancements in veterinary care and auxiliary care Charley is still going strong.

However, her hydrotherapy alone costs a pretty penny each month.

Okay, Charley's a senior dog but you can see, how the day-to-day and monthly expenses are pretty steep.  Even for a healthy dog.

When you look at things this way, it makes sense to budget for health insurance.

There are some great complete insurance plans on the market.  And even discount plans that give you 25% off your vet bill.

Do You Have Time for this Energetic Breed?

What to know before getting a German Shepherd

What to know before getting a German Shepherd – they are high energy dogs.

Sadly, a lot of folks bring a new dog into their lives and then struggle to juggle the spinning plates of work and puppy life.

This might sound obvious, but a lot of folks don't realize that a small puppy can't be left alone for hours and hours while they are away at work.

Older dogs cope much better but still, it's not ideal to leave them alone for hours and hours on end over an extended period of time.

Lonely dogs are troubled dogs.  And usually end up destroying things and developing bad habits like nuisance barking.

There are a few options you could consider to keep your pooch happy and healthy while you're at work.

The first option is to enroll them in a doggy daycare.  These daycare facilities can be found in every major city in the world.

And they offer you peace of mind knowing that your dog is happy and cared for while you're at work.

Option two is to hire a dog walker.  These folks have made it their job to care for dogs while their owners are away.

You can arrange for them to visit your dog a few times a day and take them out for a nice long stroll.

The last option is to enlist the help of a neighbor, family member, or friend that lives close by to visit your dog during the day.  

Although it is asking a lot from someone for an extended period of time.

So in my opinion, this should be your last resort if options one or two are not feasible.

But, the most time and energy will be invested in training and stimulating your German Shepherd.

Realistically you're looking at about 15 to 20 minutes per day of training.

Of course, missing a day here and there is not a train smash, but saving up training for weekends only is not going to cut it.

A German Shepherd also needs plenty of exercise.  It's a working breed after all and they need physical stimulation too.

As a puppy, their exercise needs will be less because they are smaller. But also because exercise should be done in moderation while their skeletal system is developing.

But once they are fully grown, they will need plenty of physical exercise and stimulation.

Will a German Shepherd Fit in with Your Lifestyle?

There are a lot of positive ways you can get your dog to fit in with your lifestyle.

But the truth is there are more ways you'll be changing your lifestyle to fit in with your pooch.

If you're used to having lazy weekend lie-ins, these will be a thing of the past once your German Shepherd is in your life.

Here are some other things you should consider…

Do you travel a lot?

Do you work away from home a lot?

Do you live an active outdoor lifestyle?

Do you mind losing sleep in the first few weeks after bringing your German Shepherd home?

Do you have allergies?

Do you have time for daily grooming?

These are the kinds of questions you need to answer before getting a German Shepherd.

If you're a young family with 3 kids under the age of 5, then getting a German Shepherd right now might not be the best move.

Trying to leash train a strong breed like the German Shepherd while pushing a buggy along AND being 6 months pregnant is not the best idea.

That's just an example, and of course, you can make anything work. But it's important to be realistic about where you are right now in your life.  

You can always invite a German Shepherd into your life at a later stage.

Is a German Shepherd the Right Breed for You?

So you're certain that you want nothing more than to invite a German Shepherd into your life.

You've taken everything into consideration and you're ready to take the plunge.

The final step is to decide on which line of Shepherd you want.  Check out my article that delves into each line of Shepherd.  I hope it'll be helpful on your journey to getting a German Shepherd.

Anything Else to Consider?

If you were wondering what to consider before getting a German Shepherd, I hope the tips here have been helpful.

If you're still deciding and have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comments.

Learn everything you need to know to find a reputable German Shepherd breeder.

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  • Renee M

    Hi Gabriella,

    I just discovered your website, and I am so happy and grateful for all the wonderful information and tips! I just got a GSD, Brodie, who is 3 months old. He’s an ESA for me as I have degenerative hearing loss and depression. I’ve had him home with me for 3 weeks. I’m very fortunate to work at home, so he gets lots of frequent play sessions and potty breaks. He’s AMAZING! He already knows not to poop in the house. He’s such a good boy! But I do have 1 problem and 1 question for you. πŸ™‚

    1. He still pees all over the house. I’m confused why he knows to poop outside, but doesn’t make an attempt to do the same with peeing. From what I read, at 3 months, he should be able to hold his bladder for 4 hours. He doesn’t even hold it for 1. I have dog gates that keep him in the kitchen when I’m not home, and he pees all over the kitchen. However, when he is in the kennel, he does not pee at all. Am I supposed to leave him in the kennel when I’m not home? That just seems mean. My kitchen isn’t very big, but it’s more room for him to run around than in the kennel, which is why I’ve been doing that. I will take him outside, and he will potty. I then think it’s safe to let him be in the living room with me for an hour or so, but every time he pees on the carpet or even on the sofa! What am I doing wrong?

    2. He was playing with a neighbors dog and the dog accidentally rolled over Brodie. Since then one of his ears is flat. They were both upright before this happened. He has a vet appointment in 2 days, but is there something I can do to help his ear go back to normal? He does not whine or anything when you touch it. It doesn’t seem to cause any pain, but he doesn’t seem to have control over his ear anymore.

    Thank you in advance for any advice you may have. And thank you for being so generous with all your knowledge!!

    • Hi Renee,

      thank you for your lovely comment about this site, I am so pleased you’re finding it helpful.

      My first thought on the random peeing is a vet check to ensure there’s no underlying cause like a UTI. Since you’ve got an appointment booked already, that’s great. Just ask your vet to do a urine test for a UTI as a starting point.

      Next up, is how are you cleaning up Brodie’s puddles? Are you using a regular cleaner? Or something specifically designed to remove the scent left behind (that you can’t smell) that Brodie’s powerful nose can detect, even if it’s cleaned up. I really like this one from Rocco and Roxie.

      I’d love to give you more insights into your setup for Brodie when it comes to pottying while you’re out and about and he’s at home alone. So get in touch with me via email and we can set up a free, no strings call where we can deep-dive into the best kinds of setups to prevent accidents and so you feel most comfortable that the setup is humane and Brodie is happy and safe.

      I’d also like to set your mind at ease with his now floppy ear. He’s 3 months old and his ears are going to play see-saw until he’s done teething. The kind of trauma that will cause an ear carriage to fail to perk up in a dog that has genetically pointy ears is something that would need to be constant, direct, and very likely cause visible damage. I know ears can be a stressful thing for GSD puppy owners, but in my personal experience, you don’t need to do anything except encouraging chewing on age-appropriate safe chew toys.

      We can chat about that in our call and I can give you some more tips and specific toy recommendations. But for now, you can also check out this article on chew toys for GSD puppies.

      Chat soon and congrats on your new best pal!

  • Pocky

    I’ve been looking into getting a gsd wih my mother, Normally i watched my brothers dog(king cavalier) while he worked and I’ve been training him. For me training dogs is a very fun thing for me and i have a huge yard for the gsd and i to have fun outside, but mainly i like to go on long walks or hikes.

    But my question is, should i get chew toys and any other toys that would help mentally stimulate the gsd? Like puzzle toys?

    • Hi Pocky,

      Yes, dog-safe chew toys are super important to help pups through teething and also to easily redirect their chewing efforts on anything inappropriate, to something safe and fun.
      It’s not only pups that need chewing outlets, my 8-year-old GSD still has his daily chewing session!

      There are many dog-safe chew toys available and although I’m sure your brother’s Cavalier was also a chewer as a puppy, nothing can prepare a new GSD owner for the power of those jaws. So it’s important to keep in mind that the Shepherd is a power chewer. Here, here, and here are some chew toys I’ve reviewed and love.

      Puzzle toys are also an excellent way to provide mental enrichment. And there are lots of options available. I have reviewed plenty of puzzle toys here. And I’ve also made a few of my own. My favorite is this one – our homemade wooly snuffle mats.

      All of these toy options should only be offered to a dog under supervision. πŸ™‚

  • Faith Fobert

    Hello, my name is Faith. I’m only 14 and I know I seem like I’m too young to know anything but I’m positive I’m able to provide a nurturing and loving home. Obviously my parents would be paying for a lot of stuff but I’ve saved up a few 100 to help pay. I’ve been doing absolutely nothing but research. I’ll be taking care of the GSD I’m getting. His name is Jax and I’m lost on how much and how often to feed the puppy. Every site keeps telling me something different and I don’t trust a lot of sites. I’m getting him on Saturday (12-5-2020). By the way, you helped A LOT.

    • Gabriella

      Hi Faith,

      Thank you for stopping by with your question. I’m so pleased you’ve found this site helpful. It’s super cool that you and your parents are opening up your hearts to such a fantastic breed! Congratulations! πŸ™‚

      In terms of how much to feed, well that will depend entirely on what type of food you decide to feed. All commercially prepared foods that are officially registered with AAFCO (USA + Canada) or FEDIAF (UK + EU) will state whether their food is for all life stages (meaning it can be fed to pups and adults) or a specific life stage. And they will all give you feeding guidelines on the packaging.

      Unlike with adults where you can feed a maintenance amount, puppies feeding amounts change often as they grow, so you’ll definitely need to weigh Jax at least weekly to keep on top of his growth rate and feeding amounts. and then follow the guidelines on the packaging based on Jax’s weight.

      How often to feed a puppy is a question that will render many opinions. But over the years of raising GSD pups, I have always fed them 4 times a day until they are at least 6 months old at which point I switch to 3 times a day. Once they are adolescents (18 months), I switch to 2 meals a day.

      Being pups, they grow really fast and need that constant flow of nourishment from smaller meals. Also, their tummies are small so they are not likely to be able to consume their quota of food in 3 or 2 meals at such a young age.

      So my recommendation is to find the highest quality food your parents are willing to buy and follow the feeding guidelines on the packaging. always make sure it’s registered with the governing body in your country and that it’s either for puppies or all life stages. Definitely take Jax for regular weigh-ins at the vet to keep on top of his growth and weight.

      And feel free to reach out with any other questions you have about training or nutrition. I’m always around and happy to help. πŸ™‚

      Enjoy your new pup and happy training!

  • Alana

    Hey Again, I forgot to say I have 2 siblings ad 1 on the way. We also go to the beach and camping once a year. Would a GSD be a good family dog? Would it be able to drive 10 hours in the car ( normal stops for bathroom breaks and food/water)? Could I take it to the beach/camping and be able to walk it with no leash? I need some good advice here so I can he for sure this is the right dog for me πŸ™‚

    Thanks Again πŸ™‚

    • Hi Alana,

      All those things are possible with a GSD and since you’re already quite experienced in dog training, you should find it easy to train a GSD. They are highly intelligent and in my experience easy to train. Perhaps you should reach out to a few reputable breeders in your local area and ask if you can meet some of their dogs. This way you’ll be able to get a better idea of their temperament and so make an informed decision as to whether you think this breed of dog is right for you.

  • Alana

    Hey There! I’m 12 years old and I have storm anxiety meaning thunderstorms make me scared. We are about to move to a new house with 28 acres and my mom told me when we move I could get another dog. I really want a GSD. I am very active. I play soccer, basketball, and track. We also have a farm with goats, chickens, ducks and will be getting cows and pigs. I really love sled dogging! I currently have a 2 yr old Australian Sheperd who pulls a sled and a bike. He is also obedience trained. He knows many, many tricks. I trained my dog all by myself too. I would like to know if I got a German Shepered puppy, could I train it to pull a sled/bike and it be able to be a regular family/farm dog?

    Thanks so much πŸ™‚

    • Hi Alana,

      Thank you for your questions. And let me just say it’s wonderful to hear there are young people who are already into the positive enrichment and training of dogs! It’s young people that will blaze the trail in the dog training world to eradicate punitive training methods!

      I believe your upcoming new GSD can certainly become another member of your sled/bike crew alongside your Aussie. Although you probably know this already, it’s best to wait until your GSD’s growth plates have settled before allowing them to pull heavy weights. This is roughly around 18 months of age. Allowing too much strain on a large breed dog’s growth plates and joints too early can cause long-lasting problems, so best to be patient until these have closed.

      And ideally, you’ll want to find an ethical and reputable breeder to minimize the possibility of hip and elbow dysplasia. You can read more about how to find a reputable GSD breeder in this article I wrote. And once you’ve identified a breeder you’d like to work with, ask as many questions as you can regarding your plans for your new friend. An ethical breeder will be able to give you in-depth guidance.

      Since GSDs fall into the herding category, they are ideal for farm living and I think your new friend will be extremely happy. And they do make excellent family dogs and also outstanding service dogs, so all round I think a GSD will be a good fit, but then again I am biased towards this amazing breed.

      I hope this helps! And all the best going forward! πŸ™‚

  • Emma

    Hey so for as long as I can remember I always wanted a dog, especially german shepherd as they reminded me of wolves when I was younger. The only thing is my family has always owned cats, and we still have 4 at home. I’m currently living out of state in a dorm for college. Recently, I’ve been suffering from a lot of mental health problems, and many have suggested an Emotional Support animal. I wouldnt have considered adopting a dog to fill that hole but I found a german shepherd that i absolutely fell in love with. Hes younger but hes socialized with other dogs and has been house trained, and I’m really considering looking into to adopt him.

    I know putting a shepherd into a dorm sounds like a bad idea and the fact ive never actually owned a dog before. But i have been exposed to working with them including being a veterinary assistant program in high school and working at a doggy daycare for almost a year, and we would always gets LOTS of dogs. The summer could get close to 150 dogs in a day, and out of the all the breeds that came in, german shepherds were the ones I got along best with. I just had this understanding how to handle them, and even my co-workers ended up telling me that even the troubke makers would behave better whenever I was in the yard with them. One of the shepards i grew very attached to, i still keep in contact with her mom and shes been than helpful in telling me what i need to prepare for one of my own.

    I want to make clear that I won’t end up adopting him unless I know ill be able to afford taking care of him and give him the time he needs so stay happy and healthy. Im a pretty active person, but sometimes my depression keeps me stuck inside. I hoping with a shepard that requires exercise, it will keep active and motivated to do the same. The college has plently of space for hikes, big fields, and an inclosed tennis court people use to let their dog run. I do have an on campus job so i have somewhat of an income during my time there and its only a during practice (2-3 hours). My classes will dewindle after this march, so I’ll be able to take him out plently throughout the day. I even have a bike, so i could defintely train him to run alongside a bike to help get that extra energy out. I am on the archery team and we do go to competitions for a few days at a time. They do have a kennel i could take him to for those occusions.

    I guess my question would be, if adopting a german shepard for my mental health is the right choice for me? I know its a big step, and I could probably get the same emotional support as with a cat or a smaller dog. But I know with a dog that will give something to do with training and exercise, will keep my mind busy from my usual mental health. Not to mention that i just simply work better with shepards than any other breed. I also know cause when I was dedicated in training a horse I leased over the summer, I was at my happiest when I gave myself something to focus on and had a goal to work towards. Course I could also be blinded to making me think that my experience is enough to take on having such a breed. Im sorry if this a long read, i hope i can hear from you soon.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Emma,

      Thank you for reaching out here with your question.

      It’s a well-known fact that dogs boost our mental well-being. And considering they are the most successful domesticated animal, evolving alongside us for thousands of years, it makes total sense.

      I think all dogs are intuitive to our needs and further studies have shown that besides humans, only the canine uses left gaze bias to read the mood, feelings, and intentions of humans. And that’s just one of the small ways to show how intertwined humans and canines are.

      It sounds like you’ve already got everything planned out and pretty much made up your mind. And in my opinion, if you are able to give him a good life (and it sounds like you are very able to do so), then I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t go ahead with your plans.

      From your comment, it’s clear that you have plans to keep him active to meet his daily physical needs. Keep in mind that if he’s under 18 months old, strenuous exercise like running alongside a bike or long hikes is not recommended until his growth plates have settled. But free-play and short, gentle walks on soft surfaces like grass are encouraged.

      You’ll need to plan ahead for the times when you’re away from your dorm so that he is mentally stimulated while he’s alone. Maybe even consider a doggy daycare for the few hours that you are focused on classes or work. And of course, you’ll need to devote time to daily training and mental development.

      Also, keep in mind that you’re young and after school, your life will change. You may need to move away to another state or even a different country for work as an example. Getting a dog is a commitment for 12 to 14 years so whatever your life brings once you’re done with college, you’ll need to make provisions for him to tag along with you to wherever you go in the wide world.

      all that being said, I think it’s kinda cool to have your best friend go through college with you and be at your side as you start a new chapter in your life.

      I hope my answer helps you make the best decision. Feel free to drop me an email or comment here if you have any question, I’m happy to help. πŸ™‚

  • Oscar Morrison

    It’s good to remember that German Shepherds require a lot of time and money, especially if they’re coming from a breeder. My wife really wants to get a dog that she can train to be a therapy dog she can take to hospitals and that can be a security dog at home for our family. She’s willing to commit to the effort it will take, but we’ll have to talk and look around at what it would cost to get one and maintain it.

  • Johnna Jones

    Your Article was very helpful thank you very much but I was curious how much time a day do you think should be put towards a GSD, I know they require a lot of attention and I would like to try and balance my work Schedule and how much free time becuase I adopt GSD, the last thing I want is to adopt a GSD just to have to rehome them becuase I I’m not the right fit for them.

    • Hi Johnna,

      This is a good question!

      There are a few things that determine how much time you’ll need to put in to mentally and physically enrich your dog’s life. A dog’s age, natural drive, and possible health issues are determining factors. But as a rule, the GSD needs quite a lot of daily attention in various areas of their lives.

      I can use my dog’s and their needs to hopefully guide you…

      My crew gets at least 90 minutes of play and physical exercise a day. This can be anything from a long walk, swimming (if the weather permits), fetch games, tug games or rough-housing games.

      They also get their daily dose of mental enrichment through doing exercises that stimulate their natural drives to hunt and forage. I support them in this with things like puzzle toys, snuffle mats and games of hide-and-seek. If I’m strapped for time, I often give them access to puzzle toys or snuffle mats while I’m doing something like cooking. This way I can keep an eye on them, they get what they need and I get to do something that needs doing.

      They also get daily training sessions. These are short and I like to go into a session with an intention to either teach a new behavior or brush up on behaviors they already know. Usually, these sessions are no more than 10 minutes long, but they can be shorter too. You’ll achieve more if the sessions are shorter and you end them while your dog is still engaged. 2 or 3 training sessions a day is what my dogs get. If I’m really busy, this might not be the case, but then I make sure that we at least practice a few behaviors before feeding times.

      A German Shepherd needs regular grooming due to their shedding and maintaining their double coats. On a daily basis, it consists of a once-over brush. If you groom regularly, it’ll be a great help in keeping your home free from fur. And it takes a lot less time to groom daily or every second day, rather than trying to do a lot in one go. And when it’s time, I dremel their nails if required.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions, I’m happy to help.

  • Adam S

    First of all thank you so much for all this great content. I’ve been researching GSD’s for the last several weeks as I grew with friends that had them and always loved them.

    I do have a question that maybe you can answer. I’ve been looking into a young GSD rescue to add to our family. Currently we have a GSD/Golden Retriever mix. We love her to death but she definitely didn’t get the GSD side smarts and obedience. We also believe she has some hearing loss as well that hurts in the commands dept. There are certain bad habits we haven’t been able to get her to stop. Such as jumping on house guests and barking at everyone that goes near our yard.

    Now to my question. Will the bad habits we have with our current dog cause me problems trying to properly train a GSD?

    • Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your question. I’m pleased you’ve found value here!

      In short, yes, dogs learn from each other. So it’s likely that a new dog will pick up habits from your GSD/Retriever mix. Which habits will be picked up is hard to tell. But barking is a self-rewarding behavior and it’s also natural for dogs to bark so it can become a very enjoyable behavior for dogs.

      Of course, just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s always necessary barking. And there are ways you can teach your dog not to bark at unnecessary things. If you haven’t already, check out this article on ways to curb barking in a positive way.

      Also, I recommend checking out a dog training program that changed the way I approach training. It’s an online dog training program that I use for all my dogs, older dogs, rescues, and puppies respond well to it. It taps into their natural intelligence and uses games to teach dogs what we want. Without focusing on what we don’t want. This has made all the difference in training for me and my crew. There’s a specific section that helps teach dogs not to bark at windows. But once you’ve taught the behavior you can apply it to any situation.

      I think it’ll be invaluable to you for your GSD/Retriever and the issue you’re experiencing as well as for your young rescue GSD you’ll soon be adding to your family. I wrote a full review and also did an in-depth interview with the dog trainer who developed the program. You can read all about it here.

      Although your dog might have some hearing loss that affects commands, you can look into starting to use hand signals to ask for commands. If your dog is looking to you for guidance, then incorporating hand signals should be easy. If your dog is not looking to you physically for guidance in situations, then the training program I recommend above will change all that. Retrievers are pretty smart dogs too, so she’s got genes from two highly intelligent breeds. With the right approach, she’ll learn new habits.

      Check out this article for tips on how to stop dogs from jumping. There’s a section for teaching a dog not to jump on house guests too.

      Let me know if you have other questions. πŸ™‚

  • Rosie

    My mother in law and I bought a brother and sister, she took the sister, I kept the brother. They are 9 weeks old now and my husband has cancer, so I thought this would be good for him but when I’m at work the puppy is home alone with hubby and our shi-tzu who is 6 years old. The puppy bites her and poops and pees all over the place because my husband is not well enough to watch him as soon as he wakes up…it’s just been so hard. My mother in law is looking to buy a companion for the sister…she said she would take ours instead of buying a new one but I feel so guilty letting him go. She’s a wonderful dog mom but my son and husband are so upset with me. My husband is not well enough to help me, my son is so busy with school functions and I’m just spread very thin…in your opinion do siblings do well together as long as they are fixed?

    • Hi Rosie,

      Thanks for reaching out with your comment.

      I’m sorry to hear things are tough at the moment, I pray that things will look up soon for you.

      So most trainers will tell you that siblings are not a good idea together. There’s no evidence to prove or disprove this theory, but it’s called “littermate syndrome”. It basically means that pups from the same litter will latch onto one another at the exclusion of the owner. This does make it harder to train them since they focus only on each other and their attention is hard to get and keep.

      But I know of a few folks who have successfully raised littermates. Although it does take a little more commitment. If your mother-in-law is going to take on your pup then I highly recommend the training program developed by a trainer who raised littermates. She developed this program specifically because folks were telling her to rehome one of her littermate pups.

      I actually use the program for all my dogs too. And I love it because it’s not about training a dog to be a robot, but rather stimulating their natural intelligence to develop the best behaviors.

      I wrote a full review of the program and also did an in-depth interview with Adrienne, who developed the program. She even talks about the success she had with her littermates in the interview.

      You can check out the review and the interview here. It might be helpful to your mother-in-law.

      In terms of spaying and neutering, I’d think about that once the female is older. Personally, I would keep neutering and spaying for much, much later or not at all. But since they are siblings and keeping them apart when the female is in heat can be difficult, I’d recommend spaying her. But keep him intact. Although, that’s my opinion only and I recommend your mother-in-law speak to a vet regarding this matter since I’m not trained to give veterinary advice there.

      Let me know if you have other questions, just drop them in the comments. I’m happy to help.

      All the best. x

      Gabriella

  • April V

    Hello Gabriella,

    We just got a new puppy 8wks old and it’s almost winter. I know now the most ideal time. Any suggestions on the potty training in cold weather? I am afraid it will really mess up the potty training part, even though we do have two older dogs.

    Thank you so much,

    • Hi April,

      Thanks for your question.

      Winter does make it more tricky to do potty training. Especially if the ground gets icy or covered in snow. Although not to the point where it’ll mess up potty training. πŸ™‚

      The one key is to make sure your boy doesn’t have any accidents inside. He’ll quickly learn that using the toilet indoors is way more comfortable than outside in the cold. If he does, or has had an accident, ideally you want to clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner. This will ensure that there are no traces of scent left from any accident. And so he’s not likely to mess there again.

      If he does have an accident indoors don’t scold him or let him think you’re feeling anything about it. Our dogs are great at picking up our emotions and you don’t want him to associate anything negative about it. This can lead to him finding hiding places to do it.

      If you can, try to keep the area or at least part of the area where you want his outside toilet to be as ice and snow free as possible. And make sure to always take him to the same place on potty runs. If there’s minimal or no ice, the scent is likely to stay around longer so he’ll catch on quickly. And it won’t be as cold. You could take a large plastic box or something similar and turn it upside down over the area. Hopefully that’ll help keep the ground snow and ice free.

      <Consider checking out this article on potty training. The principles apply to potty training even in the dead of winter. And if you apply the 2 steps above you should be golden.

      Hope this helps. πŸ™‚

  • Sherrah

    Hello Gabriella!

    I’ve been going through your blog a lot within the last several days, reading and researching as much as I can. In a few weeks, I’ll be bringing home a GSD puppy and I want to be as prepared as I possibly can!

    My parents have worked with GSD my entire life (my father was in the military police/canine training) and I will be getting my dog from them. However, I do still have concerns.
    I work full time, and while it’s in the evenings, I am concerned that my little one is going to be in his crate for 8 hours a day. I have already set-up to have someone visit him once to let him out, but since you stated that puppies cannot hold their bladders for very long, I’m concerned it won’t be enough. I definitely don’t want to let any bad habits form, such as him being comfortable using the bathroom in his crate!

    Can you please give me some advice?

    • Hi Sherrah,

      I replied to your previous comment. But I didn’t realize your working hours are in the evenings. That makes things a little tricky when it comes to a doggy daycare.

      I still think letting him stay with the breeder until 12 weeks might make things easier. Is there a way he can stay over at a friends for a few weeks at night? If this is not an option, then pee pads might be your answer. I’m not a fan of them since it’s an extra step you have to re-train once he’s old enough to hold it. But if you have no other options then pee pads will bridge the gap for now.

  • Deena

    Hi Gabriella,
    This is Deena . don’t know if you remember me and soldier.
    But I’d really like to give you update on how soldier is doing.
    Please contact me at the above email address.
    Deena

  • Deena

    Hi Gabriella,
    I don’t know if you will remember me and soldier.. it’s definitely been awhile. I wanted to touch base and let you know how things are going for Soldier.
    He’s 16mo.now and still has the chronic giardia but he’s doing better trying new medication. As for training I’ve been doing it on my own the entire time I’ve made alot of progress but still way off from where I would like to be..
    But I’m not giving up on my baby, he’s so big now .
    I’d like to be able to communicate with you directly and if possible privately?
    My email is ***[@]***[.]com
    I hope to hear from you soon.
    Thanks
    Deena

    • Hi Deena!

      I sure do remember you and Soldier, nice to hear from you again. I’m pleased to hear he’s doing much better.

      I’ve blocked out your email address in the comment you left just to stop weirdos emailing you.

      I’ve sent you a direct email so we can chat about any question you have. πŸ™‚

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