Life with a German Shepherd

Necessities for Your German Shepherd Dog June 1985 thru Revision February 2024
Author – Rita Ledda

You have chosen one of the most intelligent and useful members of the entire family of dogs. Raise it correctly and it will serve you in any capacity that circumstances may require.

Puppy proofing home – Keep toxic and harmful objects out of reach. Medicines, nail polish, cleaning fluids, antifreeze, bug repellent, garbage and trash, soaps and detergents, shrubs and houseplants are all dangerous. Make sure pup cannot chew on electric wiring of any kind (lamp cords…computer cords, etc.)

What your new pup needs at his/her new home:

1. Dog Run with SHADE and Dog House
2. Automatic waterer or Stainless-Steel Bucket anchored to something so dog cannot tip it over. Pup/dog MUST always have FRESH water available.
3. Crate – you cannot have too many crates for a pup or young dog
4. Pine *shavings* … put in an area where you want pup to go potty. Pine shavings makes it very easy to see…..and pick up puppy/dog poop.
5. Small garbage can with a plastic bag inside for poop pickup.
6. Pooper scooper – the aluminum kind – with shovel but not with the *claw type* part… are best. Pet Food Express…Petco…quality pet stores carry them.
7. Small 1 quart or smaller stainless steel water pail….and clip…for crate…so pup always has water in crate.

How to Treat Your New Pup

1. Treat your pup as you would a baby.

2. Do not reprimand. Do not shout. Rather redirect them to something or a behavior you would like.

3. Remove *accidents* before they happen. Do not place pup in a situation where you must continually correct it.

4. After pup eats or drinks it will need to go potty. Do not wait for it to tell you. Place it outside where you want it to learn to go and wait……………….

5. First week – Play with pup at night until tired and both ready for sleep. Place pup in crate and next to your bed. Put your hand over side of bed and fingers in or near crate door. Prepare yourself for 15 minutes or more of whining and screaming. Then pup should sleep. When…a few hours later, pup begins whining, carry the pup outside and wait until pup goes – then back to crate. After the first week pup will like crate and choose to sleep there.

To avoid accidents in the house I recommend each night as you go to bed, lock pup in crate and carry it outside first thing in the morning. If you let pup walk to door, it will not make it before going potty in house.

(Trick) Always throw piece of kibble in crate when you ask pup to go in.


6. After 10 to 12 days the pup should have become familiar with new home and all its people. Everyone should handle and interact with pup. If the pup is standoffish to someone at any time do not press it! Ignore pup. Go away. Let pup come to you.

If pup is unsure about something, you go to it and show it is nothing to fear. Do not press any issue with pup.

Never, never, never chase nor let anyone chase pup for any reason. Run away from pup rather than toward. When you want him/her to come to you, run away calling name and as they reach you, pet them, praise them and give them a treat. Always carry kibble on you for a treat when he/she looks at you or comes to you. Have all in family sit in circle and each call pup and give kibble. Never do dominance roll. Never allow anyone to *force* pup onto its back.

(Trick) Use a high pitch friendly, excited tone when calling your pup.

7. After the pup’s first 10 to 12 day in it’s new home…IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that pup get outside exposure….but not where other dogs have gone. At least 3 times a week take pup to busy places (shopping center). Hold in your arms if necessary. Let pup observe. Take kibble….and if strangers think pup is cute or handsome, give them a piece of kibble to give pup. Set pup down at your feet (on leash) and let him observe. Do not let anything or anyone or any animal frighten pup. Let pup experience many different places, things and people. Everything must always be a pleasant experience.  Try to expose your pup to different texture surfaces. Wet and dry grass, tile floors, concrete, carpet, gravel, etc.

(Trick) Instead of buying expensive “dog treats” take some of the kibble you are feeding and put it in a small ziplock bag and add water. This is cheaper and less likely to cause stomach upset.

8. At around 16 weeks of age, if there is a good dog club or obedience training class in your area, check it out. Go and observe and see if you like it….and if so join and continue your training. If not, buy good videos/books/etc. and train on your own.

(Trick) Don’t try to train your puppy immediately after eating a meal. Let them pee and/or poop and put them in their kennel to rest for 30 to 45 minutes.

9. All pups bite, chew and dig – and if at all possible, it will get into as many precarious situations and predicaments as you allow. Protect yourself and your property and your friends by wearing appropriate attire.

When you are not watching PUT PUPPY in a place where the least damage can be done.  Pups will Rip draperies and window coverings…..EAT electrical cords….etc. Provide and teach pup to play with toys (to help deter destructive tendencies) – hard rubber ball, Kong, raw knuckle bone.

Never give your dog COOKED BONE of any kind. Raw femur bone is excellent. Raw chicken leg (meat on) is excellent. Raw chicken feet (2 or 3 a day) are excellent source of glucosamine chondroitin.

10. DO NOT OVERFEED PUP. This is one of the WORST things you can do to your puppy. Your pup will reach its’ genetic potential with consistent balanced nutrition.

During the first 16 weeks feed as many times a day as you can (4 is ideal)…small amounts, then 3, gradually cutting back to 2. Allowing pup to be overweight pulls spine down and puts undue stress on hips, elbows, etc. Until around 4 months of age pup should not eat more than TWO cups of kibble per day. Use kibble as treats. Do not give extra and different kind of treat.

11.Support rear and front of pup when you pick it up. Do not pick up under the elbows…nor put undue pressure on the organs.

12.PROTECT pup from loud noises such as firecrackers and gunfire.

13. Keep pup’s ears clean by wiping outer inside of ear with cotton saturated with 1 part water and 1 part alcohol. As pup matures clean down as far as your finger will reach with same. Never use a Q-Tip, as this can go too deep and damage ear.

14. First portion of pup’s life when pup barks at things (other than in play) and/or raises hackles, it is because it is unsure or feels threatened. Do NOT encourage this? Reassure pup and help to build confidence in all situations. When pup is adult then is the time to begin any protection training you might desire – not as pup. And the German Shepherd is protective by nature….and DOES NOT NEED PROTECTION training. You do not want your dog to be a liability to you nor to anyone!

Early Schooling – Even though the pup is very young and only a fraction the size of what it will be at maturity it can and should begin to learn as much desirable patterned behavior as possible as early as possible – all in a positive manner. Remember, although its little body may be clumsy and not very strong, its brain is fully matured.

Lead training – Use lightweight collar. At first pup will scratch at it in an effort to get it off. Simply divert attention with a toy. Once accustomed to collar snap lead onto it and let pup drag around the room and house….and maybe yard. Careful that he does not get it caught on something. Do not pick up the lead at this time. Next day, carry pup to back yard, Pick up end of lead and slowly walk to the door. The pup should now be familiar with his home and will be eager to return to familiar surroundings. If he hurries ahead of you, let him lead the way with you holding the end of the lead. Over the next few days graduate the distance the pup walks so he becomes accustomed to the confines of the length of the lead. When he acts confident with the pressure of the lead, turn and walk a short distance away from the door and then turn around again and let him lead you back to the house.

Remember, never pull or snap the collar or lead against pup’s neck. When older, formal class and teach many things. But, for now, we want pup to learn that being on a collar and lead is an exciting, wonderful activity.

Getting pup to come to you – This is easy prior to 9 or 10 or 12 weeks. Pup will be insecure and want to be with you. Begin training to come to you….immediately… by ALWAYS having kibble on you and call to you by dropping to your knees in the beginning… and open arms wide and call. After few days have friend hold pup securely on ground on his/her hands and knees …. you call….he/she releases….and pup runs excitedly to you and gets kibble, lots of praise and love ! That is how to build a bond in which pup will want to come to you and come excitedly and happily.

Speaking sternly, barking out commands like a marine sergeant or spanking pup because he did not come or came too slowly will only serve to teach pup not to come at all. Make everything happen happily for pup. Never show pup that you are frustrated or angry. If pup is not doing something you want….it is because you have not trained it correctly!

Lots of Toys in a Toy Box -Hard rubber toys, hard rubber balls, old socks tied in knot, empty plastic milk carton and squeak toys are great for pup. Once he starts to destroy and eat them DISCARD. Be careful and watch. Balls and toys can block the intestine and cause suffering and death.

Pup/Dog Poop – The poop of your dog is a very good indication of his health. His poop should be firm or at least formed. It should always be picked up and disposed of promptly…..whether in his yard…or on a walk. Always carry poop bag with you on a walk. If poop is not firm you are most likely feeding too much…. or the food you are feeding is not the best food for your pup/dog. Protein level should not exceed 24% for a

You may supplement with raw meat….when pup is around 16 weeks of age – but watch the poop. Poop tells you if you are feeding too much fat, too much food, so many things. If pup/dog has runny runny poop (squirty diarrhea you should probably see a vet.

NO DOG PARKS! Your pup has socialized with siblings the first 7 to 8 weeks of life. It is no longer necessary to socialize and play off leash with other dogs. Another pup or dog can be dominate with your dog and cause insecurity or dog aggression—-and your pup’s joints are not strong until after year of age. Elbows, shoulders, hips and back can be ruined by playing with other dogs….or by too much of the wrong kind of exercise. Do not throw ball far away from dog so that he runs full boar, turns on a dime….and tweaks his shoulder and hip joints. Long walks on leash are excellent. Teasing with ball on a string or rope…throwing ball within 6 feet of pup (never up in the air) and playing with same on leash are excellent ways to exercise… and great games. Toss toys out only a very short distance (and not up) and encourage pup to return to you for play with toy….or give kibble….or both.

How you play with pup and toys is extremely important. Play games of fetch, hide and seek and lazy walks that offer plenty of opportunity to investigate the environment are ideal for dogs of all ages. The four basic control exercises and making games can be fun. Both are necessary to develop the pup into the perfect adult pet. Adult dogs, when trained properly, love to work for and with their owners. They see it as a major activity in their lives.
Juvenile Period – Twelve Weeks to Six Months – Emotional maturation begins somewhere between 13 and 16 weeks of age and will continue….to adulthood. The German Shepherd Dog begins to know who he really is by about 3 and 4 years of age.