A Year of Life with a German Shepherd Dog
Owning a German Shepherd is a lifestyle. It’s true! I heard this before I brought Timber home, but I wasn’t sure what it was going to mean. After one full year of living with my German Shepherd, I have a better idea. Most of the lifestyle changes that have resulted from owning a German Shepherd Dog were things I wanted to be part of my lifestyle anyway and even some of the reasons I wanted to get a dog. I will say right now, owning a German Shepherd Dog is a massive time commitment. A German Shepherd Dog owner needs to enjoy investing a lot of time and energy working with their dog.
I wasn’t ready when I bought Timber. I knew that, but I also knew I probably never would be. So I decided to deal with the challenges as they came, and boy have there been a lot! Today I want to share some of the things that went wrong, some things that went right, and the tools and resources that have helped us get to where we are now. It’s been a learning journey!!
Because I felt so inadequate when I brought my German Shepherd Dog home, I felt I needed the help and advice of a dog trainer. Unfortunately, I rushed into hiring a trainer too quickly. I did not research and find a reputable trainer. I went with the first person recommended to me, no questions asked. Following this trainers advice caused my relationship with Timber, my GSD, to take a turn for the worse. I remember telling Jonathan that if I couldn’t turn this dog around, I couldn’t keep him. I fired the trainer and took Timbers training into my own hands. It was time to dig deep and find the answers I needed if I was going to be able to keep the dog I dreamed of for over 10 years!
I turned to YouTube. I binge watched multiple dog training channels until I finally started to become familiar with the terminology the good dog trainers were using. Then it was easier to search for helpful training videos.
Most of all, I wanted a well behaved, calm and happy dog. I knew enough about dogs to know this could be achieved with any dog, but I didn’t know what I needed to put in place to set the dog up for success. I quickly learned several things I was doing wrong and set out to find alternatives.
For the next couple of months, I followed the advice from these two YouTube channels.
They have very different attitudes as they present their methods. I respect Tom Davis and his approach the most, but I learned a lot from The Dog Daddy as well. Combining their methods to take more of a leadership role with my German Shepherd Dog, Timber, made a world of difference.
Timber the German Shepherd Dog became easier to handle, friendlier to people, and I was able to take him to stores, coffee shops, and more. This was huge progress! My husband found my new approach much more natural and was easily able to become “the pack leader” in the dogs eyes. Timber would listen and obey anything Jonathan asked of him. Quite frankly, I was jealous! I had invested hours upon hours of time working with this dog and educating myself in how to train him. But it was clear that Timber saw Jonathan as the boss and me as a playmate, and he treated each of us accordingly.
I was tired and busy with other things. For a few months, I was content with knowing that Jonathan had control of my dog and I could handle him well enough to go out and about with him. I continued to train Timber and work with him daily, but I wasn’t making an effort to change much at this point.
And then I decided to go on an extended road trip to visit family. I needed to take Timber with me and I had to have full confidence that I knew how to handle my dog by myself. It was time to dig for more answers. I was on break from my violin teaching, and had time to invest in learning more about training my German Shepherd Dog.
That’s when I found Doggy Dan and the online dog training academy, by far the most helpful and practical dog training resource I’ve found online. Sometimes you have to pay for good information, even if it’s just a couple dollars. The Online Dog Trainer is very affordable and packed with trustworthy dog training advice. This site will give you all the tools you need to train your own dog, no matter what breed you are working with. I do think this type of knowledge may be more important with a working dog breed like German Shepherds, but this type of leadership training will solve behavior problems in any dog. It is a gentle training method, very simple to put into place, and you will see the benefits in your dog almost immediately!
This training method makes sense to me….and yet, guess what: I’m NOT a dog. So while the approach makes sense and I understand it, it does not come naturally to me. I have to be consciously aware and intentional with my body language and attitudes when I am working with my dog. It is a learning process, and a lifelong journey.