The personality of the german shepherd (or Alsatian) is one of the biggest reasons why they are so popular – for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. Since they make great police and military dogs, some people rush to get a German Shepherd thinking it will make a vicious guard dog. The German Shepherd is so eager to please, that it can be easily taught to attack. But the German Shepherd is not a vicious dog by nature – they are just doing what they've been taught to do.
German Shepherd dogs do, indeed, live up to the fictional resume of Rin Tin Tin. They are noble, loyal, brave, friendly and eager to please. Yes, you read that right — they are incredibly friendly. However, because they are so eager to please their people that they will quickly learn to attack if that is what their people want. At one point a few decades ago, German Shepherds were as feared as Pit Bulls are today.
German Shepherds are indeed powerful dogs that can take quite a large chunk out of you – when they are given the command to. They will also attack if they think anyone in their family is being threatened. There are some German Shepherds that, in the presence of an intruder, will run and hide rather than attack, but they don't get much press. They have to be trained to attack before they would ever attack another human being.
Since German Shepherd dogs are so large (they average about 75 pounds), they often do not know their own strength. Ever watch puppies playing? They wrestle quite fiercely and often bite softly. German Shepherd dogs will think you want to play like a puppy – very roughly. This can cause unintentional (but still painful) injury. It is important that your German Shepherd be trained and regularly exercised in order to prevent any accidental injuries.
When reminded that she shouldn't have let the son teach this trick to the dog, she wailed, “He's 37!” Patient and persistent retraining are the only ways to get a German Shepherd to give up a bad habit.
They learn to leash train very well (and can often be voice trained), whether their owners are walking, jogging, riding a bike or riding a horse.
German Shepherd dogs are very hard to distinguish from human beings in terms of their needs and personalities. They need attention, want to know when they've good job and need a reason for being alive. In their world, they want the good to be rewarded and the bad to be punished.
If they are taught to do something bad, they think they are doing well by obeying and will have a hard time understanding why they are being punished. They are capable of being retrained, if you have the guts to stick with your best friend.
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