Owning a German Shepherd can be an incredibly rewarding experience. These intelligent, loyal dogs make wonderful companions and family pets. However, raising a German Shepherd from puppyhood through adulthood requires a lot of time, patience, and proper care.
If your German Shepherd pup is around 7 months old, you’ve made it through the initial puppy phase but are now facing the challenges of adolescence. The 7-month mark is right in the middle of their teenage phase. This transitional time can be difficult, but with the right approach, you can set your adolescent pup up for success.
Understanding the 7-Month Adolescence Phase
The 7-month adolescent phase is an important developmental period for German Shepherds. At this age, your pup is right in the middle of rapid physical and mental changes. Here’s what you can expect from your 7-month-old:
- Growth starts to slow down. Your pup likely reached their full height by 7 months, though they will continue to fill out through the next year.
- Males may stand around 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh 57-62 pounds. Females are usually smaller at 17-19 inches and 49-53 pounds.
- Reproductive maturity. Males become interested in mating around this time. Females will have their first heat cycle sometime between 6-12 months.
- Increased independence and stubbornness. Your pup will test boundaries and be less inclined to follow commands.
- More easily distracted. At this adolescent stage, your pup has a shorter attention span.
- Increased activity needs. Your German Shepherd will seem restless and require more physical and mental exercise.
- Resource guarding may emerge. Your pup may become possessive over toys, food, sleeping areas, etc.
- Separation anxiety could develop. Adolescent pups may become more distressed when left alone.
The 7-month mark is an exciting time because your puppy is transitioning both physically and mentally into an adult dog. However, the adolescent behaviors they exhibit can be challenging for owners. Consistent training and patience will be key during this transitional period.
Training a 7-Month-Old German Shepherd
The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” absolutely does not apply to German Shepherds. These intelligent dogs thrive on training and challenges. At 7 months old, training should be one of your top priorities.
Reinforce Obedience Commands
- Sit, stay, come, down, heel – your German Shepherd should reliably respond to basic obedience cues by 7 months.
- Continue daily 5-10 minute training refresher sessions to reinforce these commands. Use positive reinforcement.
- Work on achieving obedience in more distracting environments.
Introduce Advanced Commands
- Your adolescent pup is ready for more advanced training like “go to your mat”, “leave it”, “wait”, etc.
- Aim to teach 2 new advanced commands per month. This provides much needed mental stimulation.
- Practice commands using real life applications. For example, practice “leave it” around food or other tempting objects.
Address Unwanted Behaviors
- Adolescent dogs may demonstrate unwanted behaviors like jumping, nipping, barking, or destruction.
- Use reward-based training to teach them the appropriate behavior instead. For example, reward calm behavior and ignore jumping.
- Be patient and consistent. It may take many repetitions for new behaviors to stick.
- Well-socialized pups grow into well-adjusted adult dogs.
- Introduce your German Shepherd to new people, dogs, places, sights and sounds. Go on field trips to parks, stores, etc.
- Enroll in a group obedience class for more socialization opportunities.
- Meet unfamiliar dogs under controlled conditions to have good experiences.
With persistence and positivity, you can guide your 7-month-old GSD to be a well-mannered, social dog. Adolescence is all about reinforcing training and setting your pup up for success as an adult.
Exercise Needs for a 7-Month-Old
German Shepherd puppies have bountiful energy reserves. As your pup enters adolescence around 7 months, their exercise needs reach their height. Satisfying your German Shepherd’s physical and mental stimulation needs is crucial during this phase.
Duration of Exercise
-Aim for a minimum of 30-45 minutes of exercise per day. This may be split into multiple sessions.
- Adolescent Shepherds need up to 90 minutes of intense exercise daily. This includes play time with other dogs.
- Avoid overdoing it with too much hard exercise while your pup is still growing. Pay attention for signs of fatigue.
Type of Exercise
- Off-leash play is essential. Try fenced areas or tennis courts for safe off-leash time.
- Hiking provides physical challenge and mental stimulation. Start with flat trails and work up to more difficult terrain.
- Swimming is an impact-free workout. Introduce your Shepherd slowly if they are hesitant.
- Fetch games will satisfy their high prey drive. Use balls and frisbees, not sticks which can cause mouth injuries.
- Dog sports like agility and obedience provide structured energetic activities.
- Advanced obedience. Practice heeling, tricks, retrieving objects, etc.
- Food puzzles, snuffle mats, Kongs. These provide mental challenges.
- New environments. Take your pup to parks, stores, trails to experience new sights and sounds.
German Shepherds need a job to do. Satisfying their high exercise drive will prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Walks alone are insufficient – your 7-month-old GSD needs intense activity daily.
Nutrition Tips for Your 7-Month-Old
Proper nutrition is essential for any growing pup, especially large breeds like German Shepherds that are prone to developmental orthopedic diseases. As your Shepherd reaches 7 months old, their dietary needs shift as growth begins to slow down.
- Consult your vet for exact recommended daily caloric intake based on your pup’s size and activity level.
- Follow label guidelines on dog food for amounts based on projected adult weight.
- Overfeeding will lead to rapid growth and obesity. Underfeeding will inadequately nourish them.
- Most Shepherds will transition to two meals a day at around 7 months old.
- Spread out calories between two feedings, about 12 hours apart.
- Keep dinner later in evening – their last potty break should be right before bedtime.
Nutrients to Focus On
- High quality animal protein sources like chicken, beef, fish. These build lean muscle.
- Glucosamine & chondroitin to support joint health.
- Calcium and phosphorus levels should be monitored to prevent developmental orthopedic disease. Excess supplementation can be harmful.
- Omega fatty acids from fish oils benefit skin and coat health.
- Fruits and vegetables provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. About 10% of diet can be from veggies.
- A high protein kibble specially formulated for large breed puppies is ideal.
- Look for a minimum of 25% protein and 12% fat. Avoid corn, soy, and byproducts.
- Wet food can be given as a topper to add extra hydration and flavor.
Pay close attention to feeding recommendations and nutritional content at this critical growth phase. An appropriate diet will set up your German Shepherd for a healthy adult life.
Thanks to their double coat, German Shepherds shed year-round and go through intense seasonal shedding cycles. As your pup reaches 7 months old, you’ll need to step up grooming to keep all that fur under control.
- Brush thoroughly 1-2 times per week. Use a slicker brush and undercoat rake to remove loose hair.
- Bathe monthly or as needed with a hydrating dog shampoo. Bathing helps loosen shed fur.
- Regular vacuuming and washing bedding will keep your home fur-free.
- Brush outdoors as much as possible to avoid fur flying inside.
- Pay special attention to brushing their pants and behind the ears, common mat zones.
- Check for any skin irritation which may indicate allergies or parasites.
- Trim excess fur between paw pads to prevent painful ice buildup in winter.
- Blow dry their coat on low heat after baths. Air drying can take hours.
- Trim nails every 2-3 weeks. Look for a quick retreat or click sound so you don’t hit the quick.
- Get your Shepherd used to paw handling early on to make trims easy. Give treats during trims to build positive associations.
- Unless you’re highly experienced, avoid trimming the double dew claws to avoid injury. Have your vet or groomer handle these.
Regular grooming keeps your German Shepherd comfortable and looking their best. It’s also a great time to strengthen your bond together.
Providing Proper Housing for a 7-Month-Old
Your quickly growing German Shepherd puppy will need adequate housing adjustments by the time they reach 7 months old. Ensuring they have a safe, clean living space lays the foundation for good behavior and health.
- Adult-sized crate or dog bed. Measure your pup to ensure their new bed allows them to fully stretch out.
- Comfortable crate pad or washable bedding they can “fluff.”
- If crate training, make sure it is still large enough for them to stand and turn around.
- Reassess fencing height and security. Shepherds are notorious escape artists.
- Bury fencing at least 12” to prevent digging under.
- Check for and block any vulnerabilities like loose boards or gaps.
- Set up an outdoor run if they will be spending time unsupervised in the yard.
- Keep counters and tables clear of food or other temptations. Use baby gates as needed.
- Remove or secure any items like shoes or clothing they may chew.
- Consider a gate to keep them out of rooms like bedrooms.
- Block access to plants, chemicals, medications etc. Pups explore with their mouth!
- Expand outdoor potty area if needed.
- Disinfect accidents promptly with enzyme cleaner.
- Scoop yard daily to keep feces from accumulating.
- Take pups out immediately in the morning and frequently to reinforce housetraining.
Providing an ideal living space sets them up to thrive as they mature. Be sure to dog-proof your home for safety and cleanliness.
Health Care Tips
German Shepherds are generally hardy dogs, but they are prone to certain health conditions. Excellent physical care and preventative vet visits are crucial during the 7-month adolescent period and beyond.
- Vets typically recommend waiting until 12-15 months of age to spay or neuter.
- Early spay/neuter risks orthopedic problems due to uneven bone growth plate closure.
- Discuss timing with your vet based on breed risk factors.
- Your pup should have completed their initial puppy vaccine series by this point.
- They need yearly boosters of core vaccines like rabies, DA2PP, bordetella.
- An initial leptospirosis vaccine is sometimes recommended around 7-9 months old depending on risk factors.
- Give monthly heartworm and flea/tick medication year-round per your vet’s recommendation.
- Have your vet do a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites. Deworm as needed.
- Brush teeth and clean ears weekly to prevent infections. Trim nails regularly.
- Track their weight gain and body condition. You should be able to feel but not see their ribs.
- Monitor bone development for any signs of lameness or pain which could indicate panosteitis or other issues.
- Measure their height at shoulders monthly to ensure they are not outpacing recommendations.
As you keep up with preventative care, also stay alert to any signs of illness and contact your vet promptly when concerned. Thorough wellness care ensures your 7-month-old stays happy and healthy.
Common Behavioral Challenges
The adolescent phase brings new behavioral challenges that can strain your patience. Instead of reprimanding your exuberant 7-month-old GSD, redirect their energy and teach positive behaviors. Here are some common challenges and solutions:
- Channel their energy into a sit or down stay when greeting people. Reward calm behavior.
- Have guests turn away from jumping. Reward four on the floor with attention.
- Practice impulse control like staying on a mat while people approach.
Mouthing and Nipping
- Carry a chew toy to stuff in their mouth instead. Praise when they take the toy.
- Say “ouch!” then walk away/ignore them anytime teeth touch skin.
- Train a strong “leave it” and “off” command. Reward stopping nipping.
Demand Barking and Whining
- Ignore attention-seeking noises completely. Reward moments of quiet.
- Provide enrichment activities like frozen Kongs to occupy them when confined.
- Exercise before crating helps them settle calmly.
Counter Surfing and Stealing Food
- Keep counters and tables completely cleared of anything interesting.
- Practice “leave it” around tempting food and praise success.
- Install baby gates to block access when you can’t supervise.
While frustrating, these behaviors are normal for adolescent pups. Patience, prevention and positive reinforcement are key to curbing them. Always redirect undesirable behavior, never punish.
Enriching a 7-Month-Old’s Life
Beyond physical and mental exercise, German Shepherds need enrichment to live fulfilled lives and prevent problem behaviors. Make activities and playtime part of your 7-month-old’s daily routine.
Rotate novel toys to prevent boredom. Puzzle feeders and rubber chew toys provide mental stimulation. Play fetch and tug-of-war for physical exercise.
Continue exposing your adolescent Shepherd to new people, dogs, places and situations to build confidence. Bring them on outings whenever possible.
Structured training classes provide mental and social benefits. Look for positive reinforcement-based adolescent dog courses.
Set up tunnels, ramps, balance beams, etc in your yard. Move items around frequently to create new agility courses.
Schedule regular play sessions with friend or neighbor dogs. Supervise closely and separate if needed.
If your pup shows aptitude, get involved in dog sports like agility, dock diving, or nose work. These activities burn energy in a productive way.
Keeping your German Shepherd engaged daily enriches their life. It also prevents the boredom that often leads to destructive behaviors. An enriched GSD is a happy, well-adjusted GSD.
Preparing for the Months Ahead
Raising a German Shepherd through the adolescent phase can be demanding, but also deeply rewarding. As you look forward to the months beyond 7, focus on continuing positive training, providing adequate exercise, and showering your pup with love and patience.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind as your German Shepherd continues maturing:
- Reinforce training daily through repetition, consistency and praise. Build their skills with advanced commands.
- Ramp up duration and intensity of exercise. But avoid overdoing it while growth plates are still open.
- Feed high quality food in correct portions to fuel their activity levels. Monitor their growth.
- Socialize frequently to prevent fearfulness or aggression towards unfamiliar things.
- Be patient with adolescent behaviors like mouthiness, pushy play and selective hearing. Redirect energy positively.
- Curb demand behaviors using prevention and rewarding alternate activities. Manage the environment and ignore attention-seeking.
- Provide plentiful enrichment. German Shepherds thrive when challenged mentally and physically.
- Check in with your vet routinely. Stay current on preventative care. Get spay/neuter consult.
No doubt, the months ahead will require work. But the payoff of a well-trained, socialized, healthy adolescent dog is immense. With proper diligent care during these transitional months, you’re shaping an incredible companion for life.
Final Tips for German Shepherd Owners
Raising a German Shepherd from puppyhood through adolescence and beyond is incredibly rewarding yet demanding. If your Shepherd pup has reached 7 months old, congratulations – you’ve made it through early puppyhood!
Some final tips as your pup continues maturing:
- Prepare for messy fur flying with frequent brushing and vacuuming. German Shepherds are prolific shedders!
- Dog-proof thoroughly inside and outside. Their strong jaws and high intelligence require vigilant management.
- Patience is mandatory. Adolescent Shepherds will test your limits. Persistence and positivity pay off.
- Socialization is lifelong. Continue exposing your Shepherd to new sights, sounds, places and people.
- Training is a must. A stimulated German Shepherd is a happy German Shepherd. Challenge their brains daily.
- Photograph and celebrate the little milestones. Though exhausting at times, the months fly by all too quickly.
Owning a German Shepherd is a big commitment but incredibly worthwhile. With proper care, training and healthcare, your loyal GSD will mature into an incredible companion. Cherish this special time – those fluffy puppy days don’t last near long enough!