German Shepherds are the second most popular dogs in the United States, only after the Labrador Retrievers. These great canines are brave, intelligent, fiercely loyal, and always ready to protect their loved ones. For that case, it’s not surprising to find yourself admiring to bring them home more than any other breed. However, there is more to examine in a dog than just the innate qualities before you decide whether to make it part of your family or not. For families with kids, we can never emphasize enough on the importance of prior evaluation. They probably have all you want in a dog, but are German shepherd puppies good with kids? Well, that’s one of the questions that most people ask- and with us here is the answer!
Well, the simple answer is simple; it depends! If you train your GSD puppy, he should get along very well with your little ones. However, the compatibility factor here doesn’t lie only on the dog’s shoulders- educating the youngsters on how to safely interact with these furry colleagues is equally essential.
Why German Shepherd Puppies May Be Good With Kids
Before we proceed any further, it’s important to note that German shepherds develop slower than most dog breeds. Therefore, these dogs are considered puppies in their first three years. Now, GSD puppies have several qualities that make them a better option than most breeds for families with children. To have a better understanding of this, let’s get deeper and examine their temperament.
German Shepherd Temperament
They are Intelligent:
It’s beyond doubt that German shepherds have off-the-charts intelligence. That’s why they are so easy to train. It is also the major reason why they excel in activities such as search and rescue, therapy work, firefighting, catching criminals, and other jobs that require a high level of reasoning. Hence, if you want your GSD puppy to get along well with the little members of the family, you will need to direct some effort to training.
Teaching them to socialize well with all members of the family means that they will always know how to behave when dealing with the juniors. You can do the training yourself since they are easily trainable. However, you can still opt to use the various bodies that specialize to train this type of breed if you aren’t up for the task.
German Shepherds Are Loyal:
Loyalty is another thing that makes German shepherds better family pets than most other breeds. In fact, if you asked most people to think of a loyal dog breed, chances are that German shepherds will be the first kind to cross their minds. GSD puppies will develop a very close bond with your little ones easily and will always defend them from any danger even in your absence. And with their slow development rate, they should serve as a great gift that will grow up with the little members of the family.
However, it’s also important to note that the level of loyalty will vary from one German shepherd dog to the other. Nevertheless, you can improve the level of your GSD’s loyalty through training, making them feel like part of the family, exercising, and avoiding punishing them.
German Shepherds Are Energetic:
One thing that German Shepherds share with the little members of the family is that they all have a lot to burn. That’s why they make great play companions that are ever ready to welcome fun at any given time. However, since the energy levels tend to be high in dogs than kids, the juniors are likely to get tired faster than the lovely furry colleagues. For that reason, it’s advisable to exercise your German shepherd for 1-2 hours a day to help burn the excess calories.
However, before you can embark your GSD on any strenuous exercise, it’s recommendable to wait until they hit the age of 18 months when their bones are fully developed. This way, you will avoid several developmental disorders such as hip dysplasia. Getting the approval of the vet before any heavy exercise is also advisable.
German Shepherd Qualities You Should Be Aware Of
Although GSDs are intelligent, loyal, and very energetic, they still have a few flaws that you need to be aware of before you allow one to hang out with your little one. Here are some of the qualities that make them a potential threat to the children.
German Shepherds Are A Large Breed:
Although their puppyhood lasts for three years, by the time these dogs attain this age, they are already large. A male German Shepherd will grow up to 26 inches tall while the female will be only about 2 inches shorter. Also, the male is likely to hit a weight of 100 lbs. upon maturity, while females can only attain a weight of about 70 lbs. Therefore, before you leave your 3-year old German Shepherd to play with the 3-year old member of the family, it’s important to put in mind that their size is already too massive for the little ones. Therefore, what the dog may consider a light pounce when playing with kids could be way too powerful for them.
They Are Very Protective:
German Shepherds were bred for herding and protecting sheep from any threats. Therefore, the protective nature is something locked deep in their genetic makeup. While this quality plays a vital role when there is a real threat, the negative side of it comes when the dog treats everything that gets closer to the little ones as a source of danger. This quality puts the children from the neighborhood at high risk in case they come visiting their colleagues at your absence.
They Have Delayed Puppyhood:
As aforementioned, German Shepherds will take three years to transition from puppyhood to adulthood. And while they are a very intelligent breed, you can’t compare their level of intelligence when they are young to that of their adult phase. The older the German Shepherds get, the smarter they become. Therefore, at times you will see German shepherd puppies portray boatloads of silliness in their interaction with the young colleagues of the family.
Ways To Make Your German Shepherd Puppy Better Around Kids
Although the natural behavior of dogs is likely to be influenced by their inbred qualities, how you bring up your German Shepherd can influence how well they interact with people, other dogs, and animals in general when they grow. Here are a few things you can do to make your German Shepherd better.
Socialization is one of the things you need to do to improve the qualities of your German Shepherd. These dogs are naturally protective. Therefore, they will grow up to become leery of any unfamiliar faces by default. That’s why as a responsible owner, you need to take your adorable GSD out at an early stage to meet new people and other dogs. That way, they will grow up knowing that not all strangers always have an ill motive when they come around. Early socialization will also make them less aggressive to your kid’s friends.
German Shepherds have all the good qualities needed to make training them a breeze. In other words, these amazing dogs are clever, confident, and eager to please. Therefore, you can train your German shepherd to have child-friendly behaviors. Most experts recommend that you begin the training at an early stage if you want to get high levels of success.
Also, it’s good to adopt a reward-based technique rather than punishment in training if you want to get excellent results. Although snacks and treats are a great motivator, they do not provide an instant reward. For this reason, they are more likely to reinforce the wrong behavior. That’s why most professional trainers recommend clicker training as the most effective way of training since it rewards the dog instantly if he portrays the intended behavior.
As a protective breed, German shepherds are among the high-energy dogs. For this reason, they need a lot of exercise to help them utilize their excess energy and promote their mental wellbeing. An hour or two of exercise will be good depending on what the veterinary recommends. Without enough exercise, German shepherds are likely to transform their high energy-levels into aggression and other undesired behaviors such as chewing, unnecessary barking, digging, and others that may cause your kids some trouble.
Giving Them Attention:
The German Shepherd is a social breed. Therefore, these dogs will love their very own but also expect the same treatment in return. That said, giving the German Shepherd dogs the necessary attention and love will help them develop a sense of belonging. This feeling will create fertile grounds for cultivating their level of loyalty when developing a stronger bond with all the 2-legged members of the pack. They will also tend to behave friendlier around the children since they want to make them happy.
Put It Clear To Them That You Are The Leader:
Traditionally, German Shepherds were expected to take the full responsibility of herding and guarding sheep against any attacks. Therefore, these dogs were bred to be bosses. Thus, like their human partner, dominance is one of the behaviors you have to ‘undo’ in their minds. You need to make it clear that you are the head and that you demand their full respect. However, ensure that you put this clear in a caring and kind manner since punishing your dog can make them more rebellious.
German Shepherds And Toddlers
Since German Shepherds are very natty, they are a type of breed that is unlikely to be upset when poked by the small fingers. Nevertheless, it is generally not wise to leave dogs with toddlers. And for a large breed like the German shepherd, the importance of keeping a keen eye at the interaction is something we can never emphasize enough.
Of course, if you have a well-trained German shepherd, it’s hard to see them as a source of potential harm for the little ones. However, it’s important to understand that their body sizes are a great threat by themselves. Therefore, ensure that you supervise any interaction between your German shepherd and your children no matter their ages and the level of training.
Is A Male Or Female German Shepherd Better With Children?
Although both male and female German shepherds do well with youngsters once they have the proper training, several things make female German Shepherds a more suitable option for families with children.
A Smaller Body Size:
Female German Shepherds are a few inches shorter than their male counterparts. Also, they weigh way less when fully mature than male dogs. This means that their sizes are way less of a threat to youngsters than the larger males.
They Are Less Dominant:
The female GSDs are less protective than the male. I mean, they are less likely to guard their favorite toys, food, and their loved ones. Also, they are less territorial than male GSDs. While this may be an advantage or a downside depending on where you base your argument, we see it as more of an advantage when it comes to youngsters. Their less dominance makes them more tolerant of kids.
Female German Shepherds Do Better In Training:
Also, the girl German Shepherds are way easier to train than male dogs. Although they are both smart, female GSDs tend to learn cues and more sensitive commands faster than the male. For this reason, female GSDs will respond better to child-friendly training that the masculine colleagues.
Their Feminine Touch Is Key:
Although all German shepherds portray high levels of loyalty to their family members, the male dogs are likely to love their trainers and feeders more. However, the female German shepherds have that motherly love for all the members of the family. Hence, whether it’s a young or an old member of the family, male or female, girl German shepherds will show the same level of care and loyalty.
They Have More Exercise-Suited Bodies:
Finally, German shepherds are easier to exercise. Their more graceful body and lighter weight makes them a more suitable option for rally and exercising. This means that they do well in burning the excess calories which in turn minimizes their already low level of aggression.
Essential Tips For German Shepherds And Kids
Whether you have a male or female German shepherd, trained or untrained, there are a few tips you need to always have in mind. These considerations will always ensure safe interaction between the GSD puppies and the youngsters.
- Just like for any other dog, never leave your little one to interact with your German shepherd in your absence. Kids and toddlers will at times not make sound judgment which may make the dog get upset for their actions. Therefore, always stay in the supervision of the interaction just in case the unexpected happens.
- Giving the best attention to your GSD is a nice way to win their trust and loyalty. This way, they are more likely to interact in a friendly manner with the young members of the family.
- Never ignore the importance of early socialization for your GSD. It helps curb some of the aggressive and other undesirable behavior towards strangers and other dogs.
- Always ensure that your dog has a healthy amount of exercise. Regular exercise for your dogs will help exhaust the high amount of energy without leaving for them any excess amount for use on undesirable behaviors such as chewing and aggression.
- Training your GSD puppies on how to interact well with the little ones is also key. It helps them become more tolerant and minimize the chances of accidental injuries when playing with them.
- Always remember that food aggression is real in all dogs. For this reason, always ensure that the young members of the family don’t disturb the furry colleagues when eating.
Educating Kids On How To Relate With German Shepherd Puppies
While training your GSD puppy on how to interact with the little ones in a friendly way is good, you also need to understand that dogs are not always the source of trouble. Actually, most of the time puppies that have been in the family for some time will respond according to the treatment they get from the little members of the family.
Therefore, to be fair and unbiased, you should train kids on how to interact well with the lovely four-pawed friends. A well-trained kid is less likely to get injured by a dog when they are playing. Also, training the youngsters on healthy interaction with GSD puppies will help create a healthy bond between the two sides.
The German shepherds are great dogs for families with little ones. And while some of their inbred traits make them suitable for kids, you still need to bring in some input to make their interactions healthier. However, even with your input, it doesn’t mean that you can trust them to interact with the innocent souls in your absence!