5 Questions With A German Shepherd Owner

“5 Question Friday” is a new feature on That Mutt where I interview authors, trainers, veterinarians, bloggers and others who work with dogs. It’s a way to share different opinions and experiences. If you would like to be featured, please email Lindsay@ThatMutt.com.

KL is a longtime reader of That Mutt who owns a German shepherd dog. KL trains her dog in obedience and nose work for fun, and she is also a volunteer with a German Shepherd rescue.

Here were my 5 questions for KL:

KL and her German shepherd

That Mutt: What are some of the reasons why you decided to get a German shepherd?

KL: The usual reasons, brains, loyalty, beauty. My husband traveled for work, and I wanted a large dog with me. GSDs are rugged and athletic and able to withstand climate extremes and an active lifestyle.

But the biggest reason is the part of the breed standard that calls for the dog to possess “a certain aloofness that does not lend itself to immediate and indiscriminate friendships.”

They’re reserved and discerning; you will work for a deep relationship with your German Shepherd, and I really respect that.

To paraphrase Jane Austen, their good opinion is rarely bestowed and therefore more worth the earning. Once you do, you have a friend for life. There is just no other dog quite like them.

TM: What tips would you give to a first-time shepherd owner?

KL: I could go into several posts’ worth of advice, but my big ones would be:

a) Do your research. Learn as much about the breed as you can. Try to reach out to local breed clubs or IPO (schutzhund) clubs if possible, get to know some owners and breeders and observe some dogs. Learn the pros and cons of the different line types and of the breed in general. This will take time, but it’s well worth it.

b) Decide why you want the dog. The German Shepherd is a highly versatile breed, and the result is different breeders concentrating on different things.

The most obvious example would be show lines vs working lines. Within a given line type, you will find breeders specializing in areas like IPO or herding or showing or search and rescue.

If you can articulate what you want from your dog and communicate that to your breeder or rescue, you stand a much better chance of getting the dog that’s right for you.

c) Find a good, resourceful trainer who has experience with the breed. These are highly intelligent, thinking dogs, and that is both the best thing and the most challenging thing about them!

A smart trainer who is willing to open up the toolbox and help you tailor your approach to your dog is worth her weight in gold.

TM: What advice would you give for anyone interested in starting nose work training with their puppy or dog?

KL: There are several different governing bodies for nose work/scent work, but start with the National Association of Canine Scent Work (nacsw.net). NACSW is an excellent resource for info on the sport and how to find an instructor in your area.

I encourage anyone who is interested to look into it. It is a fantastic way to bond with your dog, and you will learn a lot about them.

And have fun!

My instructor reminds everyone before every trial or odor recognition test to have a good time because today is another day to have fun with your dog.

German shepherd

TM: Does your dog sleep in your bed?

KL: She’s allowed, but she has staked her claim on my big leather chair, and most nights she can be found snoozing in that!

TM: Is there anything you’d like to say to That Mutt’s readers?

KL: Have a great weekend and happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy some time with your dogs!

Thank you, KL!

If anyone has any questions for her about German shepherds, please leave them in the comments.

Posts KL has written for That Mutt:

What do good breeders and good rescues have in common?

Do you have a breed people tend to be afraid of?

If you would like to be featured in an upcoming “5 Question Friday” post, email Lindsay@ThatMutt.com

Recent interviews:

Trainer and author Marc Goldberg

Blogger Puppy in Training

15 thoughts on “5 Questions With A German Shepherd Owner”

  1. Stephany Pritchard

    Totally loved this post! I’m bias a bit, being a fellow GSD dog mom. 🙂 Cool series idea…I look forward to learning about other breeds!

  2. Love my sons shepherd. A female 18 months. A great family dog. We brought her through obedience classes and to canine good citizen class which she passed 9 out of 10 . She growled at another dog in leash walking. She does not growl when my son has her but she does with me at other dogs. I am the primary walker , every day early we walk several miles . I took a leash aggression class . Why with me and not my son. ?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s hard to say but sometimes it’s due to the energy of the person holding the leash. Perhaps you tense up slightly when you see other dogs as you anticipate an aggressive reaction. Maybe your son is calmer and therefore has no change in his posture or how he’s holding the leash. That’s not necessarily the case, but it’s a common reason why some dogs act differently between handlers.

      1. Yup, I’d defer to Lindsay on this, but she’s right that stress and emotion travel right down the leash, and these dogs are GOOD at picking up on it. It sounds like you’re a really conscientious person, which is a good thing, but maybe she’s still sensing that you’re worried about something (her reaction) and is reacting a bit to that.

  3. I haven’t raised a guide dog puppy in a while, but I still attend events at the school. Every time I drop by the trainers and puppy program manager asks me if I’m ready to raise a German Shepherd. I’ve puppy sat GSD guide dog puppies and I’ve fostered GSD’s for shelters/rescues, but I don’t think I’m ready for the challenge of raising one for 18 months in the guide dog program.

    1. It’s probably pick your poison, but I felt like a GSD was way easier than a gun dog would be. Most of the retrievers I know almost never stop moving! I’d die trying to raise one of them to 18 months!

        1. In that case, I need to meet your black lab Stetson! 😉

          I do like an active, athletic dog, but the labs I’ve known are far beyond me. As in when I was dogsitting a lab, MY GERMAN SHEPHERD PHONED IT IN. THANKS, DOG!

          1. That’s funny. We’ve definitely had some energetic Labs come through our house. One that sticks out in my mind was Journey. He was the only Lab I’ve seen jump in kick out like a bucking Bronco.

            Yes, you should meet Stetson. He’s basically Ferdinand the Bull…just wants to smell the flowers. 🙂

    2. You should raise a shepherd, Colby. Do most programs use Labs, goldens and shepherds or do some stick with one breed? Funny, they never want to train weims as guide dogs for some reason. Haha, can you imagine?

      1. Labs and Goldens are the most commons. I’ve seen and heard a lot of programs are using Lab/Golden crosses. GDA had Shepherds when I first started 10+ years ago, but then they went away and now they’re back. I’ve also seen a lot of programs use Labradoodles and Standard Poodles. I haven’t seen a Weimaraner as a guide dog…yet :), but when I was doing bus training with one of my dogs I did see a Vizsla being trained as a Cadaver Dog.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Oh yes, I forgot all about poodles. Some of the nicest dogs I’ve known are goldendoodles or labradoodles. I don’t really like their coats but they generally seem like such nice dogs.

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