Common German Shepherd Behavioral Problems And Personality Traits
Over the years working as a dog trainer, Ive probably worked with as many German shepherd dogs as any other breed.
Most often, they are an incredibly loyal breed, are devoted to their owners, and have really sweet and fun personalities. And so, to those of you who love the breed and wouldnt consider anything but a German shepherd in the future, I understand!
Yet, some people are terrified of them and feel they are dangerous dogs to own.
To those of you that are wary of German shepherds, I understand where you are coming from, too! First off, they are very large dogs and can come off very intimidating.
Second, their instinct to protect their family or property is strong and can lead untrained German shepherds to becoming very protective, aggressive, and scary dogs.
The keyword here is untrained, as any untrained dogregardless of breedcan have the same problems.
Over the last decade I really feel like Ive come to understand German shepherds and have personally fallen in love with this breed. Ive also realized that theyre so misunderstood due to poorly trained German shepherds often ending up in the news and how they are portrayed on TV and in the media.
For this reason, I wanted to write todays post in hopes that, if you are someone who fears this breed, are looking for help and direction with your dog, or you know someone who is wary of German shepherds, then this honest truth about this lovely breed might change your mind.
Teach Them Something New
Its not true that you cant teach an old dog new tricks. This might actually be the perfect time to teach them some new tricks. It will help keep their brain engaged something we all need as we progress into our elder years. Whether you just want to teach your German Shepherd to shake or you are going to refresh some of the tricks that he knew as a younger dog, spend some time each day teaching your dog and rewarding him for his progress and effort.
Does The Age Matter In Breeding A German Shepherd
Age plays a vital role in a german shepherd dogs breeding. A female German Shepherds fertility is at its peak when she is between 2 to 8 years old.
At this age, female German shepherds will be at their maximum chances of pregnancy.
However, after 8 years the female german shepherd can start getting weaker.
Her eggs may not be fertile, and she will not be in optimal conditions for breeding.
An old dog may also struggle to feed its puppies. Due to old age, milk production can be reduced.
Read Also: When Do German Shepherds Ears Pop Up
German Shepherds And Other Pets
To help them be calm and patient, it’s best to socialise your German Shepherd with other dogs and pets from a young age. Some can be a bit bossy with other dogs as they get older but with proper care, training and socialisation this is unlikely to become a problem. If youre having issues with your German Shepherd around other pets, the best thing to do is get advice from a trainer or behaviourist.
German Shepherds are usually fine with other family pets they have grown up with. If they havent grown up with a cat or other smaller pets, though, they may have the urge to chase them so any introductions later in life should be done very carefully.
How Much Exercise Do German Shepherds Need
German Shepherd puppies and adolescents should have moderate exercise only multiple walks, fetch games, or playing with another dog.
But the growing bones and ligaments in a young dog can be irreparably damaged by too much exercise or the wrong kind of exercise. At this age, there should be no forced running . Restrict jumping as much as possible.
Once the dog is mature, the amount of exercise needed will vary according to the dog’s energy level. But all German Shepherds, to maintain fitness, need brisk walking every day and all-out running in a safe, enclosed area as often as possible.
Dogs from working lines typically want a lot more exercise.
Mental exercise is even more important for German Shepherds. Mental exercise means the dog gets to participate in interesting activities that keep his intelligent mind stimulated.
This might be a dog sport such as agility, rally obedience, musical freestyle, tracking, flyball, herding, or schutzhund. It might be interactive dog toys, or a homemade obstacle course, or learning tricks, or playing games such as Hide ‘n Seek.
Some of these activities are included in my training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
Handsome black German Shepherd, attentively awaiting your next words.
The Adult German Shepherd Dog
At around 3 years of age, you can begin to relax. As an adult, your German shepherd is finally the calm, dignified, courageous and respectful dog you always knew he would grow up to be. If you were patient and dedicated through those early, sometimes difficult, years, you now have a well-trained and disciplined companion for life. Congratulations.
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When Your German Shepherd Will Mellow Out
If your German Shepherd is highly energetic then youre probably wondering if and when it will begin to mellow out.
So, when do German Shepherds mellow out? There is not a specific age that German Shepherds mellow out. Instead, they will often calm down gradually as they get older. Despite that, even as adults, they can remain highly energetic by nature.
To get your German Shepherd to mellow out more quickly it can actually help a lot to take the time to figure out why has so much energy. Once you have a good idea of the cause youll have an easier time correcting it.
How Long Do German Shepherd Reproduce
It can be a result of an accident, or you want to breed your german shepherd dog.
A Female German Shepherd develops her sexual maturity when she is 6 to 12 months old. A Gsd can Get pregnant after the first estrous cycle. German Shepherd can reproduce their whole life if they are physically healthy and fit. A Female will take 58 to 68 days to give birth to the puppies.
It is recommended not to breed your German Shepherd until its 2nd cycle.
You should wait that your dog is at least 2 years old. Breeding a 6 to 12 months old german shepherd is like breeding a young girl.
German Shepherd is a big dog, it can take up to 2 years to have its first heating cycle.
The heating cycle consists of different stages. Estrus is when a German Shepherd can get pregnant.
Read Also: Adult German Shepherd With Floppy Ears
My Personal Experience With German Shepherds
As with any breed, theres the whole range of different personalities and characters and temperaments that you can come across. But today, I want to share what my general experiences with German shepherds has been like.
I can confidently say that the breed description given to German shepherds is pretty accurate. I have encountered many German shepherds who are physically and mentally strong, courageous, and often have a hard time backing down.
Of course, not all German shepherds fit this description. Ive come across many who are very fearful and nervous. But mostly, Ive seen the confident, strong-willed shepherds.
Whats fascinating to me with German shepherds is that, despite a strong personality, they do seem to want to work alongside you. They all seem to have a deep desire to connect with you, work for you, and do a great job.
Its almost like they want to be your partner rather than work independently. However, this means, if youre not sure what youre doing, they will very quickly step into the driving seat, which is a problem. You really dont want your German shepherd in charge of making the decisions!
Thats where theyre not a dog for everyone, because German shepherds play this game of Whos in charge, me or you? at a very high level. I call it the dog code.
Since then, Ive fallen in love with German shepherds. I could certainly see myself ending up with one in the future. And yes, I would fully trust this breed around my kids, my wife, and my other dogs.
What To Watch For
Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your German Shepherd Dog needs help.
Recommended Reading: German Shepherd Puppy Food Amount
Phase #: 7 Years And Above
Finally, in this period, parents will start to notice a big change in their dogs energy levels.
German Shepherds were reported to have calmed down at 7 or 8 years old.
However, dont expect a 180-degree change right away.
Theyre still going to be hyper. But this time, theyll rest more than usual. And they may also get tired fast as theyre now entering their senior years.
Note: This is generalized. So your doggo can experience it earlier or later. As there are other factors that can affect this.
What are they?
Lets dive right in.
How Sociable Are German Shepherds
Are they friendly with strangers?
Most German Shepherds are reserved with strangers. As the breed’s national club says, a good German Shepherd has:
“a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships. The dog must be approachable, quietly standing its ground and showing confidence and willingness to meet overtures without itself making them.”
As you might imagine, this can be a fine line to walk. Without proper guidance from the owner, a German Shepherd’s natural aloofness can morph over the line to suspiciousness, distrust, and even aggression or fearfulness.
When you own an aloof breed, you need to socialize the dog thoroughly. This means a careful program of teaching him to pay attention to you and mind you in the presence of other people and other dogs. He doesn’t have to like them, but he must accept them.
One thing I should mention: many German Shepherds who bark and lunge at strangers or other dogs aren’t being either protective or aggressive. Rather, this kind of reactivity can be the dog’s attempt to hide his own insecurities behind a blustering facade.
There are also legal liabilities to consider when you acquire a German Shepherd. For example, your homeowner insurance policy might be cancelled or the rates hiked, because people are often quicker to sue if a “guard dog breed” does anything even remotely questionable.
Are German Shepherds good with children?
Are German Shepherds good with other pets?
Are German Shepherds Easy To Train
Some are easy to train, while others are more moderate.
As we’ve seen, different lines have different temperaments. German Shepherds from working lines are typically more assertive and stronger-willed. A “tougher” German Shepherd will be more challenging to train unless you pay closer attention to building the right Leader-Follower relationship with the dog.
That doesn’t mean “softer” German Shepherds are automatically easy to train. Some dogs with soft temperaments are skittish or shy, making them just as challenging as a strong-tempered dog.
In general, though, a sound-tempered German Shepherd who is a good fit for family life should be easy to train. Just establish the right Leader-Follower relationship and the dog will be happy to work with you.
This is taught in my puppy training book, Respect Training For Puppies .
Or see my advice on dog training
Is My Female Gsd In Heat How Can I Tell
Is my female GSD in heat? How will I know? What do I do? Intact female dogs , and that are sexually mature are said to be in estrus, “in heat”, or “in season”, during their occasional “cycle” in preparation to breed and reproduce.
On average, the complete canine reproductive heat cycle takes about 6 months in length which results in about 2 heat cycles each year for most female Alsatian dogs. Be aware of all aspects of your dogs health and behavioral life, prepare accordingly and you should both have a long and healthy life together.
Female German Shepherds, also called bitches, generally have their first heat cycle at around 6 to 12 months of age. Sometimes, a female GSD in heat may not have their first seasonal estrus cycle until they are 12 months of age or older, depending on that particular dog. Remember, however, that this information is very general and not all female dogs will follow these exact patterns.
Overall, each individual female dogs heat cycle pattern tends to be relatively close to the basic average, length wise, however lengths of heat cycles may differ from female to female when the female German Shepherd goes into heat.
Remember these important points concerning your female GSD in heat and her yearly heat cycles and prepare accordingly.
First, assume your dog to be “in season” for at least 21 days, possibly longer, which will vary due to your own individual females heat cycle.
How Often Does A German Shepherd Come In Heat
A Female German Shepherd comes in heat every 6 months. But sometimes dogs can have irregular cycles.
It can take up to 2 years to the cycles to become regular. During the heating cycle, many hormonal changes are going on inside a dogs body.
Its behavior can change, and it can act differently than usual. When a female is in heat, she will desperately look for another dog to mate.
During this time, a German shepherd will bleed, and if you do not know how to care for her, you can get in trouble.
Here is an article on how to take care of a german shepherd in heat
How Do You Tell If A Female Gsd In Heat
There are four stages in the heat cycle, and the signs that a female German shepherd is in heat depends on which stage shes currently in.
- Proestrus: This is the stage where males are attracted to female GSDs, while the female isnt. This lasts for an average of 9 days.The most obvious sign of this stage is when male dogs start to crowd outside of your house. This is because its how male dogs react to a female in heat. They become attracted.However, your pet is likely to reject them since she still isnt susceptive to mating. Plus, fertilization isnt possible at this point.Regardless, your female dog will start to show vaginal bleeding at this stage, although the blood becomes lighter as the period progresses.
- Estrus: The female GSD will be susceptive to mating at this stage and it can last anywhere from 4 to 21 days. This can be called the flagging stage.During the flagging stage, the dark red vaginal discharge will turn lighter. You may also notice your pet rubbing their rear end against furniture or other objects. These are indications that your female German shepherd is ready to mate. This is also the stage where mature eggs are released from the ovary.
- Anestrus: Anestrus is the period between each heat cycle and as previously said, it lasts for about 6 months. While we mentioned this as the fourth stage, its not exactly a part of the heat cycle.Regardless, at this stage, there will be no growth and development in the female German shepherds reproductive organs.
Recommended Reading: How To Tell If German Shepherd Puppy Is Purebred
How Much Should A German Shepherd Weigh
German Shepherds are a large breed, so monitoring their growth is important to know that it is in line with whats normal for the breed.
As much as you dont want your German Shepherd to be overweight, you also dont want them to be underweight.
The desired weight of your German Shepherd will also depend on their age and gender.
An adult German Shepherd will weigh anywhere between 47 and 88 pounds, with adult males typically weighing between 65 and 90 pounds and females weighing between 50 and 70 pounds.
These are just rough averages, to get the best estimate, ask your vet if your dog is a healthy weight.
What Are The Signs That Your German Shepherd Is Overweight
The most accurate way to know if your German Shepherd is overweight is to get them checked by a vet and follow their advice, but there are things you can look out for to check how healthy your dog is yourself.
Here are some tell-tale signs your German Shepherd may be overweight:
- Tiredness if your German Shepherd appears to become exhausted and winded after simple everyday movements that shouldnt bother them at all, such as climbing the stairs, walking around the house or short walks, this is a sign that something is wrong
- Physical changes if you can visibly see that your dog has put on weight, you will likely struggle to feel their ribs properly without feeling through a large layer of fat. You should also be able to see their waist. Despite their long coat, German Shepherds should have a visible waist. Also, when looking at your German Shepherd, their chest and rib cage should arch up towards their bellies. If their bellies are hanging lower that their rib cage, then they are overweight
- Mood/behavior changes a happy and healthy German Shepherd will be alert and interested in playing or running, or any of the usual activities they normally enjoy. If they no longer appear interested, it could be weight related. Playing may be making them too tired, so they avoid it. Plus, if they choose to sleep all day instead of begging you to play or go outside, this is also a sign
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