When adopting a German shepherd, you are probably excited and nervous all at the same time. Bringing a new, four-legged member into the family is fun, but does require a great deal of preparation.
From finding veterinarians, groomers, and dog walkers to care for your shepherd, to laying in the right pet supplies, there are plenty of things to do. The following German shepherds checklist will ensure you do not miss anything and can be used whether you are adopting a puppy or adult canine.
Choose a well-fitted, sturdy collar with a solid hook for attaching a leash. When adopting a puppy, make sure the collar can be expanded as he or she grows. Ideally, there should be enough space for two fingers to slide underneath the collar, but no more.
The right leash for a GSD will be between six and ten feet long. One with a bit of stretch will allow your pet some freedom while still allowing you to maintain some control. Retractable leashes work nicely for German shepherds as well.
Our Review: Best Leash for German Shepherds.
If your shepherd goes missing, ID tags tell others that he does belong to someone and is actually not a stray. It’s also easy for people to find your contact information, making them the first line of defense when it comes to relocating your dog.
Dogs that go missing may sometimes go months or even years before they are reunited with their owners. Some will never be reunited at all. A microchip can increase the odds that you will find your German shepherd in the event he becomes missing.
A very important item on any German shepherds checklist is food. The ideal dog food will provide adequate nutrition and contain few fillers such as grain that might cause allergies. Puppies have different nutritional requirements and therefore need a different type of food than adults.
Our Review: Best Food for German shepherds
Food and Water Bowl
Food and water bowls designed especially for pets have a shape that makes them easy to access. They are also heavier than normal bowls and are therefore more difficult to tip over. Choose one set of bowls for the house and another set of folding ones for travel.
Our Review: Best Dog Bowl for German Shepherds
Keep your German shepherd’s food and treats fresh and safe from pests such as roaches. The right container will have a tight-fitting lid and clear sides so that you can easily see how much food is remaining.
A German shepherd need between three to four cups of kibble per day. Food scoops ensure even portions and prevent overfeeding. Overfeeding is a common problem for German Shepherds since they have a tendency to gain weight easily. Sticking to the recommended feeding guide and avoiding excess treats or table scraps is key to maintaining a healthy weight.
A dog crate can help with potty training and also gives your German shepherd a place he can call his own. Buy one that will accommodate your canine once he reaches adulthood. Use dividers to gradually expand the space while he is growing.
Our Review: Best Dog Crate for German Shepherds
A well-insulated doghouse will provide protection from the elements and give your German shepherd a safe place in which to relax outdoors. The ideal size will allow your pet to stand up and fully turn around in once inside.
Our Review: Best Dog House for German Shepherds
Having a blanket to curl up will make your GSD feel safe and secure. Choose soft material such as fleece, sheepskin, or even a down comforter. Avoid wool or other itchy materials as they may irritate your shepherd’s skin.
Keep your pet’s teeth healthy by providing plenty of chew toys. Opt for a durable rubber or nylon material rather than Kevlar. A German shepherd’s strong jaws can easily unravel Kevlar threads. In that case, they may become a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
Our Review: Best Toy for German shepherds
This breed has naturally strong jaw bones that require regular exercise. Tug toys are a great way to keep your German shepherd’s teeth, mouth, and jaws in great shape and will also help you bond with your canine.
Our Review: Best Flirt Pole for German Shepherds
One way to prevent unwanted chewing is to provide lots of bones for your German shepherd dog to chew on. Beef, pork, turkey, lamb, or even rawhide bones are tough enough that they will not splinter while your pet is chewing.
Our Review: Best Bone for German Shepherds
Toy balls are a great way to ensure that your GSD gets an adequate amount of exercise. Your pet will enjoy having you throw a ball and then being able to run after it. A toy ball will also come in handy when teaching your shepherd how to fetch.
Puzzle toys provide mental stimulation and can help ward off some of the separation anxiety that German shepherds are susceptible to. They also help develop mental acuity and are therefore a valuable tool when it comes to training.
Plush toys give your GSD a form of entertainment. Some dogs also find them very comforting, especially in stressful situations such as thunderstorms. When choosing a plush toy, make sure there are no small parts that could easily come off and become lodged in your canine’s throat.
Vitamins and Supplements
Multi-vitamin soft chews in treat form ensure adequate nutrition to help your puppy become strong and healthy. Glucosamine supplements will help your GSD maintain joint health as he grows older.
A comfortable, sheepskin-lined dog bed will provide the ideal spot for overnight snoozing or an occasional nap. Buy one a little bigger so that your GSD will have plenty of room as he grows.
Our Review: Best Dog Beds for German Shepherds
Comfortable bedding can be used inside a crate or in addition to a dog bed. Select bedding that with lots of padding to protect your German shepherd dog’s delicate joints.
Build a first-aid kit so that you can easily attend to minor scrapes and cuts at home. Some things to keep in it include roll gauze, medical scissors, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic ointment.
Flea & Ticks Meds
Fleas and ticks can wreak havoc on your GSD’s health, and can also make your pet very uncomfortable. A topical solution applied monthly can help you combat these pests, as can certain oral medications.
Heartworm is a major threat to German shepherds everywhere. Has your German shepherd tested as soon after adoption as possible? That way, you can obtain an up-to-date prescription that will provide the best possible protection.
Training accidents do happen, regardless of how careful you are. As such, you should have plenty of potty pads on hand when adopting a puppy. However, you could need them for an adult GSD if you must go sometime in between walks.
Treats can serve as a reward and are a useful tool when it comes to training. Your shepherd will love ones made from pumpkin, sweet potato, liver, or peanut butter.
Keep dog treats handy for training sessions or long walks with a waterproof treat pouch. A small pouch that clips onto a belt or backpack will provide you with optimum convenience.
A head halter provides greater control when walking. It’s a great tool for training but could also be used to help you better steer your GSD as he grows older.
German shepherds are very strong, active dogs. Accordingly, it is sometimes easier for a child or small adult to walk a GSD who is wearing a harness rather than only a collar.
Our Review: Best Harness for German shepherds
Muzzle-training your shepherd will teach him not to bite or pick up unwanted objects from the ground. It will also prepare him for visits to the veterinarian or groomer later on.
No Chew Spray
German shepherds are naturally curious and may therefore chew on furniture, electric wires, or other household objects. No-chew spray protects your valuable items from damage and helps keep your GSD safe.
A clicker provides positive reinforcement for your German shepherd and is, therefore, a valuable tool for training. One with an ergonomic design that will allow you to performed extended training sessions with ease.
Pet Grooming Wipes/Baby Wipes
Wipes are great to have around whenever you need to “touch up” in between baths. Keep some with you in the car in case your German shepherd decided to romp in the water or mud while out on a walk.
German shepherds have very sensitive skin. As such, any shampoo you use should not contain any harsh chemicals. Look for one with a mild formula and natural ingredients such as oatmeal to help soothe itchiness.
Our Review: Best Shampoo for German Shepherds
Even short-haired breeds varieties of the German shepherd will need to be brushed occasionally. Since GSDs do a lot of shedding, you’ll want one that eliminates loose fur rather than removing tangles.
Our Review: Best Brush for German Shepherds
A fine-toothed comb can also help with de-shedding your German shepherd and can be used in between brushings. As an added bonus, many combs can also trap fleas in between their very tight teeth.
Keeping your German shepherd’s nails well trimmed ensures a stead gait, and may even prevent joint problems down the road. An ergonomically-designed pair of trimmers will provide greater accuracy and is best for beginners.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Take care of your GSD’s oral health with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for canines. Avoid commercial toothpastes made for humans, especially those that contain fluoride-a substance harmful to dogs.
Super Absorbent Towels
Absorbent towels can be used for everything from cleaning up messes to bathing. You don’t have to purchase new towels as slightly-used ones from your own stash will do just fine.
Pooper Scooper or Shovel
Keep your yard clean by scooping feces on a regular basis. A scooper with a flat bottom similar to a dustpan is ideal for picking up poop out of tall grass. A folding shovel can also come in handy for taking walks in the park.
Be ready for long walks and hikes by having lots of poop bags. Small ones are fine for puppies, but as your GSD grows you will probably need large or even extra-large bags.
Stain and Odor Remover
The German shepherd’s sensitive nose will quickly sniff out any accidents, making it more likely he will use the same spot again. You’ll need to take an aggressive approach toward stain and odor removal by using a commercial-grade, enzyme-based cleaner.
Carpet Cleaners and Vacuums
This breed is known for shedding, which means that regular carpet cleaning is a must. Choose a vacuum with lots of suction, and consider investing in your own shampooer if your home has a great deal of carpet.
Our Review: Best Robot Vacuum for German Shepherds
Rags or Old Newspapers
Keep lots of rags on hand to help you clean up messes. Use newspapers to cover a wide area whenever you are potty training. Lining the inside of a kennel with newspapers makes it easier to clean up after an accident as well.
A dog door will allow your German shepherd to come and go at will. Accordingly, you will not have to worry about having someone let your dog out to go potty while you are at work.
A playpen is a great way to keep your GSD puppy from chewing on or getting into things. A doggie playpen has wire panels that you can extend to provide more room as your shepherd gets bigger.
Dog Gate /Baby Gate
Keep your pet away from dangerous areas by blocking them off with a dog or baby gate. As your GSD grows, you may need to stack multiple gates on top of one another in order to provide sufficient height.
Pet Camera & Monitor
For times when you must leave your GSD alone, a pet camera and monitor will help you keep an eye on things. Some even have two-way videos, barking alerts, or audio microphones as well.
A carrier can come in handy for hauling your German shepherd safely to and from the vet, grooming appointments, and training sessions. One that can accommodate very large dogs will serve your GSD well from its puppy stages to adulthood.
Travel kennels provide a place where your pet can feel safe. They are also a must if you plan to travel with your GSD by airline. Choose one with sturdy plastic walls, vented openings, and a gate that latches securely.
Dog Car Seats or Restraints
German shepherds love riding in cars. Ensure yours is safe by offering the right dog car seats or restraints. A full-grown GSD can weigh up to 80 pounds, so keep this in mind when buying a car seat.
Local Vet/24-Hr Emergency Vet
Don’t wait until you experience a health care problem to look for a vet. Before bringing your shepherd home, locate a veterinarian who can help you with routine exams and another one you can call on for emergencies.
Contact Details of the Previous Breeder or Rescue
Knowing how to reach your breeder or rescue agency can prove invaluable should your GSD experience health problems. Store this information in a secure place along with your pet’s medical records.
Regular grooming can prevent much of the shedding that is associated with German shepherds. Find a groomer who can help you with regular bathing, nail trims, ear cleanings, teeth brushing, and deshedding to keep him healthy and looking great.
German shepherds are highly intelligent; however, they do require training in order to learn obedience and develop mental acuity. The right trainer can streamline the process and give you more time to bond with your dog.
A pet sitter/dog walker is a must if you are unable to provide frequent walks throughout the day. One can also be a lifesaver if you must leave your GSD alone for an extended period.
Who will care for your shepherd if you must leave town? Don’t wait until that time comes to think about it. Find a reputable boarding facility before bringing him home.
Don’t get caught off-guard by unexpected medical bills or even the cost of yearly exams. Pet insurance can help you manage these expenses very affordable and will easily fit into your monthly budget.