The German Shepherd Dog (GSD) is often labeled an “aggressive” breed, even warranting some insurance companies to increase the premium on your house. Is the breed being treated fairly, or are they the result of bad parenting?

The German Shepherd – A Breed Apart

A German Shepherd’s bond with his master can rival that of a mother and child. GSDs are intensely loyal and decidedly protective. Stanley Coran in his book, The Intelligence of Dogs, rates the GSD third in intelligence for all breeds. Born to work, this agile dog absolutely craves stimulation. In addition, being exceedingly territorial, he will protect his home and hearth fiercely.

Similar to an intelligent teenager left to his own devices, the German Shepherd will act out. Boredom and isolation equals trouble. Of all the breeds that need socialization, training & time, the GSD is number one. It is also not the breed of dog to bring home on a whim. Whether adopting or purchasing, research into the nature and needs of this breed is essential. A lack of knowledge has tripped up many newcomers who do not realize that a German Shepherd is simply unlike any other dog. This breed yearns for interaction and will not thrive if left alone for long periods of time.

Negatives of the GSD Breed

GSDs can be vocal and are often whiny. Highly sensitive, they voice their opinion readily. A good vacuum cleaner is a necessity, as courtesy of a double-coat; Shepherds shed year round. A downy undercoat is “blown” twice a year, whilst the coarse top coat or guard hair, sheds continuously. It is a highly effective coat for cold weather, water and snow. Along with an excellent nose they excel as search and rescue, or cadaver dogs.

Energetic, Shepherds require plenty of exercise. Relishing adventures and challenges, they need both to maintain a healthy mindset. It is this, alongside their biological herding instincts or “drive,” that makes them much sought after for security and police work.

The Shepherd & Socialization

Socialization is an absolute must for the GSD from the day they are born and beyond. A lack of socialization is the number one key factor for aggression in this breed. Being protective and territorial is ingrained in their psyche and unless socialized thoroughly, everything is acknowledged as a threat. It is crucial that during their critical learning period, (between 3-13 weeks, but roughly averaging 6-8 weeks), they be introduced to different and varied situations on a daily basis. A good breeder will begin this process early and recommend that it continues for life.

Training the German Shepherd – A Lifelong Pursuit

Enrolling the GSD in a basic obedience class is an excellent start to what should be a lifetime of training. Widen his experiences by including all family members. Children are excellent at games and should be included in the training to establish hierarchy. A German Shepherd will only ever have one true master, but he will readily accept family members into his “pack.”

Given time, training and socialization, a GSD purchased from a reputable breeder can be the most loyal, attentive, willing, obedient, protective and more importantly, friendly companion there is.

Over 40 million households own a dog as surveyed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. People and animals create a strong bond, and sometimes the pet is considered a member of the family. It is no wonder that products for dogs abound from designer collars to designer doghouses. Christmastime is a great opportunity to buy some of the best holiday gifts for dogs.

Kong Dog Toy

Available at almost every pet store are the Kong line of dog toys. The original Kong is made of industrial-like rubber that is hollowed out. Dogs enjoy chewing on the Kong to satisfy the chewing instinct. Additionally, the Kong can be filled with dog treats, like biscuits or peanut butter. This keeps dogs active.

The Kong comes in various types to appease puppies, normal chewers, extreme chewers, and senior dogs. The Kong also varies in sizes from small to extra large.

DVDs for Dogs to Watch

A newer phenomenon is creating video especially for dogs. The DVDs do not have plots, per se, but rather include scenes and sounds of interest for dogs. The Dog Sitter series provides footage of squirrels running and dog packs interacting. This type of video excites dogs who will react with excitement.

Another video series, Music Dogs Love: While You are Gone, calm dogs through video and hypnotic sounds. Examples include nature sounds, sonic sounds, butterflies, and wildlife. Videos can be programmed to loop throughout the day, if necessary.

Microsuede Cozy Cave

Dogs appreciate a soft place to sleep. They also enjoy burrowing or going under covers. The Cozy Cave provides both a bed and cover for the dog. Made of microsuede and faux lambswool, the dogs will call this item their own . A slight overhang allows dogs to crawl into the bed and be covered. This will provide security and comfort for the dog.

Buster Cube

Designed to look like a large die, the function of the item is to make the dog work for the treats. The sides of the die are labeled like an ordinary die, except where the one dot is located. Instead of a dot there is a hole where treats can be filled. Dogs must learn how to turn the die over and over again to extract a treat or two. This toy will stimulate the dog’s mind, as well as keep the dog busy for awhile.

Dog Toy of the Month Club

When it is difficult to find the best toy for a dog, the Dog Toy of the Month Club is there to fill the need. Based on the same concept of the book of the month or fruit of the month, this monthly club has three types of membership: bronze, silver, and gold. The higher the level the higher value of the toys received each month. Customers can also choose the type of toy to receive: chew and squeak, fetch and fun, or a mixture of both.

Christmas is a time to give gifts to loved ones, including pets. Many companies cater to selling ideal dog toys. The items mentioned in this article are a sample of some of the best dog gifts available.