Yes, German Shepherds are generally good with kids given their calm and caring nature. However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be threatening or dangerous as it also depends on whether the GSD has been properly trained and socialized. So while it isn’t uncommon for a German Shepherd to get along with kids, you will have to consider a few things to be completely safe.
In this article, I’ll be discussing those considerations including temperament, and the importance of both socialization and training when it comes to fostering a positive relationship between German Shepherds and kids.
German Shepherd Qualities That Work Well With Kids
German Shepherds make for outstanding family pets. They are courageous, intelligent, obedient, and loyal. These characteristics among others have made them known as ideal protectors and one of the most popular dog breeds in the world. And so it goes without saying, that they have qualities that definitely fit well with kids. These qualities are as follows:
German Shepherds have a protective temperament. They are one of the best guard dog breeds as they have an unmatched desire to protect their owners and their families. They are selfless to the point that they put their lives on the line to protect their loved ones.
German Shepherds are friendly and loving. GSDs are quick to befriend and are affectionate to the members of their family. Which of course, includes kids. You will, for example, find that your German Shepherd would love to follow your kid around and play with them. They’ll lay right next to your kid and even allow them to give them belly rubs.
German Shepherds are full of energy. German Shepherds make for great playmates. Not only do they love playing with kids in the family, but they have the energy to keep up with them without getting tired.
German Shepherds are generally calm, stable, and tolerant. I’d say one of the best things about German Shepherds is that they know how to control their emotions. And this is especially important when you think about how kids may interact with them. Children love grabbing and pulling on things, so who’s to say they won’t accidentally hurt your GSD when they suddenly pull on its hair or tail. A less tolerant dog breed may in such instance result in aggression, but thankfully German Shepherds are quite tolerant.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train. They’re quick to learn and will easily adapt to how you want them to behave.
German Shepherds Can Still Be Dangerous
Even with the positive qualities presented, German Shepherds can still be dangerous to kids. If you noticed, I made sure to emphasize how those positive qualities generally only apply to members of the family. And that’s because while German Shepherds can be extremely loving of their pack, they’re also known to be cautious, unfriendly, and sometimes even aggressive towards strangers.
Here’s a personal story:
I remember for instance my German Shepherd named King. King was a calm and cool dog that loved to get petted. So really, I never saw him to be dangerous. That is, up until one day, when my cousin who was probably 8 or 9 years old at that time, came with his parents for a visit. As ignorant as I was, King was out of his crate when they arrived.
I remember vividly how King’s demeanor shifted. From an innocent and loving dog, he became serious and quite scary. He stared at my cousin, barked and suddenly bolted to attack. Luckily, I was there to shield my cousin away from him, and after seeing that I was protecting my cousin, he backed off. I’d say my cousin was fortunate enough to get off with just a small scratch.
Now, while that story highlights how German Shepherds may act towards strangers, I’d like to clarify that German Shepherds can be dangerous to kids they know as well.
Think about it. GSDs grow up to be huge dogs but they tend to take a long time to mature. Oftentimes they don’t have complete awareness of their size as they’re still growing up. So imagine one getting excited and jumping around the vicinity of a small kid. Younger German Shepherds will probably be guilty of harming kids by accident, just because they don’t know how to control their bodies and strength.
Another such case of accidental harm would be with nipping and biting, especially with puppies. Again, this isn’t intentional harm at all, as nipping and biting are natural and considered play. Still, these play bites can often hurt, especially for kids.
Importance Of Training And Socialization
At this point, you might be thinking that German Shepherds don’t seem to be good with kids at all. And I don’t blame you, there are certainly good reasons as to why you might want to keep your kids away from a German Shepherd.
But before you jump the gun and give up on this amazing breed, let’s pause for a bit and examine the issues presented. Is there a way for us to guarantee our German Shepherd won’t act dangerously towards kids? Well yes, and that’s through both socialization and training.
Keep in mind that your German Shepherd’s behavior is determined not only by nature but also by their environment. So we can teach our GSDs how to act towards kids whether they are strangers or not.
Socialization is the process of teaching your German Shepherd how to be well-behaved and comfortable with its surroundings and the different interactions that it may encounter. Through it, your dog will be able to remain calm and collected when it meets other people and animals, or when it faces unfamiliar situations. This process which primarily occurs during your GSD’s younger years and is a way to ensure that they become friendly, confident, and adaptable as adults.
With that definition, it’s easy to understand how socialization is important when it comes to the relationship between your German Shepherd and kids. With it, your GSD will know how to behave in an appropriate manner and interact with kids without the risk of hurting them.
So be sure to socialize your German Shepherd. Try as much as possible to introduce it to a variety of people, pets, sights, and sounds at a young age. In doing so, you’ll set your German Shepherd up for a great life ahead filled with positive relationships.
It’s also a great idea to have your German Shepherd trained. Keep in mind, that we’re concerned about possible dangers brought about by misbehavior, and so having better control of your dog’s actions should bring only benefits.
As your German Shepherd becomes more obedient, it should become easier for you to manage. One simple command and you could stop your GSD from roughing up or acting erratically towards a child. Now this of course extends to other people and pets as well. So overall, a trained German Shepherd simply presents less danger.
So enroll your German Shepherd to obedience training classes, or if you can commit, train it yourself. Even if you just stick with the basic commands, you’ll already be capable of correcting your dog’s behavior. This will then help reduce the stress of taking care of your dog and lead to a more loving relationship.
Proper Behavior Around German Shepherds
So far, I’ve only talked about how you could teach your German Shepherd how to behave properly around children. But it’s important to note that your GSD is only one part of the equation.
You have to teach your kids how to properly behave around a German Shepherd. Your kids should know how to treat your German Shepherd with care and respect and be mindful not to do the following:
- Harming the dog by pulling on its skin, fur, tail, and ears or poking its eyes.
- Making loud noises to startle the dog.
- Riding the dog’s back.
- Bothering the dog especially when eating.
At the end of the day, no matter how well socialized or trained your German Shepherd is, you never know when accidents may happen. So always be there to supervise any interaction between kids and your German Shepherd. That way, you’d be there to respond accordingly to any issues that may arise.
Are German Shepherds Good With Kids?
To go back to the question, are German Shepherds good with kids?
Absolutely! But I can’t emphasize enough how much you as an owner factors in making them so. If you put in the time and effort to socialize, train, as well as treat your German Shepherd with care and attention, then you’ll raise a loving dog that will have harmonious relationships with kids.