Owning a German Shepherd is a special kind of dog-person relationship. They’re intelligent. They’re athletic. And they need a lot of TLC, just like any member of a well functioning family should get. While it doesn’t take rocket science to become a great German Shepherd owner, there are some simple (but often overlooked) tips we’d like to share with you to make the most of your relationship with your dog.
Break Out the Brush
Not only will this keep your German Shepherd’s coat clean and healthy, it encourages circulation in the skin and muscles of your dog and helps him relax. When you’re grooming, make sure to check his ears, inside of his mouth, and look closely at his paws. This will make vet and professional grooming visits go far more smoothly while giving you a chance to make sure everything looks great on your pet.
Move, Move, and Move Some More
As a German Shepherd owner, you’re in for a lot of exercise. Your companion needs to stretch his legs and get his heart rate up regularly in order to function well. He’ll have a longer life and better health the more frequently he’s exercised.
That’s not to say don’t be cautious: make sure to build up his stamina, give him proper water and food, and keep an eye on the weather. Dogs can overheat just like people do. Another note to make here is don’t over exercise your German Shepherd when he’s a puppy; let him get his normal puppy play in, but don’t push him as this has been known to cause hip dysplasia and other bone and joint issues.
Take it Easy
Your German Shepherd matures slowly: don’t rush him. While German Shepherds do learn quickly and are marked by high intelligence, they can get overwhelmed if you try and teach them too much at one time. The same idea goes with socialization: new people and new dogs should be introduced slowly and with gentle caution to best acclimate your dog.
Boundaries are Your Friend
Boundaries allow your German Shepherd to feel safe. Without them, he’ll become confused, anxious, and fearful which can sometimes manifest in aggression. As a German Shepherd owner, you obviously want to avoid this outcome. Set clear and consistent rules and boundaries for your pet to keep them safe and at ease in your home.
I know we said to take it slow, and we meant it. But it’s also important to find hobbies to share with your dog and to introduce him to new faces and spaces. This allows for bonding and trust building as well as establishing your authority in the eyes of your companion. This could be obedience classes, herding, tracking, or any number of competitions for dogs in general and German Shepherds specifically.
Most importantly, have fun with your new family member and never be afraid to ask questions. German Shepherds are a special breed of dog, but with a toolbelt of knowledge, you’ll have no problem bringing your A game as your raise your new friend.