German shepherds are adored around the world for their fierce devotion to their owners. As a herding breed, they are known to be confident, brave, and naturally protective of their owner. Because of this, it is often asked if these traits cause them to bond with just one person.
The reason people ask this question is simple. German shepherds are undoubtedly hard-working dogs that excel at many tasks. Some of which include having a real job, such as in the military and law enforcement.
They are often seen working side by side with one handler and are 100% devoted to that person. These dogs are willing to do whatever it takes to protect their leader, including risking their life, running toward danger, and quickly following commands without hesitation.
In these cases, the answer would be yes, they will absolutely form a strong bond with just one person and are happy to do so. These working dogs are typically standoffish with outsiders, and even suspicious, which are also traits of the breed.
However, the question is more complex than that because German shepherds are also herding dogs bred to protect their flock. For this reason, they also make fabulous family pets that will closely bond with each member of their family.
However, since they have such a loyal, companionable nature, they can easily form stronger bonds with one member of the family. This doesn’t mean they will be aggressive toward other family members, however, it does mean that if the dog is to be a true family pet, everyone must participate in caring for them.
It should also be noted, that since German shepherds are protective and highly intelligent, along with the entire family being involved in their care, they require lots of socialization and exposure to many people and places so that they are comfortable around strangers, various situations, public places, and other animals.
When a German shepherd forms a bond with one family member to the seemingly exclusion of other people, it’s because that person is their primary caretaker. That person typically is the one to provide food and water, train the dog, engage in playtime, and comfort them. In short, they spend more time with the shepherd and they know the dog best.
The dog trusts this person most and looks to them, not only to get their needs met, but also as their leader because that person is the one who is actively training and guiding the dog through life as they know it in the home.
This doesn’t mean that the dog will exclude the rest of their family or not be able to bond with them. Nothing is farther from the truth. There is room in their heart to bond with more than one person and be a great friend to the entire family.
In most households, the truth is that most of the work gets delegated to one person. That person is usually the one training falls to, also. However, the rest of the family can form a strong bond in many ways.
The personality of the German shepherd must also be taken into account. Just like people, these highly intelligent dogs are all individuals. Some are more outgoing, some more aloof, some are chill, while others more intense.
Their socialization and training can influence them but each one is unique and their personality, which can influence how they interact with the entire family, will emerge as they mature. However, there is no reason that they can’t or won’t be friends with each family member.
To help them form attachments with everyone, have the family share in the raising of the dog. Here are some ideas that can help:
Share in feeding times. Perhaps one person can feed at night while another feeds in the morning, or alternate days. Be realistic about what will work for your family because the dog will do best on a schedule and it makes potty breaks easier.
Share in brushing and grooming the dog from puppyhood to get them used to being handled by everyone in the family. German shepherds shed a lot and weekly brushing will help reduce the dog fur in the house while providing bonding time.
Have everyone in the family on the same page about the household rules and boundaries so the dog learns to listen to everyone and doesn’t try to ‘get one over’ on one person. Whatever your rules are, have everyone on the same page.
Allow all age appropriate family members to participate in fun playtimes. Although it might not be appropriate for everyone in the family to take the dog for walks, etc. most family members can be involved in games of fetch, etc.
Every age appropriate person in the family should learn to handle the dog on walks, getting safely in and out of the car, and on outings. Part of their training should include listening to everyone in the family and following their commands, even with distractions.
One of the most rewarding things about owning a German shepherd is loving on them. Most of them love to cuddle and spend time close to their family while watching television, reading, etc. They are happiest when with the ones they love.
German shepherds can be a one-person dog or great family pet
So, the bottom line is yes, a German shepherd will undoubtedly form a strong bond with just one person and be content to do so. However, they also make great family companions and they love to be the center of attention.
They are truly a versatile breed that can excel at being a family pet as well as working dog. When seeking out a German shepherd, it’s important to know what you’re getting and if a family pet is what you have in mind, talk to the breeder or rescue to be sure that the dog you’re getting is a suitable match for your home.
Some working line German shepherds require lots of training, mental stimulation, and exercise than the average home can provide. These dogs were specifically bred to work hard and can easily become anxious when bored without a job to burn off their abundant physical and mental energy.
However, there are plenty of German shepherds bred to be excellent family pets. They are content with using their intelligence to learn new things, they love to go on hikes or walks, enjoy playtime with their family, and also have an off switch that allows them to calmly enjoy life with their favorite people. They can easily form bonds with everyone in their family and will be devoted to each person, even if they look toward one person as their pack leader, which is totally natural and more important, beneficial.
This leader will set the tone for the household. They’ll set the rules and boundaries and provide the socialization, training, guidance, and stability, which is very important for the breed. They’ll also provide the leadership that they require to become a confident family member that knows how to behave and what is expected of their behavior.
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