How to be a good GSD Parent...
Top Ten List on how to be a good ARF GSD parent: (note all specific requirements for individual ARF’s dogs are listed in their bio’. These are general requirements)
Have a fence to keep me safe! All GSD’s are herding dogs (shepherd get it?) so they will run if given the opportunity. They LOVE to be with their humans, but they also love a good chase! ARF’s requires that you have a visible (no invisible fencing please) fully fenced in yard, preferably 5-6 feet tall fencing, but we will consider 4’ for some dogs. This means, no tie outs, no zip ties and no cables are considered. If you are in a rural area, please contact us for special requirements for your area. Your entire acreage does not need to be fenced in, but we would like to see some safe outside exercise area for your dog. (insert link to no more chains website here…
Obedience Obedience Obedience – ARF’s contracturally requires all adopters to take at least one formal obedience class. This is not our way of saying we don’t think you know how to train your dog – quite the opposite. We realize that most of you know how to train, or you wouldn’t be looking to add a GSD to your household! – no it is our way of insuring that at the very beginning of the transition into their new forever home your new GSD knows who is in charge! We firmly feel that one hour per week attending class for a period of 4-6 weeks (within 30 days of adoption most of the time) allows you to bond more deeply with your dog, insures the dog knows you are the alpha of the household and most importantly prevents bad habits from starting! If you feel one hour per week devoted to training is not something you can do, please do not submit an application for an ARF dog. There are no exceptions to the obedience requirement. An obedient dog is a happy dog!
Keep me healthy – be prepared to maintain your GSD in good health by feeding the best food you can afford to. (if you would like recommendations on what foods we’ve found to be good for GSD’s, we’ll gladly provide you with that information). Take your new GSD to the vet for a check up shortly after adoption (even though we make sure ARF’s dogs are up to date on vaccinations, are spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, on heartworm preventative etc) we cannot cover the entire gamut of health issues. It is important that your vet look at your new dog and that the dog get to know your vet asap! It makes for a healthy long-lived GSD if you practice regular vet care!
Spend time with me! I LOVE HUMANS…most GSD’s live to be with their human! They do not enjoy spending time outside alone for very long (and you cannot leave your ARF GSD outside unattended say in a kennel while you work!…its against the contract!) Spend at least a half hour per day playing with your GSD. Don’t have a half hour to spare? 15 minutes in the morning playing and 15 minutes in the evening is a good way to sneak in some quality time…or while you are watching TV in the evening, take time out to brush them, inspect their coats, play with some toys etc. They don’t demand much and they give us so much more in return!
Keep me lookin’ good! – Grooming your GSD is not only a way to get compliments on your gorgeous choice of a canine companion, but it is also a great way to make sure there are no “freeloading” critters on your dog! Ugh!!! Regularly inspect their coats (especially for the long haired and plush kids) for fleas and ticks! Bathe a few times per year, over bathing your dog can actually result in some skin issues! Brushing every week (at least) gives a nice sheen to their coat and makes your job of vacuuming much easier! In the spring you can even put the leftover hair outside for the birds to make nests in! Make sure their nails are trimmed on a regular basis and they are not too long! Long nails can interfere with the GSD’s gait and can cause problems all around! Teeth – keep those pearly whites sparkling by regular brushing, treats that help remove tartar and again above all feed the best food you can afford! Gums should be nice and pink and “rebound” within a few seconds after you touch them. When you push on them they will be a whiter color and they should return to pink pretty quickly when the pressure is released. Also, regularly check their ears to make sure there is no waxy buildup! Inspecting the anal glands of the dog is important – but like most of us, leave this to the vet!!!! GSD’s frequently get “hair bumps”, like a cyst or pimple on their skins. These are usually not a big issue, but it is best to have them checked out by your vet.
Keep me active – an overweight GSD is a GSD who won’t live as long as they probably could have if they just lost a few LB’s! Don’t over “treat” your dog with food rewards, praise goes a long way! Make sure that you get regular leash walks in with your dog, it will provide an obedience training session, trim their figures, and most of all allow some quiet bonding time for the both of you! Leave that cell phone at home and enjoy the solitude! Just make sure to NOT let me get rambunctious for around an hour after I finish eating (or let me drink too much water at one time). Bloat can kill me in a short period of time (less than 30 minutes in most cases). Ask the folks at ARF’s about their handout regarding preventing bloat.
Don’t let me be in charge – HEY I’m a dog and I’ll push it as far as you will let me! But I’m much more relaxed if I know you are the one I need to look to for leadership. My main job should be to please you and behave!
Watch over me – Learn what health issues can plague my breed and be on the look out for those early symptoms. In most cases, the earlier the detection the better I can survive. GSD’s are prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, certain types of cancer (like all dogs nowdays!) and a variety of other things. Check with the vet to see what to be on the lookout for! And remember they are always researching to find cures for what could ail me! Knowledge is POWER! So be knowledgeable about what I can have issues with health wise. Also keep chemicals like pesticides, anti-freeze, etc out of my reach!
Protect me – Yearly vet visits, keeping me up on vaccinations (or titers when possible) helps keep me healthy. You need to protect me in other ways as well though too. Make sure that if I am nervous in certain situations, you don’t for me into them. If I’m afraid of kids, don’t “make” me greet them, if I’m nervous in a large crowd, when you have a party, put me somewhere safe, like my crate or my room with a kong or other treat to keep me occupied and happy while you entertain! If I’m thunderphobic, look into de-sensitization techniques, anxiety wraps or medical intervention so I can overcome this. Make sure I’m safe and I’ll make sure you’re safe!
Most important of all LOVE ME – I’m YOUR dog, you chose me! (although I’d surely choose you!!!) I’ll greet you at the door when you come home from work, my tail wagging, and I’ll be happy to see you NO MATTER HOW BAD YOUR DAY WAS! I’ll never say “are you really going out in that outfit? I won’t judge you, won’t be mean to you, nor will I EVER ABANDON YOU….so please never abandon me…..this relationship is for LIFE! YOURS as well as MINE!!!!