Getting Your German Shepherd Puppy
The First Days with Your Puppy
Airport arrival info: I’ll contact you with the “Air Way Bill” number as soon as I have checked your puppy in at the air terminal. Be sure I have a good phone number so you can be able to answer or receive texts and let me know that you have the number and you will be ready upon arrival. Sometimes planes are late. Stay in touch with the airline to check the flight’s arrival time. Make sure you know where to be when they bring the puppy out to you. In some airports I’ve seen the puppy pick-up area be adjacent to the normal “Baggage” pick-up area, but some airports deliver puppies to their new owners at a “Cargo” area. Be there some 20 to 30 minutes before your flight arrives and let them know you are there to pick up your dog. You MUST have a current, valid photo ID and sign for the puppy before they will release it to you.
If you are picking up your puppy at the airport DO NOT PUT THEM ON THE GROUND THERE unless you are SURE they have had all their shots. Leave them in their shipping crate (yes, even if it’s stinky) until you can get to a more safe environment. With hundreds of dogs being shipped through airports you DON’T want your baby walking around in an area where other dogs with possible bacteria or viruses have been. You will need to have a couple of towels and a large bottle of water to dampen one of the towels with. Wipe off the puppy and clean out the shipping crate if needed. When you get away from the airport and in a safe place let the baby walk around on a leash (of course) to do their “business” if they can. Offer water but no food until you get home unless you will be in the vehicle for a long time. Use your own judgement; just know these babies don’t need too much food on their stomach while riding.
Limit visitors to your home if possible for the first few days and let the new puppy get acclimated to its new family. If you have other pets it is good to clear the puppy’s area of them and let the puppy inspect its new surroundings. Then let a family member sit on the floor with the pup in their lap and introduce the current pets to the pup one at a time. NEVER leave the puppy unattended with other pets OR WITH CHILDREN!!! Whenever the puppy is out of the crate ALWAYS have eyes on it. Things happen FAST sometimes and puppies can get something in their mouth in a second…rock, stick, plant, etc. PLEEZ, be aware at all times especially until they are a few months old.
Have the puppy checked out by your Vet in 24 to 48 hours if at all possible. I ALWAYS do this. Keep in mind: Do NOT put your puppy down on the ground or in the waiting room at the Vet. It is best to carry them in a crate because they haven’t had all their shots yet. These puppies will have had their first round of shots at 6 weeks along with their microchip, the second round at 9 weeks and the third at 12 weeks. I like to NOT get their Rabies shot at the 12 week shot schedule but wait until 16 weeks or so. Rabies vaccines are governmentally controlled so check the local laws concerning this.
Our puppies get wormed starting at 4 weeks old at two week intervals. Ask your Vet about how you should proceed as this is important. As your pup gets older a monthly regimen of worm prevention may be necessary.
Heartworm treatments…VERY important in many parts of our country. There are a LOT of opinions concerning this and again, listen to your Vet. Heartworms can be FATAL.
The first night can be a little LOUD. Keep in mind that this baby has been sent to a new home and left its Mom and siblings. It will get better as you go. There are several tricks that can make that first night more comfortable for the baby…ticking clocks, warm water bottles, etc. Do some research online to see what may work for you.
Toys are important to your new family member. I list several “Sergeant Certified” toys to have in the next section. I usually only have maybe 4 toys out at the time for the baby so they can learn what “their” toys are and what things around the house are NOT theirs (shoes, clothes, etc.). If you have a total of 10-12 toys you can have 4 out and every couple of days rotate one in and one out. A toy they haven’t had in a while seems like a NEW toy, which they love.
Sometimes they may need a bath. I suggest a mild shampoo, Burt's Bees for Dogs All-Natural Oatmeal Shampoo. It is available from Amazon at a great price. Make SURE to use warm water and blow dry your baby DRY so they don’t get chilled. A chill can be life threatening at the early stages of puppy development. VERY IMPORTANT.
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Feeding your German Shepherd Puppy
VERY IMPORTANT…Do NOT overfeed your puppy. You want your puppy to eat slooow and grow slooow. We have found a genius food bowl for your baby on Amazon that FORCES them to eat slow while in the crate. The Amazon FREE shipping link for this is Slow Feeder Dog Bowl Fun Feeder. Since this bowl makes the puppy eat slowly, they are not able to take big gulps of food. I suggest feeding a plentiful amount 4 times a day for the 1st 2 to 3 weeks (from age 8 weeks to 10 or 11 weeks old) with uneaten food removed within 10 minutes or so after serving. Do not leave the bowl in the crate after feeding so they don’t convert it into a “toy”.
Feed your puppy in its crate and leave them in the crate for 20 minutes before taking them out for a tee tee/poopy break. Best housebreaking tip I EVER got: Take your puppy out of the crate and CARRY them outside (don’t “walk” them out). Put their feet on grass and encourage them to “do their business”. When they do a tee tee or poopy PRAISE them…”GOOD girl. Do a tee tee. GOOD girl!!!” After they seem to have finished, take them back in and PLAY with them for 15 to 20 minutes. If they don’t do a tee tee or poopy within 5 or so minutes, pick them up and put them back in the crate with NO play. These German Shepherds are SMART!!! If you and your family members are CONSISTENT with this, the pup will “get it” quickly and be housebroken…key word, CONSISTENT. Also, keep in mind that a 2 month old pup can “hold it” for 2 or 3 hours. As they get older they can hold it for longer and longer. During these first few weeks take them out as often as schedule permits, but keep them in the crate except during post-potty play times and housebreaking will be a BREEZE!!!
I feed my puppies Blue Buffalo Freedom Grain Free Natural Puppy Large Breed Dry Dog Food. We make it easy once again to order and get FREE
I mentioned that you want to grow your puppy slooow. KEEP YOUR PUP LEAN until it’s 12 to 16 months old. DON’T let it eat all it wants so it will “look good”. Think of a middle school girl that’s long, thin and lean. THAT’S how you want to “grow” your dog. Overfeeding encourages the growth plates in their joints to grow too fast…not good. You should see a little rib on it’s side…not too much, just a little. And it is good to make sure they have a distinct “waist”. See your Vet for more on proper feeding.
Suggested feeding schedules can be discussed with your Vet, and you can learn a LOT online nowadays concerning feeding. Many people/breeders have their ONE way that is the ONLY way to feed German Shepherd Dogs. Obviously this can’t be true (so many professionals that say their way is the ONLY way) so do your homework and invest into your dog’s feeding just like you would for any other member of your family…After all, that’s what your new baby is.
One more thing…I make it a habit to move my hand around in their food bowl while they are eating. Just stir around the kibble gently so they are used to people’s hands around their food. I will do this periodically all their life. I have no food aggression by using this practice.
One of the best toys for playing with your new baby after they come in from a successful potty break is the Flirt Pole with Braided Fleece Lure Dog Toy.They will chase this and have the most fun EVER!! It makes a great tool to develop their prey drive and tire them out at the same time. Remember: Post-Potty play breaks for 15 to 20 minutes ONLY…then back in the kennel for the fastest way to housebreaking!! After 15 or 20 minutes of good hard play you will see them start to lay down for short rests. You’ll know when they’re tired out.
These are working line German Shepherds and they like to GO but not too early…Take it EASY in the first year of their life. VERY IMPORTANT not to stress their growth plates, bones and joints. Don’t let them jump off of an elevated position, off the back of a truck or SUV, a deck or other platform. Frisbees are a NO-NO. Pick them up and down in those situations for the first twelve months. Also, don’t encourage them to go long distances (over a mile) or run at full speed. Let them grow up slowly and you will be glad you did.
When they do get 12 to 18 months old and their joints are set, throwing their favorite toy or ball and getting them to bring it back for another round is something they LOVE and it’s great exercise. Sergeant's favorite retrieve toy is the Kong Flyer! Do not let them keep this as a chew toy. They will destroy it! These dogs NEED to be “run out” every day possible. It fulfills something in them that’s been bred into the line over decades. Don’t feed them just before or after heavy exercise. They need to be cooled down and relaxed at feed time.
I am NOT a fan of dog parks. A bunch of dogs getting together in a strange place, some with bad habits, is NEVER a good idea. Go at your own risk. However I AM a fan of proper socialization. During the window of “having had all vaccines” after 12 weeks of age until about 6 to 8 months your pup will need to be around lots of other people…Take them to pet stores and other stores and public areas. Have them learn EARLY to be calm and at rest around other animals, noises, happenings of life. Temperament is developed during this time to a great extent. No breeder can “guarantee” temperament if proper temperament training isn’t made available to the puppy. I can’t stress this enough…It is VERY IMPORTANT.
Occasionally something called Growing Pains happens in dogs. It is said that it can happen in any breed, but the larger breeds like German Shepherds see it more often than smaller breeds. The official name of this is Panosteitis. Pano, as it is called, will sometimes show up in a 5 to 6 month old dog in the form of limping. It will last a little while and go away, sometimes showing up in another limb. A great supplement to ward off Panosteitis is Solid Gold SeaMeal Kelp. We use this on all of our German Shepherds. Pano can be exacerbated by overfeeding and growing your puppy too fast (one of the reasons I say grow your puppy slooooooow). If your pup comes up with a limping issue see the Vet and know that if it IS Pano it will usually go away for good after 18-24 months. Very rarely will a dog show symptoms past the age of 2 years old. Again…talk to your Vet if you see any signs of this in your baby.
Stay in touch!!! We LOVE pictures of our babies!!!
Please email us with things you have learned about the German Shepherd Experience. We are always yearning to learn about our customers’ experiences. And send us some pictures from time to time so we can put them on our website…germanshepherdman.com. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!! It’s been an honor to work our heart out with these fabulous animals so we can share this love we have for the German Shepherd Dog breed.