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GSD and Children - Best Practice

 Reviewed 4 June 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto

==> Small children or large children? - At home or on the street?

Better safe than sorry!

I cannot stress enough the importance of learning ever more how to build the BEST relationship with your GSD.

All the more if you have children at home or particularly if you are expecting a baby, and you have a German Shepherd, then you certainly need to consider the subsequent points in order to be safe! For your kids, your dog, and you.

Your German Shepherd can be a completely delightful caretaker of your kids and your family, protecting, guarding and guiding at all times. But for this it is necessary that your GSD is trained to the BEST.

Understanding your GSD's temperament, knowing its behaviours and maintaining a healthy relationship with your GSD is needed to help your GSD bond well with your children, grandchildren, and other people's children.

1) Alpha Leader

A point most dog owners don't realize: Every family member, including every child, must establish the role of accepted Pack leader - not just you alone.

If your children are small, of course you need to help them to become your dog's accepted Pack leader.

Most importantly, every child must be involved in the Feeding Routine regularly - see again the fundamentally important MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL Dog Meals, Meal Times, and Feeding Routine!

In a family, best is to take Gesture Eating in turns, and when everyone has done it, start again with the first family member the next week or whenever. If you have a baby, hold your baby in front of you in a baby sling or baby carrier while performing the entire Feeding Routine.

In short, with children in the house, nothing is more important than to involve all children in the complete indoors training (see House Training Dogs To Behave Well) and complete outdoors training of your dog (see Dogs Unleashed: From On-Leash to Off-Leash).

How else can you possibly expect both:

  • your children to behave well with your GSD
  • and your GSD to behave well with your children

This will not happen out of thin air, you know?

Re-listen to what the Top dog expert says above - and indeed he said much more on this essential topic.

Do you want your children, grandchildren, and other people's children to be SAFE with your German Shepherd, or do you want them to possibly become another statistic? It's really odd: People insure themselves, their house, their car, and often their dog and their iphone too, but they fail to insure their children through simple training of the right kind!

I fail to understand such people, I just can't! Paying tons of insurance premiums although the best insurance always is what you do yourself: right. And what you teach your children to do: right.

Training the dog and the kids when having both, this also includes other points than involving your kids in the Feeding Routine: Involve the kids in the washing of your GSD, dog grooming, toothbrushing etc, show them how to safely dog walk off-leash etc. All this helps to establish all family members as accepted Pack leader for your German Shepherd.

Only if your dog KNOWS its position in the house (that is, after all family members), your children are SAFE - and everyone (including the dog) is happier too! Dog-Child aggression or even biting only happens in households where the children have not been established as accepted Pack leader.

Conversely, if the roles are well defined through the right training approach (both dog training and kids training), your dog will follow your and your children's clear behavior (and commands) without being stubborn or angry or 'bossy'.

2) Ideally: Start immediately!

The best time to start developing the right bonding between the children and your GSD is immediately.

To most people who have small children it appears best to get a puppy, however that can be the wrong choice indeed: Puppies' erratic, energetic, and dominant behavior (including the desire to nip everything they can get their mouth on) most of the time is a real challenge for GSD-inexperienced parents - and all the more for the children! Thus, key is to immediately and comprehensively socialize the puppy with the children.

If you have the choice, then an adult GSD would be the better choice: Older dogs are much more predictable and calmer and more tolerant with kids! However, if the older dog have had little experience of being around children (you can't know if you get a shelter dog!), then they can become scared, agitated and even aggressive. Because, to a not well-socialized dog, children's behavior and screaming is absolutely terrifying! Thus again, key is to immediately and comprehensively socialize the adult dog with the children.

And if you don't have the choice? Because you are already facing a serious situation with the dog and the children together?

Are you asking me? Then I'd reply: There is no one better to learn from what to do and how to behave than the top professional dog trainer who is raising both small children and a puppy and adult dogs at the same time as well!

torero-posturing a dogAnd without force or raising fear in the dog or the children, without shouting, without "training" gadgets, without treat-training, and without the macho-posturing average TV celebrities need so as to impress the impressable audience of average dog owners.


So, start EARLY if you can. And if you couldn't, start with our advice here and in the other Periodicals how to behave right, and how to establish every family member as accepted Pack leader.

dog socializationYou don't need to have kids at home for this. Your family friends with children, your neighbors, or even the odd kid you meet on the street are good training for your dog too. If only you want, then chances are limitless.

Dog training is not finished until your German Shepherd remains totally calm even when a bunch of kids are rushing past on scooters on the street next to your dog! Actually, dog training is never finished, there's always something that deserves a refresher. With most dog owners I know, that refresher would better happen right now.

3) Activities with children and GSD

Kids and Dogs is a great guide to read if you have children and a dog in the house. It also shows examples how to involve your children with different activities related to your German Shepherd. This not only creates interaction, but leads to the development of deeper understanding and affection and respect(!) between the kids and your dog.

take care!Involving your children and other children in all the ways mentioned above will also make your dog comfortable around the kids when you are not there - very Very VERY important!

News headlines like "Boy (7) mauled while mum was at the grocery store" wouldn't exist if all dog owners followed our advice here! This will never happen though: Only a selected few make it through years worth of our Periodicals. Hey, only a selected few even make it to our site! At the moment, you are one of those selected special few. grin

Raising both small children and dogs safely and happily at the same time is really simple aka doable, but it needs to be done! Just reading about it is not enough - but necessary to get the best grounding: to know what's right, and why, and what's wrong, and why.

Doggy DanIf you then prefer to also see and hear the best dog training live in order to get it done: There's a reliable Master trainer (as opposed to the well-known dog TV entertainers) available anytime you need some guidance - whether today, tomorrow, or The Day After Tomorrow: His name is Dan Abdelnoor, but really famous he has become as Doggy Dan, as he likes to call himself (though he told me: he hasn't got that in his passport yet). grin

How I know that his dog training and children training skill is reliable? Obviously because I have been studying his training videos too! How else would I learn more all the time if I didn't watch the top dog experts, interview them, read them, and think about all I watched, heard, and read? And then I try out new things and see what works better and integrate it into our own training approach. This is what I do.

There really is never an end to learning if only we want (or ultimately need to, because of a problem having emerged). Admittedly, watching makes learning a breeze. Sadly, making videos myself is not my skill.

Anyway, if you don't want a whole book on activities with children and dog, in about a year there will be an entire series of MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS on dog play, including how to involve children the right way.

4) Baby and your German Shepherd

When it comes to babies and dogs, just remember one rule:

NEVER leave a baby or a small child unattended with your GSD or another dog!

This is the single best rule that can save you from any unfortunate happening. Babies and small children cry, move their arms and legs much, and also make those baby and high-pitched child sounds - all of which together is more than enough to excite (or scare) your GSD!

You need to accustom your dog to all these situations and noises under your supervision, and make your dog realize that this is very normal and nothing much to be excited or scared about.

How? As always, through leading by example: Your behavior (making nothing of what the baby does and cries) will show your dog to make nothing of it either. You show your dog how to behave.

You don't need any of my books for this, no worries. wink In about nine months there will be a series of MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS on Behavior Training and its differences to the ever so popular but primitive Obedience Training. But in short (super-short): Your commands won't work if you aren't there to give them! Either because you are out of house or in another room, or (later) because the children are out with the dog.

I am just remembering: Dog-Baby socialization, ie how to involve baby and dog the right way - Dan shows this too!

The whole topic of Dog Socialization will often feature in our Periodicals. For good reason: Socialization and training is not only the best thing to focus on when you have a dog - once the dog is there, it also is the only thing you can do:

Although comprehensive socialization is best started at puppy age, let me make very clear here that all the same is needed when you adopt say an eight-years old German Shepherd Dog from a rescue center! An adopted adult dog initially is in many regards like getting a puppy. For more see the Puppy Development Guide - Puppy 101.

5) Keeping clean and healthy

With a dog and small children at home, you need to be extra careful about keeping the house clean. Also, take special care in shedding seasons, as well as flea and tick seasons (shedding will come in 5 months, fleas in 14 months, and ticks in 15 months). Do not let the dead hair with parasites on it float in the air. These can cause breathing problems and/or allergies for children!

Try to maintain some discipline around the house. You may ask your GSD to leave the nursery when the baby is asleep or feeding. Similarly if your baby is small and has just learnt crawling, make sure your baby doesn't get near your dog's eating and drinking bowls as well as rest areas!

Further, for your German Shepherd's safety, keep all diapers, baby clothing, baby care products, and toys(!) in an enclosed space that is not within the reach of your dog! This is necessary because your dog can be particularly curious about these items (as they have a strong odor), and by mistake your dog might eat or swallow them. This can be extremely dangerous and can cause instant choking - which may just be the start of a very undesirable chain of events when the baby is there...!

6) Miscellaneous points

must not do'skid-dog kiss

  • Educate your kids NEVER to pat the dog on the head or to grab its tail, not to hug like headlock, not to kiss on the head, and also not to stare right into a dog's eyes. Eye contact is great and crucially important(!), just not staring (as kids like to do).
  • Your German Shepherd may be the friendliest dog for your kids and they will definitely enjoy the dog's company. But make your kids understand that not ALL dogs are like your GSD. They should always be cautious when with any dog.
  • NEVER allow your children to play games with your dog that involve pulling tails, ears or legs. This could annoy your GSD greatly such that the dog could become inadvertently - and suddenly(!) - aggressive.
  • And finally: Do NOT spook the dog. Show your children that they should always approach your GSD from the front and never try to startle the dog by reaching from behind or 'exploding' out of hiding - what kids LOVE to do. This can scare your GSD immensely and cause unwanted reactions!

All of the above are the key points that will help you keeping your children and your German Shepherd safe and in a close bond. Remember that a German Shepherd is an absolutely amazing dog for children to have. Safe, reliable, and protective. He or she will be there to protect and guard your family at all times. Instinctively at the risk of its own life!

This deserves a lot of extra love. So take care of your GSD and give him or her the love (s)he deserves.



  • See the advice above why and how to establish every family member, including every child, as accepted Pack leader for the dog
  • Do involve all children in the Feeding Routine performance (in turns). If you have a baby you must involve it too (safety reasons). A baby sling is of great help here because it keeps your hands free to perform the Gesture Eating in front of your dog (and to do all sorts of other things)
  • The earlier you start to socialize and train your GSD and your children, the better. Ideally, start immediately - whether with a puppy or with and adult rescue dog.
  • Kids and Dogs is a great guide to read if you have children and a dog in the house
  • The single best rule: NEVER leave a baby or a small child unattended with your GSD or another dog!
  • With a dog and small children, keep the house extra clean; and maintain a certain discipline around the house (see above)
  • If you prefer watching and listening over reading (what?!? wink ), these days the best dog training you can find online, at your own leisure, and without spending a fortune on one morning or evening with a local trainer of possibly poor but always undeterminable quality
  • In my opinion, Doggy Dan Abdelnoor is the top professional dog trainer that has gone online. He offers phantastic live videos of his client visits (plus a complete dog and puppy training series) - and all at a fraction of what a local dog trainer charges (for training methods you can't observe and a training outcome you can't replicate, and often better shouldn't!)
  • However, if you appreciate the deeper understanding only reading can convey (good! smile ) and you don't want to wait for the next hundred Periodicals(? yes!) - then here are the best dog books ever written (good humor always holds some truth, hehe! grin )

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