Becoming The Proud Owner of a German Shepherd Dog


Hi there, fellow dog lovers! I’m thrilled to share my passion for German Shepherd dogs (GSDs) with you. If you’re considering bringing a GSD into your life or if indeed you’re already a proud owner, this guide could be for you.

In this comprehensive post, we’ll dive into information  you need to know about German Shepherds.  Having been a dog trainer for many years and a lover of the German Shepherd dog breed from when I was a very young child, I am thrilled to help guide you on the journey of becoming a proud owner of a German Shepherd dog. This breed of dog is known for its intelligence, loyalty, and versatility. But remember, owning a German Shepherd (like all breeds of dog,) requires commitment and knowledge and patience.

Understanding the German Shepherd Dog Breed

German Shepherd Dogs are large-sized dogs, originally bred for herding sheep and protecting flocks from predators. They are known for their intelligence and versatility.  Whether it’s working with police forces, guiding the visually impaired, a Sport Dog or simply being a loving family pet, German Shepherd Dogs can excel in every role.

Please take a look at my German Shepherd Blog titled “What is a German Shepherd Dog?” as it goes into more depth for you. . To choose the right GSD, it’s essential to understand the breed. Take the time to research and understand the breed’s traits, characteristics, and needs before making any decisions as a whole family.

german shepherd dog laid down in front of a cosy living room fire place 1 nov 2nd

Dog Breeder versus Dog Rescue Centre: The Decision

When it comes to getting a GSD, you have two primary options: either purchasing from a German Shepherd Dog breeder or adopting from a Breed/rescue organisation. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and would need careful consideration before moving forward with your decision. Make an informed choice after doing some research and asking questions, along with taking into consideration your own personal circumstances. There are Gsd breed groups and organisations that may be able to offer guidance too, for example BAGSD. (British Association of German Shepherd Dogs)

**Disclaimer does not provide veterinary advice, nor does it claim to be an alternative to seeking professional advice. All content is therefore for informational purposes only.

Preparing Your Home For Your German Shepherd Dog

Before bringing your German Shepherd home, ensure your home is ‘puppy-proofed’. (Curious noses will get stuck into all kinds of nooks and crevices and will be investigating everything in the room!) Remove any toxic plants, secure loose wires, and make sure small objects that can be swallowed are out of reach. I’ve included this link for you to take a look at if you like, it’s to the PDSA website and has lots of information about which plants are toxic to pets.

The unwritten rule should in my own opinion be: if you do want it chewed, ruined or pee pee’d on, then move it out of the way. It won’t be like it forever, just until the dog understands rules and boundaries and gets more training.

When you think about it, it’s the same with young children, we put protective covers in plug sockets as we don’t want fingers or pencils poked inside them, and with cabinets and doors we put on devices that stop the doors slamming and trapping little fingers and toes – we don’t do that forever do we? It’s only until they are past that particular phase in life. I tend to advise “if in doubt, put in in a cupboard or higher up”.

Before your GSD arrives, make sure your home is safe and secure. address any potential escape routes in your garden, and do make sure your fencing is secure for puppy, with the plan to increase it as of course your dog will grow. Set up a cosy space for your new family member, somewhere he/she will feel safe. I have always used a cage with my German Shepherds from day one and it has been the best thing for them and us. It also makes it easier if we go on holiday etc as the dog is used to a cage and if we rent a house for our holiday, we know our dog is safe and cosy too.

Puppy Gsd or Adult?

When we’re deciding between getting a puppy or an adult GSD, is an important decision we are making at this point. Yes, we can all agree that those puppies are the most adorable and cutest thing on earth, but they require the most patience and arguably most training, (Although, the young mind is taking everything we do and say in and absorbing it, along with all of our body language,) while the adult GSDs may (not always) already have some training, but might need time to adjust to a new environment.

puppy v's adult gsd double image of a litter of Gsd puppies on the left side and an image of various head shots of adult Gsds in various coat colours on the rights side

Especially if it has been living in a rescue centre. as of course the dog will have been going to the toilet in the kennel etc along with other behaviour which may need to be taken into account. Assess your lifestyle and preferences to help determine which age group suits you and your family setting best. You may also like to read my blog called “Top 15 questions to ask when buying a German Shepherd”.

How To Train Your German Shepherd Dog

Training should ideally, begin the moment/1st day your German Shepherd Dog enters your home. German Shepherds are eager learners and respond well to training. Consistency, patience, and rewarding good behaviour are key elements of training. Although not forgetting that our dogs need boundaries too. A good rule of thumb so to speak, as far as dog training goes, is to reward the behaviour you do want from your dog, and correct the behaviour you do not want from your dog.

A German Shepherd Dog sat down giving a paw to a dog trainer in a feild

And, to add one of the best snippets of advice in dog training I personally have ever heard “remember you are raising an Adult Dog not a Puppy” and If you don’t want an Adult Dog acting like a Puppy/biting hands etc, (especially a full grown German Shepherd Dog,) then these things need addressing as soon as they appear,

German Shepherds thrive with consistent training and mental stimulation. Basic commands like sit, stay, and come are essential for a well-behaved dog. And these 3 commands are a great, important starting point for all training.

Socialisation For Your German Shepherd Dog

Socialising your GSD is crucial for their well-being. Expose them to different people, (although this does not necessarily mean they have to pick them up or stroke them or talk to them in a baby talk voice) animals, and environments to ensure they grow up to be confident and well-adjusted. By simply sitting with your dog and watching the world go by, this increases your dogs ability to cope with the situation.

a german shepherd puppies with their owner sat down outside a supermarket

Even just sitting in the supermarket carpark or outside the doors, (after a few sessions) where people are coming and going and there are all worlds of different smells and sounds, will be a great training opportunity and exercise. Start with small sessions and build it up. Advocate for your dog and politely ask people not to pet your dog.

Health Care For Your Dog

As with all dogs, having them registered with a local Veterinary Practice is a given. One great tip I hugely recommend, is to get them used to going to the Vet clinic on a regular basis, especially while a young puppy. This can have enormous benefits and can help your dog associate the Vet clinic with being a pleasant experience. Try to get them used to the staff there and just sit in the waiting room and praise your dog for being calm.

They don’t need to interact with other dogs or animals, (of course we don’t want them to become unwell) however we do want it to be as easy, straightforward as possible if we need to visit the Vets at a later date, whether it be for a vaccination or if our dog in unwell. If possible, try and arrange a Vet visit at a quiet time as well, and just let one of the Veterinary Surgeons pet your dog and ask them to give your dog a little treat maybe, you can always take either a high value treat or some of your dogs daily food allowance along with you for them to give your dog.

gsd in vet clinic laid down on a table while vet listens to heartbeat with stethascope 2nd nov23

If we can incorporate regular vet check-ups, a balanced diet, and daily exercise for our German Shepherd’s, then as far as health goes, we are definitely on course to be doing the best we can. I would also advise that you discuss any concerns you have with a Veterinary professional and/or the breeder of your dog. They will be able to answer any concerns in more detail.

You may be aware that German Shepherd Dogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia. ( As are many large breed dogs) While this can be true, it doesn’t mean that every Gsd will have it. Also, bear in mind many breeds of dog are susceptible to hip-dysplasia and while it can be devastating news to hear if our dog is diagnosed with it, please take note, one of the most loving German Shepherd Dogs I have had the pleasure of owning, was diagnosed with hip-dysplasia when she was under 6 months old.

However, she had a wonderful, full life, she knew when she had had enough walks etc and we learned when to notice her signs of being a tad sore, and she was with us for 10 wonderful years.

Health and Genetics

Healthy German Shepherds can be your loyal companions for many years. Try to ensure if you choose a breeder, go with one who prioritizes health and conducts necessary health checks on their dogs, which can be verified with paperwork and their vet.

You can ask for health certificates and pedigrees however these can never guarantee the health of your dog, but they will go a long way in to showing you if there are any hereditary conditions etc to look out for. 

This brings me onto Pet Insurance

Some owners decide to save £X amount of money each month in a bank account for “in case” there are medical bills for their pet. Which in my opinion is fine, IF you have enough money aside to cover those bills. These days, even examination can be £30 that’s without treatment, that can spiral into thousands.

So, yes, I do have my own German Shepherd insured, and it can be a chore trying to sort it out. BUT, once it is sorted out you have peace of mind knowing that if heavens forbid anything should happen to your dog, you have the ability to get treatment.

There are a plethora of Pet Insurance companies out there, and each owner you ask may give you the name of a different one and swear off certain others.

But please do shop around and on renewals, always double check the price and ask to discuss it, that way you will get any discounts that they may be able to offer you. I would not have a dog in this day and age and not have insurance for him/her. This is just my humble opinion.

Yes, it does feel like emotional blackmail at times, however we do need to think about it long term as hopefully, our dogs are with us for at least 10 years!

Grooming and Healthcare

Most German Shepherds have a double coat that sheds. Regular brushing and grooming will help to keep their coat healthy and reduce shedding & any unwanted skin irritations from the undercoat. Please read my German Shepherd Dog Blog on Coat Types, as this will explain further the differences in coats.

As with the Veterinary Clinic visits, I feel it is also a very good idea to begin taking your dog to the groomers when they young, and get them used to the environment and to the groomers.

A German shepherd dog sat with its tongue out,  in the dog groomers bath with soapy water

Again, try to simply sit there with your dog for a while and let them see all that is going on and get used to the smells and sights etc.

I also recommend booking an appointment slot with the groomer, so they can talk through with you any questions you may have and give you some pretty cool tips for looking after your dog’s coat and nails.

The more environmental socialisation we can put on our dogs, the more easier it will be to go to the groomers etc and we will have a more confident and calm dog when those times arise.

In Conclusion

I hope my Dog blog has provided you with a few valuable insights into the world of German Shepherd dogs. Remember, owning a GSD is a life-time commitment filled with love, joy, and adventure. If you’re thinking of bringing one into your life, please make sure you’re ready to invest the time and effort it takes to raise a happy, healthy, and well-behaved GSD.

So, are you ready to embark on this incredible journey? Whether you’re researching, considering, or already own a GSD, let’s continue to share our love for these amazing dogs. Together, we can unlock the full potential of German Shepherd dogs and passionate GSD owners. Reach out, ask questions, and share your experiences with your beloved GSDs. Let’s make every day a GSD day!

I’m here to assist you, if needed, along this wonderful journey.

**Disclaimer does not provide veterinary advice, nor does it claim to be an alternative to seeking professional advice. All content is therefore for informational purposes only.

a german shepherd jumping over a agility dog jump
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