==> German Shepherds are very special in their own right

The German Shepherd breed is as distinguished as a composition of Giacomo Puccini

Core Areas of German Shepherd Psychology

If you love your dog a LOT, you may feel closely related to your dog, so close that you may often feel that you two share quite a bit of the same psychology, right?

However, believe it or not, there ARE a few differences between your German Shepherd and yourself. ;-)

Or, for that matter, more often misunderstood, between your German Shepherd and your children: Because too many dog owners treat their dog (particularly their puppy) like they treat or would treat their children. Which is very wrong indeed.

Let's look in this PERIODICAL at some core aspects of the psychology of the German Shepherd dog breed, because you have to

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Difference between dog genetics and dog psychology

As a baseline, German Shepherd dogs are fearless, energetic, intelligent and protective. But, while some of the German Shepherd traits are genetic, others are the result of the environment we are providing to our GSD. All these factors impact on our dog's psychology, expressed in its daily behavior.

Dog Psychology = All of the dog's genetic and environmental traits that manifest in behavior

Therefore it's helpful that we always learn more about our German Shepherd, so that we can become a better caretaker day by day. And so that your dog can become a better caretaker of you too.

To start with, just try for a moment to IMAGINE yourself in your GSD's place, to connect with the dog's psychology. We will start with the rather general and obvious areas, and then smoothly expand this to the more specific and inconspicuous areas.

German Shepherd Dog Psychology

Much simplified, we can start off by saying: The German Shepherd dog has needs and traits like every other domesticated dog, but more extreme. This becomes apparent already with the first facet of the dog's psychology:

Pack animal

While every modern domesticated dog still inherits from its wild-dog ancestors the genetic NEED to be the accepted part of a pack, for the GSD this need is more pronounced because the GSD is a herding dog, and the herd (sheep etc) always has been the dog's pack (together with the shepherd).

But it goes further: What makes domesticated dogs domestic is that they have acquired a genetic NEED to be not just the accepted part of any pack, but the accepted part of a human Pack!

This need for a human Pack in order to stay mentally healthy and balanced is unique in the animal world (as far as I know): No other animal, not even the chimpanzee, needs us humans to stay mentally healthy. Quite the contrary: The presence of humans with their hectic, erratic, and emotional behaviors makes many animals sick.

Now again, this NEED to be the accepted part of a human Pack is much more pronounced in the GSD than it is in other dog breeds like say the Poodle, Terrier or Rottweiler. The experience of its pack structure in a human Pack gives the GSD peace, position, confidence and a sense of belonging. A German Shepherd does not like to be alone.

Does not "like" to be? No, that was the wrong wording. A GSD genetically NEEDS a human Pack to stay healthy. Not feeling to belong to a Pack makes this dog anxious, fearful and aggressive. A GSD feels particularly incomplete without its Pack.

But it goes even further: Like all domesticated dogs and their wild ancestors too(!), the GSD does not just seek to be the accepted part of a human Pack, but to be the accepted Pack leader. The leader of your family, oh yes! Again, this trait is particularly pronounced in the German Shepherd dog breed.

We will of course get back to this in future Periodicals, but let me make clear already here: To have the BEST relationship with your GSD (see our mission statement that you already read on the subscribe page!), you must not let your GSD dominate your family Pack in any way! - Instead, make your GSD an equal part of your family, except as regards food and feeding (see in a future Periodical, why and how).

So, make your dog feel accepted, make your dog feel integrated, but do not let your dog feel (s)he's the boss in the family:

Give your dog space, responsibility, care, and love beyond feeding and walking your dog. Never exclude your GSD from the family happenings, but don't make your dog the center of the attention either. To match the German Shepherd dog psychology, most of the time an equal treatment in the family Pack is best (with the exception mentioned above).

Guarding the herd

German Shep-herdDeep engrained in the German Shepherd breed is its instinctive desire to GUARD. This is the result of this dog's genetic roots - the guarding of a herd of sheep. ShepherdFor today's domesticated German Shepherds, the 'herd' is your family, the dog's Pack. Your GSD needs to feel to have your 'permission', and (s)he needs to have the chance (the degree of freedom!) to GUARD your family.

So, once completely house trained, let your dog have free run of the house and premises. Then you will often notice that your dog is trying to 'collect' the 'herd': The GSD is trying to bring all family members together. (S)he will walk around the house to locate every family member and will give them a nudge to move about, towards the others.

Again, this sense of integration is more pronounced with the GSD than with other breeds. Inclusiveness is an important part of the German Shepherd dog psychology: The GSD desires to include and take care of all sheep, ie all family members. Very unlike most other dog breeds (its closest psychological neighbors in this regard are the Collie and the Spaniel). Unless you (or the prior owner/breeder) UNtrained your dog its instinctive behavior, your GSD will frequently reveal its genetic roots and its psychology through its daily behavior.

UNtrained, you may wonder? Can it not be that my breeder "UNbred" this trait through selective breeding?

No, I would argue. Definitely not. Here's why: The breed-specific character traits that we know of various dog breeds today did not just 'suddenly' emerge on the date a breed (any breed!) was officially established, ie registered by a "kennel club" - which for the German Shepherd Dog would be just 120 years ago. No, the breed-specific character traits like those discussed here have been selectively "raised" in each dog breed and their ancestors for thousands of years!

But the "modern" GSD only became a "couch dog" in the last 60 or so years (and only in certain "yuppie" countries anyway). Genetically it is not possible to change fundamental character traits in this short period of time. - But this does not mean that you, the prior owner, or breeder cannot have trained your dog in a way that made certain GSD-typical characteristics become almost unnoticeable.

Clear? Good.

Need of Alpha leader

The prior point is closely related to this next point. Continue to IMAGINE yourself in your GSD's place for a moment... ie think you are a dog. :-D

In the world of your German Shepherd, the status of Alpha (leader) is significant. Like ALL dogs, (s)he sees the world in the way of being either dominant or submissive. In the psychology of dogs there is no concept of "two even partners". This is a human concept!

However, the psychology of a GSD comes almost closest to this human concept: Maybe just behind the Collie, the German Shepherd is easiest with accepting an even partner, and being treated like an even partner - without the resulting behavior problems that this would entail with other dog breeds. Again, unless you (or the prior owner/breeder) UNtrained your dog this genetic component of its psychology - eg through excessive focus on "Obedience Training" methods.

This is what too many GSD owners get wrong: To strike the right balance between giving their GSD the necessary freedom to play its role as guardian of the family Pack, and nonetheless maintaining the Alpha role at all times (the Pack leader position).

Again, maintaining the Alpha role at all times does not mean that you shouldn't strive for a pretty much equal position with your GSD, but it means that you should nonetheless establish yourself as the accepted Pack leader in your dog's family Pack - the one who ultimately determines what happens when: whether it's about giving attention, feeding the dog, throwing a ball, or whatever.

When you become your GSD's Alpha, your dog will experience you as a source of confidence and positive energy. This is crucial support for the German Shepherd in order to be able to guard all its 'sheep' - which is a huge management exercise already for a human shepherd, and more so, for a dog shepherd!

Note that GSDs generally have a strong willingness to follow you - if you are the accepted Alpha. Because then they respect you as the 'shepherd', and they are eager to fulfil their role as guardian of the 'sheep' (ie of all family members).

*** But maybe you are worried that if you establish yourself too much as the Alpha leader, your dog might not guard (protect) you too? ***

Indeed, this is a common question of many GSD owners. Some of them even express:

"I got the German Shepherd to protect ALL of us in the family, including myself. I fear that if I become too dominant then our dog might think that I can, or should, look after myself in the face of danger, because I am the 'boss'."

You need not worry about this! Yes, your GSD would still guard and protect you too when you are in need (unless of course you have treated your dog badly with harsh methods of "Obedience Training"!). You may or may not have noticed that on a meadow the shepherd dog is not only circling the sheep but also the shepherd himself. - To guard its entire pack is engrained in the German Shepherd psychology! And the accepted Alpha is considered part of the pack too.

As said above, 'guarding the herd' and the 'need of an Alpha leader' are closely related:

If you are the accepted Alpha, your German Shepherd will always look for your instructions, PRAISE, and APPROVAL. Note that the word 'instructions' is in small letters, while the words 'PRAISE' and 'APPROVAL' both are in capital letters. - Why I did this?

Because your GSD - once fully trained indoors (see the House Training guide) and fully trained outdoors (see the Leash Training guide) - will need fairly few 'instructions', what to do, where, and when. The German Shepherd is a very autonomous, self-organized breed. In fact, I don't know of any other dog breed that is as autonomous and self-organized as the GSD is. Hence 'instructions' in small letters.

Conversely, the GSD needs a lot of PRAISE and a lot of APPROVAL. Compare the 'job' of your dog (to manage all the 'sheep', ie the family members) to the job of the CEO of a company (who also manages all the 'sheep', ie the staff). Being the manager of everything, the CEO's most likely chance to get PRAISE is to collect it eagerly at home from the spouse, and to get APPROVAL he hires 'Business Consultants' and 'Auditors' and makes the shareholders pay them for confirming that HE did a great job...

Now if you don't PRAISE your GSD and APPROVE its actions, who will? No one will!

And like the CEO cannot stay sane without at least the PRAISE of the spouse, and cannot stay in the job without the APPROVAL of his actions (towards the shareholders and the media), the GSD cannot stay sane and remain the family dog if you don't PRAISE your dog and APPROVE its actions. Frequently.

Was this clear enough? Good. (As an author, I like to be clear with my words) ;-)

Maybe you thought this analogy with the CEO of a company is a bit far-fetched? - No, not at all. What do you think why the German Shepherd is the prime choice of most institutions worldwide that employ dogs?

They choose the German Shepherd because this dog breed is the proven champion in so many regards. They choose the GSD because it outperforms all other dog breeds in so many crucial 'management' areas combined: guarding, protecting, organizing, integrating, planning, controlling, tracking, guiding, rescuing, cheerleading, etc. While for each of these areas you could probably find a more effective specialist breed, when you need one dog to combine all these skills then you can't get around the top generalist: the GSD. This is why the (original!) GSD is globally considered the top 'working dog'.

And the roots of all this is the careful and explicit breeding of these traits and skills in Germany that started in the second half of the 19th century and became more widely known as a distinguished dog breed towards the end of the 19th century, ie around the 1890s (I will at some point publish a book on nothing but the German Shepherd that also incorporates the key insights of the alleged breed founder Max v. Stephanitz's own book The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture - which I can read in its original German language, but no worries, I will publish in the English language). ;-)

So, give your GSD the PRAISE and APPROVAL (s)he desires and deserves for being such an effective manager of your family Pack. Strike the right balance with your role of being the Alpha leader. If you can't or don't want to overcome your own 'resistance' to strike the right balance, then a different dog breed will be better for you. One that more readily accepts to have its every move "obedience-controlled". The GSD does not - and should not, because the GSD wasn't bred for that!


Communication too is an important part of learning about your German Shepherd's psychology. You need to know how your dog tries to convey his or her messages to you, or you won't be able to communicate with your dog(!): In what situations does your dog bark, seek eye contact or use facial expressions and body language?

For example: Depending on how long you have been familiar with dogs, you must have noticed that when your dog is hungry (s)he barks in a different tone as to when, say, your dog is excited and wants to play. Have you noticed?

Again, both the variety and subtlety how the dog communicates is more pronounced in the GSD than in most other dog breeds. So, spend more time with your German Shepherd to get to know HOW, WHY and WHEN your dog uses WHICH form of communication to convey its messages and feelings to you. It's worth it! You will often notice how much your understanding of your GSD improves the more you learn how your dog communicates.

'GSD Communication' is such a massive topic that we will of course often cover this in future PERIODICALS.

Intelligence and Energy

The German Shepherd dog has the innate qualities of being intelligent and full of energy. Not only physical energy, but eagerness to learn too. Which is why a GSD owner must share this quality too (the eagerness to learn), or else the GSD will soon outperform you in so many regards of daily living that you will feel 'overwhelmed' - and give up on the dog!

Really, if you want an undemanding dog that lazily lingers on the couch most of the day and doesn't challenge your mind either (beyond the "Oh, is it time for feeding already?"), then by all means, don't get a GSD! Because, a GSD then would be your worst choice.

Conversely, if you enjoy to be challenged (both physically and mentally), then there is no better choice than the GSD. Because, a GSD too enjoys to perform and is eager to learn ever more!

When you "try to look into your dog's mind by looking in its eyes", you will see that the GSD always wants to EXPLORE the environment, ACCOMPLISH tasks, and EXPERIENCE adventures. Looking into the eyes of a German Shepherd (I find) this becomes immediately apparent - much more than with almost any other dog breed.

The German Shepherd wants to EXPLORE, ACCOMPLISH, and EXPERIENCE.


GSD adventuresAnd the German Shepherd's high level of intelligence and energy indeed allows this dog to EXPLORE its surroundings very well, to ACCOMPLISH a wide range of tasks, and to EXPERIENCE adventures of often a unique nature.


Take part in your GSD's adventures, have FUN!

Constantly give your German Shepherd new challenges. A fountain of ideas (of course including 'how-to') is Kyra Sundance' book 101 Dog Tricks. This will nourish your German Shepherd's demands of being busy, working smart, and receiving the appropriate praise for it. Also, you will appreciate how these 'dog tricks' relax and calm down this high-energy dog. Don't let the many images of smaller dogs confuse you: All exercises are well-suited for a GSD too.

Your German Shepherd also needs a good energy outlet, so get your dog to swim, run, hike and exercise a LOT. Diverse and regular exercise! This will allow your GSD to balance its high level of intelligence and energy.


The last German Shepherd dog psychology facet I want to mention here (because I wrote already far too much in this Periodical) is Socialization - but in future Periodicals we will have to discuss even more GSD characteristics.

Your German Shepherd will always demand to be a close part of the family action. This is the GSD's 'herding' quality. Nonetheless your dog may sometimes seem aloof. If that's not due to being ill at the time, you may need to reconnect your dog to its surroundings and 'pack', ie to your family: act integrative, like the GSD normally is too.

Aim to make your dog feel like an even part of the family Pack. Give your GSD a specific role in the family, a role that everyone respects and appreciates. This will be a healthy experience, and a learning experience too - both for your German Shepherd and for your family members.

However, at least as important as the above is that you regularly make your dog interact with other people, other animals and different places. Permanently socialize your GSD, and take your dog as much with you as you can.

Why is this socialization outside the dog's family Pack so important when you have a GSD?

I would say, because of the combination of all the psychology facets mentioned above, and how pronounced they are in the GSD. For example, consider this:

Being an extreme form of a Pack animal (1) that is eager to guard its 'herd' (2), if your GSD does not see you as the accepted Alpha leader to follow your directions without much need for instructions (3) - and all the more if you can't understand what your GSD communicates (4) - then the GSD's high intelligence and high energy (5) will make your dog autonomously react to tons of stimuli in the environment if (s)he wasn't comprehensively socialized to all these stimuli (6)!

This is why - if you wanted ;-) - you can hear dog experts say things like "the GSD's high reactivity will work against you" - unless you have comprehensively socialized your dog! It is outright idiotic when some (typically first-time) GSD owners keep their dog to themselves all the time, arguing "this will make him more protective of us".

No, this will be your and your dog's downfall: A German Shepherd that hasn't been properly socialized with other people, other animals, and other environments and situations, will be permanently (throughout its life!) extremely stressed from all the "disturbing" stimuli that this very sensitive dog receives from the environment (notices!).

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Just imagine for a moment: You are some human mutant, you can hear, smell and sense environmental stimuli that your peers don't even know about. But you only have the knowledge of the world that a dog has, you cannot relate those stimuli, and thus you consider each tiny "fart" that you hear, smell or sense as an attack on your family Pack. Do you realize now how hyper-mega stressed you would feel after just one day? Well, a not comprehensively socialized GSD has to suffer from the stress of 'fake' attacks not just a moment, but every day and night of its life!

Now stop imagining, and ask yourself: How cruel do you want to be to your GSD?

Even if you don't care if you have an extremely stressed dog(?), you (and your local law enforcement!) will mind the consequences of having a permanently stressed German Shepherd dog: The key consequence is aggression. To house an aggressive GSD will strain your nerves and finances more than your worst "dog dreams" can relate.

You have no idea how many such reports we have received at mygermanshepherd.org: Of GSD owners who (whether out of ignorance or arrogance) did not properly socialize their dog - and then at some point felt the need to send desperate "HELP!" requests (yes, like that!) to a website(!) they (the day before) didn't even know exists. If that's not desperate search for HELP, I don't know what is!

In summary

If you learn more about your German Shepherd's Psychology, your relationship will become unique and more bonded than ever before! Consider this: The better you understand your dog, the more (s)he will feel this, and the more (s)he will accept you as the Alpha leader.

With our modern busy lifestyles, it may often happen that we are so busy all day long that we 'forget' about the family members that just won't moan as loud and persistent as our "other children" do when they don't get it their way: Our dogs!

You know what I mean, right? You go to work, you go to get some groceries, you collect the children, you settle an issue with the neighbor, you do the laundry, the dishwasher, read the papers, you do everything. And yes, you feed your dog and walk your dog, but ... on some days that may be all you can do with your dog - and for your dog - isn't it?

The typical day is just not long enough to really realize how much our German Shepherds demand and need our attention, love, and care.

But wait! Whenever your German Shepherd barks, rolls around, jumps in excitement, or simply moves its ears, eyes, head or torso, (s)he is sending you a message, and (s)he is watching for your response! Now, it's our job to 'read' that message and 'respond' in a way that helps to improve the relationship with our dog. - No different than with our kids or spouse. Only the language is different.

Personally, I feel this communication is a two-way road (at least if we make use of it): Being able to 'read' the messages our GSD is sending us (mostly quietly, only sometimes with a noise like barking or whining) will help us to better understand our dog and its psychology. And likewise, learning about the German Shepherd psychology will help us to send out clear quiet messages to our GSD that (s)he understands (ie without the need for any commands)!

Ultimately of course, nothing can replace the careful observation and diligent trial-and-error interpretation of our dog's messages. So, get out and about with your GSD!

Together EXPLORE your close (and distant) surroundings, ACCOMPLISH standard (and extraordinary) tasks, and EXPERIENCE wonderful (and sometimes disturbing) adventures! Because nothing can beat the experience - to experience how much more colorful, insightful, and splendid a life with a GSD can be when you integrate your dog as a full member of the family. Besides, we must not forget: Only by giving our GSD the RIGHT place in the family, we can win its complete loyalty, love, and support when we need it!

Over the following months and years (yes, we do have that much insightful content for you!) we will often discuss different aspects of the German Shepherd psychology. Because for you and me alike, important is to learn ever more about the German Shepherd dog breed and how we can best bond with our individual dog.


Checklist * (see note at the bottom)

  • German Shepherd Psychology = All of the dog's genetic and environmental traits that manifest in behavior
  • Here we discussed:
      1. Pack animal
      2. Guarding the herd
      3. Need of Alpha leader
      4. Communication
      5. Intelligence and Energy
      6. Socialization
  • The key message to take away: A German Shepherd is a lot unlike most other dog breeds. While most people can be good dog owners, far less can be a good GSD owner
  • The reason: the (original) GSD's high intelligence combined with its high energy require a dog owner who can match that, both physically and mentally
  • It is the GSD owners who can't, that give up on their dog!
  • So, only get a German Shepherd if you are up to the challenge to share life with a high performer - because that's what this dog has been bred for
  • And if you already have a GSD? Adapt. Learn to enjoy to perform, both physically and mentally. Be cadult (child adult), share adventures, have more FUN with your dog!
  • And if your GSD has still more energy than you? Exercise your dog a LOT more. Diverse and varied exercise.
  • A German Shepherd is like the CEO of a company: A GSD needs lots of PRAISE and APPROVAL, but little instructions: Few commands!
  • The GSD is probably the most autonomous and self-organized dog breed of all
  • A GSD needs freedom! By all means, once completely house trained, let your dog have free run of the house and premises
  • A German Shepherd wants to EXPLORE, ACCOMPLISH, and EXPERIENCE adventures with you
  • Constantly give your German Shepherd new challenges. A good book to jog your mind what you can do with your dog and how to have more FUN together is Kyra Sundance' 101 Dog Tricks
  • And most crucial: Comprehensively SOCIALIZE your GSD, so that this mega-alert dog doesn't get hyper-mega stressed out from all the disturbing stimuli in the environment, many of which we don't even notice!
  • You will need to learn canine body language anyway, so you may just as well start now: Brenda Aloff's Photographic(!) Guide on Canine Body Language


==> Next edition: German Shepherd Dog Health Reform <==

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    Awesome information, Im a new GSD owner and appriceate the advice, I found a litter of seven GSD puppies that were abandond at a lake near our home we found a GSD adoption group to take them and kept one. Every day I'm amazed how smart he is, again thanks for the advice and insight into the new addition to our family.


    Someone abandoned 7 GSD pups?????
    Are you serious Jerry?

    Cause then that "must" have a reason, no? Were they healthy? Did the police get involved? Why were they abandoned? OMG!


      Could be that the weren't quite "abandoned", as maybe the mother was a stray. She probrably had her puppies as a stray and that's how he found them. Makes a little more sense than someone abandoning seven puppies. Especially german shepherds!


    Serious, we live in northern Arkansas and its not uncommon for people to abandon dogs, Ive rescued several dogs over the years, our animal shelter is always full and puts alot of dogs downs. The pups, 6 females and one male were about 7 weeks old and were skinny and hungry but seemed to be healthy, had them checked and wormed by a local vet. They were adorable, I wanted to keep them all or at least a couple but after reading some articles realized that wasn't a good idea. I kept the male he looks to have some collie in him but not sure.


    Sweet! And of you too. I encourage people to rescue rather than buy. Thanks!


    Thank you for the very interesting read. We're learning alot for and with our GSD mix that we adopted 12 days ago. He's definitely a herder/guarder but loves new people at the same time. We definitely are doing all we can to let him know he's our pack mate and almost equal. I say almost because as you state above, he has to know he's not the boss.


    Thank you so much for your information! I am having behavior trouble with my 6 month old puppy. He is really acting out! Your information is very helpful for me to work with him!!


    We rescued our GSD Lab mix and he is such a joy. He is so smart and I can see a lot of what you talk about. He follows me everywhere and looks at me like not other dog I've ever had has looked at me. Its hard to describe but his eyes say that he respects me, loves me, protects me and wants to make me happy all at once. I've had several dogs in my life but Midas is really something special. I look forward to growing old with him. I'm 51 and my last child is about to move out, so it will be just Midas and I for a long time to come. I thank you for making this site to help. Now my question. Midas has begun to bark at people when we are out that approach us. I try to calm him and show him it's ok but many times he doesn't stop barking even after I say it's ok. He also barks at my sons when they come over to visit. I have told them to ignore him and just let him approach them. But he doesn't remember them and barks each time they come and go. Any suggestions on how to get him to stop barking when I say? I also don't want him to become aggressive either. Thanks.


      Thanks for the compliments Jeana!

      Yes I do have suggestions/comments on that:
      1) Please urgently apply the Barking advice.
      2) Please urgently apply the Training Essentials document. Probably for the adult dog in your case?

      May I say it?? Midas' behavior documents that you are (sit tight!) not his accepted Pack leader at the moment (now it's out, I said it ;-)

      But if you follow the Training Essentials to the letter (particularly the Feeding Routine), you will be in no time! And then he WILL stop barking when you say so.


    Thank you so much for your great advice. We have had a great gsd before as well as other dogs. Our 9 week old puppy literally was stalking our 4 yr old this morning. I have never seen a dog do this. It was like watching a cheetah. If I hadn't been close by his "jump" might have really hurt the little guy. We have been working on the biting and jumping for puppies but this was a surprise. Are we messing up, is our pup a tad aggressive or is this semi normal for a gsd pup?


    Very informative and helpful.
    A great source of relevant and breed specific advice. Thanks for this, I will be recommending to many GSD owners I know.


    I know what you are saying about the eyes.Sometimes (especially when I correct her), my four month old looks directly at me, and turns her head,and I know that she is trying to connect, and understand. NO other dog looks at you that way. You can actually see the intelligence there. I can also see the impishness and fun in her when we play and she looks at me with that gleefulness. It is so great!


    A great insight! I feel Chief Cobi is still testing me, he seems to respond better to my husband as Alpha? I read somewhere not to look them in the eye if you're giving instruction ie to get 'off' the sofa, as if they can out stare you then that's confirming that they continue to think themselves above you in the pack so I tend not to look thus unable to gauge him so much. Hope that makes sense.


      Julie, I'll send you the Puppy Training Essentials in advance, because I feel you'll need them now for your rescue dog.


    Hi Tim. I have signed up for your articles but can't open them up as they are all locked. What am I don't wrong,. Thanks for the help. GM


      Gordon, nothing wrong. It says there:
      "This content is locked. Care, Share, Open up", and it offers three ways to share - choose anything. I explained in last week's email WHY we have to require sharing now (and is caring!), but maybe you joined later.
      This or charging, what would you prefer, to rid us of the spammers?


    Thanks your info is helping me a lot.



    Hi-I have a GSD rescue that have had for about 8 months. Recently she became aggressive out of no where, seemingly for no reason with my 9 yr old beagle and attacked her. Surgery to stich the laceration in her ear. She has not been spayed and we have not been trained. Is there hope we can keep her. We do not leave them alone together even before the attack. How will I know you responded to this?
    Thanks for what you do!


      Hi Julie,
      - no worries, I respond to everything (except spam) :-)
      - cases like that are countless on our aggression page, and the cause is (so far) always that the dog was purely obedience-trained. Correct for you too?
      - Poor beagle!! Hope she'll overcome that trauma - at her age! Pl work with her on it.
      - Why the GSD not spayed? Do you plan to breed her? (I wouldn't, given what just happened!). I would get her spayed TODAY.
      - Why not been trained? Ah, sorry I see why, you subscribed late. Okay, as an early gift for you: Feeding Routine - apply that FROM TODAY. Do not second-guess its purpose, trust me, it DOES help. And another early gift for you: Training Essentials - apply them all as well FROM TODAY. Again, do not second-guess their purpose, trust me, they DO help! ;-)

      Your situation will require some additional work AFTER you've started applying the above. I suggest 3 or 4 days AFTER doing exactly as described in the two linked Periodicals/documents, start with some desensitization work on the GSD (on the beagle right now). Because keeping the dogs separated is not a permanent solution.


    So relieved to have found you! We have a beautiful GSD puppy and bought you puppy 101 book. Best ever! Normal, natural common sense understanding. Thankyou for providing the understanding to enable us to shrug off our fear driven disciplinary mentality so we all can raise happy, emotionally healthy companions.


      Thanks Dian!
      "Best ever!" :-)
      Can't you please write a tiny review? - no one does that anymore! Would help tremendously.


    I adopted 2 months ago a 1 Year white Gsd and IT amazes me how intelligent she is.... Thanks for all this wonderful information :)


      Yes, they are awesome Betty! Stupid nazis forbade whites and strangely 70+ years later the entire world still does. Strange. People don't learn from mistakes.


    Thank you so very much for your advice! Our 7 month old GSD, Jack, has truly changed in the past week since we found your site! He has finally accepted wearing a collar and my clipping his nails as well as checking his ears all without pulling away or whining. We are still working on his acceptance of our 2 cats but he has become much calmer around them, even when he is separated by only a small child gate. He could easily knock it over but never does!. He has stopped barking at them and now only whines when he first sees them, then stops and lays down. Jack was 5 months when we adopted him. His age seems to have made things a bit more challenging. I have just ordered your dog training toolkit. Can't wait for delivery. Thanks again


      Hi Leslie, Thanks for your kind feedback, much appreciated!

      > I have just ordered your dog training toolkit. Can’t wait for delivery.
      Oh! I fear the Toolkit approach of dog training may possibly be stretching you too much with Jack! He's still a puppy. Much better would be you apply the Puppy 101. The Toolkit is HIGH-END dog training, I now make that clear in the description, to avoid that readers feel stretched. If you like I gift you the Puppy 101 instead. Let me know.


    Thanks for your great resources. I read your Puppy Essential book before we got our 3 mo GSD Kahleesi. She is so eager to please and smart. I've been wanting to her walking or play in the back yard after she goes potty, but she just runs to the door to get back in, preferring to play inside with us and our 3 Chihuahuas. She's scared of cars, other dogs and golf carts that run down the path right outside our back yard. Is this because she's still a puppy, and how do we desensitize her to be able to take her out to have fun with her?


      Susan, if she's doing that now, she will aggressively bark off every object and person in 4 months time. To prevent this you MUST intensely socialize her immediately.
      Not sure which "Essential book" you mean (because I don't have such a title) but if you have the Puppy 101 make use of the extensive socialization advice and templates in there. Remember also what Ian Dunbar always says. Sth like so: A puppy typically seems to socialize well with everyone and everything - until adolescence age, at which time the problems start, and they don't end when the dog ends up in the shelter. To prevent this dog owners MUST systematically socialize even the most sociable puppy (he told me the other week that he offers the "Before and After you get your puppy" books on the site for free). Whether you choose his or mine is your choice, both are very helpful.

      When she acts out, do NOT pay attention (Attention tools, Distraction tools, etc are all in the Dog Training Toolkit). Completely disregard her at that time. And remember: If you are not her accepted Pack leader, it won't work, then she will not follow your lead when you show how calm you remain about the golf cart & Co. Are you her accepted Pack leader??


    This was the periodicall i just needed , i have got my main final exams going on and i feel so guilty because i can t spend time with my doggy. But this periodical motivated me and opened a hundred possilbilities on how i can give her time ... Thanks alot!!!


    Thank You. I had a rescue Shepherd for 13 years and all the points you have made are absolutely spot on. I think the hardest thing for me was not being able to be with my shepherd all the time. In our daily lives we have commitments that we must not ignore, work, life in general, and I found as the years went by how close you become to your Shepherd and how truly intelligent these dog are. I have not had another since she passed and I believe one has to be very committed to have a shepherd as this breed is highly social, and you can spend countless hours with your companion. After a lot of thought and reading I find myself being drawn back to this breed, but have not made any choices as I want to make sure I will have the time. The Periodical I have started to read is very helpful, thank you.


      Hey Greg, by all means, when you have the time, get a GSD again. With your past experience you'll now know so much better how to build the best relationship, and it will be awesome for you! German Shepherds (when treated right) are beyond imagination, a dream of companion/friendship come true!


    Hi can you help me I acquired my GSD Nero by default like he came for two weeks holiday because owners were going away then they text to say they couldn't take him back and after much ado about nothing he is now mine and has been here a year he is so wonderful and many years ago I had another rescue GSD so it was a breed I loved although I thought I was a bit old to have such an active dog he has settled well and I am enjoying him but I am very aware he should do more and although they obviously took great care of him and seems to have never been harmed he has no 'game playing' skills and I would like to train him to fetch things or look for things he plays with a ball but if I throw it he goes to look at it then comes running back to me obviously to ask me why I threw his ball away but never retrieves the ball if he does brings it back and plays with it, will give it to me if I chase him and I do sometimes but he needs to play a bigger game. I also need to train him off the lead he is fine with little dogs although he does bound up to them and they run away petrified of his size but larger dogs he is into domination. He hangs his head over their shoulders?? Your suggestions will be gratefully received his first language was Polish. We also have a very grumpy Shih Tzu which he tolerates well probably because he is able to steal his biscuits. nero is five now.

    Love all the information

    Thanks jean


      Hi Jean, They left the dog with you? Weird people. Thanks that you took him on!

      Okay, you have a play-deprived dog. That also means he hasn't been well socialized as a puppy.
      You say you are older and can't run as much as he can (only for a few more years, so don't fret too much about that). In your case, and further with a play-deprived dog(!), the BEST I can suggest is to get Pat Miller's fantastic book Play with your dog, because she addresses very well both key points of your situation (like she knew you'd be asking). You'll not only find out how to train your dog to play well with you, and to look out for the tiny body signals that reveal what he'd like to play, but also what you can instigate to play with him without physically exhausting yourself. A really rounded, extremely helpful book! I could not possibly relate all the helpful content here, so much is in there. (I'd suggest just not to follow her treat-focused training method, as it will not give you the benefits and FUN Behavior Training will give you, more on that you get later - unless you want it sooner)

      "will give it to me if I chase him and I do sometimes" - No, don't do that, that will lead to escaping behavior you won't like.

      "his first language was Polish" - That shouldn't be a problem, as you better use your body language for dog training anyway ("Show, don't tell" - because dog language is body language!).

      "his biscuits" - No, don't let him have biscuits (treats), better is to accustom him to a consistent Feeding Routine straight away (has too many benefits to repeat them here).

      "He hangs his head over their shoulders??" - If that is during Play (every few seconds swapped dominant/submissive roles) then don't worry, it's part of Play, it's good (I assume it is Play because you didn't mention aggression).

      Overall, sounds like he really lacks some decent socialization. That is normally dealt with from puppyhood onwards, hence it's in the Puppy Development Guide, but I suggest in your case you just get Ian Dunbar's FREE After you get your puppy, and apply the socialization part to your dog (particularly the controlled play-fighting)!

      Any problems, let me know. Wish you derive a wonderful companion/soulmate from your generosity!
      No need to learn Polish, ha! :-)


    Thank you so much for your advice will get the books today he isn't aggressive mostly but the head over shoulder bit I pull him away because I think if the other dog objected it would turn aggressive and I am a little paranoid he will get into trouble because he is always the big dog. Anyway a wonderful work in progress. I will not let him use his lack of understanding the language as an excuse anymore. thanks again jean .


    just got my 4th gs acouple of days ago,haven't had one in 9yrs.a women was losing her family and they were looking for a home for him.so i took him.my problem he was a little afraid at first but after 2 days he is becoming a part of our home .my dogs were all obedience trained .he isn't house broken, doesn't like the leach.he is 14 weeks old and don't know when to start training him.he just started to go outside.he is already getting attached to me.he was in 3 homes in 2 days,so i am doing things slowly. but he needs to be house broken first and soon.any advise would be appeciated,thanks


    Hi Tim

    what interesting reading. I have two GSD's before both bitches one from puppy at 9 wks lived till 11 and one at 5 months rescued sadly passed away age 4 with bronchial pneumonia. I now have a 4yr old boy Zack rescued at 2yrs, have spent two years training him as he was wild when we got him lol,but by god he is a lovely affectionate dog now and so much character. I do the feeding most of the walking etc husband comes home and he gets all the loves and cuddles from zack but if I move from the room or go to bed early zack will follow me these are questions I would love to get answers to. If the door bell goes he never barks just gently wimpers and prances with what I think excitement excellent with people coming into home, he does talk though (moans lol) if I pass other dogs when walking him he is mouthy (not barking) more winging, if my husband walks him nothing lol. as a dog I cant fault him he has never chewed I am just fascinated in understanding his full character. I am lucky that I spend alot of time with him as I work from home and if I do go out he often in the winter comes with me. I found a superb trainer/behaviourist ex police dog trainer that has worked on a one to one with me previously and has him when we go away. This is the first male I have had and I have to say he has been my favourite and will be a heart breaker for both my husband and I on that eventual dredded day. He is excellent with food doesnt scrounge and we are strict with what he has. considering we know nothing about his pass only that he was given free to a home with young kids and family and they gave him to battersea after a wk as couldnt cope with him (as i said he hadnt had any training of any kind when we got him and is a big lad and strong) he has turned out trumps but I am still learning with him.

    This is a good site and thank you tim


    clare - Kent



    Sadly I only found your site a little while ago n wish I had found it sooner as it is fantastic.

    My 13yr old GSD has been a part of our family since she was 8wks old and has given us nothing but a wonderful life (full of love n memories that will be forever cherished in our hearts) and is very well loved by us and everyone that Jayde has met.

    Unfortunately a cpl of days ago the vet diagnosed her with Geriatric Vastibular Disease, we have medications for her but she is having to be fed them in an unpleasant manner of being forced down her throat. After bringing her home from the vets we are also now having to force feed her special food since she wouldn't eat. I am of course desperately hoping this all works but I am also of sound mind to understand that if not there will be no other option but letting her rest in peace. I will never be ready to say goodbye to her but I could never let her suffer. Her life has been amazing and has been very healthy n happy til now.

    With everything I have been reading on this site I have been in tears of happiness and sadness as everyone of them has touched my heart in many ways. I would like to say thanks to you Tim for making such an amazing GSD site available to us all.

    Lisa and Iccara Jayde ????


      Hi Lisa, you are welcome, and sorry for late reply (as apology I am having my own problems too, few people understand that...)

      Geriatric vestibular disease sounds like the vet has testified it's not down to an inner ear infection(?), in that case you can't really do much (else Zymox Otic without hydrocortisone would be my first choice). 13 yrs is amazing proof for how well you have treated Jayde! You ought to be proud and happy Lisa. Very few GSD owners are that lucky.

      Why force down the food, is there no way to motivate her to eat, and you mix the medication in the food? Always let the dog drink a bit first, then give food. (and if you have to force food intake, do NOT hurry a bit)

      So how old do you think Jayde feels? In any case, as I always remind: ENJOY your dog, every minute counts, from puppyhood onwards. :-)


    I totally understand what it's like to have personal problems n there's no need to apologise for that.

    Up until this point Jayde has still had her moments of acting like a little kid so I've been blessed with an amazing girl. Even now she still has her tail wagging n gives kisses when she is up to it but she is very happy to just enjoy the loving cuddles together.

    Since she has not been fed any of our table scraps in many years she has always loved her meals n treats. I did try everything I could think of to get her to eat on her own but even that wasn't working so I had to seek help from the vet. Force feeding is the last resort I have then it's back to the vet to see if they can get her to eat otherwise it isn't looking good for her.

    I have been spending most of my time now with her by my side and my son who is almost 12 is finding it very hard as they have been best friends from the moment Jayde sensed I was pregnant. Our 3yr old has also become very close with Jayde has been amazing with her. I have always thought that every yr over 10 was a bonus so I am very proud to still have her.


    Hi Tim

    Thank you for all that you do for the GSD and their human parents. I recently adopted a 6week GSD, boxer mix. I have never had a puppy before and was extremely worried as to why Sparky keeps circling me, growls and bites my ankles. This behavior has somewhat lessen in the past week but is still a concern as his razor sharp teeth has drawn blood.
    Sparky is very intelligent and has learnt the basic commands (come, sit, down, wait). He is very treat driven but I am unable to get him to stop the growling followed by the nipping/biting. What am I doing wrong?


      Cecilia, did you not see this?

      >What am I doing wrong?
      All that you mention ;-)
      Give no treats, do controlled play-fighting, and do everything else that's in the Puppy 101 - that's why I wrote it. To help dogs like Sparky.


    As a first time owner of a Shepard, I have found these periodicals to be very insightful!


    I had a question in regards to leash reactivity / dog reactivity. Neko is 2yr old male. My first male. I also have a 13 1/2 yr old female. She has zero dog aggression / reactivity and is usually not with us on our extended outings (I wish she could - she has been a great role model) when this has been happening. It's been interesting to see the subtle differences in the males vs female. I think it's part fear based. We were attacked by another dog on leash (neko was on leash, other dog not) at around 12 mos. and another time at the dog park. He was also testing me as alpha during the 1 1/2-2 yr stage. I do believe he has accepted me as alpha now. He is following his commands etc 99% of the time (working on 110%)! Loves the dog park with zero incidents when there (off leash). Any suggestions on moving forward? He has had some short meet and greets on leash and does well with balanced dogs who greet appropriately. But some dogs just set him off. I just subscribed and have only received the psychology periodical. Thanks so much for any tips you may have. I work from home so we spend tons of time together. I send him to a doggie daycare every once in a while for socialization and teach him it's ok not to be with me 24/7. They say he is awesome there and Never an issue there.


      Hi Tracey.

      >I just subscribed and have only received the psychology periodical.
      This is impossible, the Periodicals come in a distinct sequence (for good reason). Is it possibly possible ... that you overlooked a few and forgot your initial subscription date?

      >Any suggestions on moving forward?
      With what? I didn't understand. Did you mean Neko is (only) aggressive when meeting other dogs on leash?

      >I do believe he has accepted me as alpha now.

      98% of dog owners think that. 97% are wrong. ;-)
      While I am not aware of clear indicators that would signal accepted Pack leadership, there are various indicators that do signal not accepted Pack leadership. It would go too far to repeat myself here again but this all does come up in future Periodicals (many of which by the way are referenced in my books, for those that can't wait to receive the Periodicals).

      Now, if Neko does show the limited aggression I purely speculated above, then don't forget the basic rule: When an unleashed dog approaches you, unleash your dog immediately too. While this may seem "risky", it does avoid raised tension in the leashed dog. Not many dogs do well with being on leash when approached by an unleashed dog. (I wouldn't do either, ha!)

      The daycare is fantastic: intense regular socialization is absolutely essential for GSDs to develop well!


    Hello. My husband and I are first time GSD owners. We have a 9 week female puppy, Nymeria, (as well as a 10 week old baby girl, Haley). We originally allowed Nymeria to be inside with is but she kept peeing everywhere (never let us know when she needed to go out). So, we bought a big wire cage to keep her in at night while we were sleeping. This helped her whine when she needed to go but she would still pee inside the house even as we were on our way to open the door to let her go outside. Also, she kept chewing on everything! We tried giving her chew 'toys' (I use toys loosely because it was a tennis ball and an old shirt that I knotted up.) These things would keep her attention for about 5 minutes before she would move on to things she was not to chew on. Thus, we started putting her on a 25 ft lead outside at night and then we let her loose during the day. Is that hurting her psychology because she isn't inside with us? Also, she kept nipping at us and occasionally breaking the skin. This scared us seeing as how we have a 10 week old baby. I would love for her to be inside with us so she would feel like part of the family but we must figure something out to help with the chewing on EVERYTHING and the nipping. Any suggestions?


      Emily, I can't believe it. You say you are having a 9 week old female puppy? Let's assume, a GSD puppy, right?
      Every public page on this site shows what on the left?
      Something that meets your needs. It even has puppy in the TITLE, several times. Oh!

      And now you're asking me about so many points in one comment? There's no way I could any better explain here what I have already extensively explained in the linked book on the left on every public page. You see what I mean?

      In your particular case, for safety reasons (with a 10 week old baby girl in the house!) this is SO URGENT that there's not a day to lose. The safety aspects in the book go hand in hand with the equally URGENT socialization needs for the GSD puppy(!).

      I can completely understand if you want to save money (assuming), but then I'd equally urge you to get the free books today - and work through them, apply them. Also remember what I've suggested on countless pages here, namely that Ian Dunbar's free books are very worthwile as well.

      Hope this helps your decision.


    I've been through a tough process so far with my 13 week old GSD. She's an all white GSD, and honestly too smart for her own good. She house broke herself from day one, goes to the same spot in the backyard, and even knows when is feeding time.

    I got her from a breeder who kept all his GSD in an outside kennel. She now sleeps inside, next to my bed on a dog bed. She has learned a few commands and I've taken her everywhere when I can... My biggest concern is how she plays with other dogs, smaller ones to the least. She seems a bit aggressive or simply just wanting to play, while others do not want any part of her. In essence, this is primarily smaller dogs, the problem I am having with her is that fact that she is fairly large for her age.
    This section has helped me understand a lot about her psychology and how she interacts with other humans, but what about other dogs? Must they believe they are the alpha or dominant ones in those situations? She understands the concept of "no" do when spoken to she knows when to stop the rough playing with other dogs. She does not rough play with me, but on the other hand she takes advantage of my sister who lives in the same household, is this to say she believes she's the beta dog? (I don't believe I have fully established myself to her as the alpha dog, it's all a process)

    Thank you for your time :)


      Hi Max, glad you ask, before it's too late.

      Here's what I would do myself, and suggest you do too - in the order of seriousness (regardless of your present perception):
      1) Anyone who lives in the same household (here, your sister), must be established as accepted Pack leader.
      - Anyone includes the smallest children!
      - Must means no exception, or otherwise a GSD (any mid- to large-size dog!) can at some point become a dangerous family member! (after all, every dog is an animal)
      - Accepted hints at the (larger) topic that I called The Prime Secret about Dogs - which you will get as free Periodical in about 8 weeks (or else, it's also in my books of course)

      => To achieve accepted Pack leadership for your sister (and for yourself too), you will need to perform our renowned Feeding Routine (as a minimum) - which you also will get as free Periodical in about 6 weeks (this topic even is in my free books, eyes left)
      - for the importance of accepted, see above
      - you will need to means: I am not aware of any other/quicker/better way to become a dog's accepted Pack leader than through our Feeding Routine (or Doggy Dan's, who even shows live how to perform it right).
      I am not aware that any other dog experts/trainers even know of our Feeding Routine (and thus they don't perform it), but I do see from many videos that they are not their dog's accepted Pack leader. This will all become MUCH clearer over the years you are receiving the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL. In fact, you will likely already fully agree with the above in about eight weeks. ;-)

      2) URGENT and comprehensive socialization!
      => Get either the Puppy 101, or Ian Dunbar's free After you get your puppy.

      3) Once you followed 1) and 2), this part may be unnecessary: To teach your GSD to behave more considerate with other (smaller) dogs, you need to show her how - because: Dogs learn everything from what we show, and very little from what we say (command)! All the more true for the smart German Shepherds.
      => Like Ian Dunbar says so well: Put "play with other dogs" on cue.
      So, reward her with play when she behaves well. End the play when she doesn't. She will then quickly learn that, to continue to be able to play with other dogs, she must behave as calm and gentle as the other dogs. With a GSD, this principle is essential: A GSD must always adapt its force to the level (s)he is subjected to (because else, a GSD applies too much force)!


    I found your periodical very enlightening! A lot of thoughts I had were verified and others clarified.
    The best thing I could have done for Hooch thus far was to click on the link to your website!...
    Thanks again,
    Hooch and Miki.
    BTW, I am alpha.. my husband remarked just this afternoon; "Notice how she follows you wherever you go. She always has to be with you or see you."


      Hi Miki,
      >BTW, I am alpha.. my husband remarked just this afternoon; "Notice how she follows you wherever you go. She always has to be with you or see you."

      Ah well, how shall I say it... Yes, you and I (plus your husband) may all believe that you are your dog's Alpha leader.
      Yet this does not mean that your dog believes that too. The fact that "she follows you wherever you go" means nothing for accepted Pack leadership, sorry. I see thousands of dogs like that (following their pack mate everywhere), but you know why? For example, because the dogs learned from experience that their pack mate sometimes hands out a delicious morsel.

      Now imagine, you being a dog, wouldn't you then follow your pack mate everywhere too?
      Of course you would! :-)

      So now (you are back being human) check: Can you reliably recall your dog from the distance when she's attracted by a steaming t-bone steak on someone's picnic blanket next to her?

      Ouch! ;-)


    Thanks for providing all this information! About 18 months ago we adopted a rescued (shiloh?) shepherd puppy - she was about 5 months old then. We found out later that she was rescued from a puppy mill, which meant no socialization or interaction. She is absolutely wonderful with us, but is aggressive to anyone who comes into the house. We were working with a shepherd breeder to train her, which has been helpful, but any further advice on how to be a best pack leader would be greatly appreciated. We accept her natural instincts, but need to get her to a place where, at the very least, she ignores visitors to the house. We can't even imagine a time when she'd be welcoming :(


      Leeanne, there's a very long, detailed and pretty comprehensive free Periodical coming up for you in six weeks.


    They are amazing dogs ! I love this informative article!


    I have just recently found your website and signed up for your periodicals. I enjoy them very much and look forward to more. My GSD is 9 months old and very active. I'm a single mom so it has been challenging at times. I never dreamed of getting a dog like this until I was given this one at 4 months because the owner was a definite non-alpha and already new she couldn't handle him. I'm still trying to find that balance and his favorite activity is fetching. I make him sit before I throw it again. Now all I have to do is raise my eyebrows and he sits for the ball. It's great! I can't wait to see everything else he is capable of. I'm still working on training myself because he seems to be a natural.


      Please work through the New Puppy Checklist, it's free, and it holds essential points for you to implement now. ;-)


    Dear Tim,
    Thank you for this great article.
    I'd greatly appriciate your suggestions regardig couple of issues that we have with my German Shepherd -- Ray, who a very strong and healthy boy, but often tense and extremely stubborn.
    His issues, which I attribute to excessive tension are
    -- puppyish barking every time he is with my kids ( 8 and 11 years old) and I guess there is some notes of jealousy
    - barking at night -- trying to alert me when a kid is coming to my bedroom, though he never barks when my wife or I am entering the bedroom at night
    -- aggressive behavior toward strangers, and some dogs
    A bit of Ray's background: Ray came from a known local breeder who supples pure bred "working" GSD with european lineage mostly for K9 police units and personal protection. Ray turned three years old few days ago (thank you for your birthday gift -- very informative poster). Ray is not neutered. He leaves with us since he was 7 weeks old, and it seems like in his mind he is one of the kids. Apparently he is putting himself high than they in the pack's hierarchy, though kids love him.
    Ray has been trained for "obedience " with professional trainers for almost two years. His trainer, who trains police and army K-9 units, told me that he is a "police dog". Ray is a very high drive, dominant dog, his tail is almost always upwards (your periodical about meaning of tail position was an eye opener for me)
    He lives in the house where he has a crate, but prefers to sleep in our bedroom next to my bed on the carpet, though he has a comfortable bed next to the wall. We leave in California in the hills and have few acres of land enclosed with a deer fence, so he has quite a safe playground without the risk to wonder too far away, but most of the time, when he is outside, somebody keeps him a company. He usually has a mile long walk and some exercise twice a day, but often he has to stay home alone -- usually sleeping/laying in his crate with the door opened.
    We feed him a mix of home made stew (cooked fresh meat and vegetables) and adding Wellness kibble into a stew.

    So, now you probably know more than you want to know about Ray:)

    I would really appreciate your suggestions regarding Ray's behavior.

    Best regards,
    -your grateful subscribers Alex and Ray, of course:)

    P.S. Your periodical about tail lingo and article about barking helped to understand the issue better, but I still do not have a clear idea how to deal with helping Ray to stay calmer.


      >Thank you for this great article.
      Which of the ~15 articles above?? Or did you mean ALL of them? So you mean the entire Periodical?!??

      Are you a site member Alex? Be fully aware that this site and all that you are getting(!), does not survive from 10000 freebie seekers' questions - each of which cost time to answer... Makes sense?
      Oh yes! Hence why I don't answer all of that (and the same, again and again)! :-?

      I won't see your site member booking for some days, as we are in the middle of packing up and moving. So in brief, here's what I would do:
      - I'd STOP paying for the Obedience Trainer!
      - I'd systematically socialize(!) Ray - because clearly he wasn't
      - I'd have each child consistently apply my Feeding Routine to the letter!
      - I'd show Ray with MY BEHAVIOR that I do not tolerate that he barks at my children!
      - Upon the second such misconduct I'd isolate him as shown in the PDG
      - I'd get Ray neutered (unless I wanted him for breeding)
      - I'd not allow Ray to sleep in my bedroom!

      And my tip for Alex: Don't wildly access Periodicals that are - for a purpose - months to years apart. Rather I'd focus on the ONE I am getting through email notification. ;-)

      Because otherwise Tim will simply LOCK every Periodical. Ahem. :-)


    good job, your periodicals is helping my puppy and thanks for this great article. my kitara is about three months old. I wish to train her in obedience. when & how to go about it? thanks


    Whys is my female gsd love the corrners of yard so much. And will do what ever it takes to squeez and lay next to the running pool pump . Whenshe has one of the best dogs houses with a better conforter then i do on my own bed.


    Hey Tim. I´m thinking about becoming a member as there are such infos that are needed right away but the periodicals do have a cool thing, for instance:

    I was walking my female GSD (6months) on her leash toward a lake that is nearby. When I felt safe to unleash her, I did and continued walking. I noticed how she walks a little ahead of me, going from side to side, like doing an 8, and I thought to myself that it had something to do with my protection. Now I just read in this periodical about it´s past as a shepherd and it´s driven goal to order and protect it´s pack. So cool to read/undestand more deeply my dog´s behaviour.

    Now as the pack leader thing... yeah, I´m in those 97% who think they are the leaders but are not... :)
    I realized that in the same walk I mentioned above. Once in the lake, where we swim once in a while, she absolutely did not let me enter the water. She would cross my path in every attempt I made to enter it, or, even worst, start to bite my ankles and even jump for my arms, whenever I was entering the water.

    I´ve noticed her crying a bit on other days while she was swimming WITH ME (a little deeper into the lake).. is it possible that she doesn´t like it? Although she seem to love the water when she is alone.

    Thanks for the info and historical background (I´m a history teacher). I did not know it was the nazi´s that started the prejudice with white GSDs.



      Not sure what you mean, membership details are here, while Periodical subscription is here.

      Surely you understand that I cannot spend MORE time on FREE visitors and Periodical subscribers. MORE, because have a guess HOW MUCH TIME I'm spending already to prepare all that what's free for you. :shock:

      Also I notice from your jumping around between Periodicals that are years apart, that I now do have lock them all, which is what I've been trying to avoid.


    Hi Tim,
    We have Beau - a 4 month old GSD which we got just before he turned 8 weeks from a reputable breeder. We only just discovered your site and I just purchased and downloaded your Puppy 101 and looking to start putting the advice into practice.We will need to get some items and sort a few things out first and need to ask a few questions. I should preface that we have 3 children as well - 14, 11 and 9.
    1) Beau was meant to be mainly an outdoor dog - although he is invited in when we are home to hang out with us as long as he behaves. He has a 'bed' inside in the room and also outside he has two beds - one is a sack bed and the other a mat.He has slept outside since just a few days after we got him with no problems. We have a covered veranda and glass doors and his bed/s are right on either side of the doors. He does not currently have free run of the house - we usually barrier off the family room when he is inside.

    Just in the past two weeks he has begun barking at night. It usually lasts about 10 seconds to a minute - but is intermittent for most of the night and is very disruptive for all our sleep and worried we are now becoming a problem for our neighbors and to be honest before kids and this our first dog - we hated it when dogs barked and created noise pollution so we are particularly sensitive and feel a bit hypocritical in not getting this under control.

    I am fairly certain his barking is protection motivated.. He is barking at Possums, neighborhood cats or other noises which during the day he absolutely ignores and I never hear a peep out of him. I happen to be in-between jobs now so am home and can observe him. He mainly sleeps all day and then everyone plays with him when they come home. But around 9/10pm we want him to calm down and chill out. Happy for him to hang with us in the house but he is restless and I end up having to put him out because he will get bored and then persistently do things for attention or to amuse himself (steal socks, shoes or scavange around the floor looking for bits of food or anything that has been left around). He will take stuff off the table (coasters or whatever to play with or chew on) - even though we have provided him a chew bone (rawhide with dried venison in the middle)

    I am going to address a few things that we don't have in place - a collar all the time, the short and long lead (he will generally heel now while we walk and I have been using the change of direction for awhile but any distraction has him lunging towards whatever it may be and as he gets bigger and stronger - it is more difficult - especially for the kids). Also - the toys - we have them all over the back garden (he has free run of the back garden) - I will get a container for them and begin to hand them out just the one at a time. He does like to root around in the foliage for sticks and branches to chew on and rip apart and we haven't really discouraged it because it isn't really doesn't hurt anything so not sure about that either.

    Anyway - this is a bit rambling but my first question is - what about the issue of him sleeping and living mainly outside? Will this be a major barrier to all the advice you have provided?

    With the barking.. I have been going out and calling him to me and saying firmly and calmly - 'quiet Beau.. shhhhh.. quiet' and using my finger to my lips as a gesture. It doesn't seem to helping much though because as soon as I shut the door either immediately or within a few minutes - off he goes again. My husband is especially fed up with it and we are both nearing wits end. However, I am convinced that with persistence we can somehow get this under control.. without waking at 3am to go speak to him about his barking..

    With 'isolation' - we don't have anywhere in our house that would work except the toilet - here in Australia often the houses have bathrooms and toilets which are separate rooms and ours is like this so our toilet is really just a small space with a toilet in it. I could remove the toilet paper and toilet brush and maybe that would work?? Or is that too small? The bathroom also could be an alternative but more difficult with all the stuff that is in there that I would have to remove from his reach.

    I realise there are lots of basics still to be done which might fix some of the problems we are having but I wanted to find out if our current living arrangement for Beau is a major problem and/or possibly the cause of the negative behaviours we are experiencing?

    Thanks, Kim


      Kim, like you say, rambling on distracts from your question, pl imagine a thousand sent in sth like that a day... - who has the time to read it?
      Now, it CAN work with the dog outside but your KEY issue is:
      "He mainly sleeps all day"
      "I end up having to put him out because he will get bored"
      "and then persistently do things for attention or to amuse himself"

      You see now?

      A GSD isn't made for such lifestyle, sorry. The 14 yr old child certainly is already able to take the dog for runs, or let him chase the tail teaser, go swimming, kick the Varsity Ball around, etc etc. The other kids in a year or two the latest. A GSD can be the best playmate for all of them, you are privileged! In any case, SOMEONE's got to EXERCISE the dog as much as this dog needs. Every day.

      My puppy is the same age as yours, and I noticed that at 12 weeks changed a lot, incl. that he (finally!) wanted to run around. Since 14 weeks I can't keep up with him (personal reasons). Now at 16 weeks he's really demanding in terms of daily exercise. You wrote your dog is bored, no surprise. I wrote "boredom is poison for dogs". I am guilty too, I just can't give this puppy as much attention/time/exercise as he wants/needs. Sadly, I don't have three kids he can troll around with.

      I am showing all my experiences with this puppy in "My New Puppy Diary", for site members. The plan is to make that accessable to book buyers, but currently the puppy obviously doesn't leave me the time to publish another book. Maybe in the summer.

      So: EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE is the key solution for you.
      Plus: Have ALL kids perform the Feeding Routine!

      Anyway, everything is in the Puppy 101 that you have. ;-)


    I have two GSDs. One 20 month old male and the other 11 month old female. Recently the male GSD's becoming very aggressive. I'm his alfa-master and I trained him to stay, sit, search and some other stuff. I don't take him out everyday but I play with him often and he was very well-behaved earlier and did exercise. Now he has the sexual maturity and tries to sex with the female gsd. He was a very well behaved dog earlier. But recently he attacked my brother 4 times. And today one of my friends was just praising and patting him and he was enjoying it, but suddenly he attacked him; luckily I was there and my friend managed to escape. The same thing happened to my brother 2 days ago. I really need help for this issue. We all love him so much and he was never been ignored. What should I do now?


      Anil, you know from the bottom of every email very well that you need to become a paying site member if you want your problems solved: No one has the time and affluence to solve thousands of other people's problems! Life is limited, days too.

      As you were so polite to greet first (that is my humor), let's briefly reply nonetheless (I have my good day, and hopefully you pay it forward). Your text suggests that you haven't done anything of the fundamental dog owner responsibilities we always suggest to adhere to - for good reason, as you are seeing now in your situation). We always suggest:
      - Get your puppy altered, this will help to avoid most adult dog problems! (there is a very limited exception to altering)
      - Become the accepted Pack leader (you say you are his "alpha", I bet you aren't the accepted Pack leader)
      - Forget Obedience Training (command training, like your "stay, sit, search and some other stuff")
      - Focus on your own behavior, and that of every family member
      - Have every family member perform our Feeding Routine (the most basic, fundamental requirement for safe dog ownership!)
      - Socialize a GSD puppy extensively, every day. Every day. Did I say, every day?
      - And exercise a GSD every day, intensively. That's what this dog breed is made for. Not for: "I don’t take him out everyday".

      For this kind of advice you'd have to pay a dog behavior consultant $500+ minimum!

      But in my experience, they can't give you this advice even after you've paid them. :-(


    Thanks for this information, Tim. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Your "socialize and he'll still protect you" reminded me of my second GSD, first puppy. Got her from a backyard breeder who really knew nothing, but I was young and never contradicted her. She told me to not let my puppy meet visitors or she wouldn't protect me. Loki (male name, I know, but she was female) was always with me when visitors came, especially strangers. A year later, I met the woman at a gas station. Loki was hanging out the window to say hello. She told me she'd moved to Florida and her puppy (same litter) had gotten so aggressive, she had to put her outside whenever anyone came to the house! She was still the elder and I'd been taught not to contradict them, so I said nothing. Just let her greet Loki. I've had seven GSDs, Kara will be my second puppy and eighth shepherd. Have always believed they would protect me if necessary, so have always encouraged friendliness to others.

    Was I Loki's accepted pack leader? I don't know; I've never been into being Alpha. However, one day, I looked into the yard from the 2nd story window and saw Loki with what looked like an animal in her mouth. I told her to drop it and she did. Then I told her to leave it and she backed off so I could see it -- the remains of a soft, unrolled, rawhide bone. Told her it was OK and she picked it up. All this time, I was upstairs. Had she ignored me, there was no way I could enforce my will.

    My new GSD, Kara, doesn't come home until May 1, after she reaches 8 weeks. Then I'll be able to try out your, and Ian Dunbar's, suggestions. I've got to adjust things since I'm not fully functional at the moment. I've got to get into your new puppy pages.

    Well I've rambled, but a) there is no question or problem here for you to solve, and b) I am a paid member.

    Thanks for this site. I understand how difficult it must be for you, especially with a sick puppy.



      Welcome, and yes, you then certainly were Loki's accepted Pack leader (has nothing to do with the "Alpha" leadership you read elsewhere). What you describe is very rare: Accepting your wishes from a distance when sth tempting is there! Congratulations, hope you achieve the same with the new dog.


    This is verry much true.
    Cant wait for next e mail I am learning every time something.
    Thank you.


    This has been such a help to me and our GSD. I've read most of this periodical to the family and we all see the traits offered here in our dog. We all now have a much better understanding of why he's doing what he does, and we feel better able to meet his needs.

    While we've always encouraged Ado to interact with other people and other dogs, he is standoffish, sometimes to the point of not letting others outside the family near him or pet him. We're working on this every single day. I do see slight improvement each day. With the tips offered here, I think I'm on the right track with Ado.

    These periodicals have been extremely helpful to me and the rest of my family. Thank you for all the information you offer.


      Believe it or not Jennifer, your comment here is the first genuine comment in a LONG time. And it helps others if only they read what you wrote.

      If everyone did that, under every Periodical, this whole endeavor would be so much more worthwile for everyone! :-|



    Wow. This article could not have come at a better time! We are currently working on socializing our 2 GSDs, Jack & Mika, who are 7 year old litter mates. In hindsight, I see we did not socialize them enough, out of ignorance. They are so smart and are responding so well to our efforts. We did socialize them as young dogs, but not enough. I feel guilty for learning the importance of this so late, but I'm dedicated to their well-being and happiness. As you put it, even if they don't demand my attention as loudly as my human child!

    I purchased the 101 dog tricks book and look forward to using it as a guide to work on mastering new things.

    Thank you so much for the energy you put into your periodicals!


    Tim, yet again, another great article!! Axel is doing good. We are using the feeding routine which has helped tremendously. I have also puppy proofed my house which has helped with the chewing. At 9 weeks old, that's all he wants to do !! I am still having some issues getting him and my cat used to each other, but will keep working in that. My older American Bulldog is getting used to him and they now play together. Thanks for all of your great advice!!


      Thanks for the Book Review Kim! I see them all, so few it is :-)


        Am sorry there is so few. Your books ... What I have read so far .... Have been the best resource for me and my new GSD. Not sure what we would do without you.


    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your knowledge. I am the lucky owner of a male puppy, as yet not in my care as he is just seven weeks. I am reading as much as I can so that I am prepared, both in training and food. When I was a teenager I had a german shepherd lab cross, she was wonderful. I am looking forward to my puppy and I will be reading more from your website. Thanks again.


    I have a pedigree German Sheperd and although I do agree with the vast majority of this article, I can't help but raise an eyebrow at the part which states that they need to be accepted as pack leader? This is my fifth GSD and only once has the dog tried competing for the dominant role. Personally I think that if your dog is competing for the alpha role you haven't raised them properly.


      a) which of the many articles above are you referring to?
      b) sorry to see that you have misread it: Nowhere in the entire Periodical, made up of many chapters, it says what you suggest: "that they need to be accepted as pack leader". Quite the contrary is written above. You may want to study it again.

      And if your "fifth GSD and only once has the dog tried competing for the dominant role" then this corroborates what I wrote myself: YOU must become the accepted Pack leader, and when the dog accepts you as such, well obviously he won't be "competing for the dominant role". ;-)
      And when the dog does NOT accept you as Pack leader, well obviously you will be one of the millions of dog owners ... who are taken for a walk by their dog, etc!

      I totally agree with your last sentence though: "Personally I think that if your dog is competing for the alpha role you haven’t raised them properly." - Exactly! :!:

      Sounds like YOU have raised your your fifth GSD "properly". Great! That's all we want here (plus health of course) :-)


    Thank you very much for the information that you share . I ve been doing the feeding routine for the last 2 weeks after reading your periodical . It has helped a lot . I understand we have so much more to work on . I just adopted a 3 1/2 year old female that wasn't very well socialized . Loving dog but little to no trianing . She is fitting very well with my 14 month old male that I adopted at 5 months . They are such a blessing to be around ( most times :) ) I am so glad I came across your site . The information here is sure to help me in this learning process .
    The knowledge you share is amazing .
    Thank you again .


    Thank you! Every piece of information is so helpful! So Rocco has been making some progress in adapting to his new home. He has identified well with my husband and follows him everywhere. Now, we have a growling issue under certain circumstances. For example, if we need him to move and he doesnt want to, or if you try to check on his tail or need to brush the shedded hair. He doesnt show his teeth, just growls. Does this have to do with the alfa leader issue not yet well established? What can we do to address this issue safely? Thanks for your help Tim!


      Yes Viviana, he hasn't accepted you as Pack leader yet, you will get many Periodicals that will help with that as well.


    Hi Tim,

    These periodicals are great and are genuinely helping me with Willow. I am working on being accepted as her pack leader...which seems to be working but she does test my authority sometimes always looking to see how I respond. After reading this periodical I will now pay more attention to my responses and see how that works out. She has free run of the large yard but I notice whenever someone comes through the gate, she runs away. This happens with members that play an active role in feeding and playing with her. I will try walking her on a leash to the gate when they get home and encourage her that way.

    Looking forward to reading future periodicals :)

    Thank you!


    So I have a 12 week old male gsd puppy, and I'm told he'll only pick a male master. Is that true?


    Hi, I've been reading through the comments and you really seem to help people so I wonder if you could help with some issues I have with my German shepherd, King. We have had him for around 6 months. He's 4 years old (I'm told) and was given to us by neighbours who in their words "can't deal with him". I had reservations in taking him on as I had heard them yelling at him and he always seemed really aggressive when we walked past their house. However, I agreed just to get him away from them! I expected aggression from him towards us and my other dog however that is not the case. He's completely obsessed with our Staffordshire bull terrier and never leaves his side which is where the problems start. You can do nothing with King without the other dog, his reaction resembles complete terror, and he is terribly protective of the house/people in side it! He barks at everyone who approaches or comes to visit no matter how often he sees them and can't be around other dogs unattended as he can be aggressive. Is it too late to train him? If so can you suggest any ways I can make his quality of life better? I feel like he's had such a bad start that he's ruined but giving up on him is not an option! We all love him terribly and just want him to have a good life ?


      Kerriann, I read it and need to give it some thought for quality, it's night here now and after a busy work day I can't think that clearly.
      Please post a reminder here IN CASE I haven't responded the day after tomorrow.
      So yeah, I fully agree "I feel like he's had such a bad start that he's ruined but giving up on him is not an option!", he probably got both neglected and beaten.

      It's never too late for training, no. But it doesn't sound like training is the issue, rather dog trauma. Can you go through that and then let me know what you recognize with him and if it helps completely or just partly?

      Likely the GSD is not fixated on the Staff as such, but seeking Pack structure, and maybe using that to establish dominance too. Are you performing our Feeding Routine?

      Also, as always, I remind to ensure every family member is the accepted Pack leader, else the dog naturally is stressed, and what you describe as "his reaction resembles complete terror" likely is one such outcome.


    Hi Tim,
    This is an excellent piece on GSD psychology. I especially benefited from the discussion on socialization as it reinforced in my mind the necessity of this most important facet of training. We are 3 years into our life with BB Kiddo, our 8th GSD in 48 years of living with the breed. She is a W. German Schutzhund, and the most extreme example of GSD breeding we have yet to encounter. We have exposed her to all facets of socialization, including taking her shopping in large stores which permit pets. We started when she was a young pup, giving people we met in the stores a couple of treats to give her. She loves people, especially children. People love to see her coming as she walks behind the shopping cart between us as we push the cart. We tell her to "get in" and she falls into position as we walk the aisles. When we stop to look at something she will lie down and wait until we resume our walking. When she's had enough of our dawdling, she will bark at us to say she's ready to go. She definitely responds as an equal pack member, but a little bossy at times to us older folks when we're too slow for her energy level. The more you work with socialization, the more social and well behaved the dog will be. With these dogs, you must put in a lot of quality training time and consistency and you will reap the benefits.

    Thanks for your good chapters and excellent explanations. I hope your year is going well.


      Thanks Max. I wish my Miguel was that well trained, we don't have any malls not even individual stores where dogs are allowed (other than as required guide dog, by law). Where do you live or what stores are those please?


        We live in the US, near Pittsburgh Pa. the stores which are the most friendly to dogs and allow customers to bring them while shopping are Tractor Supply, a chain of large hardware stores with dog and horse departments. Also Lowe's and Home Depot which are 'big box' hardware/home improvement stores. Also the large supermarket pet supply stores such as Pet Smart and Petco which also provide dog grooming and training (which services we do not make use of ... we do these services at home where it's more sanitary for our dogs). Most malls will not allow dogs to visit but it doesn't hurt to ask what their policies are. There are also many outdoor patio type restaurants/cafes that allow dogs to accompany their families and these are excellent public opportunities to socialize well behaved dogs. However, just walking dogs in public shopping areas in towns is an excellent way to achieve the same purpose. People stop you for conversation and ask to pet your dog. Offer them a treat to give your dog and require them to ask the dog to sit or other commands you are working on. All are good ways to socialize. Remember to keep up these lessons throughout your dog's lifetime, not just until puppyhood is over.


        Was unaware that Lowe's and Home Depot allow dogs inside (and haven't seen any). Either you are lucky or commanding respect or both. :-)
        Pretty much every store and all malls I know here and anywhere I've been before have stickers on the entry doors that dogs are not allowed (small but red thus I can't claim I didn't see them), and so I never saw much benefit of asking whether I can take dogs inside. Maybe I should just be bold?

        As for socializing, you do what I show new dog owners with video documentation in the New Puppy Diary, all forms and locations for socializing. Very good, yes.

        As for treat training, you will see in future Periodicals why I object to treat training, and given your experience and wisdom you will then agree and no longer hand out treats for training or socialization purposes. As said, comes later, we have a LOT of ground to cover here. :-)


    Wow! Thank you for the detailed, must-knows about this beautifully amazing breed. Our dog Xia is a 1 year old lab/German Shepherd mix whom we've adopted through our local animal shelter. She seemed to have a rough past and was very nervous, almost skittish.. I've never fell in love with any dog so hard as I have with her and I'd tell everyone that she had an old soul and she was extremely sensitive and more intelligent than any of the other dogs I've encountered. I'm so glad I found this website and discovered that the reason she paces back and forth is to attempt to get us all in one room or all together, when I thought she had severe anxiety from the past.. I agree it takes an extremely Keen owner to appreciate this breed because they deserve the utmost respect in my book...thanks


    A little late but better late then never! I'm glad that I now understand my GSD Harley. Thank you.
    Perla & Harley ?


    Hi Tim,
    This is great!! Anyone who wants to understand their German Shepherd dog should read this all the way through! If more people could learn that their German Shepherd dog is genetically programmed to behave the way they do, there would be less GSDs in shelters or rescues. First timers often give up on their dogs because they just dont realize that this is no ordinary dog! I wish that all breeders would fully explain ALL of the good and bad points of the GSD before selling them to a first timer. A lot of people love the dog because he is so majestic looking and so smart, but they have no idea how that intelligence can work against them, and by the time they find out, it is very late in the game.I wish more people would read your site BEFORE they get a German Shepherd!

    On another note, I took Jordan to a sheep farm to see how she would react. I was amazed because she immediately ran and tried to get all the sheep in a tight group. Every time a few tried to run away, she would run after them and push them back to the flock! I was astounded! She had never seen a sheep in her life. The did not try to move them anywhere, she just kept them together. After speaking to the owner of the sheep farm (who teaches herding) I now understand that that is a very big difference in the job they are given and the job of a Border Collie. The collie will move the sheep from one pasture to another, and the German Shepherd will keep them there!
    Great fun! I always am looking to learn more. Please keep up the great work!

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