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9 Tips For First-Time German Shepherd Owners

9 Tips For First-Time German Shepherd Owners

Have you finally decided to enrich your life with a little GSD puppy? Good, because we’re about to throw some ultimate tips for first-time German Shepherd owners! 

Even though these beautiful German boys and girls are known to be dogs of impeccable character and wonderful nature, they still need proper leadership. In order to do this, get ready for tons of commitment and devotion. 

But, fear not! This is not an exhausting job that makes you wonder whether you should’ve bought a dog in the first place. Every step of the way is just the opposite – a beautiful two-sided road full of joy and lifetime companionship.

Now, let’s see what you can do to make your first-time GSD ownership even better! 

Tips For First-Time German Shepherd Owners

german shepherd posing with his owner

I bet this is not the first time you read that GSDs are considered to be one of the best family dog breeds in the world. 

That’s right! Besides their wide representation in law-enforcement, military, and search-and-rescue services, these pooches are best served in their families. And, they serve best to family members!

However, improper parenting and neglecting their basic needs can stand in the way of their proper physical and mental development.

Unfortunately, a good percentage of GSD owners don’t take into account the breed’s exercise potential, nor the dog’s mental capacity.

These two things are crucial for GSDs to remain positive and calm within families, as well as to maintain their good manners in public spaces. 

But, what are the other things that you can do to make a decent pet out of your German Shepherd? 

Here’s the list of nine most proven tips for first-time German Shepherd owners that will make your life easier!

1. Avoid Unreliable Breeders

On the list of the most important tips for first-time German Shepherd owners – this is probably number one! 

Never, ever buy this dog from an unreliable breeder. Why? Simply because there are tons of shady puppy mills and backyard breeders that sell these puppies without any previous testing.

Unreliable breeders don’t pay too much attention to DNA testing and healthcare, which is why there is a huge possibility of getting a dog with some hereditary disease. 

On the other hand, reputable German Shepherd breeders will make sure your dog’s bloodline is tested, as well as the dogs being subjected to early vet exams

In ninety-nine percent of the cases, GSDs bought from reliable breeders are vaccinated, dewormed, and tested for hereditary diseases.

Additionally, GSDs come with a microchip, AKC papers, vet documentation, their first pack of food for adaptation, and socialization training. 

2. Early Training

german shepherd puppy running outdoor

Once you get your GSD puppy from a reliable breeder, you may want to make sure that your puppy gets the best education possible. That being said, one of the best ways to make a wonderful pet out of your dog is to subject it to early, basic obedience training.

Generally, the German Shepherd dog breed is known for its eagerness to please its owner, which is why this part of parenting is not going to be so hard. In comparison to other breeds, GSDs are not at all overwhelming or difficult to train.

Obedience training helps you implement positive puppy manners, and makes sure there are no undesirable outbursts in the future. Additionally, you will get a wonderful walking companion that doesn’t have a wanderlust potential. 

3. Timely Spaying Or Neutering

Spaying or neutering a dog is something every responsible GSD owner should consider. Namely, this is a natural part of dog ownership, as spaying or neutering is crucial for making a balance in your dog’s daily routine.

The best time to consider these procedures is usually between four and six months of age. This is the so-called juvenile phase of a dog’s life, where a dog is old enough to be subjected to the procedure, and still not old enough to enter the sexual maturity phase.

It is much more complicated to spay or neuter a dog that is already sexually mature and has active heat cycles. This is because sexually mature dogs generally need more time to recover than puppies.

Either way – it is always better to do it.

Unspayed or unneutered dogs are much more prone to behavioral outbursts, escaping, disobedience, self-destruction, and aggression. 

4. Grooming Is A Must

a german shepherd is getting his toenails clipped

If you’re wondering, “do GSDs shed”, the answer is – big time! First-time owners should be aware of the fact that these pooches are excessive shedders, even off-season.

Generally, GSDs have a medium-long, double coat that requires regular grooming. That being said, you need to brush them once or twice on a weekly basis. 

Another option that might come in handy is purchasing a dog bed. Namely, GSDs are easily crate-trained, which is why training them to sleep in one place won’t be a big deal. 

This way, you will reduce the amount of cleaning, and prevent them from leaving fur balls everywhere in the house. 

Other than that, these large canines require bathing every three or four months

They don’t require frequent baths simply because they’re not labeled as a messy dog breed. Still, if you exercise your puppy outside regardless of the weather, this process might take place even more often.

5. Don’t Encourage Aggression

Another thing that ranks high on the “tips for first-time German Shepherd owners” list is taking care of your training methods. Even though these pooches are not normally aggressive, they are labeled as an aggressive breed when unsocialized or neglected.

Some owners subconsciously or intentionally encourage aggressive behavior by either not reacting timely or by approving bad behavior in their dogs. This sort of parenting has a red flag displayed all over it, as it leads directly to aggression.

Instead of rewarding your dog for barking at cats, squirrels, birds, or basically anything – take a firm attitude and make it clear that this sort of behavior is undesirable

Not doing so creates an association in your GSD that they’re not doing anything wrong, and they will most definitely continue doing that in the future.

6. Never Skip Exercise

German shepherd puppy sitting and training with the owner

Both male and female GSD puppies are animals of habit, which means that they will respond negatively if their daily needs are neglected.

One of the most integral parts of their daily routine is exercise. This is an extremely athletic dog breed that requires at least one to two hours of high-intensity exercise during the day.

You can walk them, take them on a hike, play with them in the back yard, or stimulate them to self-exercise. All of these activities are highly recommended as GSDs are not one-purpose dogs.

In fact, diversifying their training is highly encouraged, as it positively correlates with their mental stimulation, and keeps them occupied.

On the other hand, GSDs that don’t exercise on a regular basis are prone to various medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and bloat

Furthermore, unexercised puppies might turn into extremely overwhelming pets. Not burning off their energy means boosting their self-destructive behavior.

7. Solitude Is To Be Avoided

They might not be as dependent as Chis, Pekingese, and Poms, but the truth is that GSDs can be quite clingy dogs. These pooches should never be kept outdoors or left alone on a regular basis.

GSDs are known to deal with severe separation anxiety in times of solitude, which is why it is not the best idea to purchase them in the first place if you have a way too busy schedule.

Anxious GSDs are prone to self-destruction, aggression, excessive barking, and howling. These are not the most desirable traits to have in a dog, especially if you live in a city apartment.

Instead, try involving your puppy in as many common activities as possible. This way, you will boost their self-confidence, and at the same time, strengthen your relationship. 

8. Mental Training Is A Part Of A Routine

A puppy of a German shepherd walks in the forest

Did you know that GSDs are one of the smartest dog breeds in the world? That’s right! These German beauties display exquisite intelligence in everything they do. Still, their raw mind should be stimulated on a daily basis.

What does this mean?

Well, for starters, you might want to diversify when it comes to training. GSDs are easily bored if trained the same way over and over again. Instead, try giving them more complex assignments.

Dog games, such as puzzles, hide and seek, and treasure hunt are a great way to keep these puppies purposeful and happy.

On the other hand, working-line GSDs can be trained in agility. Building an agility playground in your back yard is an excellent way to make a true champion out of your GSD. Still, this sort of training is recommended for more experienced owners.

9. Use Positive Reinforcement

Never, ever yell, scream, or hit your dog. These orthodox training methods were outdated long ago (in fact, they were never in style), which is why you should focus more on positive reinforcement training techniques.

Rewarding your GSD after a successfully completed training session is an excellent way to stimulate positive behavior. These pooches are treat-driven, and they will do anything for an extra piece of snack.

The use of interactive dog toys in this regard is highly encouraged, too.


Applying these nine tips for first-time German Shepherd owners is an excellent starting point in your GSD ownership. 

This is an extremely intelligent, loyal, and affectionate dog breed that is eager to please its owner. With that in mind, training your first GSD won’t be such a problem.

Over time, as the relationship progresses, going beyond these basics will be a daily part of your GSD parenting.

Read more: Will A German Shepherd Attack Its Owner? 9 Possible Reasons