Rin-Tin-Tin, Bullet the Wonderdog and Strongheart are just three prime examples of the child-loving, loyal German shepherd. This breed makes a great pet for kids, provided they understand his temperament and instincts. For your kids to truly know their Germans shepherd, they need to know his history.
What’s in a Name?
The German shepherd dog is so-called due to his place of origin and function. He was originally bred to assist farmers and shepherds with their work by herding livestock. During the Second World War, German products and cultural references were unpopular. So certain names were changed to hide their German origins. Frankfurters became “hot dogs” and German shepherds became Alsatians, named after Alsace, a region of France close to the German shepherd’s place of origin in Germany.
The German shepherd is a brave, protective and very intelligent dog. In the domestic context, this means he is always alert, keeping an eye out for intruders. He makes an excellent watchdog and guard dog. Due to their flock guarding instincts, German shepherds are particularly protective of children in their family and will gladly warn off perceived threats. For this reason, you should introduce your pet to regular visitors while he is young. The mailman, paperboy and neighbours will all be welcomed with a wagging tail once he knows who they are.
Your German shepherd will typically grow to between 22 and 26 inches tall at the shoulder. Even as a pup, they are large. So there’s always a risk that your friendly German shepherd will accidentally knock over a small child. You should always supervise interaction between dogs and children, but where large dogs like your German shepherd are concerned, it’s smart to keep him on a leash until your children are big enough to resist his strength.
Due to his intelligence, which is common among most herding breeds, he is easy to train. However, you need patience, confidence and firmness to get the best out of a German shepherd. He’s a curious breed and his focus will slip if training is too repetitive or boring. Getting children involved in training is a great idea, provided they are capable of being firm, consistent and confident. Failure to be consistent in training can undo a lot of good work when it comes to training, as this will confuse your dog.
A slow maturing breed, the German shepherd has a long puppyhood. There will come a point toward the end of puppyhood when you have an almost fully grown dog, with the excitable, energetic temperament of a pup. Ensure that the kids understand the dog is still young and learning his manners. Otherwise his over-enthusiastic greetings may cause alarm.
- german shepherd image by Craig Stevens from Fotolia.com