One of the most popular dog breeds is the German Shepherd. People easily recognize them because they are the ones that usually accompany, cops, police officers, and the soldiers. When the police or military use them, they are referred to as K9 units.
But German Shepherds are not dogs that only belong to the security officers. People can also have them as pets. However, one question is always asked by people about these dogs: are German Shepherds Good Service Dogs? Accompanying that, they also ask can German Shepherds be pets? In this article, you are going to find out the answer.
What is a Service Dog?
A service dog is a dog trained to do a specialized activity. “Service” is actually a general term that encompasses a wide range of specialized activities that can be done by dogs. The following are the most common tasks done by service dogs:
- Help the visually impaired people
- Help those with hearing impairment
- Help those with mobility issues
- Guide people
- Carry objects
- Pull objects (e.g. sled)
- Help in search and rescue and in medical tasks
- Emotionally support people (e.g. those with Post-traumatic Syndrome Disorder or PTSD)
Can a German Shepherd be a Good Service Dog?
The Qualities of a German Shepherd
German Shepherds are extremely smart. They are also very reliable and obedient. Their work ethic is of high caliber and it perfectly fits their high level of energy. Because of this, they can perfectly fit the role of a service dog and a home pet.
One quality that makes German Shepherds good at being guide dogs is that they are herders by natural instinct. They are charismatic, give off a strong presence, and like to lead. They are the ideal dogs for the visually impaired and those with hearing disabilities. They can warn people of danger.
Although they look intimidating, German Shepherds are very kind and have a loving attitude. They are willing to serve others since they are natural helpers.
Doing the Right Activities
Owning a German Shepherd does not come without challenges. If they are not trained properly, they can go in a wrong direction.
For one, German shepherds are tasked oriented. They naturally require a lot of exercises every day. Hence, they should not be neglected in these aspects. As much as possible, they should do physical activities. If neglected, they could have behavioral problems.
Another aspect where German Shepherds should be trained is in their personality. Naturally, they have a strong and protective instinct. If this is not handled properly, they could become aggressive towards other people and animals.
Because of that, it is extremely important for people who want to own a German Shepherd to develop a strong authority over their dogs so that they could tame the dogs properly.
Caring for a German Shepherd can be quite costly. On average, the estimated cost is between $500 and $1,500. Since a German Shepherd’s lifespan is from 9 to 13 years, a lifetime cost for caring for them can reach up to $20,000.
The costs include food, vet expenses, and accessories. But if your dog contracts health problems like parasites and worms, these costs will have to be inflated.
Thus, if you are planning to own a German Shepherd either to make it a service dog or just a pet, you must ensure that you are financially capable of taking good care of it.
Training a German Shepherd
As mentioned earlier, when you own a German Shepherd, you need to train it properly. You can do that either by yourself or by seeking help from professional dog trainers.
Of course, the main advantage of training a German Shepherd by yourself is that you don’t have to pay for any service fees since you are doing the work yourself. But this requires you to be knowledgeable about this breed of dog in particular and a high meter of patience. To help you with that, you can actually read some books about pets or some online guides on how you can properly train your German Shepherd.
On the other hand, your other option for training your German Shepherd is by hiring a trainer who is an expert in training dogs, preferably those who specialize in training German Shepherds. If you are not confident in training your dog by yourself, then this alternative would be your best choice. Your dog’s trainer will not only be able to train your German Shepherd to be a good service dog and home pet but will also tell you if training your dog is already done.