Are German Shepherds good with kids, babies, children, families and household pets like other dogs and cats?
What considerations should you make if you have plans to bring a GSD (German Shepherd Dog) into your family?
In an attempt to answer the above questions for you, in this guide we discuss:
- the German Shepherd temperament,
- 5 tips for raising a good family German Shepherd,
- specific considerations for a scenario where you introduce a GSD to children/kids/babies, a family or other pets, such as dogs and cats.
Ultimately the choice to bring a pet into your family is your judgement.
German Shepherd Temperament – Are German Shepherds Nice and Safe?
The Ultimate Guide To German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies at The Daily Shep contains a good summary of the German Shepherd’s temperament and characteristics as a dog breed.
You should know that the GSD is the second most popular domestic dog breed among dog owners in the US.
You should also know that German Shepherds are were bred for their ‘obedient fidelity to their master’ and other family members.
They tend to be very loving and protective towards the people they spend the most time with, especially kids, babies and young children who they are quick to befriend.
They are naturally wary around unfamiliar humans and animals.
It is important to note that whilst the above is the natural tendency of the GSD breed, there are several factors that an owner has a direct influence on that play a part in ensuring their dog develops and maintains a good temperament, particularly in a family environment.
Responsible breeding is also a big factor that can determine the temperament of your dog. Make sure you find a good breeder, or adopt a sociable and loving dog – not a dog with an unstable attitude or temperament.
Top 4 Tips For Bringing A German Shepherd Into Your Family – Information For Parents and Kids
The following factors are your responsibility, and are in your control as a German Shepherd owner to determine what sort of German Shepherd you have in, or bring into your family:
1) Early Socialisation As A Puppy
Socialise your GSD early (from 8 weeks old) and often as a puppy. Ring up your local dog association or German Shepherd club and find the nearest puppy school to you.
Socialising your GSD is important for two reasons –
- It teaches you GSD from a young age that most other humans and animals are a positive experience for them to enjoy
- You can teach your GSD while they are not fully developed what are acceptable behaviors around other humans and animals e.g. biting/nipping, jumping and chewing are bad.
When you socialise your GSD with other dogs in non-controlled environments like walking your GSD, or taking it to the dog park, always ask the other owner and approach the other animal slowly to determine if it has any aggressive tendencies.
Read more about what causes German Shepherd Aggression, Biting and Attacking at TheDailyShep.com
2) Early and Consistent Obedience and Training
A German Shepherd who is going to spend time around kids, families and other pets needs a solid foundation of obedience and training so it knows how to behave, and how to communicate with you as their owner.
It’s a good idea to teach basic voice commands like ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’, ‘Lay Down’, ‘Stop’ and ‘Come’.
Read more about How To Train A German Shepherd at The Daily Shep for tips and advice.
3) Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
German Shepherds are a highly athletic and intelligent breed of dog. If they don’t get daily exercise and the opportunity to exercise their minds, it can lead to frustration and naughty behavior from excess energy – chewing, jumping etc.
Take them outside for at least half hour to an hour a day, and ensure they can keep their minds occupied throughout the day. What do German Shepherds like to play with you might ask?
Dog Toys (balls, chew toys, ropes, anything which gives their mouths and brains a work out!), bones (important for cleaning teeth) and socialisation (playing with you) if possible.
Read more about the Top 20 Indoor and Outdoor Exercises For German Shepherds at TheDailyShep.com
4) Establish Yourself As A Firm But Calm Leader
The best dog owners are able to firmly establish rules, boundaries and limitations for their German Shepherds both in training and around the household in terms of behavior.
But, they do it in a positive, patient, calm and caring way – never negative or forceful (shouting, showing frustration, hitting etc.). This earns their dog’s respect, attention and loyalty.
German Shepherds prior to domestication were pack animals, which means they seeked the dominant leader role to protect the pack’s welfare.
You GSD will still seek to protect you and your family members, but you have to show them you are the leader by being consistent with your discipline and love.
A GSD who respects its owner will rarely dissapoint them with their expectations or disobey commands.
Are German Shepherds Good With Kids, Babies and Young Children?
What you must consider about a German Shepherd around babies, kids and small children is that they are a large breed of dog.
Sometimes they don’t understand their own strength and can be a little clumsy when playing or greeting you, especially as puppies or adolecents/young dogs.
A well trained GSD that respects respected owner would never intentionally hurt a member of the family, but a little extra training and care may have to be put into making sure your GSD understands the boundaries of play when dealing with small humans.
Teaching your German Shepherd key voice commands listed above and in general not to jump will be helpful. Read more about training for German Shepherd Jumping at The Daily Shep.
If you have a GSD and are thinking about bringing a baby into the family, you should start training your GSD for the arrival of a baby before it happens.
Examiner.com suggests you can train your GSD for the arrival of a baby by wrapping up a baby doll in a blanket and doing the following:
- Use the doll and stroller while walking your GSD and teach them how to act around the stroller.
- Use the doll in the car in the car seat and your GSD to help train how to act in the vehicle.
- Use the doll to teach your GSD “no barking” during sleep time.
- Use the doll for your GSD to teach them not to go into the baby’s room.
- Use the doll for feeding time, and just baby and parent time.
- Once your GSD is comfortable with the doll, leave the doll on the lounge with your GSD to see how it acts
If your GSD is used to socialising with all types of people from a young age, including young children, it shouldn’t have any issues with getting comfortable with a baby.
If you intend of driving with your baby or newborn in the car in a baby car seat, read more about German Shepherd In Car Training and Tips at The Daily Shep so you can ensure everyone keeps safe.
Are German Shepherds Good Family Dogs?
German Shepherds are good with children and good with other animals in most instances, but in terms of being a family dog, consider your lifestyle and the requirements of a GSD.
A GSD makes a great family dog because they are loving and loyal around those they spend time with the most. They will also protect your house against intruders and threats!
But, they require daily exercise, mental stimulation, socialisation and of course the standard cost of owning a dog (vet fees, food, training, equipment, registration etc.). Consider the following questions and whether you can answer ‘Yes’ to them:
- Can you spare an hour to half hour daily?
- Can you ensure you provide your GSD with enough things to do while you are at work?
- Are you able to ensure your GSD gets to spend time socialising with humans daily?
- German Shepherds shed…alot. Are you OK with the extra hair around the house?
- Can you afford a few thousand dollars every year for the health and care of your GSD, plus any unexpected fees like operations of expert advice?
GSD puppies may seem cute and cool, but remember a dog is a daily and lifelong investment/responsibility of your time and money. You’ll be repaid with love of course!
Are German Shepherds Good With Other Dogs and Family Pets?
Yes, as long as you teach them to co-exist with other animals as a puppy. Socialisation helps with this.
If you bring another dog or animals into the family after your get your GSD, you may have to consider isolating them from each other at first if there is some unfamiliarity and naturally territorial behavior.
A retractable indoor pet gate can isolate smaller animals, but for a German Shepherd who can jump and scale even 6-8 foot walls, a dog crate may be a better idea for isolation, as long as it is not used to punish your GSD.
Read more about the Best Dog Crates For German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies at The Daily Shep
You can then gradually start introducing them to each other (on a leash to begin with) until they are able to behave in a positive way consistently under your supervision.
This may take alot of patience and training, so it’s always a good idea to take your current GSD to meet any potential animal house mates beforehand to see what you’re dealing with.
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