Common Health Problems In German Shepherds
German Shepherds are great dogs for the right owners, but they are at risk of certain conditions and illnesses common with the breed. Making sure the parents of your puppy have had the relevant health screening can reduce the chances of your puppy being affected by some of these upsetting conditions.
German Shepherds are in a group of breeds classed as Category Three by The Kennel Club, which is the highest category of the health concerns due to their conformation. This means that these types of dog have been bred over many years to look a certain way, but that these changes to the way they look have started to cause them health problems. For German Shepherds, this is mostly due to the shape of their back legs and hips.
Some of the conditions German Shepherds may develop include:
This list is not exhaustive, and there are many other conditions that German Shepherds have been shown to be prone to.
Preparing To Train Your Dog To Be A Guard Dog
It Is In Their Wolf Ancestry
In the wolf world where dogs have their ancestry, staring is rude and threatening. So, when your dog stares at you continuously, he might be manifesting an evolutionary holdover from his ancestral roots and communicating some displeasure. And if the uninterrupted hard stare is directed to a stranger, they should back away and not stare back!
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The Foundation Of Attachment To Your Gsd
Aim to become your German Shepherds secure base.
Proximity maintenance, also known as proximity seeking, is a biological drive for your dog to seek closeness to a protective person.
The goal of this drive is to feel safe, secure, and protected.
Proximity seeking promotes attachment behaviors, especially when your GSD is:
The owner needs to be tuned in to the signals of their GSD to respond in an accurate and timely fashion.
The quality of your caregiving is key to forming a secure attachment with your dog.
Socialize Your German Shepherd Puppy Early
Socializing your German Shepherd from a young age will help him become more comfortable with being around other people, especially those that they are not familiar with. When socializing, you need to expose your puppy to as many different situations, people, and animals as possible.
This will help them later on as a guard dog when they come across an unfamiliar person or animal. The more varied these experiences are, the easier it will be for your dog to determine which ones are the threat and which ones are not.
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Enrich Their Lives Through Play
Enrichment is a wonderful way to include bonding.
Owners bond with their German Shepherds through not only routine activities but also play. Play produces overwhelmingly positive emotions in dogs .
So, you can imagine how the art of bonding with your GSD is discovering what activities they enjoy doing with you.
Observing and interacting with them during play and enrichment helps you learn so much about your Shepherds personality:
- Does he like to sniff and smell the games?
- Is he more apt to investigate new puzzles?
- Whats his favorite game tug, catch, nose work?
During play, your dog is provided with resources of emotional value, such as your attention, connection, and even safety. Research shows that owner engagement with their dog is critical for the dog-human relationship .
I could go on and on about the importance of enriching your dogs life through play and games, but heres what you need to know.
Caring For Your German Shepherd
German Shepherds are fantastic dogs and its easy to see why they are such a popular breed. However their size and strength means they arent suited to all families and need a lot of space to burn off their energy. Youll need to make sure you have a lot of time to spend with these dogs and you are committed to providing for their exercise needs every day.
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How Will I Know My German Shepherd Has Started Guarding
As the dog becomes turns 6 months, he will start becoming territorial. This dog will display its dominance over the other dogs, revealing its real talent.
Here is how you can know you have a guard dog
- The German shepherd barks at strangers without chasing them.
- The dog is always keen and alert.
- The dog will scent mark the yard-shows any dog around its the leader ready to guard its territory.
- The dog will chase an intruder without cowering.
Work With An Animal Behavior Therapist
For people that may have complex psychological issues, a therapist can help to unravel the ball of yarn, so to speak. The same applies with your dog.
You may be surprised at what a professional dog behavior expert may be able to accomplish with your dog and you together.
So if you feel that your dog is aggressive, take a step back and do not get frustrated. Go through the proper channels, speak with your veterinarian, and speak with a behaviorist.
Chances are there will be a hopeful future.
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Do German Shepherds Get More Protective As They Get Older
While German Shepherds get protective once they reach adolescence, they shouldnt get any more protective as they age past that. The only exception to this is when you have a much older German Shepherd.
All dogs can get a bit more temperamental with old age, and with a dog like the German Shepherd, this can display through more protective behaviors.
However, if you notice any sudden changes in your German Shepherds personality, even as they age, this can be a sign of an underlying problem, and you need to address it as soon as possible.
Training Goal #: Impulse Control
Learning to control their impulses is important for all puppies, and for the GSD, it can be one of the most important ways to curb problem behaviors to which this breed is prone if allowed to become bored: behaviors such as excessive barking, digging, aggressive chewing, and inappropriate chasing .
The key to impulse control is getting your dog to focus on you. This will have beneficial effects for all the rest of your training efforts, especially in AKC dog sports like Obedience and Rally.
Require that your puppy sit before getting food, playing with an exciting toy, going outside to play, or any other favorite activity. As your GSD puppy advances in obedience training and knows more commands, you can require more advanced commands or tricks in order to receive treats or play.
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German Shepherd Protection Dog
German Shepherd Protection dogs usually go by the name K9 or K-9 which means protection dog in German .
They are used by professional and government type organisations the police, army and government protection .
German Shepherd Protection dogs usually specialize in a particular area like patrol and suspect apprehension where they are often required to attack and/or detain threats.
In German Shepherd sports like Schutzhund or K9 based competition sports, family pet type GSDs can learn protection based skills like identifying threats, barking, attacking, chasing and releasing in a safe environment.
Establish A Strong Bond With Your Dog
Training your German Shepherd to listen to your command begins by establishing a strong bond with them. If your dog doesnt trust you enough, they wont willingly obey you as simple as that.
As we mentioned above, German Shepherds are extremely loyal dogs to their owners, so if you want to effectively train them to attack, or perform any task for that matter, youll need to create a connection based on trust and respect between you and your dog.
Pretty much like any social connection, you can establish a strong bond by spending quality time with your German Shepherd to earn their trust and loyalty. Here are a few suggestions to help you build a solid relationship with your dog:
- Have your dog stay in a place where you spend a lot of time to let them feel comfortable around you.
- Make the time to play with your dog, not less than around 20 minutes per day.
- German Shepherds enjoy walks, so take your dog out for walks regularly.
- Avoid getting angry, losing your temper, or acting hostile against your dog.
- Reward your dog with treats to warm up to you.
Its best to start bonding with your dog when its young because its easier and will give you plenty of time to develop a strong relationship.
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They Can Be Assigned To Versatile Roles
Whether youre buying them as a show dog, a family dog, or you intend to get other purposes fulfilled out of them, German shepherds are safe to go with in most cases.
They are known to be the best breed for versatility. As already mentioned, they are very intelligent and easily pick up any training with the right trainer.
German shepherds can take up many working roles like leading, herding, leading the lines, military tasks, police, and security works as well as drug-sniffing.
Moreover, they can also be considered safe as show dogs, just with the proper grooming, in various segments like appearance, temperament, and health.
They can be made to learn tricks and perform in front of crowds without having them distracted, and the list goes on.
Will Neutering Your Gsd Help Calm Him Down
When you castrate your dog, you are effectively removing the glands that provide their system with hormones. These glands are responsible for the amount of testosterone and other hormones that make him overly hyper, rouse his libido and have him acting out aggressively,
So, while neutering or spaying your German shepherd does help regulate his hormonescompletely remove them, ratherand that in turn subdues them to an extent, he can continue to be an energetic dog if he is so inclined. It is not a quick-fix solution to hyperactiveness.
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They Are Tremendously Courageous
You can say that German Shepherds are canine heroes. Their courage is one of the reasons why they are preferred for police work.
Being courageous works well for German Shepherds. Its what makes them the ideal watchdog or guardian.
They are not afraid of anything. Thats why they excel in being police or service dogs.
At home, your dog would protect you against any threat. They would even put their life at risk to get rid of any perceived danger.
Thats exactly what this German Shepherd in Russia did to protect their 13-year-old owner. The child was playing when two large Central Asian Shepherd dogs tried to attack her.
The German Shepherd ran to the girls defense and fought with the dogs. The girls father couldnt help, seeing how the larger dogs attacked their pet.
Unfortunately, the German Shepherd later died from the injuries.
When Do German Shepherds Bond With Their Person
While bonding may be easier with a puppy, even an adult German Shepherd can bond with their person for life.
German Shepherd puppies begin to bond with people during a critical stage of attachment at 4 to 12-weeks-old. This is the primary and general habituation and socialization period for puppies. Their exposure during this time will have a lasting effect on how they relate to not only their family but other people. Puppies who arent socialized appropriately to people during this essential stage often grow up to have difficulties bonding with people.
However, German Shepherds can form new bonds with people at any stage and age of their life with the right bonding exercises. Even older German Shepherds or puppies over 1-year-old can bond with a new owner.
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Create A Situation Simulating A Threat
There are many ways to do this, but my favorite is to create a fake intruder. You can use an old sweatshirt that you no longer wear or get a pair of pants from your dad. Stuff it with newspaper, then take some rope and tie it around the dummys waist. Have some friends pull up in the driveway or ring the doorbell and put the dummy near the front door. If your German Shepherd dog starts to act protective, youve done a good job training them. Remember to reward your dog with treats or a favorite toy for doing such a good job!
German Shepherds And Barking
As with any dog, German Shepherds are likely to bark. Their main purpose was for herding and guarding so they can be quite vocal when people walk past or enter or exit the house, but how much noise they make will vary from dog to dog. If youre having problems with excessive noise or barking, we recommend seeking the advice of an accredited behaviourist.
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Why Are German Shepherds So Vocal
As a herding breed that tends to be protective and territorial, the German Shepherd can be excessive in barking, groaning, whining, and moaning. But these German Shepherd behaviors may also be triggered by positive situations and other breed-related temperament traits such as its friendly family-dog nature.
Also, leaving your dog consistently alone at home and for long periods may cause him to be vocal. The German Shepherd is among the top 10 dogs most prone to separation anxiety. As such, your GSD may also groan, whine, or moan to express his loneliness.
As a rough guideline, your German Shepherd may manifest any of these behaviors for one or more of the following ten reasons shown on the table.
|German Shepherd Behavior|
German Shepherd Temperament Characteristics
German Shepherds are commonly described as self-assured, excellent guard dogs and easy to train.
But they also hold a variety of wonderful characteristics such as intelligent, alert, watchful, curious, obedient, courageous and confident.
These amazing characteristics make them well-rounded and equally able to adapt as a working dog as well as an excellent family dog.
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The Importance Of Socializing Your German Shepherd
For you to truly have a German Shepherd that is well-adjusted, calm, good with people and other animals, and able to be around kids, proper socialization is a must. Socializing means introducing your dog to new people, places, things, and experiences.
This socialization needs to happen as early as possible while the dog is still young. If your dog safely enters into new situations with you and knows from a young age that it will always be okay, youll have a dog with a great temperament who trusts you to keep him safe. Showing your dog the world and making new experiences a regular part of his life will also help him gain confidence.
When dogs act shy or aggressive, its usually out of fear. Improper socialization creates scared and insecure dogs who hide behind aggression as a way to keep themselves safe. They dont know the world doesnt have to be a scary place.
Your Role As Your Dogs Secure Base
Your role as your GSD caretaker and secure base includes commitment, concern, and responsibility.
An owner must be able to be a secure fixture when their dog needs them.
When their dog feels insecure and aroused their owner must appease their insecurities so their dog can relax in their environment again.
The dogs owner must focus on their behavior and be interested in their GSDs mind so they can respond by meeting the dogs needs. This gives messages about the owners availability to not only meet their dogs needs but also offer relaxation.
If the owners responses are predictable and accurate, then:
- The dog isnt overwhelmed by anxiety or dangers
- Faith in the attachment figure is strengthened
- The owner becomes a source of security in the dogs eyes
The dog learns to trust and to wait for their needs to be satisfied. A GSD can then use this proximity attachment figure as a secure base that can be relied upon, called upon, and returned to in times of stress.
Essentially, your GSD is forming an attachment to seek:
In return, the owner bonds with their German Shepherd. This is about a sense of commitment, concern, responsibility, and love for the dog.
You should know the fundamental elements to create an attachment between you and your GSD.
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