Can I Work Full-time With a German Shepherd?
German Shepherds are high-energy dogs. And they always need a job to do. While it is not ideal to leave a GSD alone in the house for over 4 hours a day, a lot of owners find that their German Shepherds do just fine while they’re at work for at least 8 hours a day. If you are wondering whether you can work full-time with a German Shepherd, you’ve come to the right place.
Working full-time with a German Shepherd is doable. But you must spend your time training and socializing your dog from day one. It’s crucial to set boundaries and avoid free-roaming inside the house during the day. A good idea is to have a neighbor, friend, or family comes in to let your dog out while you’re at work.
In this article, I am going to answer the common questions people might have about owning a German Shepherd when you have to work full-time. By the end, you will have a much better idea of what it is like for you and your new furry friend.
- Why do you want to have a German Shepherd?
- Is owing a German Shepherd a lot of work?
- How many hours a day should a German Shepherd be active?
- How many hours does a German Shepherd sleep during the day?
- How do I keep my German Shepherd entertained at work?
- Other Options for Your Dog If You Work Full-Time
- Final Thoughts
Why do you want to have a German Shepherd?
First thing first, you need to ask yourself why are you getting an active dog like the German Shepherd? Owning a dog is a lot of work. And owning a German Shepherd may be more because this breed is intelligent, energetic, and powerful.
If you just want a dog to watch TV with you for an hour after a hard day’s work, you might want to look somewhere else. But if you enjoy spending time training, playing, caring and exercising with a furry friend GSD can be a perfect choice.
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#1 German Shepherds are intelligent and easy to train
German Shepherds is the world’s 3rd most intelligent dog breeds. They can learn and do almost every task you give them.
And most importantly they love to work.
This is why German Shepherd are used as police dogs all over the world. Due to their high intelligence, German Shepherds are also widely trained as rescue dogs, service dogs to aid people with disabilities.
If you like to work with a versatile breed and enjoy training your dogs, German Shepherd is the right breed for you.
#2 German Shepherds are strong and active
Originally developed as a herding dog, the German Shepherd Dogs are bred to work for and with humans. German Shepherds are herding dogs that require plenty of physical and mental exercises every day.
They need to be out and about – to have long walks plus a variety of fun activities (e.g. playing fetch or tug of war, etc.) for stimulations.
For adult German Shepherds, the American Kennel Club recommends at least two hours of exercise daily. That being said, you and your family should be prepared to be active with your GSD.
If you love exploring different places, enjoy jogging, running, biking, hiking, camping and the likes, a German Shepherd will be your ideal companion.
#3 German Shepherds are loyal and protective
German Shepherds are known to be super loyal to their owners. People who own them sometimes complain they always have a shadow behind them. Some owners even report they have not been able to go to the bathroom with their GSD ever since having them in the house.
German Shepherds are sometimes aloof to strangers. They don’t make friends easily. But once you have bonded with them, they’re extremely loyal to the point where they will risk their lives to protect you against any threat.
#4 German Shepherds are friendly to other pets and children
With their family, they’re easy-going and approachable. It is not uncommon for an owner to have 2 or more GSD under one roof. If socialized properly, they can be good with other animals, such as cats, birds, or chickens as well.
The best thing is, German Shepherds have a reputation to be good with children. If you would like to involve your kids in the training and outing session with a dog, you’ve found the right breed.
#5 German Shepherds are vocal
Many owners find that German Shepherds can be vocal at times. They bark, whine, grunt, sing and howl – a lot. Sometimes it feels like they’re talking to you. In essence, the reason why your German Shepherd is so vocal is simple: They want to communicate with you and let you know what they need.
They might be trying to tell you that they’re hungry, thirsty, or want to go outside. Or that they’re bored and need some attention from their favorite human (you). But most importantly, they might just love you and want to be near you as much as possible.
If you enjoy communicating with animals, or sometimes need someone to sing with you, German Shepherds will be a good choice.
Is owing a German Shepherd a lot of work?
Depending on the lifestyle, diet, and gender, German Shepherd dogs have an average lifespan of 10-12 years. That said, you must be willing to devote your time and energy to accompany, walk, groom, socialize, and most importantly train your GSD properly.
The truth is, you have to compromise with your personal life.
When you have a German Shepherd, you can’t go to a restaurant. Movies and concerts will also become rare. You can’t go on holiday without them. You can’t go anywhere without your dog. (She will follow wherever you go anyway.)
German Shepherds, like most other dogs, are children that will never grow up even when they aged. You must be willing to give them love, care, and attention as much as you would to a baby for their entire life.
How many hours a day should a German Shepherd be active?
German Shepherds are herding dogs that require plenty of physical and mental exercises every day. For adult German Shepherds, the American Kennel Club recommends at least two hours of exercise daily.
Exercise requirements may also vary from dog to dog. Some do need 1-3 hours of intensive exercise while others are fine with 2x 30 minutes casual walks around the block and a little fetch.
Since GSD are intelligent dogs, chances are that they might get bored easily with repeated activities. It will be a good idea to keep introducing new tricks, different parks or routes to cater to your GSD’s need.
How many hours does a German Shepherd sleep during the day?
According to emborapets.com, German Shepherds should get 12-14 hours of sleep on average. However, different lifestyles may change sleeping habits. Working and or active German Shepherds tend to sleep less, while puppies, as well as older dogs, sleep more often.
That said, it doesn’t mean you can just let your GSD roam freely in the house while you’re at work. Here are a few tips to keep your pup safe in the house, taken from our post: How to Prepare Your German Shepherd Dog for Going Back to Work?
#1 Puppy-proof your house
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy (less than 18 months old), they are little chew machines and love to investigate the environment with their nose and mouth. You should block off any off-limit areas, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or upstairs.
#2 Section off a part of your house
Your GSD should be taught that certain areas of your home are safe and free for her when she’s alone. This can be done with a baby gate, but not shutting the door. It should be a designated area, not too hot or too cold, that allows her to play and stretch out.
#3 Crate train your GSD
Crate training helps dogs learn that the crate is her little den, where they can feel safe.The key is to make the crate a place where your GSD enjoys being in, with comfortable beddings and her favorite toys inside. Never use it as a punishment.
Related resources: German Shepherd Puppy Training for Beginners – PART 1: Crate Training
#4 Leave your GSD alone in a safe zone
Once you have fenced off a designated area for your GSD, leave a new toy with her and some soft beddings, then walk away for 3-5 minutes.
If you show your dog that it’s safe to stay busy without having you around, She will learn to behave when she is alone.
#5. Mock your departures
Before you actually go back to the office, you could try to mock your departures in the weeks leading up to their return to work.
Start leaving the house for five minutes, leave for ten minutes, leave for half an hour, vary it up and down in times. Set up a webcam or video recorder where your GSD is most likely to be or near the exit.
How do I keep my German Shepherd entertained at work?
Ideally, an adult German Shepherd should not be left alone for more than 4 hours. But they may do just as well if you work 8 hours if well trained. Here are a few tips that may keep your furry friend entertained while you are at work:
#1 Rotation of Toys
To keep your GSD busy while you’re at work, keep her toys refreshed by rotating every day or week. Frequent toy rotations are the easiest, cheapest, and simplest way to keep a GSD busy while you’re gone.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, so giving them a durable chew toy can sometimes keep them away from your furniture and shoes. (e.g. Kong Wobbler, see video below)
#2 Play Soft Music
Music can to help your dog feel relaxed when left alone in the house . Certain music genres have been proven to be more soothing for your dog than others. Reggae and soft rock are the most relaxing music for dogs, and classical music also helps calm down dogs in stressful environments.
#3 Turn on white noise
White noise is a type of noise that is produced when sounds of all different frequencies are combined.
It is a calming white noise for dogs made by combining all the possible tones that a canine’s ear can hear. You can use white noise machines to produce calming effects for your dogs.
#4 Install a dog camera
A pet camera not only helps you keep an eye on your pooch while you’re away, but the audio function allows you to speak to your pet in real-time.
Some allow you to activate the camera and microphone so you can watch or speak to your pup directly from your cell phone. Other beeps you when it detects your dog barking.
#5 Hire a dog walker/sitter
Even if it’s just for half an hour or so, that human contact may be just what your dog needs to stay happy and entertained until you get back.
Alternatively, you may have your friends or neighbors come over on different days of the week to bring your dog out for a short walk during the day. This will be good enough to keep your dog engaged.
#6 Dog daycare
A good daycare will have trained staff, clean toys, lots of playtimes, and a set schedule so you know what your dog will be doing all through the day.
Whether you do this daily or just as a treat once a month or so, doggy daycare is a great option for keeping active German Shepherds happy with some companies.
Other Options for Your Dog If You Work Full-Time
While it can be possible to leave your dog at your home while you are at work, there are other options that you should consider.
Take Your Dog to Work
Many large companies are allowing their employees to bring their dogs into work as it helps increase worker happiness. Talk with your employer to see if this is a possibility.
Work from Home
More and more companies are allowing their employees to work from home for certain days a week. If it is possible, working from home can make things easier for you and your dog.
Owning a German Shepherd is a big responsibility and a lot of work. Remember, you are not alone. If you need help, always talk to your family, neighbors, co-workers, or resources out there. At the end of the day, you will be amazed at how many people are willing to give you a hand – with a gorgeous, fun, affectionate dog like the German Shepherd.