GSD right for me?

Ash SmithAsh Smith Posts: 28Member
edited 17 July, 2015 in Choosing the Right Dog
Howdy there, After Annie washed out of being a potential SD I've been in the market for a new dog to try training. Instead of puppies I've been looking at young adult dogs (1 to 2 years of age) and I have gotten in touch with several breeders with young adult dogs who would meet my needs. The one dog that I met and is standing out to me the most is a German Shepherd Dog, one year of age. Absolutely stunning dog and very calm and isn't at all timid or shy but not over bearding either. I like him a lot, but I am worried that my attachment and my 'ideal' of this dog is overshadowing the actual facts of the situation. Now, he would be trained as a service dog, by me with help from a more experienced trainer. As it stands now I am not the most active person. I take Annie for two walks a day, but she hates fetch and swimming and... basically everything I love doing so we spend most of our play time playing tug-o-war inside when we aren't out on our walks. I would like a dog that would have a good time going to the state park and swimming in the creek with me, jogging around campus, and maybe playing fetch at the local park. I worry that this isn't 'active' enough for a GSD because I always see websites saying things like "If you don't like going for hikes and camping, GSD may not be for you". Am I being overly cautious? Another thing I worry about is if I am a strong enough leader or not. I am a type A personality, for the most part. I know when to compromise, but generally "it's my way or no way." I don't have much experience training dogs myself, which is why I am getting a secondary trainer to train me to train my service dog... But Annie currently does not listen to me much at all. She will dart out the door whenever someone opens it and she refuses to come when called. I know this has to be an issue on my part, but I don't know how to go about fixing it, and neither does my trainer. She used to never do things like that until she was fixed and I'm worried now she doesn't see me as the 'boss of the house'. I want some information on how to be seen as a strong leader. Especially if I do end up really wanting this GSD. Please help, I'm dying here!

Comments

  • Vicky ChanVicky Chan MarkhamPosts: 3,542Member
    edited 15 July, 2015
    I think this GSD would be perfect for you Hun. I've personally never owned one, but my experiences with them have led me to believe that they'd be great at the things you wanna do. Is this GSD that you're looking at getting from a breeder or rescue? I'd totally go for it girl. :)
  • Ash SmithAsh Smith Posts: 28Member
    edited 15 July, 2015
    A breeder. He was originally intended to go to another woman as a service dog but her family had surprised her with a fully trained dog from an organisation. I'm sure so worried that a Shepherd might be too much 'dog' for me to handle. :)) I've been having problems with Annie lately, to the point where my vet, trainer, and I all joke about her having doggie autism since she just doesn't... realise when 'enough is enough'. It's hard to make her respond to emotions and I know this is likely just an ANNIE thing... My anaziety is showing. :r
  • Alexa TravisAlexa Travis Birmingham, ALPosts: 4,692Member
    edited 16 July, 2015
    At 1 year of age, you are going to be able to tell plenty about his level of drive, is he biddable, is he social, etc. GSDs vary pretty wildly in temperament and drive, so I would go see him for myself and have him assessed before making any judgement. He could be perfect, he could be too much, he's plenty capable of telling you at this age. Though I WOULD recommend you take someone who is GSD savvy along with you when/if you do have him assessed, 1 year can be within the realm of their bratty teenage phase and is easy enough to spot by someone well versed in the breed (mentioned because adolescent GSDs can seem like hell on wheels, but for a dog with proper temperament it IS just a phase and will be grown out of). As for how to be the "boss"... be a clear communicator, be concise, consistent, and willing to learn and grow WITH the dog. Take advantage of his skills and play off his strengths, and be willing to accept and work with his weaknesses. Be fair to him, be willing to acknowledge when you need help, and above all else never, ever give up on him. That's the ticket to being a good "boss" =;
  • Ash SmithAsh Smith Posts: 28Member
    edited 16 July, 2015
    Oh Maulder, I was hoping you'd reply! Next visit I schedule I'll see about finding someone who is knowledgeable about German Shepherds to take with me to assess his activity levels and trainable level for SD-ing. One of the people I asked said GSD were incredibly difficult to train and she thought it would be too much 'dog' for me to handle, but she's only ever had Goldens and a Lab/Pit mix so I'm not sure how much she really knows about them personally beyond what she's read... And this particular dog isn't from hard working lines, but a cross between a working line and a show line so its energy levels I don't think are going to be that exuberant. Thing is at least I am extremely active, but I prefer to do things away from other humans. Which is in part a big reason why my psychiatrist thought it'd be good to have a trained canine companion. So I don't get lost in the state park and have some campers come across me and take me to the medical centre like has happened before. :))
  • Alexa TravisAlexa Travis Birmingham, ALPosts: 4,692Member
    edited 16 July, 2015
    The problem with show/working crosses, at least when the lines are a completely fresh outcross, is that the results will be variable- some will undoubtedly be a more moderate, middle-of-the-road sort of dogs, while others could still be exaggerated and drivey. This isn't to discourage you from trying, just be aware of it. Lots of very nice dogs are produced from mixed lines, and at least from my perspective, its a refreshing thing for breeders to be doing. As for GSDs and service work, on that one I have little experience. I know there are plenty that do it, though from my limited experience they seem to be more common in guide work. I would guess it would depend heavily on the nature of the work the dog was being used for- situations were the handler might be in an extremely vulnerable position where they require medical assistance but cannot communicate or physically control the dog (such as having a seizure) could be more problematic for the breed, while something like guide or mobility work seems less risky. However, ultimately it will depend on the individual dog. There are plenty of GSDs with temperaments that I'm sure would suit whatever sort of work you need them for.
  • Jeanene RidgeJeanene Ridge BethaniaPosts: 1,189Member
    edited 17 July, 2015
    Sounds like a GSD might be a good fit for your needs, but it would need to be the right GSD. Working line dogs can be a Lot of dog (I have two, one is my current SD and one is my SD prospect) My best recommendation is to take your trainer with you to evaluate the prospect. Make sure whoever you're training with is familar with shepherds as there are some breed specific issues that can crop up in working or show line dogs that may need special attention. I don't know what you need a service dog for but I'll give you a little bit of my experience working with the breed, and with service dog's in general. Shepherds can make wonderful guide dogs, they're assertive and self assured (when raised and trained correctly) and capable of independent thought. They can make reasonably decent mobility dogs (both traditional and balance/brace dogs) but will tend to question orders more than your more traditional breeds (goldens/labs/poodles). If you are a handler who can stay on top of that, great they'll work well for you. Shepherds make naturally good medical alert dogs BUT, and this is a big but they can run the risk of being over protective. If you ever feel that you'll be down and unresponsive, unable to handle the dog you need to address this with the breeder as well as with your trainer and evaluate what will happen long before this becomes an issue. Because of the above issue shepherds rarely make good psych dogs, they tend to become too emotionally dependent on their handler, and can at times feed into handlers fears and anxieties. This can cause the dog to develop anxieties of their own, protective issues as well as just general difficulties handling. With the right dog handler pair they can make psych dogs but it is generally not a breed I recommend for the work. Especially when dealing with PTSD, or anxiety based issues the last thing a handler needs is a dog that the public is going to naturally fear. They need a dog that puts the public at ease or attracts friendly curiosity. Ultimately it will depend on the particular dog and that's something best decided with hands on the dog and a proper evaluation.
  • Ash SmithAsh Smith Posts: 28Member
    edited 17 July, 2015
    Thank you Happy! I will definitely need mobility, and I worry slightly since I do have some panic issues, but my main concern is no longer really anxiety but schizophrenia. A lot of my anxiety has been stemming from schizophrenic hallucinations (thus leading to a lack of response from me because I just shut down). I wouldn't want my prospect to become an anxious little mess because of me! I'll have the trainer come with me an judge him before making any decisions.
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