German shepherds are large breeds and very active dogs that require many exercises. Aside from that, they expect their owners to reciprocate the love and attention they give them.
Taking care of a German shepherd includes proper grooming, feeding, exercises and training as well as regular visits to the vet.
Once you bring home your shepherd friend, be prepared for a lifetime commitment to your dog’s general wellbeing.
With a good measure of love and care, you are bound to have a good number of years and fond memories with your dog.
In this article, we are going to talk about how to take care of a German Shepherd, from feeding, health, exercise, training and more.
How To Take Care Of A German Shepherd
Let’s look at some ways you can care for your German shepherd.
One of the most important aspects of taking care of your shepherd friend is the food you give it. It is important to feed your dog all the required and appropriate nutrients to ensure a healthy life.
Feed your dog diets that have animal protein as the main ingredients, are grain-free, and do not contain filler ingredients.
You can opt for either dry or wet food, or even both. Talk to your vet about what should be included in homemade foods for your dog if you decide to go for that. Do not give your dog human food as it can be detrimental to its health.
You should note that your shepherd friend will not eat one type of food throughout its life. At different stages of its life, you will need to feed it different food. Feeding your dog age-appropriate foods is very important.
Also, depending on the weight of your dog at each stage of its life, you should consider specific formulas for weight control. When switching over from puppy food to adult food, the process should be gradual over several weeks.
You start by integrating the adult food into the puppy food, gradually increasing it and decreasing the puppy food.
In deciding exactly how much to feed your dog at each stage of its life, you should consider the size of your dog and the servings of the diet indicated on it. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that you divide your dog’s food into two or three smaller pieces to feed it throughout the day.
Note that feeding your dog too much will make it pee and defecate way more than it should, and this could mess up your home. Also, overfeeding can lead to bloating, a condition you will want to avoid.
Giving your dog the right treats is also very important to its health. Low-calorie treats including crunchy vegetables and kibble are recommended. However, you should control how many treats you give your dog, as treats are to make up only about 5 to 10% of your dog’s calorie intake.
The importance of clean, fresh water to your dog cannot be overemphasized. Provide your dog with clean water throughout the day, so it stays dehydrated. Make sure to provide it with a reasonable amount at a time and not so much at a time to avoid bloating.
Your dog must stay hydrated throughout the day. If you notice such signs as dry nose or gums, excessive panting and loss of appetite, you should immediately give your dog water.
Taking Care of Your Dog’s Health
Providing your dog with preventive health services is crucial to its health and lifespan. This means that you should take your dog to the vet at scheduled times for check-ups, and not wait till there is something wrong with it before rushing it there.
One reason you should take your dog for regular check-ups is that any impending health risks would be detected early and treated before it gets out of hand and possibly takes your shepherd friend’s life.
Routine checkups at the vet include looking out for possible health risks, nail trimming as it’s painful for your dog to walk with long nails, deworming and heartworm tests and vaccinations when necessary.
Also, unless you plan to breed your dog, spaying or neutering your German friend is one of the ways to keep it healthy and as well prevent some health risks. Generally, spaying or neutering your dog prevents it from engaging in the aggressive behaviour that usually accompanies the fertility period.
The best period to spay or neuter your dog is when it is a year old.
Another way of ensuring the good health of your dog is through brushing and bathing. This is a good way of caring for its coat and skin.
Brush your dog’s coat once or twice a week and bathe it once every 3 months. Brushing your dog’s coat weekly prevents tangling of the fur and also ensures the even distribution of its coat’s natural oils.
Bathing your dog regularly will wear off these essential natural oils and cause dry skin, which is not ideal for your dog. However, if your environment means your dog mostly gets its coat dirty, you can bathe it once every month or two.
Regular Exercises to Keep Your Dog Active
German shepherds are large, active breeds and as such require lots of physical activities to remain active. Make sure your yard is spacious enough, so your dog can be running around on its own when you are busy or not around.
There shouldn’t be any items that can hurt your dog. Provide it with a hazard-free environment. If you do not have a yard spacious enough, you can take your dog to the park, where it would have so much space to run around and also socialize with other dogs. It is a good place for your dog to learn about boundaries.
German shepherds fancy exercises and as such you should regularly exercise your dog for at least an hour or two a day.
Take it for a walk, play fetch with it, jog or run with it, etc. Without regular exercises, your dog’s muscles will not properly develop and will likely suffer hip and elbow dysplasia. Your dog may also suffer depression and may tend to be violent if you do not exercise it regularly.
You should however note that the amount of exercise you can give your dog depends largely on its age. You should only exercise your puppy for 15 to 30 minutes a day if it is less than 1 year old.
Their joints are still developing at a such young age, so it would put a strain on them if you take them for a run. After 1 year, you can gradually ease your dog into an hour-a-day exercise; walks and jogs, before starting to fully run with it.
Also, do not engage your shepherd friend in strenuous activities immediately after it’s done eating, as this can result in bloat. Give it some hours for the food to digest and for them to be calm before any such activity. Yet, you can take it for a short walk instead.
The weather conditions under which you exercise your dog should be checked. Do not exercise your dog under very hot weather conditions. If you do, make sure the time and exercises are limited and that you have a cooling area for it after the exercise.
Provide it with lots of water as well. When exercising under such weather conditions, look out for such overexerting signs as excessive panting, extremely red gums, lack of coordination and extreme thirst. Stop immediately to give your dog some rest and plenty of water.
Training and Socializing
To ensure that your dog learns to have a peaceful coexistence with other dogs and people, you should socialize your dog at a very young age. Make the effort to expose your dog to other dogs, people and different places and teach it to be calm and well-behaved in their presence.
This prevents the possibility of it growing up to be an anti-social and dangerous adult dog. Nobody wants that! Even if you are training your dog to be a guard dog, you must teach it socialization, so it doesn’t pounce on just anybody.
Right from a young age, train your dog using command phrases and what you want each of them to mean. Be patient and consistent with the phrases, as well as use positive assertions throughout.
Crate and potty training are essential and as such should be focal. Give treats and praise your dog each time it gets something right. This improves trust between you and your dog.
To build an unwavering bond between you and your dog, give it lots of care and attention. You can employ daily petting and cuddling as this will make your shepherd friend feel loved and trust me, it will love you back and be eager to please you.
It is important not to yell or scold your dog under any circumstances as this will make it not only lose trust in you but may be afraid of you.
Caring for a dog is a lifetime commitment and can be overwhelming. Yet, once you start doing it, you realize it becomes quite easy as German shepherds are in themselves intelligent and loyal.
Follow the guidelines in this article, and you are assured of a good relationship with your dog. You can always contact a professional if you need assistance. Do not hesitate to reach your vet if need be.
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