Selecting the right puppy starts with selecting the right BREED, and the right breeder.
Not every person is suited to have a large breed dog that is bred to have protective qualities. German Shepherds are NOT supposed to be a Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever in a "German Shepherd suit". German Shepherds are wonderful family dogs.
Children and puppy must each be taught how to behave properly together with mutual respect and kindness, so adult supervision is important while all are learning what is, and what is not correct social behaviour towards each other?
Breeds that are known for their loyalty and courage are stronger willed than the passive hunting dog breeds.
You must be prepared to be the Leader of the Pack, and to Obedience train your German Shepherd at a young age otherwise, the DOG will become the leader, and that is bad for everyone, including the dog.
This is not to say German Shepherds are hard to train. The opposite is true. They are very trainable, but it is necessary to train them.
I do not refer to the popular bribery (treat training) that has become so popular and 'politically correct'. That "sit and I'll give you a cookie, stay and I'll give you a cookie" is NOT true training. The dog is responsive only as long as it wants the cookie more than it wants to do something else.
A cookie trained dog is worse than an untrained dog, as the owner has the MISTAKEN belief the dog IS trained. Then, the first time the dog is in a situation where it has a strong distraction or strong urge to do something you don't want it to do, it won't care about the cookie (assuming you even have one with you at all times) and the dog will not behave as you wanted or expected.
With Cookie training, people have a tendency to have the dog in situations that require them to have good control because they THINK they DO have control. Then the dog does whatever it wants, as there is no respect for consequences for misbehaviour. This is true for all breeds, not just German Shepherds.
People that have weak or very passive personalities should not get a dog from any breed that has protective qualities.
People with these traits will not have the internal determination to be the leader. You do not need to be a 'drill sergeant' type, but you must have the willingness to be the one in control.
People that are uncomfortable around large dogs, or who have household members that are afraid of large dogs should not get a German Shepherd, or any dog for that matter.
The logic of,
"I'm afraid of dogs, so other people will also be afraid of my dog, and that will make me feel protected,"
is NOT good logic, and it is setting the stage for disaster.
When looking for a Breeder, search for one with experience and success in producing dogs with the traits you want your new dog to have.
Everyone has a slightly different opinion of what is 'good', so first, decide what you really want. Do you want an active, "busy" type of dog? Do you want a more "laid back" mellow type of dog? Do you want a dog with stronger protective abilities? Do you want a I'm happy-to-be-the-follower type of personality? Do you want the "instigator" leader-of-the-pack personality instead? Or do you want the middle of the pack dog? Do you want a very loving strongly bonded personality dog, or do you prefer the independent type? How important is the colour to you? What size do you prefer?
Once you have a clear idea of what YOU want your dog to be like, and have decided you are suited to be the owner of a German Shepherd, you are in a better position to make a realistic decision and to ask each breeder questions about their dogs. This will help you make your choice of which breeder you wish to purchase a dog from. Make yourself a little checklist. Write down the name and contact information of the breeder, and their answers to your questions.
There is a misconception that if a breeder has several litters each year that this somehow makes them a 'bad breeder'. The number of litters a breeder produces has nothing to do with the quality of their dogs.
The quality of their dogs is dependent on the quality of their breeding stock, and how well the puppies are taken care of.
There are many breeders that produce only a few litters a year that have poor quality dogs, and do not have the knowledge to properly care for the puppies or to answer your questions as your puppy grows and develops.
In general, puppies should be clean, happy, friendly, well fed, have begun their vaccination series, been wormed, and have a confident attitude.
No responsible breeder will release a puppy into its new home until it is AT LEAST 8 weeks of age. If possible, go to visit the kennel so you can meet the puppies, and if possible, the parents before you buy.
Hopefully, you will also be able to meet a few other adults owned by the breeder so you can get a better overall impression of how this breeder's puppies develop and mature.
If it is not possible to go to the kennel (if the puppy must be shipped to you over a long distance) be sure to have all your questions answered to your satisfaction before you send money!
What about "PUPPY TESTING"? There are many 'puppy aptitude' tests that have become popular. These tests are fine, but your BEST gage is not how a puppy performs on one given day, it is better to select based on observation of the puppy over weeks instead.
The person who can best do this is the breeder IF he/she is experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of raising and training German Shepherds in all these areas. If you are looking for a companion dog, then temperament and willingness to please become the most important factors in your decision.
When you decide to get a puppy, please remember this is a living, feeling creature. They need constant care, love, attention, TRAINING, and supervision. You are taking on a new member to your family. You need to be prepared to keep this dog for its entire life. This means when you must move to another area, you don't get rid of the dog...you find a place to live where you CAN have your dog. If you decide to have a child, you don't get rid of the dog or banish it to living in the backyard.
This dog is to become a part of your family.
Your future decisions must consider the fact that you have this dog in your family, just as your decisions should consider your spouse and children as well.
Puppies grow up into big dogs. They go through the 'puppy monster' stage (like a child in the Terrible Two's).
Puppies DO NOT 'outgrow' bad behaviours.
They must be TAUGHT what are acceptable and NON-acceptable behaviours, just as children must also be taught how to behave.
Having a wonderful dog as part of your family can enrich your life, but give serious thought BEFORE you buy to be sure you have the time, space and COMMITMENT to take care of this dog until it dies of old age.
They say you can't buy
but you can buy a
German Shepherd Dog
and that's pretty much
the same thing
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Be kind to your dog.
He is only a few
years of your life.
But you are all of his