The German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. These intelligent, loyal dogs make wonderful companions when properly cared for. At 10 months old, your German Shepherd puppy is entering adolescence and will require special attention to thrive. This article provides a complete guide to caring for your 10-month-old German Shepherd.
Overview of Developmental Stage
By 10 months old, your German Shepherd has finished the majority of its rapid growth phase but is still considered an adolescent. Here are some key facts about their development at this age:
- Physically Mature: They’ve reached their full height by this age but are still filling out and gaining muscle mass. Their adult coat is growing in thicker.
- Increased Energy: Expect high energy levels and enthusiasm as they explore their independence. More exercise is needed to prevent destructive behaviors.
- Continued Training: Training should become more advanced at this age. However, their attention span may be limited, so keep sessions short and engaging.
- Social Maturity: They are highly social at this age and benefit from interaction with other dogs. Monitor play to prevent injuries.
- Sexual Maturity: Females will experience their first heat cycle. Spaying or neutering should be considered to prevent unwanted litters.
Knowing what to expect developmentally will help you provide the best care for your 10-month-old pup.
Nutrition and Feeding
Proper nutrition supports your German Shepherd’s continued growth and health. Consider these feeding tips:
- 2-3 meals per day. Most experts recommend feeding adult dogs twice a day, but German Shepherds may still require 3 feedings at 10 months.
- High-quality dog food. Look for a brand that lists meat as the first ingredient. Avoid fillers like corn, wheat, and soy.
- 3-4 cups per day. This provides adequate calories for an active, growing German Shepherd. Adjust amounts based on your dog’s individual needs.
- Supplements. Fish oil, glucosamine, and probiotics support joint, digestive, and immune health. Ask your vet for recommendations.
- Monitor weight. Overweight dogs are prone to joint issues. You should be able to feel but not see your dog’s ribs.
- Provide fresh water. Always keep clean water available, especially after walks or play sessions.
Pay attention to your German Shepherd’s appetite and energy levels. Increase food if they seem too thin or lethargic. Decrease if weight gain becomes excessive.
Exercise and Physical Activity
German Shepherds need vigorous exercise and mental stimulation every day. Here are some tips:
- At least 2 hours per day. High-energy activities like running, swimming, fetch, and hiking are best.
- Off-leash play. Safely allow free play in a fenced area so they can run full speed. Always supervise interactions with other dogs.
- Walks. Take your German Shepherd on at least two 30-60 minute walks daily, in addition to play time.
- Mental exercises. Try advanced training, puzzle toys, and nose work to tire their brain.
- Avoid overexertion. Watch for signs of fatigue like lagging, panting, or limping, and allow rest periods. Don’t overexercise puppies as their joints are still developing.
Your German Shepherd will let you know if they need more exercise. Bored dogs often dig, chew, or bark excessively. Providing adequate outlets prevents destructive behavior.
Training and Socialization
Continue training and socializing your German Shepherd at this age. Here are some tips:
- Use positive reinforcement. Reward good behavior with treats, praise, and play. Avoid punishment or scolding.
- Focus on the basics. Reinforce commands like sit, stay, come, down, and heel. Increase distance and distractions gradually.
- Introduce advanced skills. Tricks like roll over, crawl, and playing dead provide mental stimulation.
- Keep sessions short. 5-10 minutes is ideal as adolescent dogs have shorter attention spans. End on a positive note.
- Be patient and consistent. German Shepherds are intelligent but can be stubborn. Stick with training even if progress seems slow.
- Expose them to new sights, sounds, and people. This builds confidence in unfamiliar situations.
- Arrange play dates. Supervise time with friend’s/neighbor’s gentle, vaccinated dogs. This teaches good manners and bite inhibition.
- Attend a training class. This allows social interaction in a controlled environment. Practice commands around distractions.
- Crate train. Crates provide a safe space when alone and prevent destructive behaviors.
- Discourage jumping/nipping. Redirect these behaviors to appropriate toys and rewards calm interactions.
Proper socialization and training prevents problem behaviors as your German Shepherd matures.
Grooming and Coat Care
The German Shepherd has a medium-length double coat that requires weekly grooming. Here are some tips:
- Brush regularly. Use a slicker brush or undercoat rake 2-3 times per week to remove loose hair. More frequent brushing may be needed during seasonal shedding.
- Bathe when needed. Bathe every 6-8 weeks or when visibly dirty using dog-safe shampoo. Overbathing strips essential oils from their coat.
- Trim nails monthly. Have your vet or groomer trim nails to prevent cracks or splits.
- Brush teeth weekly. Daily is best to reduce plaque and prevent dental disease.
- Clean ears weekly. Gently wipe inside ears with a vet-approved cleanser and cotton ball to prevent infections.
- Check for ticks and fleas. Examine your dog’s coat thoroughly if there is excessive licking, scratching, or scooting. Treat any parasites accordingly.
Regular grooming keeps your German Shepherd’s skin and coat healthy while strengthening your bond. Seek help from a professional groomer if needed.
Health and Veterinary Care
German Shepherds are generally healthy but prone to certain genetic conditions. Here are some tips for proactive health management:
- Spay or neuter. Talk to your vet about the right age to spay or neuter your German Shepherd. This prevents accidental litters and reduces some health risks.
- Vaccinate fully. Puppies need a series of vaccines for distemper, parvo, rabies, and other diseases. Your vet will advise on any boosters needed at 10 months.
- Deworm and use preventives. Intestinal parasites are common in puppies. Use dewormers as directed and flea/tick/heartworm preventives monthly.
- Buy pet insurance. Insurance offsets the costs of medical care throughout your dog’s life. Review different plans carefully.
- Schedule annual vet visits. Wellness exams, bloodwork, and screening tests help detect issues early. Senior dogs may need biannual exams.
- Watch for lameness. Hip and elbow dysplasia are common. Manage with medication, supplements, physiotherapy, or surgery.
- Monitor digestive health. Diarrhea and vomiting are signs of infection or food allergies. Change diets gradually if needed.
Stay alert to any changes in your German Shepherd’s health and notify your vet promptly about concerns. Establishing a lifetime wellness plan promotes their long-term health.
Supplies for Care and Safety
Caring for an adolescent German Shepherd requires having certain supplies on hand. Here are some recommended items:
- Puppy-proofing tools – Gates, pens, tie-downs, and crates limit access to unsafe areas. Hide or secure anything you don’t want chewed.
- ID tag and microchip – Identification helps reunite lost pets with owners. Make sure your contact info is up to date.
- High-quality food and treats – Pick a brand that meets nutritional standards for growth.
- Stainless steel bowls – These are easy to clean and won’t harbor bacteria. Use non-tip bowls.
- Dog bed and crate – Provide an orthopedic bed for comfort. Crates should be just big enough for standing and turning around.
- Leash, collar, and harness – Use a front-clip harness to help control pulling during walks. Choose well-fitting, padded options.
- Grooming tools – Keep their coat healthy with nail clippers, slicker brush, rake, toothbrush, etc.
- Interactive feeders and toys – Prevent boredom with puzzle toys, Kongs, ropes, balls, and other safe chews.
- Poop bags and cleaning supplies – Pick up waste immediately when on walks. Keep their living area clean.
- First aid kit – Have basic wound care supplies on hand just in case. Ask your vet for a list of recommended items.
Investing in the right supplies makes grooming, training, cleaning, and healthcare easier as your German Shepherd puppy continues to grow.
Common Behavior Issues
Adolescent German Shepherds are exuberant and energetic, which can sometimes cause behavioral problems. Here are some common issues and solutions:
Chewing/destructive behaviors – Provide appropriate chew toys and rotate to maintain interest. Give mental stimulation through training and play. Confine unsupervised puppies.
Excessive barking – Reduce boredom through adequate exercise. Train a “quiet” command. Ignore attention-seeking barking.
Jumping on people – Turn away and avoid rewarding with attention. Train an alternative behavior like “sit.”
Hyperactivity – Ensure your German Shepherd gets sufficient physical and mental exercise daily. Create a predictable schedule and routine.
Nipping or mouthing – Yelp “ouch” to signal pain and stop play. Redirect to a toy and praise gentle play. Don’t wrestle or play roughly.
Pulling on leash – Use a front-clip harness and train a loose leash walk. Reward and praise when walking nicely. Stop or change directions when pulling starts.
Separation anxiety – Gradually get them used to alone time. Provide stimulating toys when you leave. Don’t make a big fuss over returns and departures.
Patience and consistency are key when training adolescent dogs. Punishment or scolding often backfires. Contact a trainer or behaviorist if issues persist or you need help.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should a 10-month-old German Shepherd weigh?
Male German Shepherds typically weigh 63-73 lbs at 10 months, while females weigh 57-62 lbs. Individual dogs may be slightly above or below the average. Monitor your pup’s body condition rather than focusing solely on weight.
When should a 10-month-old German Shepherd be spayed or neutered?
Most vets recommend waiting until 12-18 months to spay or neuter, allowing your German Shepherd to fully mature first. There are some exceptions, so discuss the ideal timing with your vet.
How can I help my German Shepherd puppy burn off energy?
German Shepherds have lots of energy! Take them on frequent vigorous walks, allow off-leash play, use interactive toys and games, provide chews, teach them a “job” to do around the home, and sign up for sports like agility once they’re physically mature.
Is a 10-month-old German Shepherd too young for protection training?
Yes, protection or bite training should never be started before 18-24 months when your German Shepherd has mentally and physically matured. Beginning too young can lead to fearfulness or aggression issues. Focus on positive socialization instead.
How do I discourage jumping up on people and furniture?
Ignore the behavior, turn away, or walk through doorways first. Reward four-paw downs. Teach an alternative like “sit.” Block access to furniture using pens, tie-downs, or closed doors when you can’t supervise. Manage excited situations that trigger jumping.
Raising a German Shepherd puppy is incredibly rewarding but requires dedication, patience, and research. At 10 months old, your puppy will undergo many developmental changes as they transition from puppyhood into adolescence.
Focus on providing excellent nutrition, regular veterinary care, physical activity, positive training, and socialization during this stage. Supplies like crates, gates, harnesses, and interactive toys will also help set your growing German Shepherd up for success.
While adolescence brings some challenging behaviors, remember that this is temporary, and consistency, structure, and encouragement will help your puppy mature into a wonderful companion.