Description

German Shepherd Dogs (GSDs) or 'Alsatians' are a short-medium or long-coated, large sized dog breed. They are intelligent, loyal and energetic dogs when grown, but require lots of training and stimulation to avoid boredom and become well-adjusted socially. While loving to their owners, they are often distant with strangers and can suffer from separation anxiety when their owner is away.

Neonatal

During the first 4 weeks of your German Shepherd's life, they should spend most of their time with their mother and litter-mates. It is highly unusual for the puppy's owner to care for them during this time and is best left to a responsible, reputable breeder. Your puppy's body will double in weight as their muscles, organs and bones develop.

Nutrition During the neonatal stage, your German Shepherd puppy will get most of their nutrition from their mother's milk. At around 4 weeks you may wish to introduce a mush of minced protein such as beef, but always consult your vet first before changing your puppy's diet at this stage.
Health During this time it is important to monitor your GSD for any infections, diseases or birth defects. Puppies are unable to urinate or defecate by themselves initially, so their mother helps them but may additionally require your assistance.

Keep your vet's contact details close by and educate yourself thoroughly on this stage of puppy development. By the end of this period, your puppy will be mobile and will explore the world mouth first — be sure to keep choking hazards and toxic foods out of their reach.
Behaviour During most of this time your GSD will be asleep or inactive, but they will soon be playing with their brothers and sisters. After 3-4 weeks they will go through as much sensory development as a human baby does in a few months. It is important to avoid disturbing the puppies' mother as she will be likely be protective, but some interaction with the young pups is normal so they become used to human touch.

Weaning

When you take your German Shepherd home (usually at around 8 weeks) you should provide them with lots of stimulation and attention. This is a formative time for your puppy and will be when they learn to walk, play, bite, hold their bladder, and interact with others. In this time your GSD will develop a trusting relationship with you and will respond negatively to harsh treatment, so be sure be assertive and establish your dominance but avoid shouting.

 

Nutrition During the weaning stage, you should slowly introduce into their diet a nutritionally complete dog food which is appropriate to your German Shepherd's large size and young age. This breed tend not to be gluttons and quickly work off any weight during exercise, but this time is crucial for developing healthy bones and joints so feed them the best quality food you can. You should also familiarise yourself with lists of toxic foods and plants to avoid and hide as your puppy will soon find ways to get into places it shouldn't be.
Health During this time you should provide your puppy with a small, shallow bowl of clean water and refresh the contents frequently. If your GSD is a long-haired variant you should make them familiar with brushing early as this will become a daily necessity for their entire life. You must be careful to monitor play and not allow your puppy to play too rough or they may irreversibly damage their sensitive back legs and shoulders.
Behaviour Due to the changes in their environment, your GSD will likely be under a significant amount of stress. It's important that you provide lots of attention and build your relationship early, but be be careful not to allow your puppy to become dependant on your attention and presence. GSDs are often described as aloof since they are shy with strangers — it is important to socialise them with strangers early so that they do not become aggressive towards people and dogs they are unfamiliar with.

Puppy

By the time your German Shepherd reaches puppyhood their personality will be well developed and you will have a loyal companion. Your GSD will be full of energy and already require lots of time exercising, playing and in training. Your dog will likely do well at puppy training school and will benefit from obedience training to help control them in public.

 

Nutrition Your German Shepherd puppy's diet should be based around a high quality, nutritionally complete puppy food. You may also wish to introduce them to fresh, lean raw meat — however, don't feed your puppy any meat you would not feed to a fellow human being. It is particularly important that you make sure your pup has the right diet at this time to help them grow properly and avoid joint or bone problems later in life.
Health German Shepherds are full of energy and require a large amount of stimulation — as puppies you should play with them frequently, but avoid excessive roughhousing which can damage fragile joints. Your GSD has a double coat which changes with the seasons: the bottom layer sheds in the warmer weather, but will need daily or weekly brushing to help it along. After around 8 weeks your puppy will be due for some vaccinations, so they will need a checkup at the vet and to arrange for boosters after that.
Behaviour German Shepherds are unendingly loyal to their family but are distant with people they don't know, so familiarise them with friends, strangers and other dogs early. It is vital to teach your pup early to be patient with children who may not respect their boundaries and might otherwise provoke aggressive behaviour. It is important to provide your GSD with lots of sturdy, entertaining toys to stimulate them — a bored German Shepherd will destroy your furniture and backyard for fun.

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