GSD Questions And Answers
photo credit: cwgoodroe
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I wanted to provide an area where the dog lover community could find answers (and ask their questions as well) to the common questions, and even not so common question, about anything related to the GSD. The Q&A below are from you, faithful readers. Let me state for the record, however, that my answers will be geared for the welfare, concern, and betterment of the GSD breed, and as such they may sound a bit “harsh” at times towards the owner, but again – I want to help the dogs have a better life.
If you have a question, please feel free to use our question form to submit your questions. It’s at the end of this page. So anyway, let’s begin!
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German Shepherd Questions And Answers
Our first question is regarding the age one should take their new GSD puppy home, submitted by Angie:
Q: I am going to look at some puppies on Saturday. They were born on December 25 2007. They are eating solids and I would like to know if you think this is too early to take one home. We will be going to puppy training school and she will be indoors with the family. My vet told me 6 to 8 weeks is usually the age, it depends on the puppies. Then I heard no less then 8 and take a puppy at about 10 to 12 weeks.
We’ve had a shepherd for 8 wonderful years and she died 1 1/2 years ago due to a tumor in her abdomen. So we have raised a pup and now we are ready to do it again. So my question is what do you think about the age?
A: Hello Angie,
While the typical age that people take a pup home is between 6/8 weeks, it really is best to wait until the 8th week. When I breed my Shepherds, I will not let one leave until that 8th week, and myself, if I select a pup – I would prefer to wait even until 10 weeks. I actually got my female Shepherd at 12 weeks old.
The main reason for giving away a pup at 5/6 weeks is simple…ignorance. Please don’t take that as harsh as it sounds! You see, at 5/6 weeks, the pups – even though they are weened from the bitch at this age – they are still “learning” from her. The pups are learning their place in the pack structure, and are being “corrected” by their mother (she’ll growl at them, for example) for disobedient and other “bad” behaviors.
I’ve heard people say that 6 weeks is great for removing the pups because the mother dog will begin this corrective behavior towards her puppies, and they (people) will assume that the mother is “tired of them now”. But this is how our pups learn!
So my humble advice is to wait. If your breeder whom you are receiving your GREAT NEW PUPPY from is a great breeder, they will understand, and will “hold” your choice until AT LEAST 8 weeks…
Best Regards and God Bless,
Our next question comes from JT, who has questions concerning the ears on his new puppy:
Q: Hi Martin, how do you do?
I just want to ask something about my german sheperd, when he was delivererd to me last jan 13,my contact told me that he is already 3 months old and his two ears were already very much erected,is this normal for a 3 month old that his ears are already erected coz i saw a lot of puppy in the internet with almost the same age and i notice that their are not yet fully erected i just want to make that my german sheperd is pure or not i want big gsd like the one i saw in the internet ok ,martin thank you very much for all your time sharing with me i hope you won’t stop from helping me in this way best regards en more power
Our next questions are pending approval from the questioners…
A: Hello JT,
A GSD can have its ears up as early as 7/9 weeks. But that doesn’t mean they’ll stay up. Once a pup goes through heavy teething (3-5 months), one OR BOTH may drop, and come back up at around 5 1/2 months. If, after 5 months, your pup’s ears are not erect, you can tape them, or use a very firm Styrofoam pad, and adhere it to the inside of your puppies ears with the same “glue” that doctors use for covering stitches. You can find it in your local pharmacy.
Send me a pix of your boy, and I’ll be able to more clearly tell you.
Another question is being asked by Saculina, taken from our Article titled, “Basic Training“:
Q: I have a few questions to ask from you.
1. Can you share me more about how to trained dogs such as where they should do thier poo poo, not to run and so on.
2. i have 6 dogs (5 Australian Silky Terriers) and (1 German Shepherd). They normally get jealous of each other when comes to playing or spending time with them. How do i get this two different breed like and share it together. My Terriers are 2 years old and 3 (next month 1 year old). Whereby my German Shepherd is 5 months old.
I’m off for the day, but I’ll post an answer this evening. Please stay tuned! But while I’m in front of my PC, let me tell you this first thing: What you have is a dog pack. A dog pack that needs a Fair but Firm Pack Leader – you.
Raising multiple dogs without the ability to separate them during their “puppy year” is very hard, as the young dogs become “doggy”; meaning they will feel more comfortable and secure with the other dogs. Even more importantly to state, they will want the company of the other dogs more than wanting to be with you.
Not that people can’t have multiple dogs…it just depends one what type of relationship you want with them. For this site, geared towards “working dogs” trained in protection, you’d want to have your dog look to you as the center of his universe. And while in a typical “pet” relationship, we’d want that as well, it’s mandatory for training in Schutzhund/Personal Protection training.
Ok, here’s the rest of the answer:
Question #1: Training your dog to use just one area to poop is fairly simple, but requires determination, patence, and consisteancy. However, if your dogs are “outside dogs”, it’s going to be harder to train. Even with a remote collar on your dog, you wouldn’t be able to catch him during his “time” he’s going. The best way in this case is purchasing products that you’d apply to areas your dont want your dogs to go. They are bad smelling, and will provent your dog from visiting that area.
With an indoor dog, this is very simple. Since you control when he goes outside to relieve himself, just take him to the area you designate for his elimination, and use only that. Simple
#2 – You’ll have to clarify what you mean by, “not to run and so on”. But in general, if you begin and maintain obedience training your dog – that will take care of many “unruly” behaviors.
Our next question comes from Harry and Angela, who have questions concerning their puppy and protection qualities:
Q:My dog is 1year old but shows no sign of guarding or protecting,strangers come and he just goes to greet them we had vandals here the other day and had to call the police when they arrived the dog ran up to them to play and lick them Do you think he will ever guard naturally or should i take him to a specialist trainer its only our home,garden and garden we need him to be protective of.
A: Hello Harry/Angela,
The great thing about purebred GSDs is the genetic traits that have been instilled into them as far as guarding and herding. When you see a GSD that does not show any guarding characteristics, either two things may be going on. One is that your dog has had tons of socialization as a puppy, and has tons of confidence. These two things are awesome in a dog. So the guarding/protecting can be trained into a young dog, but otherwise will eventually come out as he matures.
The other thing can be that your have a very soft temperament dog that genetically doesn’t have what it takes for protection work. You’ll see this – more than you would think – in “show line” bloodline dogs. A dog like this will take tons of training with a schutzhund trainer. You can get a local schutzhund club to evaluate your dog to see exactly what type of temperament he has.
And again, let’s remember that a one year old dog is still a puppy! So unless your dog comes from true “working line” blood, I’d say you can train some protection into him, and expect it to take hold when he’s closer to two years old.
Another question comes from MZanana, who has questions concerning their dog and unprovoked attacks and biting:
Q:My website isn’t dog oriented, in case you wondered, but you did ask for it.
I have a beautiful, is there any other kind?, 6 year old GSD I’ve had for a year. I’m his 5th and LAST home. He takes his idea of protection too well. Unfortunately, he gives no warning at all, no growl, and as you know, they are FAST, so no one has ever gotten cues from him. He’s always bitten “intruders,” any idiot who walks right into a house where there’s a 100 pound GSD without being welcomed.
But, he can’t exactly be welcoming. He nailed my adult daughter’s boyfriend, both swearing they had played before and walked him before. They were going out for a walk, I was inside and didn’t see this, but I heard the growl/snarl, and in came Maggie saying Jack had walked ahead of them, as usual, and, suddenly without warning, flipped around and CHOMP…a big nasty bite on the thigh. Consistent spot.
I had workers in the house and Jack was in “his bathroom” and required by my contract with the rescue league, told the guys to stay in one room I was going to take Jack outside, and apparently Jack didn’t know it was I opening the door, and he barely got his teeth into me when he backed off apologetically. The bite marks and bruises lasted 3 weeks.
History: at 11 mos he landed at this rescue league, was perfect, and then obedience trained by a pro who volunteers, he went to a lady who did no work with him, let him run the house, and then he attacked a stranger.
Back to the same rescue, who kept him with the trainer who has a large rescue herself, loves Jack and lets him run a lot on 20 acres, and keeps up with his training.
I worked with her as did my daughter who’d be running with him.
Every owner has fallen for him, he slept with my 90-91 year old mother til she died, then he slept on her pajamas, but they forget his basic intuition is to bite, not growl, not act dangerous, not behave in any way that can be corrected.
I introduce him, on leash to guests sitting behind a coffee table, and “good boy” him a lot. He actually is way better off leash if there are more of us he knows in the room so he can be blocked from going after the strangers. Then, no growl, nothing.
On lead, yeah he barks and snarls, until he’s soothed and calmed down. He obeys even when he is like that. If I “down” he downs immeditately, but still snarls and barks until he actually meets the person and they throw his ball. Then, friends for life.
Except for the boyfriend. They deny it, but I’ve got to think (hope) Jack saw something out of the corner of his eye that made him think Maggie was in danger. But, who knows. Always muzzled at the vets (according to his records..his teeth have NEVER been cared for, and that will have to change, but back to what I was saying…), it took two muzzles, my canvas one and the vet’s leather one on top, 3 vet techs and me in a different room for them to examine him and he never quieted down. Then I went to pay the bill, in an exam room, vet employee rushes his face [this is an 103 pound GSD in a muzzle!] squats in front of his and scratches his face. No reaction.
The vet and Maggie think he’s crazy and unpredictable. But, no one has every described him that way before. He “alerts” on walks but a nudge will distract him and as long as I have never let anyone walk straight at us, trainers sez, I’ve never had a problem. But of course I’ve never tried.
At one home their back wasn’t secure and Jack and their Rotty ran loose for three days. No bites. Nothing. They just got hungry and came home.
BTW, he loves all other animals, and is submissive to our new chihuahua, who actually jumps in the air to take his toys, which he gives her. Otherwise, she could just hang there attached to a toy Canadian goose.
Have you ever heard of this behavior? Is he doomed to be like this? I can never take him anywhere–it’s in my contract, no doogy parks, not visits to the pet store, no where where he could encounter strangers. They even say to only board him with his trainer.
I trained a mess of dogs over 15 years and this is a new one for me. I can treat aggression, if it’s not crazy GSD bred-fear biting, but I have to have something to correct. Not one bite and backing off.
Can you or anyone reading help?
ALSO>>> what kind of food do you recommend? (totally different subject; I don’t think they’re related)
A:Hello MZanana, First things first (and as you are aware), don’t place your dog in situations where you don not have 100% control of him. And unless you trust anyone (like your daughter you’ve mentioned) to take 100%financial responsibility for any damage that may be inflicted by a dog bite – I would simply be the only one to walk your dog and take him anywhere social. That includes having guests into your home. Kennel him while guests are around, because as you state, since he shows zero signs of an impending attack, you just don’t know when/if he’ll decide on his own to bite.
As far as your dog taking “protection too well” – that can and should be dealt with by a qualified dog trainer. And I’m not knocking your trainer, but I’d go and check out a local Schutzhund club, and have your boy evaluated. Because even the best “top” Schutzhund and police K9 dogs are not this way. They are trained to bite on command, and not make that decision on their own without provocation or warning.
He’s always bitten “intruders,” any idiot who walks right into a house where there’s a 100 pound GSD without being welcomed. – A dog that has history of biting – without proper provocation – needs to be kenneled during the time you are social at home. Sorry to say, but it’s not an idiocy for someone to walk into a home with a dog, even a big dog. I have a great friend that has a 120 pound Doberman Pinscher. If I walk into his home in a threatening nature, I can be sure to get bit. If, however, I simply walk right in, I’ll get a definite understanding that this is his property, but won’t get bit without provocation. So the difference is twofold here; one is training, and the other is nerves. It seems both are lacking…
As far as your dog biting you, and as you put it, “backing off apologetically” – because he “thought for himself” that you were someone else – that’s a key signature of an unstable dog that needs tight training. Please note that I am not bashing you or your relationship with your dog at all, but these signs your dog is giving are all red flags to an impending bite that will cause someone severe injury – including you – which will lead to your pal being taken to a shelter and you being sued for allot of money.
So again, a few explanations come to mind for his behavior, such as your dog having very weak nerves, and/or a long history that your rescue league has not fully disclosed. If they have put it in a contract about “dos and don’ts” with him as far as interaction with people, I’d be very wary already. Especially sad for me is the statement in the contract you have about the “no where where he could encounter strangers“. That’s a solitary life for a dog that is just a pet. Just sad.
Again, get him evaluated by a quality Schutzhund trainer. Most (the ones I know personally in Northern California) will do an evaluation at no charge. Once the nervy issues are examined and determined, I’d say major Obedience Training (again and again) is needed, along with strict pack leadership from you will go along way. I’d also consider getting an e-collar, prong collar, and a dominant dog collar – but those should be used only with the guidance of a professional Schutzhund trainer in your dogs case.
And as far as feeding goes, I recommend a BARF diet.
Another question comes from Traci, who has questions concerning her dog pooing and peeing in her kennel:
Q:I’m having potty problems with my dog. She seems to love to pee and poo in her cage and lay all in it. How do I get her to stop? I have had dogs before and did not like laying in it and stop, but this one doesn’t seem to care. HELP! I need to get her to stop.
By nature, dogs are clean animals and typically do not (or at least try to hold it) pee and poo where they sleep. That’s why kennel training is so successful. Puppies as young as 8 weeks can be successfully kennel trained, as well as older dogs (as you know).
As far as your dog is concerned, lets go over your schedule for her. Not knowing her age or daily activities, it’s a bit hard to troubleshoot, but let’s go over the basics.
Age appropriate length of time in kennel
- Dogs from the age of about 8 to 12 weeks need to be take out of their kennels as soon as they wake up from napping, after they drink, eat, or play. They should be taken outside, then brought back in. Once they “go”, they can be left in the kennel for 20 minutes at a time. Take them out every 20 minutes during the day.
- Dogs 4 to 6 months can hold their bathroom longer, so remove them every 2 hours for outside poo and pee time.
- Dogs 7 months to 1 year can be left for up to 4 hours before they need to be taken out for the bathroom. My adult GSDs can stay in the house for over 8 hours before they have to go.
Dog size appropriate kennel
- Make sure your dog’s kennel size is adequate for your girl to sit up fully, and to turn around in – but no bigger.
Let me know more details about your schedule with her, and we can fine tune this.
UPDATES TO THIS QUESTION:
I’m the one who e-mailed about my dog pee and pooing in her cage. She is almost 5 months old, and she pees a lot. She pees and maybe poo during the night. Then we get up in the morning about 5am and I take her out. Then she eats and I take her out before we leave for work. I have a friend who comes over and lets her out about lunch time, and there is pee or poo or both when she comes. Then I come home let her out, and there could be pee or poo in her cage again. Then all night she goes pee seems like every half hour if that. It seems like I’m taking her out to pee rather than anything else. She has a big cage. She can sit up with no problem, but she has room to move. She did have a smaller cage and when she did her thing she would just roll and lay in it. I figured if I got a bigger cage which she will need soon that she wouldn’t tromp all in her pee and poo, but that didn’t work. What to do???
Even though a smaller kennel would seem to give your pup a reason to lay and play in her poop, it is still genetically ingrained into them that they shouldn’t “go” where they sleep. So I recommend a smaller kennel.
And a visit to your vet will determine if she has a bladder infection, as she does seem to go allot. However, a 5 month old with a history like your girl has needs to be let out more often. And with busy schedules that we all have, I know that seems impossible, but she is not able to hold it, and it’s not fair to her to leave her that long without a potty break.
What times are you feeding and giving her water in the morning, and at night? Expect her to go about 20 / 60 minutes after she eats at her age. And there will be no harm to discontinue her water after 7:30pm. This way, there will not be so many pee breaks during the night.
Even though our German Shepherd dogs are pretty big at 5 months old, we still need to remember that they are still babies. And as babies, we need to set our alarms at 12 midnight, 3 am, 6 am during the night/early mornings to take them out to relieve themselves.
I hope this helps,
Another question comes from Mirandra, who has questions concerning her Jovie, a 4 1/2 month old GSD puppy and its coat quality:
photo credit: Onion
Q: silly question i know, but we got our gsd 3-1/2 weeks ago. our other one died 2 years ago at the age of 12. so my question is, can a gsd have a soft, barely shedding coat or is this a puppy stage that i just can’t remember from our first one? i remember our first one having more of a “fuzzy” coat and then it became the coarse coat i think of when i think gsd’s. our new pup, jovie, is a black and tan and her coat is the shiniest and most non-shedding coat i’ve ever seen on a gsd. her mother is an “american” all black akc registered gsd and her father is a “german” blanket backed b&tan akc registered gsd. i’m only asking b/c we found this breeder through another breeder so i don’t know her personally. i’ve always said that the gsd would be 100% perfect if they didn’t shed 365 days of the year. now i have one that is 4-1/2 months old and doesn’t appear to shed. so after all my rambling, my question is can gsd’s have shiny (almost silky feeling) coats or is this a puppy coat she will grow out of.
thanks so much for your time and i really appreciate your site!
A: Hello Mirandra,
The all black Shepherds I’ve seen have luxurious coats. And although they do shed, the quality of the fur is sometimes very “fine” and silky feeling. Even on some black and tan configurations as well.
My male black and tan, Zero, has very “fine” feeling fur, while my sable female’s (named after her coat, so her name is Sable) coat is how you described it: feeling course.
As far as the age of your dog, and it’s not shedding yet, I would seriously count my blessings on that! But don’t worry, as when the season turns once again to winter, her “winter coat” will come in, and you’ll be using your furminator weekly to remove the excess shed!
And thanks for the appreciation of this site
Another question comes from Eduardo, who has questions concerning his new puppy getting used to living outside:
photo credit: cwgoodroe
I have just recieved a German Sheperd pup who is about 8 weeks old. he is going to live outside but has been living inside since we got him which is about 2 days ago. i also have a boxer who is an outside dog and a chiuahua who lives inside. i want him to get use to living outside but everytime we leave him there he starts crying and does not stop. how do i get him to stop crying and get use to living outside?
First off, let me state for the record that I fully believe that our dogs should live their lives with us, indoors. Its just too easy to forget about spending the time they need with their pack (our family). Just like that old saying goes, “out of site, out of mind”…
Anyway, you need to remember 6that at 8 weeks old, you have a very young puppy (a baby), and living inside so far, to put him out and away from his “pack” – and from his “pack leader” (you), is going to upset him. So basically, just do it. Figure that for 2 weeks, you’ll have him scratching and barking at the door until he settles into a life lived outside (and away from his pack leader – follow that link).
We now have a question from Phillip about feeding both a RAW diet and kibble at the same feeding:
Q:My pup does not have the best appetite, is it ok to mix her Iams w/ raw hamburger?
THE BEST diet you can give your dog is a BARF (RAW) diet. However, what you definitely do not want to do is mix raw meat with their kibble. Reason is that kibble takes a much longer time to digest threw the system, while RAW goes very fast. And since raw is “used” by the digestive system at a much faster rate, this is what makes a raw diet safe for canines (and carnivores in general, such as wolves, tigers and other large cats, etc.).
So mixing both can cause illness due to the raw meat being digested slower than God intended for their systems because it’s mixed with kibble.
Leslie has a question on her new 15 week old pup, and “crying behavior” while being petted:
Q:I have had Isa, my 15 week old pup, since she was 7 weeks old. She stays outside in our large fenced in yard during the day with her playmate, a 10 month old pointer. As soon as I get home I let them in and play with her and love her up for a while. >From there, she stays in with me for the rest of the night (unless we go out for a walk or ride). My question is, I have noticed that when she jumps into bed with me before we go to sleep (she prefers to sleep in the floor beside me), we always have a short 10-15 minute session of my talking to her softly and rubbing her head, neck and chest. While she seems to enjoy this time together, she has started what seems to be crying during our bonding time. She will whimper, talk, whine, and sometimes “tear up” almost the whole time. I want to cry because I feel like I may have taken her too soon from her mother and that she is exhibiting this behavior because of that. What do you think? Is there anything I can do to help her not be sad? Or maybe she’s not sad at all… This is my first attempt at raising a GS pup, so maybe I’m just being a “silly” mother.
Other than that, she is so perfect and sweet and beautiful. (Well, perfect as a pup can be.)
Thanks so much for your time,
Sounds like you are really bonding with Isa. How old was she when you picked her out? Was she purchased from a professional breeder?
As far as her seemingly crying (expressing sadness) when you love her up, the funny thing is, my GSD female, Sable, does the exact same thing. She’s 3 years old now, and when I (or my wife) love her up for awhile, she shows the same behavior that you’ve described.
She goes from acting like a puppy, to the whimpering behavior. However, it’s not a sign of being taken to soon (I got her at 12 weeks old.) from the mother. It’s just a “I love this, and can’t show you enough!” behavior.
And while this is “cute” for awhile, I am training it out of her (and training my wife to do the same ). So basically what I do is love her up until she starts this, and I immediately stop the affection. I change her behavior by re-directing her to do something else. For my girl, I get her to do obedience commands, like sitz and platz for a verbal reward. While your Isa is probably too young for OB, you can still redirect her once she starts this by getting up, letting her follow you, and give her love on the floor while she sits for it.
Basically, what we do is “coddle” our dogs (me included!!!) into thinking this type of behavior is acceptable. So redirect her with another positive activity. And one more thing…when she still does it, just ignore her!
* UPDATE *:
Thank you so much for the information. I will definitely take your advice and redirect her. This makes me feel soooo much better. I picked her out when she was six weeks old and took her home at 7 weeks. Out of a litter of 9, I just knew she was the one for me. She was not purchased from a professional breeder. I got her from my parents and I know the pup’s parents very well also (moreso the father who is just an unbelievable dog), which is why I knew I would want one of their litter. Both the bitch and stud are extremely smart, healthy and obedient, so I knew Isa would be a great dog! Isa can already sit, lay, stay and come when called on command!
Lori has a question on her new 9 week old GSD female, and her “aggressive tone”:
Q: I have a nine week old female GS puppy. She is very vocal, growling and biting. I realize she is teething but she seems more aggressive in her “tone” than I am use to. I have had retrievers most of my life, this is my first GSD. Any suggestions? I plan to train her so I want to do things right.
A: Hello Lori,
Just like when you first throw a ball in front of a retriever (I’ve had Black Labrador Retrievers), their breed is genetically geared towards that retrieval instinct. Same with a GSD, but in what they are bred to be. A GSD with great a pedigree will show guardian instincts, as well as a “hyper” prey drive when coming of age.
So what is best for you and your pet GSD is to redirect her when she play bites from your hands (cloths, etc.) to a chew toy. So when she begins to show the behavior you’ve written about, simply do one of two things:
- Stop the playing all together, and kennel her.
- Immediately give her a tug toy to bite and tear at.
If you plan on Schutzhund training with her, then there are other steps to take, but if she’ll just be a pet that you train in advanced obedience, flyball, agility (etc…), then these two things should take care of it.
Tim has a question on his 9 1/2 week old GSD, and a 7 month old chihuahua biting its ears:
Q: I have a 9 1/2 week old gsd puppy and a 7 month old chihuahua. my chi is constantly nipping/bitting at my gsd’s ears. one stands erect the other is floppy. will the one eventually stand up or is all hope lost? is there a way to keep my chi from the constant ear bitting?
A: Hello Tim,
With your GSDs ears, they will stand up fully at 5 months (usually, but sometimes 6 months) – but if they are damaged, especially at this age with the cartilage being very tender, even taping them won’t help.
What I do is demand that no one ever touch the ears of my pups….period. Until they are 6 months old, that’s the rule. But for your other dog, I would simply correct that behavior just like you would with any thing else he/she is doing wrong.
photo credit: nicora
I use “NIEN” (German for no) in a strict voice, then follow up Immediately with a collar correction. Once they get the point, the collar correction is not needed, just the verbal correction. But I would definitely supervise their playtime, and make sure your GSDs ears do not get damaged.
Alison has a question about her new GSD she’s getting in a coupe weeks, and protection:
Q: I will be getting a GS puppy in 2 weeks and could use some help on starting her out right. I want her to be protective of us girls in the family but not so much that I can’t have visitors. I’m not sure on whether rough play is good and if just regular obedience will do it. I don’t want an attack dog but I don’t want a dog that hides if we need her. What is the happy medium with GSD?
photo credit: k9centrum
A: Hello Alison,
By nature, a “good pedigreed” German Shepherd Dog will grow into its protective nature instinctively. That is not to say that training is not needed. But with good socializing at an early age, your dog will guard your family well. But, training is the key if you want more from your dog than that. A GSD that is trained to “bark on command” will be enough of a deterrent 98% of the time. If a perpetrator still comes at you threatening with an aggressively barking GSD at your side, then you need a dog that has been trained in personal protection AND one that has GREAT nerves. And you would have to have the nerves to actually send your dog to attack.
Regular obedience training is vital for any dog we have. They learn their role in the pack (if done correctly) as well as become what we need them to be – obedient. But that, along with “rough play” will not make a guard dog. You need to build drive and focus on your pup, and build as much confidence in him as possible. This will, however, be a fork in the road for your decision as to whether you raise your dog as a pet, or “working dog”. Because when you instill foundational training on a working dog (one who will be Schutzhund/protection trained – doing that as their “job”), you train in ways that a “pet” would NOT be trained.
So there is no real simple answer, other than telling you that you should lead your dog with the pack leadership mentality as well as socialize him, and find a great Schutzhund club near you. It’s fun stuff!
Karen has concerns about her 7 month old GSD within her existing dog pack:
Q: Hi I have a very well balanced pack of 3 dogs, a 13yr old German Shepherd/Lab mix, a 6yr old pure bred Yellow Lab and a 7 month old pure bred German Line German Shepherd. I am having one issue where the puppy likes to lead and herd the lab around by his snout ,ears, scruff. Basically he won’t let him in or out without a holding session. They don’t fight and they aren’t angry, but it bugs me. I try to claim the lab as mine and he doesn’t do this to the older one. I don’t know if it’s normal, healthy or if I need to do more serious behaviour modification at this point. They are all male and are all neutered. Any Suggestions!!
A: Hello Karen,
Even being neutered, you have (as you have already stated) a dog pack – an ALL MALE one. And again, even neutered adult males will (at times) try to be the leader. But from what you’ve stated, your 7 month old – as he’s still a puppy – is acting like the pup of the pack; typical behavior. And in this typical behavior, he’ll “take on”, as canines can sense, another within the pack that is not the alpha. You are the alpha leader, but the times they are not with you, that roll will fall on one of the dogs.
photo credit: Elsie esq.
So what I would do is limit the “rough housing” between the dogs, and correct (your 7 month old is old enough for stern collar corrections) for unwanted behavior. This type of “play” is normal for dogs within the pack, as it is the social way they work out their roles. And this “play”, the behavior you’ve asked about, will turn “real” as adults. But raised correctly (pack leadership 101), those times will not turn into real aggression, just social corrections between dogs in a pack.
Seymour has concerns about his 5 month old double coated GSD and weight loss:
Q: hi.. good evening everyone! i have a 5 month old double coated GSD.. he used to have a huge appetite and with that comes of him being big and all but as time went on, he is teething and loses appetite, i transfered him to the place where i am living now and its a bit hotter compared to the place h was before… and he is also sexually active now.. would these happenings be a cause that he will lose weight? i am worried since he had a history of confinement due to appetite loss… what do you think should i do with his appetite.. like now, he only eats once a day, and during night time.. but before he eats five times a day till his fourth month.. any advice please share.. it worries me…
A: Hello Seymour,
A young dog will loose a bit of his appetite during hormonal changes (like teething) – but shouldn’t affect their overall weight. I would take him to your local vet to get him evaluated for any medical reasons why he’s loosing that weight.
photo credit: Chris Camargo
As far as your comment, “i am worried since he had a history of confinement due to appetite loss” – can you clarify that? Are you saying that you’ve confined him until he eats? Please elaborate. Also, before when you said he ate 5 times a day, did you just leave the food out for him, or did you feed 5 times each day? That may be too much for a young dog, especially a GSD. Reason being they are susceptible to hip dysplasia, and an over-weight young German Shepherd will have too much stress on their growing bones. That’s not good.
Let me know!
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