How to Adopt a German Shepherd
Many dog lovers are under the misconception that animal rescue groups only have mixed-breed dogs for adoption. In reality, a large percentage of rescue dogs looking for homes are of the purebred variety. This includes German shepherds. Instead of turning to a for-profit dog breeder or pet store, consider adopting one of the thousands of German shepherds biding time with rescue organizations or in shelters.
Deciding to Adopt a German Shepherd
1. Choose the German shepherd dog breed.
Carefully consider the requirements of caring for a German shepherd by reading as much as you can about the breed. Many people are unaware of how much time and attention are required to help the dog grow into a well-behaved family member. A German shepherd can become destructive and aggressive without at least one mature pack leader who is confident but not abusive.
- This means that you need the time to attend obedience classes, practice socialization techniques, encourage exercise, play and train the dog every day.
2. Determine the best kind of German shepherd for you.
German shepherds tend to share common traits such as extreme intelligence, protectiveness and loyalty, but some are better suited as laid-back family companions while others thrive as high-energy, working dogs. Do you envision a dog who is friendly and social, or strong and protective? Are you a leader or a follower, athletic or a couch potato? Chances are there is a German shepherd rescue dog who matches your personality type.
- It's important to understand your needs before you go out looking for a dog. This will allow you to look for the right kind of dog and to have conversations with shelter and rescue workers about what you are looking for.
- You will also need to determine what aged dog you would like. While puppies can be hard to come by in shelters and rescues, there are often lots of older dogs that need homes.
3. Think about whether the breed's physical characteristics will fit into your lifestyle.
Adult German shepherds are big dogs that require exercise and movement. In addition, all German shepherds shed heavily twice a year. If a large, shedding dog does not appeal to your aesthetic tastes, adopting a German shepherd may not be the right dog for you.
- You need to commit to exercising your dog regularly, so if you do not like to get outside and exercise, then a German shepherd may not be for you.
Finding a German Shepherd to Adopt
1. Contact a rescue organization to adopt a German shepherd.
Approaching a rescue group is ideal because they pull the most promising dogs from animal shelters with the least amount of behavioral issues. They can tell you more about the individual personality of the dog and provide the follow-up support needed after the adoption process is complete.
- Search online for the German shepherd rescue groups that are in your area. However, you can also contact groups in outlying areas that you would be willing to travel to.
2. Evaluate all of the adoptable German shepherds.
Read about their personalities and histories in the profiles on the shelter and rescue group's websites. Look for qualities that are a good match to your lifestyle and personality.
- Pay particular attention to the dog's energy level, obedience background, estimated age, and existing health issues. These should all be included in the description online.
3. Express your interest for a particular dog to the rescue organization or shelter.
Keep in mind that these groups are sparsely staffed and may not be able to get back to you immediately. Follow up with a phone call or email if you do not hear back in a week or so.
- When you go to contact the rescue organization follow the directions they have listed on their website. Some organizations will have you will out a form while others will simply have you send an email describing what dog you are interested in.
- If your potential dog is at a shelter you can usually call them and ask to place a hold on a dog until you can come and meet it in person.
Applying for and Adopting a German Shepherd
1. Apply to get a dog.
Rescues and shelters will require that you fill out a thorough application before your get a dog. These applications screen out people who are not prepared or unable to properly care for a dog.
- Applications vary but they usually include questions about your housing situation, your yard, and basic questions about your ability to care for a dog.
- Many people and institutions consider German shepherds to be a dangerous breed. Usually renters must show proof to a rescue organization that their landlord will allow them to keep a German shepherd in the home. Homeowners may need to confirm that their homeowners insurance company will allow a German shepherd to live on the premises. If they do, your premiums could increase.
2. Allow rescue or shelter staff time to screen your application.
They need time to determine if the dog you want is a good fit for you and your lifestyle. They will verify that any existing dogs are certifiably healthy and well-cared for by your veterinarian, as well as whether you can financially care for a dog.
- The rescue group will also likely come to your home before you meet the dog to ensure you have the proper accommodations, such as a fenced yard.
- Some people see this process as intrusive and an obstacle to finding the dog a home but ultimately the rigorous screening process ensures the greatest chances of success for everyone by matching the right dog to the best owner.
3. Meet your potential German shepherd.
You will be allowed to meet the rescue dog in person once you, your home, and family are approved by the rescue group. If you have any existing pets you'll want to make sure they get along with the adoptee.
- If you are adopting from a shelter, you will probably meet the dog before you apply to adopt it.
4. Prepare to bring a dog home.
Stock up on supplies when your application is approved. Before bringing home your dog you will need a flat collar and new dog's ID tags attached to it. You'll also need a leash, food and water bowls, a crate that is suitably-sized for full-grown German shepherds, a dog bed, food, and safe chew toys.
- It is best to wait to buy supplies until you are sure that you are getting the dog you applied for.
5. Bring the dog home.
You will need to pay the rescue organization or shelter fees before you will be allowed to bring the dog home. Once you do, you will be free to take your new family member home.
- Immediately after bringing your German shepherd rescue dog home, contact the trainer recommended by the rescue or shelter organization and schedule time for your first obedience classes. Taking a comprehensive training course is the first step toward achieving a loving, lasting bond with your shepherd.
- If you have kids make sure your shepherd is kid friendly. Teach the kids not to climb on the shepherd for it may cause damage to the dog and someone could get hurt if the shepherd acts up.
- Do not take it personally if the rescue group does not approve your application. They have the dog's best interest in mind. If you are rejected, ask why and learn what you can do to improve your chances of adopting in the future.