Do You REALLY Have to Give Up Your German Shepherd Dog?

You’re at this page because you’re thinking about re-homing your German Shepherd Dog. We realize this is probably not an easy decision for you—and that you want to make the best possible decision for you and your dog. The material on this page is meant to help you think through all of your options so that you can make the most informed decision possible.  Please take the time to read through it before you contact us.

We want you to ask yourself this question: Do you really have to give up your German Shepherd Dog? As you think through this important decision (the welfare of your dog is at stake), we ask you to be honest with yourself.

Your answers to why you are considering re-homing your dog will probably fall into one of two categories: People Problems or Dog Problems.

People Problem: “We're Moving”

Moving is the most common reason why people give up their pets—but it doesn’t have to be. Affordable rental homes that allow pets are out there if you work to find them and prepare yourself to effectively present your case to a landlord.

1. It may take time. Most people give up too quickly in their search for rental property that accepts pets. Don't be too quick to jump on the first apartment you see. There'll probably be a better one available soon.

2. Widen your search. Most people only look as far as the classified ads. Many landlords list their property through real estate agents or rental associations rather than the classifieds. Take advantage of rental services that help tenants find apartments. Ask friends, relatives, and co-workers to keep an eye open for you. Many apartments are rented via word of mouth before they're ever advertised in the papers.

3. Be open to a different neighborhood. A home that allows pets might be in a different neighborhood than you'd prefer. It might be a few more miles from work. It might not be as luxurious as you'd like. It might cost a few dollars more. These small compromises may allow you to keep your dog.

4. "No Pets" doesn't always mean "No Pets, Period." Many landlords automatically rule out pets because they don't want the hassle. Many of these landlords are pet owners themselves. Just because the ad says "no pets" doesn't mean you shouldn't go see the apartment anyway. During the interview, ask the landlord "Are pets absolutely out of the question?" If the landlord answers, "well...", you have a chance! Hint: You'll have better luck asking this question in-person than over the telephone - it's more difficult for people to say no to your face.

5. Moving in with friends or relatives. In difficult times, people often have to move in with relatives or friends who don't like dogs. This doesn't have to be an impossible situation. Use a dog crate when you're not home or when your family doesn't want your dog underfoot. A portable kennel run can be set up in the yard for exercise and can be sold later when you have your own place and don't need it anymore.

6. Don’t worry about your dog being in a smaller apartment. Don't think you're being unfair to your dog by moving into a smaller place than what he's used to. Dogs are very adaptable; they often adjust faster than people. Where he lives isn't as important to him as who he lives with. He wants to be with you and he doesn't care where that is.

Visit our “Moving, Housing and Landlord Issues” page for more suggestions and links to search engines to help you find an apartment and still keep your dog.

People Problem: “We Don't Have Enough Time for the Dog"

If you got your dog as a puppy he took far more of your time than he does now. Your German Shepherd Dog’s requirements for attention are often less than you think.

Exercise. Morning and evening walks typically should be 30 to 45 minutes. There are several factors that will adjust that number up or down, such as age, size and the overall health of your dog. Mini training sessions as part of the evening walk are good as well; your GSD will view this a play time and will love it. Weekend outings are great!

Hours Spent Alone. Most GSDs will adjust to a working family easily. But long days alone, more than 8 hours, are not good for any dog. A half hour potty run and walk in the middle of the day is enough to break up the day for your GSD.

Training. Most obedience classes run 1 hour long for last 6 to 8 weeks. This initial investment of time will prove invaluable. Only 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing what you learned in class is all it takes to keep your GSD’s mind and body in tune; any longer than that you may lose your dog’s attention. Keep it fun.

Grooming. Depending on his type of coat and where your dog spends his time, a good brushing for about 45 minutes should be enough to keep your dog well groomed.

If you are short on the amount of time needed for the activities listed about, a family member, friend or neighborhood teenager could help out with the walks and breaks and even the mini-training sessions. If you don’t know anyone available, there are many dog walkers and pet sitters around for reasonable prices. You may also consider a doggie daycare once or twice a week for your GSD.

Will getting rid of your German Shepherd Dog really make your life less stressful or free up more of your time? When they look closely at their lives, people often discover that the dog isn't cramping their style as much as they think.

Isn’t this amount of time worth the love and companionship your GSD will give you in return?

People Problem: “Were Having a Baby”

You don’t have to give up your GSD just because a new baby is joining the family. It takes a little time and effort, but your dog is worth it. With the proper training, preparation and supervision, your GSD and your baby will likely become the best of friends for years to come.

If your baby is on the way, please read the ASPCA article “Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby” to learn steps you can take to help your dog adjust to the new changes ahead.

If your bundle of joy has arrived, please read the ASPCA article “Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby”. This will give you tips on making introductions and early interactions between your dog and baby as smooth as possible

People Problem: “My [Sister, Brother, Child…] is Allergic to the Dog”

First of all, determine whether you are allergic to your GSD or something else. We’ve had several GSD owners’ contact us prepared to surrender their beloved GSDs and thankfully found it their allergies were not caused but the dog! Be sure before you act.

If you have determined that you are allergic, you can still keep your GSD and feel better at the same time. Read the ASPCA article “Are You Allergic to Your Pet?” to find out what you can do to live in feel better and live comfortably with your GSD.

People Problem: “I Can’t Afford My Dog Anymore”

In today’s economy, this has become a common reason that people need to give up their pets. But GSDs do not need to be an added expense if you can learn to balance their expenses. Not all of your GSD’s necessities need to be purchased at the same time and sometimes not even in the same month.

Bottom line, your GSD really needs a collar and leash, rabies vaccination and food. If you can manage these items until your financial situation improves, then there is no need to give up your GSD.

Food. If your situation is such that you cannot afford dog food, go to our Pet Food Pantries page where we have a list of pet food pantries throughout New England.

Medical. If your GSD has issues that require medical attention, organizations exist nationally and locally that may be able to help financially. Here are a few links that list these organizations:

The Humane Society of the United States posts a comprehensive list of pet financial aid-related organizations. You can search by state

RedRover has compiled a comprehensive directory of organizations in the United States and Canada that can provide financial assistance with veterinary care.

Please keep in mind that each organization is independent and has their own set of rules and guidelines. Therefore you will have to investigate each one separately to determine if you qualify for assistance.

Dog Problem: Behavior Issues

If you got your dog as a puppy and he now has a behavior problem you can't live with, you have 4 options:

1.    You can continue to live with your dog the way he is.

2.    You can get help to correct the problem.

3.    You can try to give your problem to someone else.

4.    You can have the dog destroyed.

Obviously the first option is out or you wouldn't be reading this web page. You're probably most interested in Option 3—so let's talk frankly about that for a moment.

If you were looking for a dog and could select from all kinds of dogs and puppies, would you deliberately choose one with a behavior problem? No, certainly not - and neither would anyone else. To make your dog desirable to other people, you're going to have to take some action to fix his problems.

We have found that most behavior problems aren't that difficult to solve. For these types of behaviors, we can help you with them if you’re willing to give it a try. It will take some time and effort on your part but with practice and consistency, you can modify the behavior.

For more difficult behaviors, we suggest you consult an experience dog trainer. Some of these behaviors can be modified but know that the dog can only be successful if you, the owner is going to put the work into what the trainer advises for the training protocol.

If you need professional help, our "Trainers and Training" page lists the trainers who volunteer for us evaluating and training our rescue dogs. They are all in the business of helping dogs and their owners and many are credentialed trainers. Some of their training styles and methods differ and that’s ok; your dog may respond better to a particular method. Bottom line, their methods work, their prices are reasonable, and they all have the same goal: training you and your dog to live a happy and safe life together.

Think hard about Option 2 before deciding it won't work for you - because the only option you have left is number 4: Having the dog destroyed. That's the bottom line.

If you, who know and love the dog best, won't give him another chance, why should anyone else?


If your dog is aggressive with people or has ever bitten anyone, you can't, in good conscience, give him to anyone else. Could you live with yourself if that dog hurt another person, especially a child? Can you deal with the lawsuit that could result from it? You stand to lose your home and everything else you own. Lawsuits from dog bites are settling for millions of dollars in damages.

Our society today has zero tolerance for a dog with a bite history, no matter how minor. A dog that has bitten—whether or not it was his fault—is considered by law to be a dangerous dog. In some states, it's illegal to sell or give away a dog that has a bite incident in his past. No insurance company will cover a family with such a dog.

No matter how much you love your dog, if he has ever bitten anyone, you only have one responsible choice - take him to your veterinarian and have him humanely put to sleep. Don't leave him at a shelter where he might be frightened and confused and put other people at risk. Don't try to place him as a "guard dog" where he might be neglected, abused, or used for dog fighting.

As difficult as it is to face, putting a potentially dangerous, biting dog to sleep is the only safe and responsible thing to do. It's the right thing to do.


This article was adapted with permission from "When You Can't Keep Your Chow Chow" written by Karen Privitello, Lisa Hrico & Barbara Malone. Deb Helfrich and Stephanie Costa adapted it to reflect the characteristics of German Shepherd Dogs.


What Do I Do Next?

If you have read the preceding information, thought about it and are still convinced that you must give up your GSD, our page “Rehoming Your GSD” may be able to help.

To encourage a landlord to let you keep your dog...

Bring your well-groomed, well-behaved dog to the rental interview. Show the landlord that your dog is well-cared-for and that you're a responsible owner.

Bring along an obedience class diploma or Canine Good Citizen certificate if your dog has one.

Offer an additional security deposit or rental amount to be able to have a dog.

Bring references from your previous landlords and neighbors.

Invite the landlord to see your present home to show him that the dog has not damaged the property nor been a nuisance to the neighbors.

Use a dog crate. Landlords are much more receptive to dogs that will be crated when their owners aren't home.