Life as I knew it is over. Five days ago I acquired a 13 week old purebred German shepherd puppy and let me just say, I did not have a clue about what I was getting myself in to. I did not grow up with dogs, I have never had a dog and I have spent limited amounts of time in their company. So what was I thinking?
I’ve been asking myself the same question and during our sixth walk of the day yesterday I was having a particularly dark moment and thinking, “how much would someone have to offer for me to sell her?” I contemplated this all the way home, but no one stopped to make an offer.
I have known a handful of shepherds over the years and every single one of them has a beautiful, rock solid, calm temperament. Those specific dogs are the reason I went down this road. I thought the companionship would be nice and their ability to act as guard dogs was not lost on me.
Being a professional shopper, I did my research. Everything I learned about the breed – especially the purebreds – said they are loyal dogs, highly intelligent and easily trainable. I thought that sounded ideal for me. Having no experience training dogs, a breed that responds well to training makes perfect sense. Because the one thing I will not survive is a disobedient dog. It all sounded EASY.
I was also told shepherds are working dogs who need to have an outlet for their energy and like to have tasks to complete. Again, perfect for me as I like to run and hike and spend some time outside.
So I tracked down the breeder a friend used when adopting his wonderful German Shepherd. They’re located near Seattle so I made the trip, was impressed by the facility and met a beautiful wee thing who would become my Lola.
She was 12 weeks old and had a whole month of training under her thickening coat. So she’s already house trained? Jackpot, I’d found my dog. This was going to be a snap! Lola was going to arrive with her papers in hand, ready to carry out my orders. She would love me, obey me and worship my every move. The breeder said she was training at a very advanced level – faster than most other puppies.
I was buying a Ferrari that could drive itself. She was set to arrive on Wednesday and I was sure by Friday she’d be driving me to the office.
Oh how silly I feel now. In our first 24 hours together Lola must have had five accidents in the house, one of which was a big pile as opposed to a puddle. Lola is anything but house trained. And of course everyone is now saying that’s normal for a new puppy in a new home. Where were those words before I made this decision?
Lola jumps, she barks, she cries, she is interested in absolutely everything and everyone who comes across her path. She’s obsessed with a leaf! No, now it’s a bird! Now it’s the infant in the stroller! She can’t make up her mind about anything!
I have now learned that “highly intelligent” means they will outsmart you and find mischief every chance they get. “Easily trainable” means you have to spend time doing it. “Loyal” means you have to do a lot of work and then one day they’ll love you. I didn’t buy a Ferrari, I bought the parts to a Ferrari.
People keep asking me, “Are you getting any sleep at night?” A friend just dropped by and said “A German shepherd?? Are you insane???” It wasn’t like this was a rash decision. I’ve been talking about it for years. Why did no one ever make those comments before?
Join the conversation
On 10 17, 2011 at 10:28:10 PM, Bruce M. said:
Hi Anna; I have a friend whose family raised exclusively champion German Sheperd dogs. Many of these dogs went on to police work, movie work and just generally were great dogs. They always recommended the book The Koehler Method of Guard Dog Training. It is an older book and, despite the title, has considerable information in training the average dog and training it well. Worth your consideration…
On 10 18, 2011 at 10:44:10 AM, Sean G. said:
Hang in there! Remember that consistency and routine is the key to a well behaved dog. Puppies do mellow out as they move through adolescence and adulthood. My dog, a German Shepherd/Husky mix has calmed down considerably. If she pulls while on walks, a correctly administered gentle leader (http://tinyurl.com/9zz75v) did the trick for us. Only needed it for a year or so and now she’s the perfect walker (aside from her obsession with squirrels). My partner and I also read The Art of Raising a Puppy and it was very informative and useful–a good buy. Good luck, Anna!
On 10 20, 2011 at 08:30:28 PM, Cristi B. said:
Congratulations!!! Puppies are wonderful – but the puppy stage is more fun when it is a fond memory. You’ll get through it. In the mean time keep an eye on your favorite shoes. It is all worth it, though. Really. The love of a good dog is sweet indeed. Oh…and either buy garment lent rollers by the case or decide dog hair is a fashionable accessory.
On 10 21, 2011 at 02:38:31 PM, Loretta L. said:
Puppies are like kids- they do best with a schedule and consistancy. I’ve owned and raised several German Shepards and have a deep love of them. I do not recommend the book you have purchased for behavior issues, sorry. A baby gate and crate are wonderful tools. You should never let your puppy have free access to any area of your home if you’re not there to supervise. Always make this a positive thing- chew bones, treats, a kong filled with peanut butter to keep them busy. You can keep your puppy on a leash in the home so you can give immediate correction. A gentle leader is helpful with some strong minded dogs too. Yes, it can be alot to deal with but the results are so worth it. This dog will live for your presence and approval- and you will get so much love in return.
On 10 23, 2011 at 08:09:47 AM, Shannon E. said:
Congratulations on your new found love! I had an Alaskan Malamut who was my protector while I lived alone. She loved the rag bone/toy. This kept her entertained for hours pulling the strands out with those sharp puppy teeth. I never once had an issue with her chewing on furniture or my shoes etc… I considered myself lucky to have found that rag bone. I went through a trainer and did get some helpful tips. The gentle leader was my savior! They will try and take it off until they get used to it. A couple of weeks or so… The good times will far outweigh the puppy struggles so hang in there! My dog Sage lived a great life and left me with wonderful memories. Enjoy those hikes in the mountains with her. Those were some of my favorite things to do with her and I felt very safe.
On 11 4, 2011 at 11:56:05 AM, Susan B. said:
Lola is gorgeous. I have raised one Shepherd/Akita mix, and two purebred Shepherds. All three dogs were very intelligent and for the most part, obedient. All three were housebroken within one week, and our first, Buddy was trained at obedience school. We knew what to do for the next ones, Rudy and Harley. The key is firmness and consistency. They will take full advantage of you if you don’t watch out. Enjoy Lola, there is nothing better than a doggie!
On 11 3, 2011 at 10:56:12 AM, Anna W. said:
Thank you so much everyone for all your great comments. It’s reassuring to know that it shall pass. Baby steps every day!
Hi Anna, good looking dog. I’ve had this breed of dog for 30+ years & they’re fantastic company. Bit of a mess when they moult their undercoat as mine is at the moment so get yourself a good hoover!!! I hope this message finds you well, fond memories of your time with us in Yorkshire. Tony
On 10 30, 2011 at 02:17:10 PM, Di D. said:
My daughter is a vet tech and has worked as a professional dog walker. She is fantastic with dogs. If you are still looking post here and I can send you her info.
On 12 2, 2011 at 03:47:29 PM, Bri B. said:
I realize that you’re probably past the potty training stage by now, but if your dog still has accidents, I recommend Nature’s Miracle stain and Odour remover. It has a special compound in it that eliminates the enzyme that dogs use to mark their territory so she won’t keep going in the same place. We also use it when my dog throws up (which does happen occasionally). Plus, it got an 8-year-old stain out of the carpet, so it actually works on general stains as well. And I think it’s even environmentally friendly.
On 12 5, 2011 at 12:26:50 PM, Anna W. said:
Hi Bri, We are for the most part past the potty training stage – except for her bad case of diarrhea on the weekend! I usually use Folex but I’ll try Nature’s Miracle. Thanks for the tip!
On 12 16, 2011 at 05:53:20 PM, letitia y. said:
I definitely know how you feel. I even blogged a very similar post to this 5 years ago with a lot of the same feelings. Things definitely got better but we had our hands full for first couple of years. Who are these people with the perfect puppies that grow up into perfectly goodnatured, well-behaved dogs? I think no one…