The first dog I can remember was a German Shepherd. I grew up on a farm, and back then, it was very typical to have large dogs on farms since they have so much space to play with and protect.
What I remember from this young age is that my German Shepherd was loyal and protective. But, sometimes, he became overly excited.
Since German Shepherds are such large dogs and often referred to as guard dogs, you may be wondering if it's a good breed for kids.
Is A German Shepherd Child-Friendly?
German Shepherds are very loyal dogs and protective of their families. For this reason, they are naturally good with all of your family members, including kids!
Whether you get a GSD as a puppy or an adult, you must make sure they are properly socialized and trained. Socializing and training dogs will make your life easier all around, not just for kids. We will cover that in the rest of the article.
Why German Shepherds have a good temperament
According to The American Temperament Test Society (ATTS), the German Shepherd has one of the best pass rates for temperament: 85.3%.
It means that, compared to other dog breeds, GSDs tend to react better to unpredictability. But, as we all know, kids are unpredictable.
The average pass rate for all dogs is 83.4%.
The ATTS test thousands of dog breeds each year. The test is simple: they place dogs on a loose 6-foot leash in an enclosure. Then, three judges expose the dogs to various distractions and either give the dog a pass or a fail.
A pass rate of 85.3% means that some German Shepherds sometimes reacted badly. However, it is valid for any dog breed and, as I said above, can usually be fixed with proper socialization and training.
Is A German Shepherd A Good Family Dog?
German Shepherds are patient, loyal, and protective. These are all great qualities for a family dog. Therefore, it makes German Shepherds good family dogs.
Remember that because this breed is protective, they may behave differently with people outside of your family. German Shepherds are usually not friendly to strangers, which is why it is a good breed for many people.
Another point to consider is that because GSDs are a large breed, they are less likely to get hurt by children running around or playing with them.
Keeping Your Child Safe With a German Shepherd
Kids' idea of playing and German Shepherds' idea of playing are sometimes two different things. Kids might run around screaming, and the GSD might overly become excited. Here are a few tips to prevent the most unpleasant situations around kids:
- Always supervise your dog when your kids are present. It is true whether your kids are scared or not.
- German Shepherds like to lick children's faces because it's a habit they developed even with other dogs. It may worry your child.
- Your German Shepherd might get overly excited and knock over your child when playing outside. It is better to keep your child by your side when playing to prevent this from happening.
- GSDs love to jump, even when greeting people. So you may want to give a heads up to other people and children who meet your dog to prevent accidental knockdowns.
These tips are not limited to German Shepherds and are valid for all dog breeds, significantly larger ones.
A Puppy or Adult for a Family?
You may think that getting a German Shepherd puppy is a good idea since they are smaller. However, I do not recommend getting a puppy if you have young children, five years or younger. Puppies are a lot of work and don't have any training.
Since puppies lack training and experience, they often accidentally bite or scratch while playing.
Essentially, German Shepherd puppies are like having another child, which may become too much work and potential issues. If you have young children, consider getting a German Shepherd adult and make sure he was properly socialized and trained.
If you have older children or teenagers, you can consider getting a German Shepherd puppy and dedicate all the time needed to socialize and train the dog yourself.
Ask the previous owner if the dog has been around children before when getting an adult. You want to make sure the dog is child-friendly.
Training your German Shepherd
It is essential to train your dogs if they are around children. Training is not reserved for dog trainers, although I recommend getting 2 to 3 sessions with one so they can advise you on how to keep training your dog yourself at home.
You should consider training German Shepherd puppies for 2-3 minutes at a time, 3 to 6 times a day. Adults can train for 3 to 5 minutes, also 3 to 6 times a day. German Shepherds get distracted easily. Therefore, multiple short sessions daily will work the best.
Basic commands to teach your German Shepherd are: sit, stay, down, and come.
Here are a few tips for training:
- Work on different commands, but just one command per session.
- Keep sessions short.
- Practice in a variety of places.
- Use rewards: treats, praising, and petting.
- End session on a positive note: use a special end-of-session command that they know and keep it upbeat and fun.
Example: teaching your German Shepherd how to sit
- Start with your German Shepherd in a standing position. Have your treat ready, and show it to your dog.
- Move your hand towards their head, go above, and keep the treat near their nose.
- Your dog will instinctively raise their head to look at the treat. The more they raise their head, the lower their bottom will go, and they will eventually sit. Give them the treat once their bottom reaches the floor.
- You shouldn't use the "sit" command yet.
- After doing this successfully for a few sessions, say "sit" when their entire bottom is on the floor.
- You only want to reward them when their bottom is on the floor.
Teach Your Children to be Shepherd Savvy
Once your German Shepherd has some basic training and home obedience, it will be much easier for them to interact with children in a controlled manner.
Give your children tasty treats your dog loves and teach them to give them to your dog when petting and stroking them.
Complete some of your training sessions near children so that your German Shepherd learns to associate fun training with fun treats and fun children.
Having your dog listen to your children's commands will also help your dog respect them more and decrease the chance of any unpleasant situation occurring.
German Shepherd's main qualities
The German Shepherd breed is considered one of the top 5 most loyal dog breeds.
Ultimate guard dog
Millions of homes rely on this dog for protection. These dogs have a muscular frame and are considered one of the top 5 best guard dog breeds.
They are naturally easy to train and will be happy to learn the rules to play nicely with children.
GSDs need to be exposed to as many different kids as possible of all ages as a puppy. It is valid for any dog breed, but German Shepherds have natural prey instincts, and socializing is the best way to make your German Shepherd puppy understand that kids are friends to be treated with care.
The second benefit of socializing your German Shepherd is they will grow accustomed to all types of noise, people, sights, and sensations and be less scared as an adult.
A Shepherd's High-Energy Needs with Your Family
German Shepherds have a high need for daily exercise. At the very least, you should walk them twice a day for at least 30 minutes. I recommend 2 hours daily if you can, as this will help with other issues you could be having. In addition, a well-exercised dog has less frustration and anxiety.
If you consider your family to be active, the German Shepherd could be a great fit.
German Shepherds are an excellent choice for a family since they are loyal, obedient, and protective.
You should consider getting a well-socialized and trained German Shepherd adult if you have young kids. However, you may consider getting a puppy if your kids are older and you have time to socialize and train your puppy yourselves.
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