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GSD- seriously considering getting a pup- are we right?

(19 Posts)
hartic Mon 27-Jul-15 20:13:42

Hello all smile

Tomorrow we see a female German Shepherd pup, currently 5 weeks old.
It will be a first family pet, but my dh has extensive experience with dogs, in particular raising and training German Shepherd's.

I have researched tons and we have discussed it for well over a yr now.

Our children are school age, our house is a good size and suited for a large dog, including space indoor and out, wooden flooring inside etc.

We have the right kind of lifestyle for a dog I think?

My DH works from home, he goes to see clients about 3 times a yr, so he is home all the time. I work part time, I am home by 1pm each day. Therefore, the dog will almost always have company.

My DH, goes on walks and runs, most day, to help him think/ plan his work.
On weekends we visit country parks, walks across fields, etc, all on the doorstep here. We don't go on holiday, much at all, neither do we take indoor day trips (only days out in the country).

We have the money for insurance, vaccinations, boosters, worming, flea treatment, etc.

The reason for a GS is firstly, because my DH loves them and knows them and secondly, for me. I have PTSD, one of the things that helps me most, is getting out, but I cannot go out alone during bad times, hyper vigilance means that I end up panicking. I am better if I have a child to focus on, or friend or husband with me. I want to get out, but sometimes just can't. I think having a reason to, would help.. and having a large dog with me, would make me feel safer.

As part of the PTSD, I worry about security, particularly when the DH is away camping.. I know I am safe, but can never relax enough to sleep.

Knowing a large, well trained dog, is close by, I think this could help a lot?

My therapist, recommended a dog for PTSD management a while ago and is fully supportive in this decision.

Are we right? Is this a good decision? Or are there other things we should consider?

Kleptronic Mon 27-Jul-15 20:24:19

I think it's a great idea, with one proviso.

When the pup is growing up, he'll need to have confidence shining from you, or he may become overly anxious and defensive of you.

GSDs are empathic. If you're nervous, anxious and hyper-vigilant when in sole charge of the pup, there's a likelihood the pup will be too.

He'll guard you cone what may if the need arises, but will be best placed for happiness if he grows up secure and confident with you as chief shepherd.

That's the only worry I'd have, knowing GSDs. I don't mean to pour water on it, and I'm sorry you have struggled and suffered.

EasyToEatTiger Mon 27-Jul-15 20:26:31

I think you could provide a really good home for a GSD. I think, under the circs that you could do well to contact the charities about assistant dogs, and maybe the police (how brainwashed am I?) about working dogs. I think if you were involved with the training of the pup/dog, your confidence and symptoms may improve. It may be worth contacting one of the dog magazines like Dogs Today or Your Dog because they will have people who can help and be much more specific. I have found them really kind and helpful.
Dogs are fantastic, and can do so much for us and are so willing. The doggy mags have masses of contacts.

lougle Mon 27-Jul-15 20:27:30

Would you consider a rescue GSD? There are so many and by choosing a rescue you can pick a dog that has the temperament you need.

hartic Mon 27-Jul-15 20:34:21

Thank you so much for your replies.

I will definitely contact one of the dog magazines.

I would consider a rescue, but, I am concerned about training, loyalty etc. I also have two children, i'd be fearful having a rescue dog around fairly young children.

hartic Mon 27-Jul-15 20:46:12

Not pouring water on it at all, it completely makes sense. I am well, mostly, particularly this time of yr, so would hope, I wouldn't be displaying symptoms to the pup in training. It's something to consider though, thank you.

lougle Mon 27-Jul-15 20:57:06

Well of course you shouldn't do anything that makes you uncomfortable, but my rescue GSDX has honestly been the most wonderful addition to our family. Gentle, calm, loyal and faithful. I have three girls (6, 7 and 9).

MostAmused Mon 27-Jul-15 22:53:12

I have a GSDX and he's absolutely lovely, had him from 8 weeks old and he's been very easy to train and we have a great bond.

One thing that I think is important is socialisation. GSD can be a bit nervy, others are bomb proof but part of that temperment stems from them having a variety of positive experiences when very young. Carry the pup around busy city centres, countryside, other dogs etc before she's been vaccinated and ease her into more experiences when she's vaccinated.

Having a dogs has been excellent for getting me out of the house. I like having a purpose to walking. And it's fun watching him explore the world too smile

Your situation sounds ideal though I would try and work on leaving the pup alone for short periods in case it ever needs to happen and then she'll be ok with it.

Jaxinthebox Tue 28-Jul-15 11:43:16

I have had GSD for 20+ years. Please, if you get a puppy know that they cant go for long walks for a very long time. Or runs in the park.

Contact your local GSD rescue, they often have pups, or young dogs and all dogs are assessed - so you wont be getting a totally unknown dog at all.

I know that with young children it is harder but the right dog could be waiting for you.

Socialisation is very important - for ALL dog breeds. Not just in the first few weeks, but continually throughout its life.

I adore our dogs, but they are hard work, a puppy is like a newborn, its just that the phase between newborn to toddler is a couple of months and then teenage tantrums start. grin

A more loyal, loving dog - Ive yet to find one.

StarsInTheNightSky Tue 28-Jul-15 14:08:58

Yes, I think it would help your PTSD. I have had PTSD myself (from childhood and adult sexual abuse/attacks) and having three extremely fierce giant breed dogs (two caucasian ovcharkas and one fila brasiliero) has helped me very much. We love in South America and own a ranch, so protection is very important, but I had similar symptoms to you which vanished now that I have my dogs.

It is impossible to describe the joy and relief at feeling safe again for the first time in as long as I can remember that I got when we rescued ddog1. Hope you're ok flowers

woollybean Tue 28-Jul-15 15:15:47

Hi, we have had GSD's and GSDX's for years now and they are the most wonderful family dogs (2 of them came from rescues and have been wonderful and one was even a police dog reject and he has been wonderful around my young son). GSD's are fabulous family dogs but IMO need to be shown that they are not the boss, when training ours we don't let them on the furniture or upstairs (once trained we so let things slide a little blush).
Only down sides can be the incessant hair loss and having a dog stuck to your leg like velcro even when you go to the loo!
It's true that you'll feel super safe at night in a house guarded by a GSD!

moosemama Wed 29-Jul-15 13:32:44

Please, if you get a puppy know that they cant go for long walks for a very long time. Or runs in the park.

This ^^, plus the points about early and substantial socialisation and the awareness of their hypervigilance to mood/anxiety, which is why they make such good guard/protection dogs.

If you are aware of all that and wiling to take it on board and work with it I would say go for it, providing you've gone for a really good breeder, all the necessary/available health tests (and there are lots for GSDs) have been done and you meet the parents and ensure that they are not highly-strung/nervous in type.

My first dog was a rescue GSD bitch. We found her when I had agoraphobia and couldn't leave the house, other than to and from house and car, at all. She changed my life, made me feel safe and needing to take her for walks helped me overcome my agoraphobia. She was my best friend (sorry dh grin) definitely my heart dog and I still miss her 20 years after she died.

The only thing that's stopping us getting another GSD is the health/temperament issues that have arisen from poor breeding and the fact that we would ideally like another rescue and want to wait until all three dcs are older before taking on an adult rescue.

SistersofPercy Wed 29-Jul-15 15:12:03

I had a GSD as a child, a long haired, gorgeous ball of fur. He was my best friend and followed me everywhere.
True what has been said about them picking up anxiety. He knew if we were fearful of anyone when out.

Grooming him was challenging. Dad and I used to take him to nearby fields every night and brush him there, he was only beaten by the man who used to take his old English sheepdog to the same spot to groom.

I'd love another, but little dogs are the way forward for our family now.

JohnCusacksWife Thu 30-Jul-15 23:13:28

I would worry slightly about a GSD with a nervous owner. The GSDs I've known have tended towards the nervy and seemed to pick up on their owners vibes. But perhaps my experience isn't the norm?

dotdotdotmustdash Thu 30-Jul-15 23:37:36

I currently have and have had rescue collies in the past, but a few years ago I adopted an 11.5yr old GSD girl. She was only with us for 14months before she was put to sleep with CDRM (an issue with GSDs). She was fabulous, she was completely calm around people and knew how to live in a house.

I found it strange walking her at first, I was used to the silent, but brisk walk of a collie but GSDs have a very long, loping stride, so much so that I had to double check that she wasn't limping. I always felt very safe when I walked with her, people don't tend to approach you with a GSD, but be very careful that you get a well-socialised dog as mine wasn't good with other dogs. She seemed to regard all other dogs as dangerous wolves that had to be chased away. Despite her age she could still just about yank your arms out of their sockets if she wanted to shout at a dog!

Greyhorses Fri 31-Jul-15 06:46:00

I have had a few GSD and currently own two.
To be honest I would just go for it smile trained correctly they are fabulous dogs.

I would make sure socialisation is done well and at an early age, however I have found the breed is prone to nervous/reactive behaviours and one of mine would protect me even if I don't want her too so be prepared to deal with those sort of issues if they arise. It suits me as I am antisocial and quite like walking without being disturbes by lots of small yappy things however I do have to be careful there are no suprises, mine do the typical stand in front of me and bark until I tell them no which ive seen many shepherds get into the habit of, ive tried to train this out of them but for one of them in particular it seems to be instinct. If it's a child she is very happy to see it but she would react differently to anyone suspicious. I have found that all of my shepherds have been one family dogs and tent to egnore everyone else which is difficult for people with more outgoing breeds to get their heads around (ie trying to stroke my dogs and wondering why they just wander off and ignore the person)
They are also prone to lots of health problems so I would insure. Mine are rescue but i have been to the vets many many times! With a puppy its a little easier to make sure they are of good 'quality' however I did buy one of mine from a health tested breeder and he still got lots of issues not tested for so its never a guarantee.

Oh and invest in a good vaccum because the amount of hair they shed is unbelievable!

hartic Fri 31-Jul-15 16:20:40

Thank you all for the input.

I'm not a nervous person, I am confident in most situations, I work in management and deal with that fine. It is anxiety related to being alone around men I don't know, or when triggered I can find myself hyper vigilant. This doesn't happen with my husband because I trust his reactions to danger. If he's ok, I am ok.

I can trust the dog to notice danger before me. I can imagine my trauma responses around her will be similar to when around my husband.

She will be trained well and is already being socialised by the breeder. We picked her last week and on two weeks she will be here! We will socialise her and attend training classes.

Excited! Thanks again all.

moosemama Fri 31-Jul-15 18:25:50

How exciting, you lucky thing!

Make sure you come back and show us some pictures. GSD pups are just so unbelievably gorgeous. grin

Booboostwo Fri 31-Jul-15 19:15:27

Congratulations! GSDs are the best breed ever. I have always trained mine using positive methods, no dominance rubbish whatsoever, and had lovely, well-behaved, adorable dogs. May I suggest you pop the puppy in a rucksack, carrying her on your front and that way you can take her out and socialise her without putting strain on her joints. I am sure you have looked into this but just in case...the breeder should show you paperwork on hip scoring for both parents, elbow scoring, clear tee history and personally I would want to see genetic testing for degenerative myelopathy having lost a dog to this horrible disease.

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