A sound temperament is a must in a German Shepherd Dog (GSD). By sound, I mean a disposition where one minute you can let a protection trained GSD play alone with your 5-year old child, pull on its ears, pet its head, tug on its tail and NEVER-EVER be in harms way; while the next minute, it should turn into the “terminator” and crush its enemies as soon as it senses an intruder.
There are three conventional methods of dog training that you can choose from in order to train you German Shepherd Dog (GSD). They are training with treats, training with treats and clickers, and training with praise. All three methods of training will work; however, there is one that stands out from the rest. That is, oral praise. Why? Because you want your dog to listen to your commands even when you don’t have any toys, clickers, and/or food. Imagine you dog wanting to jump at your every command simply because it wants your praise and love and not because you are going to bribe it with treats. Once your dog gets used to getting treats for performance, it will cease to perform when you don’t have any more treats left. So, treat your GSD with kindness, and train it with praise!
Training a GSD which has not been genetically selected for working ability is that much more difficult than one that has already been selected for that trait. In my opinion, the age-old debate about beauty vs. functionality of the pure-bread GSD dog was settled by the founder of the German Shepherd Dog breed, Captain Max Von Stephanitz, when he said in his book,”…Utility is the true criterion of beauty…” (The German Shepherd Dog in Word and Picture, pg. 163). Many American GSDs today have been selected for beauty rather than functionality in order to win dog shows. In many of these dog shows, obedience and showmanship are separate events and a dogs’ working ability is never considered in events where the dogs are required to meet breed standards. Hence, you have the decline of the traits for which the breeds were originated for in the first place. So when you set out to buy your dream GSD, look for temperament, health, and working ability first, and beauty last.
The importance of beauty, however, should not be ignored when it comes to posing your dog for a memorable photograph. Unlike other breeds, GSD’s are shown differently in the breed ring. The proper method for posing your GSD for the breed judges is called a “stack”. “Stacking” is the method whereby one allows the forequarters of a dog to be shown parallel to one another when looking through the viewfinder of a camera and when one allows the hindquarters of the GSD to be arranged so that the limb facing the camera is placed backward while the limb facing away from the camera is placed forward. Most professional handlers who pose their GSD’s for photographers walk them into a “stack” instead of artificially manipulating them into it. If you plan to stack your GSD for a professional snapshot, remember to compose the image in such a way as to depict it from the tip of its nose to the tip of its hindquarters; NO MORE, NO LESS (please visit my web site to view photographs of how a GSD is stacked for the camera).
These topics cover just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowing the German Shepherd Dog breed. You can learn more about the GSD by visiting my web site or by getting involved in breed organizations like the German Shepherd Dog Club of America (GSDCA). With a little more reading, you can become familiar with this wonderful breed and all that it has to offer. And then perhaps you can decide whether this is the right breed for you or not.