German Shepherd dogs are known for their athletic capabilities, intelligence, and loyalty, making them one of India's most sought after breeds. Dog lovers are enamoured by the German shepherd's majestic appearance, intellect and guarding abilities.
If you have decided or have recently become a German Shepherd's parent, you should be grateful to have such a loving and loyal companion who will stand by you no matter what in the years to come. However, parenting a German Shepherd is not an easy feat. Multiple factors need to be taken into consideration before you are confident that you will be able to provide for the needs of this dog.
Parenting a German Shepherd is a highly gratifying affair, but the first step is choosing your puppy and caring for it. It needs to be planned out carefully to ensure that you and your dog spend all your days enjoying maximum satisfaction. This article will run you down through all the crucial decisions and actions that must be taken, starting from whether you should parent a German Shepherd, all the way to how you can care for your puppy.
Is a German Shepherd is right for you?
Before answering this question, it is imperative to check if parenting any German Shepherd is right for you to begin with. This breed is a very demanding one. It requires plentiful exercise to remain physically and mentally healthy. Without adequate playtime and activity, dogs of this breed can become destructive.
So the question here is, do you have the facilities required to give your German shepherd this level of exercise? Do you have a yard, a park or a lawn near you where you can exercise your dog? Do you have the time to take them out on frequent walks? German Shepherds are usually suitable for people who engage in high-intensity sports such as running and bicycling. Will you be able to engage in such activities for the benefit of your dog as well as you?
Similarly, German Shepherds are highly sociable animals and thrive in interactive environments. They need other dogs or people around them most of the time. Does your daily routine allow you to be near your dog for long periods of time?
If you plan to leave your German shepherd at home for 8-10 hours a day while you are working, this breed may not be suitable for you. Dogs of this breed are also prone to excessive shedding, and you need to be ready to find a lot of dog fur all around you. Being a large breed, feeding and taking care of these dogs are time and money intensive. They live long lives and can suffer from health problems too, and thus, caring for them can be an expensive affair. Thus, these are some of the questions that need to be answered to gauge whether a German Shepherd is indeed right for you to begin with. With these conditions in place, this breed may not be ideal for first-time dog parents.
What Type of German Shepherd Is Right For You?
Coming to the type of German Shepherd that is right for you, this breed can be classified into two categories - work line type and show line type dogs. The differentiation is based on the heritage of the dogs of this breed and the purpose for which they were bred. Show lines were mainly bred for their look, colour and body type.
Work Lines were primarily bred for their health and personality rather than to look a certain way. The line you choose depends on what you really want to be doing with your German shepherd. Work lines should be chosen if you seek a family pet or want some type of function to be performed because this type is known for its trainability, knowledge and skill.
However, if you are more concerned with your dog's appearance, then going after show lines might be more appropriate. It must be mentioned, though, that it is possible to find show line dogs with the same characteristics as work line dogs and vice versa if they have been bred by individuals who are concerned with their appearance as well as health.
Beyond work and show lines, age is another essential factor to consider. A good breeder would not offer puppies that are lesser than 8 weeks old as they still require their mother's milk as well as other social skills. Puppies who have received this from their mothers will be less likely to engage in destructive and unruly behaviour.
How To Select The Right Puppy?
First and foremost, verify that the puppy's parents have good health and desirable temperaments. Then examine the puppy in terms of health and hygiene by checking the eyes, ears, teeth, skin, coat, paws, etc. Study the gait of your puppy; it should be even. With German Shepherds, in particular, it is vital that you choose a pup that does not have undesirable traits.
Visit the breeder at least four to five times before making a decision. Choosing a pup from the litter that is neither the timidest nor the most dominant would be wise if you want a bit of both traits. A German Shepherd puppy that is well built, energetic and sociable would be ideal.
Next, to gauge the temperament of a puppy you want to select, you could perform a few simple tests, such as making eye contact with them. If they hold contact, it reflects confidence. It might be a sign of nervousness and anxiety if it looks away. Clapping your hands is another simple test. If the puppy runs away, it can be judged as timid, but it can signify that the pup wants to be friends if it approaches you.
Similarly, other tests include calling the puppy to pet it, introducing it to a new toy, making a sudden noise, lifting the puppy and holding it above your head, or grabbing its paw. The reaction of puppies to such actions can provide much-needed insight into a puppy's temperament and help prospective dog parents make the right choice.
On the one hand, if you prefer a dog that isn't prone to undermining your authority, it would be sensible to choose a moderately submissive puppy. On the other hand, if you want a dog for protection, it would be wise to choose a tough, trainable, and courageous puppy.
After four to five visits, it would be possible for you to judge correctly - the personality and various character traits of the puppy you're interested in. As German Shepherds have highly individual personalities, you might bond more with one German Shepherd than the other.
Lastly, before making a final decision, it is always good to ask the breeder for their opinion, as good breeders often have vital information about their puppies and can provide valuable insight into their characteristics and temperaments, thereby ensuring that you exactly find what you are looking for.
Bringing Your German Shepherd Puppy Home
Once you have established a rapport with a puppy and have made up your mind about becoming a dog parent, or a dog parent to another puppy, take a friend or companion with you who can help you clean up if your puppy is carsick. If you intend on making your puppy comfortable in a crate, give the crate to the breeder a few days before you bring the puppy home so that the breeder can help it acclimatize itself to the crate.
The first day at home will be a traumatic experience for your puppy as it is away from its family. Thus, ensure that your puppy has a place to be comfortable and relaxed, with an adequate amount of food and water. It would be wise to spend some time exclusively with your puppy initially, such as an extended weekend plan so that your bond can grow.
Be sure to collect your puppy's adoption contract and veterinary records. Furthermore, find out the exact kind of food that the breeder was giving the puppy you just adopted. Giving your pup entirely different food during the first few days can be traumatic for them. With their unfamiliar sights, smells, and sounds, your home and car can frighten your puppy, leading it to stress out and get anxious. Anticipate this and give your pup some time to adjust to the new environment.
The first few days can be demanding as a dog parent because you need to adapt to changes in your schedule with the arrival of your puppy. Similarly, the puppy, too, can cry, whine or get overly affectionate, which can be regarded as coping mechanisms to deal with the sudden change in environment. During this time, make sure you don't scold your puppy or be overly affectionate either.
Introducing Your Puppy To A New Home Environment.
Before bringing your newly adopted puppy home, it is essential for you to puppy-proof your home! Go down on all fours and check for sharp objects, hazardous materials, or any other dangerous substance that your puppy might end up chewing or swallowing.
Cover your electrical outlets as well. Stock your home with food that your puppy has been eating while under the breeder's care. Keep an adequate amount of food and water, water bowls, treats, and grooming tools such as brushes, shampoos for puppies and nail clippers. Cleaning detergent for stains and smells will also come in handy in case of any accidents.
Decide on that area of the house that will be where your puppy spends most of its time. This step is crucial as constantly changing your puppy's place can lead to disruptive sleep patterns and cause stress.
German Shepherds, being extremely active, will tend to run across your halls, and in such cases, an accident or two are bound to happen. In such cases, it would be a good idea to restrict your dog's movements to areas that can be cleaned easily. Furthermore, German Shepherds have sharp claws and can ruin expensive hardwood floors, so it would be wise to keep them away from such flooring.
As mentioned previously, your puppy will be nervous during the first few days. Frequent bathroom breaks will be a necessity for your pup, and thus, keep an area designated just for this purpose. Also, let your dog run around the house and acquaint itself with its surroundings. If your dog is chewing or biting furniture in a puppy-proofed home, you could offer a toy as a distraction.
If you have children, teach them how to properly handle your puppy without being too rough. If you have other pets, give your pup a chance to meet and acknowledge them. Be careful while introducing your puppy to other puppies and grown dogs. However, most dogs are not aggressive with puppies, so it is doubtful that you will face problems on this front. Between eight and sixteen weeks of age, Puppies require plenty of clean water to drink and many meals a day. They also have small bladders and hence, will urinate often. Since they expend a lot of energy during the day, they will take several naps.
It would be recommended to begin a daily routine for your pup and stick to it. Since German Shepherds require a lot of physical activity, taking them out in the mornings and evenings for an adequate amount of time religiously would be necessary.
The faster you get your pup accustomed to a routine, the more beneficial it is to better sleeping schedules and better mental and physical health. When you begin house training your dog, be sure to praise them when they relieve themselves in designated areas but refrain from punishing them if they fail to do so. Remember that your home is a new environment for them, and thus, it will take a while to house train them.
Training Your German Shepherd Puppy.
Training your dog from the day they come home is very important. Clear rules should be set that should not be broken. For example, if you do not want your dog to get on the bed, do not let them come on the bed ever. Allowing them sometimes and then not other times gets confusing for your dog, and they may not be able to learn the desired behaviour effectively.
Training your puppy can be divided into two stages, each with different objectives. The first stage of training needs to take place when your pup is between eight to sixteen weeks of age. In this period, socialization, house training and crate training goals must be accomplished. The second stage of training needs to occur when your puppy is three months of age until about 9 months. The main objectives of this training phase are obedience training, impulse control, and recall.
From 8 - 16 weeks
German shepherds are very protective of their owners. This makes it essential to make them see that other individuals are not necessarily threats. This period is critical to expose your puppy to different people in non-threatening situations.
This can help them grow more confident around strangers instead of becoming hostile. Socialization creates a strong foundation for the rest of your puppy's training. One example of socialization comes from the grooming requirements of this breed. German Shepherds need to be groomed regularly so that they don't shed a lot.
Thus, introducing them to groomers at a young age and to tools like blow dryers and nail clippers can help achieve this goal of adapting to social environments. Furthermore, to improve their mental development, expose your puppy to new sights, sounds and smells to help their confidence improve.
Goal: Crate Training
Training your puppy to sleep or stay in a crate can be difficult at first as they might face separation anxiety. Crate training is necessary if you prefer sleeping alone or washing the utensils in the kitchen and need your puppy to stay in one place for a couple of minutes. Patience is key to achieving this goal. Help them get over their separation anxiety with the help of treats and toys. You can also use your crate for feeding purposes to help your pup get more acclimated to it.
Goal: House Training
A strict schedule can help get your dog house trained. When your pup is around 8 weeks old, it should be taken outside for a bathroom break every two hours or so. At 12 weeks, it should be taken every 3 hours and around 16 weeks, every 4 hours or so.
Begin teaching your puppy how to eliminate on cue by looking for signs such as sniffing the floor or circling a particular spot, or going to an area where it has made a mess before. Using a command to push your puppy to go outside to relieve itself can be helpful. Remember to praise your pup when it obeys such actions.
From 3 - 9 Months
Goal: Obedience Training
German Speherds are acutely intellectual and have a commendable work ethic. Training that has begun early and consistently can help your puppy's best traits and features emerge with time. Dogs of this breed are excellent at obeying commands, and you can begin this type of training by teaching basic commands such as stay, down, and up. They can even be trained to walk on a leash easily during this period.
When obedience training is done right, the goal of recalling or successfully calling your puppy to come to you becomes relatively easier. Achieving recall takes patience and practice. It should be done diligently and on a daily basis, using treats and toys as incentives. Achieving this goal can come in handy during emergency situations as well.
Goal: Impulse Control
German Shepherds are highly susceptible to boredom, often resulting in excessive and inappropriate chewing, barking, chasing, etc.
They also have a tendency to chase down cars and even cats. Such impulses need to be controlled as they can otherwise lead to destructive and problematic behaviour. Training for impulse control simply means getting your puppy to pay attention to you when required.
You can begin such type of training by getting your puppy to sit before eating or using commands during playtime, which makes them focus on your voice only. Treats and toys could be attractive incentives to encourage your pup to respond positively to commands.
Feeding Your German Shepherd Puppy.
8-week old pups are off the mother’s milk and are fully ready to consume real food, which can be special puppy feed or a diet prescribed by a veterinarian. Remember to follow the breeder's diet in the initial days and gradually change this diet to incorporate different foods. Milk should not be given to puppies at this age as it can cause diarrhoea. Puppies need to be given food rich in protein, calcium and fats as they are still growing. Their food needs to be higher in calories when compared to the food given to a grown dog.
When you give your puppy a food bowl, give it a specific window of time to finish eating, such as 10 or 15 minutes. After this period, remove the bowl.
This will help your pup understand that it has to eat during a specific period of time only, which is a valuable component of obedience training. Between 4 to 6 months of age, you can start feeding your puppy increased portions of food four times a day.
Foods such as meat and vegetables would be ideal. Treats should only be resorted to during training and not as actual food for mealtimes. Make sure to never give leftover human food to puppies as they contain spices, salt, sugar and so on, which are very unhealthy for dogs.
For this highly athletic dog breed with high physical activity requirements, Doggie Dabbas recommends High-Value Training Treats, Sardine Oil, Chicken and Pumpkin, Fish and Dill and Fish Ferky as some of the ideal food choices for your German shepherd!
Are german shepherd puppies hard to take care of?
Not just german shepherds, all puppies are hard to take care of initially. This is because it is exactly like getting a newborn baby home. There will be sleepless nights, vet visits, training, creating and sticking to routines and so on. However, these efforts will eventually pay off, because once your pup is trained, they will be socialized and can adapt to your lifestyle easily.
How many times should a german shepherd puppy eat a day?
For up to four months, puppies should be fed three to four times a day. Post this period, gradually reduce the number of times your pup is fed. After eight to nine months, two meals a day will suffice.
Where should my german shepherd sleep?
German shepherds are highly sociable animals and should not be left alone for too long. Puppies should be trained to sleep in a crate or share the bed with you if you so desire. As they grow older, they can be allowed to sleep in a crate, or in an area specially designed for them.
What are the best foods for german shepherd puppies?
Like other puppies, they too require meals that are high in protein, grain-free, rich in good quality fats without any chemicals, artificial additives etc. Try Doggie Dabbas Fresh Meals & our High-Value training treats to get your German Shepherd puppy started on their fitness journey.
Is it okay to feed a german Shephard 3 times a day?
Up to eight to nine months of age, it is okay to feed your German Shepherd three times a day. However, feeding them twice a day is more than enough beyond this age. The amount of food ultimately depends on your dog's age, size, weight, and levels of physical activity.
When do german shepherd puppies stop biting and jumping?
It is perfectly normal for your puppy to constantly bite, chew, or jump for the first four to six months. However, while teething is normal, you must redirect your puppy to chew on toys and other things that are appropriate instead of household furniture. Do not wait to think issues will be resolved after 6-7 months. Get professional help from day 1 to teach your pup the right behaviours.