Once you have decided that you want a dog, you will need to consider what size or breed or mix you prefer.
Helpful here is to reflect on what you want the dog for?
As companion animal, as family dog, as guide dog, as guard dog or protection dog, as working dog for specific assignments, or what for?
Once you know that you want a dog, and which dog breed or mix you would prefer, the key question is How to choose a dog that is right for you.
Only thereafter you should consider Where to Get a Dog and related concerns.
So first let's address here the key question: How to choose a dog that's right for you?
The following topics should get your attention:
- Am I the right person and have the right environment for this dog breed?
Let's briefly look at all of these areas individually. As always, more insight is in the world-renowned MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL. Today you may subscribe for free.
Am I the right person and have the right environment for this dog breed?
Regardless where you get your dog and whether you adopt or buy the dog (or if you get the dog as a gift), you should first ask yourself for an honest answer: "Am I the right person and have the right environment for this dog breed?"
Because you may have the best intentions, yet this doesn't necessarily mean that you will continually have sufficient time and interest to look after your dog, to feed the dog, to socialize the dog, to train the dog, and most importantly, to treat the dog with respect and to give your dog the love the dog needs in order to develop well.
A dog, puppy or adult, is not a plush toy that can be disposed of in the bin when you outgrow it for some reason or if your circumstances change dramatically. You need to be sure that you will regularly have sufficient time and interest to be there for the dog. A bit similar to your commitment to be there for your child for 17 years minimum when you decide to make a baby.
For the German Shepherd Dog breed this requirement means:
- daily socializing with other dogs and other people
- daily exercise of two hours minimum, in addition to plain dog walks
- daily challenging the mind (games more than training)
- healthy REAL food, no toxic waste products from rendering plants
- free run of the premises once fully house-trained
- joining you when you go traveling
Hard facts aside, a big part of How to choose a dog is the attraction you feel to the dog, and the dog apparently feels to you.
When you first meet the dog, how do you feel? And how seems the dog to feel? Is the dog attentive to you, does (s)he want to play, is (s)he primarily dominant or submissive? Do you like that particular dog, and if so why? Is it because of how the dog is acting/behaving, or merely because of the dog's or puppy's looks? The looks will change more than the behavioral characteristics if you have a puppy in front of you. If you don't feel a bonding with the dog, don't get the dog.
For the majority of dog owners, the dog's health should be the most important selection criterion, because a sick dog may wreck your bank account as much as your nerves. And you certainly want to avoid the genetic disorders, defects, and diseases that commonly occur in German Shepherds!
So, verify that your chosen dog and the parents are healthy. Ask to see their documents and vet book and invoices (you can, except for a rescue dog). If it's a smaller breeder or a dog rescue center, naturally you may not be able to see the documents of your chosen dog's parents. But as a minimum, you should request to see the most recent full health screening report for your chosen dog.
With modern technology it couldn't get any easier to fake any documents. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt that the presented documents are authentic, then you should require to take the dog to the local vet before you sign a contract or hand over a lot of money! A reputable dog breeder as well as reputable dog rescue centers will have no problem with this, because it is in their own best interest to give the dog away to the right person who will keep and nurture the dog for life.
Basic DIY checks:
Finally, the contract. If you get a dog from a backyard breeder, you rarely will get a contract at all. So how do you want to prove ownership? Usually this isn't a problem though, and you become the registered owner through the first vet visit if you microchip the dog or if you get the Rabies vaccination (because in both cases this will be documented in a booklet under your name).
If you get a contract, the contract must describe the seller (breeder or rescue center), you as the buyer, and the dog via physical characteristics (often just says name, sex, and "GSD standard colors"). The contract may also mention any restrictions (for example non-breeding agreement, neutering, export, etc), and it should include a clause for returning the dog under certain circumstances.
Only hand over the purchase price in exchange for all documents including the contract. For the dog you may sometimes have to wait a few days or even weeks if handover is not yet appropriate. Reputable German Shepherd breeders will feel responsible for the well-being of their dogs.
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