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A lovely insight into living with German Shepherds


You are reading this so the title must be right. I have been owned by German Shepherds now for over 30 years, I have bred them, shown them, trained them, and now help rescue them. 

Are you ready to have the dynamics of your home change? Are you ready to have your clothes permanently covered in dog hair and find the odd hair in your morning tea and evening meal? Are you prepared to sit on the floor while some big hairy dog is snoring away on the couch? Sleep hanging out of your bed because your dog is taking all the room up and you just cannot bring yourself to disturb him? If you can answer yes to those you are on the right tracks, however, there is more to it than having a little bundle of fur that everyone thinks is so cute.

Your day to day activities will change to accommodate your new furbaby, if you have gone down the route of getting an 8 week old puppy you have all the delights of house training, shoes being chewed, and accidents on the carpet. It is not all sweetness and light. 

Be prepared to have to go out in all weathers because your dog has no worries that it is raining heavily or blowing a gale or even snowing, these are not fair-weather animals, they will think nothing of finding the muddiest puddle and rolling in it and then bringing it all back indoors to shake all over your furniture. This is the same furniture that is now covered in dog hair and has chew marks on it. 

You may read this and wonder why I am trying to put you off buying that cutie puppy but sometimes it is better to know the pitfalls before parting with hard earned cash and then realising you are just not cut out for the job of being a dog owner. 


Let’s start with the puppy, if you are intent on buying one do your research on the kennels, go and pay them a visit without an appointment so you can see what they are really like. 

a: Do their dogs look healthy and well fed?

  • b:Are their eyes clear?
  • c:Are their coats groomed?

These are just basics to look for, if in doubt take someone with you who can show you what to look for. 


Now assume you have bought the puppy, expect him or her to be sick in the car on the way home. Buy a dog crate for your car, it is far safer than having a dog running free in a confined space and in the event of an accident you know your dog will be safer in his crate. 

When you get him home let him have a look around and a sniff. Show him where his bed is and food and water bowls are and show him the back garden, you will be spending a lot of time out there during house training time. If puppy is sleeping in the kitchen leave a radio on at night, also a ticking clock, it makes them feel they are not alone. 

Expect crying on the first few nights; remember he has been taken away from his mum and his brothers and sisters. Give him a teddy bear and a t-shirt you have been wearing so he knows he has someone there. Feeding should be done several times a day while they are still young, follow the feeding scheme your dog breeder should have given you. 

Your new friend is now going to be the vet, he is the one that will take all of your money at regular intervals, look at his expensive car in the vets car park, you will have paid for that and be paying for the next one too. 

It is vital that your puppy sees the vets straight away for a check-up to make sure everything is ok and there are no nasty surprises waiting for you. He should advise you to have all the inoculations done, take his advice, it may seem a huge expense but it is cheaper and less painful than seeing your beloved dog contracting parvo, this is not an illness you want to see. 

Ask for puppy to be micro chipped, it won`t hurt and will save lots of grief if the dog goes missing. Talk to them about puppy socialisation classes, most vets will have these and if you want your dog to be a nice well behaved canine in public then start socialisation as soon as you get the all clear from your vet. Puppy training is also vital, experienced trainers will teach you how to teach your puppy the basic commands, it also serves to tire the puppy out so much that you will get a night’s sleep on training nights.

So, now you can see how the dynamics of your peaceful nice, clean and tidy home have changed and your bank account has suddenly emptied. If you are that intent on having your furbaby from puppy stage all the above has to be considered, and more, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Are you the sort of person who likes their fortnight in the sun every year? What are you going to do with the dog? Friends will only step in for so long and puppy site for nothing, soon you will have to find a boarding kennels, more expense, more strain on the puppy, all the separation anxiety he will go through, he won`t understand you have only gone for 10 or so days, he will feel abandoned. Can you live with the guilt? You can be sure once your get your precious baby back he will let you know you have done wrong, the entire puppy treats in the world will not melt him in to submission on this one.

Now you have got your puppy and found your routine has changed, your bank account is dry, nothing you wear is hairless, you have been weed on, cleaned up so much poop you are an expert in it, made your dog resent you for going on holiday and now you find they are teething. 

Much the same way as a human baby will teeth your puppy has to go through this process too. Remember that gorgeous pair of expensive shoes you bought? You only have one left now; puppy ate through the other one. It`s ok, you will soon learn to pick things up and put them in a safe place away from little sharp teeth. Unfortunately you can`t do the same with the doors in the house or the door frames, table legs, chairs, in fact anything and everything a puppy can get his teeth round will soon have lovely little teeth marks all over it. You’re once showroom condition home has now turned into a huge teething ring for your puppy. 
Maybe a puppy is not for you but you still yearn for your canine companion and believe me there is nothing more loyal, loving and giving as a German Shepherd. You come in from a horrible day in the office and there he is, tail wagging, just waiting for hugs from you. 

Medical research has even been carried out on this and has proved that stroking a dog is ideal for keeping your blood pressure down. 

Check out the German Shepherd rescue sites, you will find plenty of examples of this lovely breed just waiting for someone to take them on and give them the love and security they need. You will be asked to fill in a form and then a volunteer from the rescue will come to your home and meet you, ask them whatever you want about the dogs, all of the volunteers are experienced in the breed and will be able to answer your questions and if you do ask something they can`t answer, they will find the answer for you and come back to you with it. 

If you are accepted on your home check you will then be told if a suitable dog comes available to you. A donation will be required, if you have problems in paying it all at one go have a word with the rescue and ask if you can get help with paying. Remember though, a dog is going to be an expensive addition to your family. Check out online insurance companies and have him insured, you will still have to pay an excess on any claim. 

If your rescue dog has not already been spayed or neutered, you will be responsible for getting this done, places like Dogs Trust and PDSA can help if you are in receipt of benefits. The rescue will ask for proof that you have made sure this operation has taken place. It is vitally important that the dog is neutered; it will save any unwanted accidents and will also benefit him or her health wise in later life. 

The other benefit about a rescue dog is that once you have taken one on you will not be on your own, there will always be a volunteer ready to answer and worries you may have and they can advise you on the best training schools in your area. Join their social network group as you will be among other rescuers.
Meet ups for socialisation and dog walks are arranged and you can always be there to help with fund raising. After being a new dog owner for a while you will have gained your own experience and be able to pass that on to the next newbie. 

I hope this has given you something to think about before you make that huge decision on taking on a German Shepherd. Puppies are cute, there is no doubt about that, but they come with their own problems. Think Rescue not Breeder.

Written by Heather Stowell on behalf of Cefni German Shepherd Rescue



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All volunteers are unpaid and contribute their time and knowledge free of charge to the rescue, their dedication is priceless

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