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Puppy walker for Police German Shepherd

(37 Posts)
KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 16:18:32

We've been asked if we would be puppy walkers to a German Shepherd puppy. The puppy would come to us in Jan at 8 weeks old.

My son is obsessed with GS. The role requires us to feed, socialise, walk and play with the puppy for around 12 months. It will be assessed by the police along the way and, fingers crossed, be matched to a new handler (and forever owner) aged 12-18 months.

The police provide everything....crate, food, vets bills etc. The puppy will also attend training school once a week, where he and I will learn new skills. I am assigned a mentor who will visit us often and check up on puppy.
If we go away on holiday, puppy will go into the police kennels to be cared for.

I'm currently working from home for the next 18 months. Both my teenagers would love to do this...I am a little more cautious. Anyone with any experience of this, or could people offer their thoughts?

Whitney168 Fri 27-Oct-17 16:25:47

The obvious hard bit to this is giving the puppy up when he goes on for training, but otherwise a rewarding job. I would imagine if the puppy failed its training, you might be offered the chance to take them later, although this would depend on why (presumably if they were too sharp, they would not do so).

What is your experience level? I wouldn't discount it because of this, but I would assume that dogs selected for police dog training must be quite high drive dogs ... perhaps talk to them about whether they feel this might be an issue if you don't have a decent level of experience?

BiteyShark Fri 27-Oct-17 16:28:08

When you say you work from home is that going to continue whilst you look after the puppy? I work full time with a mix of home and office. I spent 1 month at home initially to settle the puppy in and I was so pleased I wasn't working because trying to look after a puppy and toilet train him was very hard.

After the first month I found I was having to work longer to make up the time I had spent outside with him. Fortunately I could catch up at night when he was sleeping but does your work allow that flexibility?

At 1 year my dog is lovely and I am really enjoying being with him but the puppy months and the teenage period was very hard and draining (have a look at the puppy survival threads on here to get and idea of how draining it can be). I would be horrified to give him up just when he is maturing into a lovely dog. Would you be ok with looking and caring for a dog that becomes your life then letting him go?

SparklingRaspberry Fri 27-Oct-17 17:56:51

It depends. I personally couldn't do this ONLY because I would be too upset to see the dog leave.

Have you owned a GSD before? If not be careful especially as you'll be raising a puppy that's been bred from a working line. Police usually breed from other working/retired police dogs.

I have a gsd who is almost 1. Her parents were both police dogs. She was cute, fluffy, adorable but very hard work due to her nature however I've had a gsd before so was aware and prepared for what it involved.

GSD's mature very quickly and always, especially from a working line, need a job to do. If you want a dog who will be happy with 1 walk a day and laze around the house with you then no don't do it.

They're highly intelligent breeds and like to be kept busy. you say you work from Home - if you need to be alone and concentrate on your work then a gsd (any) puppy is not for you.

GSD's tend to have the reputation of being aggressive and unnaproachable which is NOT true. I spent my days socialising, playing, exercising, training my puppy (obviously down time as well) and in return she loves all people and all dogs (just not cats).

My dog adores me over everyone as this is also a gsd trait. They don't call them velcro dogs for no reason grin

Overall, if you know what to expect from a working line gsd and are prepared to put in the hard work then go for it. They're an amazing breed. But very hard work. And vocal wink

KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 17:57:41

This is really useful. Thank you. I have zero experience in caring for dogs. None whatsoever! We have been offered this puppy as my son has been spending time at the kennels recently.

I'm currently at home writing a PhD. I would be devastated if I couldn't carry on with that in a timely way.

The police have said that when I'm working the puppy must go in its crate. That the pup must only be out of the crate when it is being walked, fed or played with. At three months, they will come and install a kennel for it, and then pup will live outside.

I'm hoping that the giving up part won't be too hard, as we are fully aware that this dog eventually has a job to do. But I do hear your point that we would then be missing out on the faithful companion, after going through the puppy years.

This is exactly what I need to hear. Thank you.

KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 18:00:08

Sparkling that's really helpful. Yes, the expectant mum and dad are both current police dogs. Perhaps this would be too much work for me at this time...we just absolutely love German Shepherds though and it seemed like a good way to become acquainted with one.

KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 18:01:13

I would certainly be able to do at least four walks a day. Long Ines. We live in the countryside and are out and about all the time.

Minidoghugs Fri 27-Oct-17 18:07:21

It sounds like your son is really into dogs if he has been spending time at the kennels. Is he interested in a career with dogs? This might be a great experience for him. Do you think he will keep up his interest and do most of the dog care when he is home?

KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 18:10:10

Mini, yes. He wants to be a vet but had also been considering being a police dog handler. He's still only 13 though 😃

I have no doubt that he will help with the puppy. The downside is that the bits that DS wants (such as the puppy sleeping on his bed) are the bits that are not allowed.

LoverOfCake Fri 27-Oct-17 18:14:26

Honestly? For a police dog no I wouldn't.

Unlike e.g. Guide dogs who are bred to be social, and although a high amount of training goes into a guide dog there is also a huge amount of social interaction, getting pups used to going into various areas etc involved, with a police dog there is a far more hands-off approach.

Also, GSD's are beautiful dogs but they also are very high drive dogs and working GSD's as police dogs are bred for their aggression. As a result, afaik if the dog is withdrawn from the police service they are generally not rehomed but are destroyed due to their aggression. The exception being dogs which retire while in service and are often taken on by their existing handlers.

LoverOfCake Fri 27-Oct-17 18:16:42

Also, GSD's are very much one person dogs, so if you were to be the puppywalker to this dog then you and you alone would be responsible for its care, welfare etc, as again the dogs are very much bred to be with one handler and to form that close bond with the handler over everyone else.

CornflakeHomunculus Fri 27-Oct-17 18:23:43

If you've no dog experience then starting with a working line GSD puppy, even with a lot of support, is jumping in at the deep end and that's putting it mildly!

Were you considering getting a dog anyway before this was suggested?

LoverOfCake Fri 27-Oct-17 18:27:02

I found this from Thames valley police about being a police dog puppy socialiser. Having experience with training dogs is an essential criteria here. Also, while you would be socialising the dog in certain aspects e.g. Taking it to railway stations, shops, other venue's etc it very much wouldn't be a family dog on any level.

Interestingly there is nothing anywhere on google about rehoming withdrawn police dogs which I think backs up my thought (which I'm sure I saw on a police dog programme some years ago) that withdrawn dogs cannot be rehomed and thus have to be destroyed.

thamesvalleypolice.tal.net/vx/mobile-0/appcentre-External/brand-0/candidate/so/pm/6/pl/1/opp/1395-Volunteer-Dog-Section-Support-Puppy-Socialiser/en-GB

BiteyShark Fri 27-Oct-17 18:27:38

The police have said that when I'm working the puppy must go in its crate. That the pup must only be out of the crate when it is being walked, fed or played with. At three months, they will come and install a kennel for it, and then pup will live outside.

Weeks 8-12 I got nothing done in the house. If I hadn't had taken time off work I think I would have cracked under the pressure. Whilst you get some people say their puppy was easy the chances are yours won't be. Toilet training can be relentless, seems easy on paper but like I said take a look at the puppy survival threads. What would be the implications on your PhD? You son may show enthusiasm now but again he has his school and volunteering to do.

Whilst some days if I didn't play or socialise the puppy as much as I would have liked due to work then it wasn't a big deal. Are you expected to fit in certain things every day as part of their training? Again if so do you have time to do that because you will be under pressure to do that whereas I could do what I wanted at my own pace.

I really don't want to put you off getting a puppy because whilst mine was hard work and a real pain in the arse at times I can't imagine life without him. However, taking on one specifically to do the early training before he becomes a police dog would be very different.

Minidoghugs Fri 27-Oct-17 18:28:21

My dd is 13 and loves dogs, even though she's sensible I think she'd be upset when the dog had to leave. If you think a dog might work out for your family how about adopting one from a rescue centre.

LoverOfCake Fri 27-Oct-17 18:33:19

TBH looking at that Thames valley link the process of socialising the dog to be a police dog sounds like a fascinating and incredibly rewarding one for the right person with the right experience.

But it also sounds incredibly time consuming and Emotionally very draining especially given that you give the dog back after a year and then what? Start all over again?

FWIW I don't think that there's a comparison between being a puppywalker for a high drive police dog and taking on a rescue. But equally puppywalking a working dog is an incredibly tough commitment especially when you have considerations such as that the dog is never in a social situation which isn't engineered and will be kept outside in a kennel from the age of three months.

insertimaginativeusername Fri 27-Oct-17 18:38:30

Loverofcake if it puts your mind at rest I've never known a withdrawn dog be PTS. I've seen GS's and mallys be withdrawn for lacking the necessary aggression, they will often go back to the breeders and sometimes staff take them on.

The socialisation of a police puppy is a lovely job if you can do it.

LoverOfCake Fri 27-Oct-17 18:39:55

minidoghugs I imagine that it would probably be a lot easier for the kids giving a dog up which, although it has been a part of their family, has not been a family dog, iyswim as it's been bred to be a working dog and lives outside so doesn't participate in family life in the same way that an assistance dog or foster dog does.

Because although it's being socialised to a degree there is much more of a detachment between the dog and the family members when socialisation of any kind only happens on a schedule.

Probably not unlike children who grow up on farms with working sheep dogs. They're loved but they're very much working dogs and not pets on any level.

TopBitchoftheWitches Fri 27-Oct-17 18:43:15

I tried this. A beautiful male gsd came to live with us and our current gsd. She was ok with him, obviously told him off occasionally, what didn’t work for us was the puppy’s attack drive. Even at 8 weeks -9 weeks old he was full on. Attacking/launching/biting legs constantly of adults. I’ve had puppies before so I knew this wasn’t normal behaviour.

He went to another puppy handler and is now a proper Police Dog.

KosmoKramer Fri 27-Oct-17 18:52:41

Thank you all of you. You are raising issues that I would not have considered and i am really grateful. I'm going to sit down with both sons on Sunday and go through each post with them, and each issue you have raised.

I had thought this would be a good way to see if we could be a dog family, and perhaps get a rescue dog following the GS. But I am listening to what you're saying here and understanding that the experience will not be 'a normal family dog one'.

Very grateful.

insertimaginativeusername Fri 27-Oct-17 19:02:32

Kosmo not a normal family dog no, but very rewarding. Also you can take them places you can't take a family pet so different experience. Might be good to talk it through with the handlers to find out more about what they expect of you, and things like how to handle the dog?

Minidoghugs Fri 27-Oct-17 19:13:24

I must say I'm seeing good and bad points it's hard to say what I'd do in your position OP. I still think it would be a great opportunity for your DS if he is really keen on animals and you are pretty sure he would get involved. He could learn a lot.
But it does mean a lot of work for the OP which she would have to fit around doing a PhD and that won't be easy. I agree he won't be seen as a normal family pet so it may be easier to part with him, but you will all probably feel a bit sad to see him go.

SparklingRaspberry Fri 27-Oct-17 21:26:58

To be totally honest after reading your other replies I really don't think you should go ahead with this. Mainly because you aren't already an experienced dog owner

Taking on any puppy is huge responsibility and many people say newborn babies are easier than puppies. I can't answer that as I have no kids! But to go from no dog experience to taking on a gsd puppy from a working line is madness. That's nothing against you, but any puppy is bloody hard work, and trust me when I say this, despite adoring the breed and having one myself, I would never recommend GSD's for first time dog owners

As I said in my last reply my pup is from two police dogs (they were also born from police dogs and so were they etc..) and as a PP has already said - you can tell by their behaviour/nature.
The owner of my pup's father showed us videos of the dog in action. My pup was doing the exact same thing at home at just 10 weeks old!!! Not because she was 'naughty' but because it was natural for her to do so, it's bred into them. There's a reason they call them land sharks grin

The other thing as well with GSD's they find their one person and love them to death. To then separate and keep them outside, imo, is not fair. Even as a police dog.

You sound like you'd make great owners though and your son sounds lovely. Perhaps look into taking on a less 'full on' breed? A dog which you're not gunna have to say goodbye to in a years time?

bluetongue Fri 27-Oct-17 21:33:03

It sounds a bit too full on for someone with one dog experience.

There are other ways to try out dog ownership. I fostered an ex racing greyhound. It was an adult dog although there was still some house training involved as he had never lived in a house before. I just did lots of walks and socialising with him and had to do regular reports back to the rescue group. This is in Australia but I'm sure there would be something similar in the UK. I had the option to keep him but he ended up being rehomed to a lovely retired lady.

ChocolateRaisin Fri 27-Oct-17 23:16:54

I have a 17 month old working line gsd and agree with the above, they are a LOT of work and really aren’t for the faint hearted or first time dog owner. I couldn’t think of anything worse than getting through puppy hood, building a bond and then having to give the dog back. I also couldn’t keep a dog outside and away from it’s family. My gsd sleeps on the floor by my side of the bed and would hate to be separated from me- I would hate it just as much!

You definitely sound like you could give a lovely home to a dog, just maybe not such a full on dog for your first time.

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