Concerns With Training A Rescued German Shepherd Vs A Puppy


Good Day Everyone,

New to the forum so I’ll take a second to introduce myself. My name is Will and I am a soldier in the California Army National Guard. I have wanted to get a German Shepherd for a long time but I knew I didn’t have the time to dedicate to him or her. I had a deployment coming up, wasn’t sure where I would end up after, and didn’t want to risk having to give up the puppy.

With that said I am currently in Afghanistan and returning soon. I have full time employment in Northern California and will remain there for quite a while. So, I figured once I secure housing, I can look to getting my new German Shepherd puppy! Then came my next dilemma.

I am a young adult, single, work full time, and live alone. I realized, “Who is going to watch the puppy for those 8+ hours while I am at work.” Sure I could have my brother come over, his wife, my mom, or my dad, or even a friend. But it’s my dog, and my reasonability. In addition, I feel like I should be the one building the memories with my puppy, teaching him or her to potty outside, and to play with him or her. I feel like the pup will become more attached to my family members than myself. I will be some stranger that simply appears at nights and leaves in the morning.

So, I considered rescuing a Shepherd. One that is older and already potty trained, house trained, and able to be alone for a longer period of time. I figured I could take a couple weeks off from work to get to know my new dog, get him or her used to the house, training them to use the doggy door or where to go when they have to go potty, and them work them into getting used to me going to work after we have established a relationship. That way the older dog can handle being alone for more hours at a time. I would like to try and get a pup that’s potentially 4 – 12 months is possible, but am not shutting out the idea of rescuing a older GS.

My concerns are as follows:
- Will an older dog be fine in the house for longer periods of time?
- Biggest, will I be able to properly train my GS after so many months, or even years, of potentially bad training?
- What about medical issues since I don’t know the pups history?
- Any other comments or suggestions?
- Do you think i could get a puppy still?

Thanks everyone!



Honored Member
Welcome to the forum.
I think that rescuing an older dog might be better.
1. the older dog won't have as much energy
2. your taking the dog out of the shelter life
3. the dog will already be potty trained
4. he won't chew anything so you might be able to allow him/her to roam the house.
Also with an older dog you can take him/her on long hikes, runs do a sport with him/her, unlike a puppy who will tire quickly, is still growing so you can't go on runs or do sports with him/her till it's older. I would suggest getting a german shepherd who is or has been in foster care because the Foster parent will know the dogs true personility what he/she likes, doesn't like how they are in the house, if they can stay roaming the house when alone and so on. This way you will know what you are getting.

The puppy
I think that you can still have a bond with a puppy even with others helping out. A lot of people put their pups in daycare while they're gone and the pup still goes nuts when they see they're owner. You will be the one feeding them in the morning and night. Make sure you take the pup on a walk after work and play with the pup. On weekends you'll be the one with him/her taking the pup places so that the pup will be well socialized. He/she will love you. Sure you could still get a puppy, as long as you have people taking her out to potty and play while your at work, but I still think that an adult dog would be best for your situation.

I hope this helps.



It definitely does help and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

Your suggestion of adopting a GS from a foster home is an excellent idea. That will help solve a lot of my questions and aprehensions. I am an extremely active guy and will defintiely be able to keep up with the GS. This is one of the main reasons i want a GS, you mentioned many of them. I want to go on hikes together, runs around the block, take him or her to the beach, chill at the dog park, i want the GS to be my better half.

As for a puppy, everytime i look at pictures my heart melts and i want a puppy again. But i really need to take a hard look at it and decide if its the right decision. My ex got a Japaneses Spitz puppy while we were together and i remember how hard it was when we both were working. Trying to find someone to come check on him, watch him, and take care of him. It was a lot of work and i dont think i am ready for that time wise. If i was married and my wife stayed home, that would be a different story. I think that my puppy dreams need to hold out until i have a stable household with someone that can watch him or her 24/7.

Most of all, ill be saving a German Shepherd from the shelter if i adopt an older one :)

Can anyone weight in on the training of a older rescue GS? This is also one of my biggest worries. I dont want to miss that "window" when i am able to train the GS and teach them the proper ways of being a doggy :)




Experienced Member
Danielle gave you some great advice! I would agree, I would recommend an adult dog from a foster home. The foster parents can tell you what you need to know about the specific dog, like how long it can stay alone, if it's potty trained, what it's behavior is like, etc. I know how it is with wanting a little cute puppy. We got another dog around 6 months ago, and we were considering getting a rescue, but we saw the cute puppy pictures all over the Internet, and we got a puppy. When you get a puppy you don't know how they are going to turn out as far as behavior goes, and the puppy we got happened to not work for us as far as behavior goes. She was a horrible car chaser, and we live on a really busy road. It was not possible for is in our situation to train it out of her, so we had to rehome her. If we had gotten a rescue, we would have known what the dog's behavior was like and got a dog that suited us. Out next dog is definitely going to be a rescue.

As far as training an older dog, yes, yes, yes! It is most definitely possible! Even if they have been poorly trained in the past. We got my dog (not the one we had to rehome) as a puppy, and I was only 7 when we got her, so obviously I did not participate in the training. My mom's (now ex) boyfriend was the one who trained her. He was a very abusive trainer (hitting and kicking her when she did something wrong, etc) and my mom couldn't get him to stop. Finally after a year or two of this (she loved him, so she didn't want to break up with him) my mom realized she had to do something. She broke up with him. My mom had no idea to train Chloe (our dog) so Chloe went without training until she was 5 or 6. I then found a passion for training dogs, and began to train Chloe. Even after being abused and very poorly trained for the first couple years of her life, and not trained at all for the next few, she learned terrifically with positive reinforcement! Now, just a year later from she I started training her, she now knows over 30 tricks, we do agility together, and we do herding together. Plus, we have great trust between us! No matter their backround, I think any dog can be trained. Some may be more difficult, but I think they all can.


Honored Member
Oh Will, as the proud mom of two rescued adult GSs, go for it!! :love: I've had GSs for 30+ years, all rescues. My two current ones are from Westside GS Rescue in L.A. I adopted my girl at ~2 yrs old, and my boy was a "failed foster" at about a year - I fostered him for a couple mos with no intention of adopting him, but they became so close, there was no way I could think of separating them. That was 7 years ago.

As far as dogs being trusted in the house, every dog is different. My girl (the one laying down in the photo) has always been able to be trusted, she's never gotten into anything since she's arrived. My boy however - a whole different story. He's a mischief-maker, always has been, and at almost 8 yrs old, still is sometimes. He counter-surfs (he's a grand champion!), shreds paper and plastic, loves garbage cans, the list goes on and on. :confused::LOL:

As far as medical issues - you wouldn't know how a puppy would grow up, but at least if you adopted an adult, you'll know if it has any medical issues when you adopt him/her. My girl is very healthy. My boy's back end was already trashed at 9 mos old when he was picked up as a stray - he was hit by a car and left to heal with no treatment, then apparently dumped on the street. At the point Westside got him, surgery wouldn't help, he was sent home to (in the words of the ortho vet) "be a dog". He's almost 8, he's got some arthritis, is on a raw diet and great supplements - but outside of his ortho issues, he's a very healthy dog. He still can do walks, play ball, etc - we just limit his activities. I love him dearly and wouldn't have him any other way.

There are no guarantees with any dog. When you get a puppy, if you get one from a reputable breeder, yes, you meet the parents. But you still don't know positively what that puppy will grow into. When you adopt an adult, you meet the dog, and what you see is what you get. Yes, they come with some baggage. The way I look at it - we all have our share of baggage. Dogs are the first ones to look past all of our issues, faults, insecurities, etc - and just see all the good stuff. They're more than willing to offer their whole hearts to us and be our companions and loves, no matter what, for their whole lives. To give an adult dog a second (or third or fourth) chance (this was my girl's 3rd home) is such a great opportunity - for both of you. They bond tightly and give you their hearts. They seem grateful for the rest of their lives. Many have little or no training - both of mine came knowing nothing. I had clean slates to work with. I've trained both using positive reinforcement and a clicker. It's amazing what that little clicker and some treats can do.

If you can go thru a rescue (and I know there is a GS rescue in No Ca, or you can go thru Westside - they adopt out all over the state/country) then you can probably find one that's been fostered and get lots of info about it. Neither of mine were fostered (well, Alfie was here, but not prior), they were just housed in boarding at the rescue, and things still worked out fine. The rescue volunteers (at least at Westside) try to find out as much as possible about each dog - at Westside, the dogs are walked, played with, etc, daily by the volunteers, so they do know the dogs, their likes, dislikes, etc. But a fostered dog comes with lots of info - that would be your best bet.

Thanks for giving this a lot of thought ahead of time, and really thinking about what would be best both for you and for your new family member. Whatever you decide, I wish you and your new "pup" (whateve the age -- I still call mine 'pups') all the best!! Please keep us posted on what you decide.

And ... here's Westside's link, in case you'd like to "browse" ;)


KassidyBC, thanks for the reply. It is great reassurance to hear your personal accomplishments with retraining an older dog. I hear you on the puppy experience, my ex got a puppy when we were still together and he was so hard! I do not blame it on him though because we both didn’t do a very good job of training him. Now as a young dog, he has inherited those bad traits. He could be retrained but he is way too smart for his own good and would take a good amount of dedication and patience. Being able to learn the temperament of the dog beforehand will definitely help.

Jackienmutts, thank you for the wonderful reply and lots of great information; your story warms my heart. I am definitely giving this a lot of thought, I want to make sure I make the right decision. When my ex got her puppy, there were many times where we weren’t sure if we would make it through. Being young adults, full time jobs, and simply busy, it was hard to give a difficult puppy the time and training it deserved. I don’t want to make that mistake. After the posts on here and the research I have done, I am very compelled to adapt a GS, saving a pup and giving it a second chance seems like a great thing to do for a pup. Your words were very motivating to say the least. There is a very reputable trainer up north here, it’s rather expensive but worth it to me.


Honored Member
I can tell you're definitely doing your homework - and not to interfere but you say there's a "reputable trainer" up north (where you are). Please please make sure they use positive reinforcement methods, and not the old aversive training methods (choke/shock collars, giving the dogs jerking/yanking "corrections" which do work, the dog performs out of fear of being punished rather than out of the joy of being rewarded - big difference). Many trainers still do use old methods then add a treat on occasion and thereby call themselves "positive" trainers since they use treats. They also tend to be even harsher on dogs like GSs because "they're tough dogs, they can take it". Umm, no, they're not. There are as many sensitive GSs as there are "other" dogs, and correct them too harshly and they'll shut down too. Dogs are such intelligent creatures with a language all their own - who spend their lives studying us, trying to figure out our every moves, and live in tandem with us. I think we owe it to them to learn their language also, and learn to work with them as a team, showing them what we want from them and rewarding them for it when they get it right (instead of just punishing/jerking/yanking them when they get it wrong .... could it be we weren't clear?). It works wonders for the overall relationship - they never look to us as someone to fear, and that's the most important thing. Please don't let any trainer ever convince you dogs need ear pinches/flicks, jerks, kicks, any kind of physical intimidation to be trained. They don't. Nor do they need choke collars, prong collars (many will automatically put a prong collar on a GS), shock collars, all kinds of pain-inflicting 'gadgets' (and then say no pain inflicted ... in which case, why use it?).

If you have any doubts or questions about the trainer or would like any opinions, put their website up and we can look at it. Quite often there are keywords/videos/training techniques that will disclose everything you need to know - both the good and the bad. We're here to help.


Honored Member
Will, I just got back from a morning beach walk with my two, and believe it or not (this is true) was thinking about your situation and something else I wanted/needed to say when I got back. :cool: I re-read your initial post, cuz I didn't want to miss anything. But - I was walking along, thinking about how mine were when I first adopted them (we left for our walk not long after I had posted, so it was fresh on my mind). As I had said, Makena (my girl), was very trustworthy - and Alfie was "my bad boy". :LOL:

But - some dogs are turned back into Westside (having been initially adopted from them) due to unforseen circumstances such as job loss (how many times have we seen that these past few years?), illness/death in the family (I got my 'soul dog', a GS, years ago because a friend died of cancer and he had nowhere else to go - that changed both my life and his in ways I never saw coming), allergies no one knew about, the list goes on. Some dogs have had wonderful care and training, and thru no fault of their own (and in some cases, thru no fault of their owners) they now find themselves homeless. Sometimes people and dogs just need help. Yes, some people are total jerks and dump their dogs on streets (or worse), or the "puppy novelty" wears off and they drop them off in shelters - but sometimes they are heartbroken and giving up the dog is the last possible resort and is done out of total love. And sometimes, the owner (as in the case of my Audi) has died (or is about to). Sometimes you can get a dog who has come from a good family and is great in the house, is house-trained (just needs to learn about your house, where the potty is, how he/she gets there and/or tells you, etc, already walks nicely on the leash, has some manners, etc. This dog will still bond with you - don't worry about that. You just have to give it time, love, patience, and let it unfold. It will. :love: This again, is where a foster can tell you so much.

Check out Westside's FB page, you can read so many incredible success stories about their adoptions, new families, and stories from their volunteers. They're an incredible organization, they work so hard with and for all their dogs. And yes - they do have puppies, too. Whatever you decide, if you put in the work, it will be the right decision. Personally, I like taking in adult dogs. GSs really don't mature til about 3 yrs old, so even adopting a GS over a year is still adopting a great big puppy :ROFLMAO: -- everyone loves puppies, and they get adopted very quickly, whereas the adults take longer. Alfie also has "soft" ears (they don't stand up). Personally I found them adorable - some wouldn't dream of adopting a GS without "proper" erect ears. He hears just fine (well, when he wants to :LOL:). Search thru a rescue as big as Westside, and you can find your dream dog - be it a puppy or an adult. And adopting a dog from a rescue frees one more dog from a pound. One dog leaves, another is saved. Simple as that.

If/when the time comes and you're at all interested in adopting from Westside, let me know. A good friend is one of their adoption coordinators. I can put you in contact with her and she can help you find just the "right" dog.

And last ... but not least .... I got so involved in the whole GS thing I forgot perhaps the most important thing before .... thank you so much for what you do!!!! I hope you're home soon, safe and sound!!!! Nothing like a big old GS to welcome you home!!!!!


Honored Member
Hi Will and welcome to D.T.A. :D

First thank you for being such a responsible dog companion and thinking through all the issues involved with doggy companionship, you're a wonderful example to everyone considering getting a dog, whatever the breed.:D

On to your questions.

All my dogs have been rescues, predominantly German Shepherds, though my current rescue is a little Kelpie x puppy (Kelpies are so like Sheppies it's unreal:D). As all the advice given you by other posters is excellent, I will just talk about one particular Sheppie rescue Jacques, an older boy. And a Sheppie X rescue Ra Kismet.

Jacques was 'rescued' from a very abusive environment. He was left chained day and night, on a very short chain, and given barely enough food/water to keep him alive. Added to that he was kicked and generally abused and tormented. Not a good start to life at all:mad: But being a boy with spirit, he somehow managed to break loose and became a 'street kid' for two weeks. An elderly couple took pity on him but as they were living in a Retirement Village couldn't keep him. So they rang the Pet Ambulance people who picked him up and took him into a Shelter.

The same day Jacques was picked up I had to use the service to take my beloved Sheppie Odette to the vets. On the way in, the driver a true animal lover, told me Jacques' story and I said 'If I didn't have Odette I would take him". Sadly prophetic words, as my beautiful girl, who had been to other vets without success, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and just two weeks shy of her 16th Birthday, she had to be assisted across the Bridge. She was originally a rescue too.

The wonderful driver immediately contacted H.O. and we went, with me crying my eyes out, straight to the Shelter where Jacques was being held. I will never forget the sight which met my eyes. A piece of cardboard with the word STRAY in texta, and at the back of the cage, what appeared to be a bundle of matted rags. I asked if the people could get Jacques out and was told he refused to move for anyone. He'd 'shut down'. But being a very stubborn (only at times when necessary) person I said 'He'll come out for me". He did!!!!!!!!!!! That glorious, courageous boy wobbled over to me and laid (Sheppie style) against my legs. The 'deal' was sealed there and then. He was 'my boy'. But because the law here states a dog must be held for seven days before adoption (or worse) I had to leave my boy at the Shelter.

He also had a massive wound on his left front leg, which the Shelter vet called a 'scratch' - we won't go there as to what I thought! :mad:

Despite being close to starvation, they also still de-sexed him, how he pulled through that I'm not sure, he was one very courageous dog. And, to keep this long story as short as possible, when I went back seven days later to collect him, he instantly recognized me, that wispy tail wagged so hard he almost fell over:D After a long 'battle' with the dragon woman in charge who didn't want me to have him as I was living in an apartment, (she didn't stand a chance, I said I can be stubborn at times), I came home with my boy.

First thing was to treat his leg, a massive infection, and to say he bore it all with stoicism is understating it, not a whimper, just tucked his head under my Mom's arms and didn't move. He also had to be fed very carefully, he was so under weight that everything he ate, which wasn't much at first, turned to liquid (his stools were water).

But, within two weeks he was a 'changed' boy, not quite up to full weight of course, that takes time, but bright, alert and loving all the attention he got because of his wounded and still bandaged leg. LOL he really 'milked' a crowd, pathetically holding up his sore leg and limping the moment anyone came into view. Walked without a limp when there wasn't an audience;):D

I would love to say he was a perfect angel to walk, train etc. but honestly, he was anything but, a real little scamp. No aggression towards dogs, cats humans, anything or anyone but he thought Doggy School was a big party "Hey chaps let's parteeeeeeeeeeeee" was his attitude, which he also maintained on walks too.:rolleyes: But with Positive Reinforcement Training, he ended up winning stacks of ribbons, made friends with the world and was a wonderful Ambassador for Sheppies. He won over people who were scared of Sheppies, had his own social calendar, he was invited to so many parties, and was my very special Soul Dog. And boy was he a glorious German Bred Sheppie when he recovered. And that wispy tail? The best brush I've ever seen, held high when walking (no approved Sheppie style for him he was a bit of a rebel on that score), he was a real stud muffin:D

Yes he had 'issues' (mainly wanting to play with every dog, actually anything which moved,38 kilos of pulling Sheppie is a tad hard to handle at times I pulled every muscle and then some, I'm not Amazonian in build,but hey he was worth it) when I first got him, but between us we resolved them. It did take two years though of hard work on both our parts. He proved that a two year old, with a terrible start to life, can be trained (cannot say re-trained as he wasn't trained in the first place). He went on to live to almost 13 and sadly, Myolopathy reared it's ugly head. He fought that with the same courage he used to over come his early years, and when the time came, he told me it was his 'time to cross' and crossed with the same dignity he'd lived his life.

So, as to adopting an older dog - go for it!!!!!!!!!!!! They will bond faster to you, they 'know' you really care!!!!!!! You know their history, although unfortunately not always all their medical history (Myolopathy doesn't usually show until the dogs are mature) . As with Jacques, once he was healed, he would walk 11 kilometers a day in the morning with me along the beach and a slighter shorter walk at night. He was never destructive and could be left alone with confidence. Starred in a video on 'Why Take Your Dog To School?", was in a demonstration Sheppie team, won heel work prizes, trick work and much, much more.

My other rescue I will speak of, is my beloved Ra Kismet (Rakins). He was born 'wild', picked up with his Mom and sibling at three months old and found himself on death row in a not very good pound (they kept dogs seven days and then......). Rescued by a No Kill Shelter, he came straight to me as I had just lost my older boy's sister and we were both very unhappy.

He didn't have any issues, but did need constant supervision, as all puppies do. However, tragically, just a few months ago at the age of 3.5 years old he become ill. Not 'sick' in the usual way, at first, just I noticed his hind leg was kinda 'throwing' a tiny bit when he was running, plus he had vomited (but my partner thought that was something he'd picked up when walking and vomited back there and then). Many, many trips to the vets, specialists and ultra sound specialist, radiographer specialists (including my vets contacting UCLDavis in the States) and three months of mental worry for myself, he was finally diagnosed with inoperable cancer, which went into his brain, causing massive seizures. To say I was devastated is understanding matters, hard enough to lose an older dog, but one so young is cruel beyond words. But he guided me to my new puppy, Leaf, a little,cheeky, loving, smart puppy, again removed from an abusive environment.

She was scared of her own shadow, but now at just over eight months old is a confident, cheeky, smart, intelligent little lady ready to take on the world. Topping her class in all her exams and starting Canine Freestyle next year. And with an impressive list of tricks already she's LOL out smarting me - o.k. I'm a proud Mommy but she's just so smart!;)

I am fortunate enough to work from home, so I have the time to spend with a puppy and put in the time needed to train them, but what I really wanted to convey to you is that adopting a rescue dog is way more rewarding than getting a dog from a reputable breeder to see the changes in them, no words can describe the feeling.Unfortunately, there are NO guarantees, sadly, over health issues with any dog, either rescue or bought from a reputable breeder, we just have to do the very best we can for our doggies when needed.:cry:

Personally, I would be adopting from Westside and I know Jackie's friend will definitely help you with choosing the right Sheppie for you - I would adopt from them but I live in Australia now a little too far away.

Safe return from your deployment and happy Sheppie companionship. I just know you'll find the perfect match and he/she will be your soul mate. Dogs are THE very best soul mates!:D(y)

Do please keep us posted and LOL we will expect loads of pics and videos, and to hear all about your beautiful, new Sheppie companion:D


Jackie, thank you for all the great information! I have made the decision to adapt a 1 to 2 y/o GS. I feel this route offers the best advantages and will provide the pup with the best life. I have been doing a lot of research throughout the California area in regards to GS rescues and there are a lot of nice ones, with nice websites, and beautiful dogs. But in all honesty, Westside (to me) shows the most “love” for what they do and their dogs. Its more than just a rescue, I feel like it’s a giant foster home. You can really see how much the employees love what they do and the time they take with each pup. I am from Sacramento so it will be a long drive home with a new pup, but I think it can be done. If I do choose to adapt from Westside, I might take some time to get to know the pup after adoption before we make the long drive home. Just to make them feel a bit more comfortable before hoping into some strangers car.

When my brother and I lived together his best friend had a beautiful bulldog named Lucy. She had been in our “family” since she was a puppy and everyone loved her. She was having a lot of issues and my brothers friend couldn’t keep up with it. He was going to give her up but my brother and I took her in to save her from the Rescue. After quite a bit of money we too couldn’t keep up with the bills. We found a great Bulldog rescue up north and after many days of laboring contemplating, we made the decision to give her to someone that could give her a fighting chance. Unfortunately her complications were too severe and she passed. I guess my point is, I understand what you mean about sometimes a dog in a rescue is from a very good home; just certain uncontrollable circumstances got them there.

About the training, I don’t believe in choke collars, prong collars, nose swatting, or ear flicking. Just like I don’t believe in putting a harness and a leash on a child (no offense to anyone who does that, just my opinion). I will definitely seek guidance from experience people on this forum when looking for a trainer. I want a obedient, well behaved dog. But I want her to be that way because she respects me, not because she fears me. The one I was looking at was this one:

MaryK, thank you for taking the time to respond. The information you gave me has been extremely helpful, this website has been more helpful and friendly than I could have imagined. Your stories speak true love that you hold for your dogs, its quite beautiful. Those stories are the experiences I want to live with my pup. It is extremely encouraging to hear that a GS with such a brutal and devastating start to life became such an astounding dog.

May I ask if you have pet insurance? It sounds like some of your pups went through some intense treatement and I can only imagine how expensive it was. I have been contemplating the idea of whether or not I should get pet insurance for my GS. The Army doesn’t pay us nearly enough and I want to be able to afford to give my pup a fighting chance if she needs it.

Thank you both for your responses, and your support J


Experienced Member
I've had both a new puppy and 3 "older" adopts.
My first two adopts Raleigh & Whisky were amazing, well bonded dogs adopted at 6 months and 3.5 years. Great recall, friendly - Whiskey a Shepard Collie cross was my forever soul mate.

Our next two were a border collie puppy that almost killed me O_o but is now a well behaved, obedient lovable dog, and a year old stray with selective recall (otherwise he is perfect... to me that is) that will probably be the death of his daddy. 1.jpg

You never know what you will get - except that whatever you get it will love you back

Good luck


Honored Member
Oohhh nooo Amateur, that's too funny!! :eek::confused::ROFLMAO: But they're all good, aren't they? :love:

Will, I wish most people even put 1/2 the thought into getting a dog that you're putting into this! So glad you've decided on a 1-2 yr old. Believe me, they're still puppies at that age. Frankly, I think so many end up in shelters at that age, because lots of people think oooh, I'm gonna get a GS puppy, they're so cute (putting no thought into it). Then this cute little puppy starts growing up, getting wild and crazy and big, chewing shoes, counter-surfing, digging, barking, and is bored stiff, because the puppy cuteness has worn off, and no one is paying attention to it and playing with it anymore. Shelter time. I know in Makena's (my girl) case, she was dropped of at a shelter with one of her puppies -- apparently she had served her purpose (had a litter) and her time was up. I did take in a 15 mo old GS many years ago (my girl before Makena) who's history was known, and it was exactly as I wrote above (she was purchased at a pet store as a bday gift on a whim) - and when she started chewing shoes and grabbing things off tables in the house at a few mos old, she was tossed outside, and when she started digging holes and eating plants, she was then placed in a 6x8' chain link "kennel" and that's where she lived with her dog house and bowls for the next year ... until they decided she was "too much trouble" and decided to "get rid of her". A good samaritan asked if he could have her (a neighbor of mine who knew them) and the rest was history. I ended up with her, she had not one manner, wasn't socialized (omg, she was horrible, hated men, kids, didn't know what the outside world was all about!) -- but ended up an incredible dog. I found a wonderful trainer who helped see us thru all of it and she and her big ol' heart came around. I could take her anywhere, with anyone - she loved it all.

Westside IS an incredible rescue. Their "employees" are all volunteers, btw - and army of volunteers. They work tirelessly and endlessly. When you get close to being ready for "your dog", let me know. I'll put you in touch with my friend, and she can start the search for "your perfect dog", help screen and narrow down dogs so you get the dog your looking for. They want dogs going to the perfect homes, both for the dogs and the people - they want the matches to be good for both. It will be a long drive, but you could drive down, meet your new BFF, and always spend the night someplace in LA , giving you time to hang out for the rest of the day, then drive back the next day. You can go to a park, a beach, someplace fun and just get to know each other. They'll most likely have your few top choices - but your heart will tell you who the winner is, you'll just know. :love:

As for trainers ... honestly, without asking a whole lot of questions, I'd be a bit wary of the site you posted. It looks "tough and old-school" to me, lots of bite work (which, btw, can be done using a clicker!!! ... altho most do not, they're not convinced, don't believe the dogs are "tough enough", etc). If you're just looking for a good training facility for a "pet dog", I'd move on.

This first one looks like she only does private lessons, but has a good site with a good video - looks/sounds like what I went thru with my girl at first. Doing her nails was a nightmare. I had her groomed a couple times by a mobile groomer, and the second time, actually heard her yelping in the truck when her nails were being clipped. I ran out to the truck and he was just plowing thru her nails like a bruiser, she was terrified, and from then on, hated having her paws touched. I said no more at that point, and have both bathed and done her nails myself ever since, and started with sessions just like in the video shown. Today, it's no problem - but something as simple as a brute hurrying thru nails can make such a horrible impact. Just no need to "dominate" dogs.

This site looks really good, plus offers Nosework classes!! I've been doing Nosework with mine now for 3 years, and it's so much fun and the dogs love it!! It's such a good job for them. If you don't know what it is, it's the fastest rising dog sport in the country. It's founders are detection dog handlers, and the dogs learn to "search" for odors (essential oils birch, anise, and clove .... instead of bombs and drugs, thank goodness!:eek::LOL: ), they start with boxes (the same foundation learning as detection dogs, and advance on to do 4 elements: containers, interiors, exteriors, and vehicles. Great fun!!!

So far, these are two options I've found - I can look further if you'd like. If it were me, I really like the second one, for the group classes and the Nosework classes (having a sheppie, your dog would probably excel and you'd probably love it too!). Both of these are definitely positive reinforcement/clicker classes, and you'd know going in that you're not going to have someone jerking/yanking your dog around, no force-based methods would be used, no one is going to tell you your dog is "trying to be dominant" (and with a GS, this is the first thing out of so many mouths).
As for ins - I did get it for my girl (and still have it, altho am considering dropping it as I recently lost my job and it's one more expense I'm looking at right now). I didn't get it for my boy - his back end was my biggest conern and it wouldn't have been covered anyway (they're just like human ins with all their pre-existing conditions - ugh). I've been very lucky, both have been very healthy. I've transitioned both to a raw diet and they're probably healthier now than they've ever been. If you can swing health ins, it certainly can come in handy if something happens, altho some feel it's just as beneficial to put that $ away in a "pet account" for "just in case" rather than hand it over to an ins co. Looking back at what I've given the ins co per year (for nothing), I wish I had - but one never know (that's why it's called "insurance", isn't it?). *sigh* It's almost a personal choice and a crap shoot. You may end up with a totally healthy dog ... or a dog with a medical issue or disease down the line. One never knows.


Honored Member
Hi Will, the rewards for adopting are totally awesome, so glad you've made the decision to adopt. Though as Jackie says, one year olds can still be a bit puppy like, teenagers actually, that's why so many end up in shelters. But, the plus side is, they're wonderful to train and bond with!:D

With insurance, no I didn't have insurance cover, which meant I've had double figure thousands in vet bills to pay - delayed my own personal plans but that's what you have to do when it's your dog in strife.

I'm still more inclined to set up a 'pet bank account' as Jackie says, you can have a really healthy dog and the amount spent on insurance is basically 'wasted'. My suggestion, having been through all the expense, is to set up an account and put xx amount aside each week/fortnight, depending on when you're paid. But it really is up to you. I'm not sure now what insurance costs are in the States, they're quite expensive here for a cover which would have been beneficial to me with Rakins, the lower cover would not have helped a great deal, I would have needed the top level cover and even then still had to pay out some of the money myself.

I had a look at the training site too, I agree with Jackie, it looks 'old school' to me. And it's obvious you're definitely NOT into old school training.

The best advice though in finding your 'perfect match' is to (a) go to a reputable shelter like Westside and (b) follow your heart - you'll know the nano second you look at one of their Sheppies that he/she is THE DOG - your very special 'Best Buddies for Ever" dog, you simply cannot mistake the feeling!:D


Jackie, to me what it sounds like is the dogs success is all based on how dedicated the owner is. As I said before, one of the biggest things I look forward to is going through the obedience training with my pup. Not just teaching the dog, but more so teaching myself. Learning how to communicate with my dog and learning to work together to accomplish a shared goal.

What that said, I am looking for a little more than your “run of the mill” doggie trainer. Depending on her level of training when I get her, we might need to start out at that basic level. Heck I may need to. But I want to get more advanced than just sit, stay, down, off, etc. As we have all talked about, GS love the challenge, love to learn, and need mental stimulation. I want to give that to her and make her into an amazing and productive GS.

Westside does look incredible. I have been doing a lot of research about rescues throughout California. Trying to get to know them, their workers, and how they treat their dogs. It’s a bit tough because it seems every person that gets denied a dog writes a horrible one star review and blames the shelter. Westside has a lot of these types of people as it seems they are rather strict on who they select (very understandable). But with that said, how much community outreach I see them doing, the time they take with their dogs, and the work they put into everything speaks wonders. I just truly hope they see me fit to adopt a pup from them.

I am sold on Nose Work! I am a Combat Engineer in the Army, my primary job is Counter IED meaning we search for IEDs and destroy them so they don’t hurt anyone. I have always had dreams of being part of a bomb dog team but being in the National Guard, its very hard to make that happen. This would be an awesome way to “sort of” live out that dream. Start with the basics, then move onto Nose Work. Ah super excited!!

MaryK, the “pet fund” idea does sound like a decent idea. Heck, $50 bucks every two weeks would be $1200 a year. I haven’t done much research yet on pet insurance but it seems anywhere between $50 to $75 a month for decent coverage. I will probably seek some form of guidance from WestSide or other reputable GS POCs for guidance.


Honored Member
Yes, it's a shame that people give Shelters, especially ones like Westside a poor rating because they've been refused. I do voluntary work here for the Australian Working Dog Rescue Organization, who have all working dogs, including Sheppies, and their criteria for adoption is very high, so we also reject a number of applicants. After all, the poor dogs in a Shelter/Foster situation have already been through enough, we sure don't want them going through even more. Often refusal may just be that the person doesn't have a fully enclosed, safe garden, or possible their work takes them away for longish periods of time. All things which are important issues when considering a person as a possible candidate to adopt.

That's about the same as here for decent Pet Insurance Coverage, and from experience Vet bills are around the same too - high- thought the biggest cost here is the work which is out sourced, i.e. some blood tests, specialists of course and in the case of my older dog, his actual medication which is 'designer made', he has Cushings.

Also, on the subject of health, please look into dietary needs. My advice is to feed raw, not kibble no matter how good it sounds, it's not the best for a dog. My vets are now advocating raw feeding. It doesn't work out to be expensive either, especially in the States and please feed Green Tripe as part of your dog's diet - available in the States and Europe sadly illegal here - as it's the finest food for dogs. Yes, it does smell somewhat, well a LOT, but it's so good for the dogs it's worth tackling the awful smell and feel, knowing your dog is receiving excellent food.

Westside are fantastic, they will definitely give you all the help you need regarding Pet Insurance etc. as they really care about the dogs.

Jackie would be able to give you very good advice re Nosework. Fantastic idea to 'live your dream' and you're so right, Sheppies need, in fact LOVE working, then LOL flopping down beside you, they're also great couch potatoes, but DO NEED WORK!!!!!!!!! Nothing worse than a bored Sheppie, they're very creative in the ways they entertain themselves, and it's usually unacceptable to compatible living with us:D:rolleyes:

You're a person after my own heart, I too love my dogs to go 'above and beyond' the normal schooling, it's fun, a learning curve (even though I've done quite a bit of training work myself), you're always learning something new and the dogs just love it. Do mention this to who ever you adopt from, they will help you choose the right dog. For Example, with my new puppy Leaf, she was rescued along with her Mom and sibling, from an Abusive Environment and placed immediately into a foster home. There the person fostering was able to ascertain that Leafy was very smart and intelligent, picked up the basics in manners and learned tricks at lightening speed. Whilst her sibling, she preferred to ignore all trick work and just cuddle:) As you already will know, some dogs adore going above and beyond, whilst others prefer just to learn the basics and leave it at that.:)

You're really going to be a wonderful new dog companion, I wish more people took the trouble to do their homework, there would be a lot less dogs in shelters that's for sure!


MaryK, from your use of Fornight, whilst, and the Australian rescue you work at, do you happen to live in Australia? If so, how ironic, my US Army unit is currently deployed to an Australian Army base here in Afghanistan and we are working directly with the Australian Army here. Definitely been an adventure working with these blokes :p (i think i used that term correctly)

I am a little worried about being in the military and truely hope that WestSide or any other shelter doesnt rob me of the opportunity to have a life with a pup becasue of it. As a good, and even my ex's dog, we have always fed kibble so i do not know anything about Raw Feeding or Green Tripe. I will defintiely look into all these things as i want to make sure my dog is taken care of. I am a gym fanatic, eat very healthy, and do a lot outdoors. All these attributes will directly corilate to how i take care of and feed my dog.

I appreciate the kind words. In my opinion, owning a dog is no different than having a small child; both their lives are in your hands. I will do whatever it takes to ensure myself and my lifestyle is ready for my new pup. From my commitment, to my knowledge, to my house, to my back yard, to the fence height, to my dedication to train with her, and anything unexpected. So far, its all positive in my books and heading towards getting my first GS and giving one a good home to come live in :)


Honored Member
Will, Westside can help you find a "drive-y" dog. They often get high drive dogs (often they are the sable sheps, bred for work, often have a much higher drive than the black and tans) and these dogs need to be placed in just the right home. Place these high drive dogs in a home who wants a dog to walk around the block with at night, and maybe play a little ball with, and you're gonna be quickly missing a couch or two, a few walls, maybe have a hole the size of a swimming pool in your yard, and most likely your dog will be over your fence and gone out of boredom (sometimes that's what got them turned in to begin with - they're just too much). Could be just the dog for you, tho. These dogs need to train, run, hike, learn, be really active - Nosework is perfect! Don't worry about not being allowed to adopt ... don't forget, you kind of have an "in" now. :D As I said, a good friend is an adoption coordinator. She loves people like you who put so much thought into adopting ahead of time. When the time comes, I'll put you in touch with her, she can get a really good idea of what you're looking for in a dog, and let you know which ones would be up your alley - then go from there. In all honestly, I emailed her already and sent her the link to the thread and said "read this - we're gonna have the perfect adopter down the line!". :)

I think if you find a good positive reinforcement training facility and start there, you can learn all the basics and go as far as you like. At my facility, for instance, they have all the basics beginning with puppy pre-school (for puppies who haven't had all their shots) thru all kinds of obedience, then offer Rally-O, Agility, Canine Musical Freestyle, Nosework, all kinds of seminars, I'm sure I'm missing something here. There are very renowned trainers (Steve and Jen White )who are training police K9s with positive reinforcement/clickers. Yes, it can be done! I was fortunate enough to attend a weekend seminar of theirs a couple of years ago and it was amazing (they do these all around the world - they're slowly convincing/training police depts across the nation that you can train police dogs with a clicker/positive reinforcement). If you're wondering if the dogs aren't "tough enough", or if treats make "soft dogs", no. Your GS won't just be a marshmallow, it will be a GS - just one who loves you and does what you're asking out of total respect instead of fear.

As for diet, I recently transitioned to raw feeding. There have been so many kibble recalls it's gotten ridiculous. It's also gotten scary because one isn't quite sure what the country of origin is for all the ingredients in dog food -- sure, the food is "made in the USA" (or Australia, in Mary's case), but what about the vitamins, or .... the list goes on. And how about the beef (or whatever the protein is) -- how many antibiotics/hormones were the cattle given? Were they grass fed? Grain fed? It was getting ridiculous. The more I read, and the more I learned about diseases, arthritis, cancer, etc, I decided to transition them to a home-cooked diet (at least I know what they're eating), then raw (and I also do minimal vaccines - more on that some other time). They're getting a combo now, a small homecooked breakfast, and a bigger raw dinner. At (almost) 8 and 9 yrs old, they've never looked better. Alfie was having loads of arthritis-related issues with his back end (from his injury before I got him) and about to be put on vet-prescribed life-long drugs. I decided to give the raw diet a try after reading so much, kind of as a last-ditch effort to avoid the drugs if we could. He's not even on so much as an aspirin now, and more active than he has been in a year. The transformation has been almost miraculous. If you're interested, I can give you loads of info. The same meat guy I buy from (a local meat processor) makes a run up/down Ca once a month, even to Sacramento. I buy from him (I have a freezer, mostly all for the dogs, you can find freezers at a great price on Craigslist) -- he has a great selection of grass-fed beef, organic chicken, tripe (great stuff!! I have loads of info on tripe too, if you want it .. say the word), bones, all kinds of great stuff. Alfie has never been a very good eater - he's inhaling his food now, probably because he's eating the way he was always meant to. And one of the best things -- it's not costing any more than kibble. If you're interested down the line, let me know and I can get all the info to you. If you'd like it now so you can start looking at it, let me know or PM me -- I can keep you reading for days! :LOL: I've not joined, but have been reading on a GS raw forum and have learned so much from those people! Seems one had a dog live til something like 19 - so that's what we're going for!! I've lost all mine around 11-12 -- I can't even process losing my girl in 2-3 years, altho I look at her now, her physical shape, her energy level, her teeth, etc, and she looks like a much younger dog. Hopefully I'll have many many more years with her.

I think you would LOVE Nosework!!! Sounds totally right up your alley!! I do competitive Nosework with Makena (not with Alf, he just does it for fun - I'll tell you about him some other time, he's my 'special needs' guy). We've gotten our NW1 title (the first level) and so far, the NW2 (second level) has remained elusive - if only she had a better handler (yes, that would be me):ROFLMAO: ... it's def a team sport, and I've blown it in one element a few times in trials, she always does super! Ah well, us humans.... :confused: We'll keep trying, and we'll get it. There are several title levels, trials all over, it's a really fun sport, and growing, and everyone involved is so supportive - you'd love it!


Honored Member
MaryK, from your use of Fornight, whilst, and the Australian rescue you work at, do you happen to live in Australia? If so, how ironic, my US Army unit is currently deployed to an Australian Army base here in Afghanistan and we are working directly with the Australian Army here. Definitely been an adventure working with these blokes :p (i think i used that term correctly)
Small world:D Yes I live in Australia now and still, LOL, need a translator at times! But they're great people, even if at times you're not sure if they're pulling your leg or it's really true.:LOL::confused: Wicked sense of humor and they love to tease, in the nicest possible way of course.

I am a little worried about being in the military and truely hope that WestSide or any other shelter doesnt rob me of the opportunity to have a life with a pup becasue of it. As a good, and even my ex's dog, we have always fed kibble so i do not know anything about Raw Feeding or Green Tripe. I will defintiely look into all these things as i want to make sure my dog is taken care of. I am a gym fanatic, eat very healthy, and do a lot outdoors. All these attributes will directly corilate to how i take care of and feed my dog.
Don't worry, you'd be a NUMBER ONE candidate for adopting, and as Jackie has said, you've got an 'in' with the right people. Believe me any Shelter would jump at having a person like yourself adopt one of their dogs. Just be ready for the question, if applicable (we have it on our Adoption Forms,) about what measures you propose to take if you have to go away and cannot take your dog. Sorry, cannot think of the exact working at present, but you get the drift.:) The black/reds in my case with Jacques also seem to have the high energy drive, but will of course, also love to just cuddle up - after a day of fun!

Jackie will also be very willing I know to help you with raw feeding. She's been an immense help to me and has a wealth of knowledge, plus her own boy Alf as a shining example of just how much healing can be achieved with a raw/home cooked diet.

Her 'man' is amazing, I'm totally jealous I haven't anyone here to buy from, the site is awesome so many choices!

One of my Sheppies who was fed 'raw' and home cooked, lived to 16.5 years old, two weeks shy of her 17th Birthday and was mistaken for a much, much younger dog more than once. I, stupidly, changed to kibble and the results haven't been at all good. What goes into even the best Kibble is horrifying, and with one brand, to the best of my knowledge, they actually 'test' on animals - we won't go there it's just too ghastly.:mad:

Also Nosework, it's just apparently coming to Australia now and when it comes to where I live I'm going to have my youngster enrolled and also maybe my Golden Oldie, he's my 'thermo-nucular bomb proof' boy, excellent at heelwork but only one trick - he shakes paws:D It's great the physical and mental stimulation is fantastic for both the dog and their companion. You'll love it!!!

I appreciate the kind words. In my opinion, owning a dog is no different than having a small child; both their lives are in your hands. I will do whatever it takes to ensure myself and my lifestyle is ready for my new pup. From my commitment, to my knowledge, to my house, to my back yard, to the fence height, to my dedication to train with her, and anything unexpected. So far, its all positive in my books and heading towards getting my first GS and giving one a good home to come live in :)
You're a man after my own heart. This is a point I constantly make to people who, either thru ignorance or still thinking 'old style' that a dog's just a dog, I always ask them how they would like their children treated as they treat their dog. Dogs do have the same emotional reality as we do, that's been proved scientifically, but something dog lovers have always known.

Definitely TOTALLY all positive for you, some Sheppie is going to have the very best home possible. And I know, when you return, you're going to find the perfect dog waiting for you.:D