Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

If you're planning of adopting a German Shepherd and you've never had one before, here are some reasons to think carefully:

1) German Shepherds are big dogs - you’d be amazed at the amount of people who purchase puppies and then phone us to surrender them with the comment.  "The dog is 45 pounds already and I had no idea it would get this big”.  German Shepherd females are typically 60-75 pounds with the males sometimes reach 100 pounds.  Combine this weight with their power and speed and, in the wrong hands, they can be a big handful and dangerous for young children.  many apartments and rented homes set weight limits on the dogs they allow.  


2) German Shepherds need to be socialized with people, dogs and situations.  This is a critical role for you the new owner.  Many people don’t have time or even know to do this and then wonder why the dog is becoming reactive or aggressive.  It’s because you the owner did not build it’s confidence and now it’s fearful and reacts in the way it knows best.


3) German Shepherds shed - when someone asks us if they shed we know they have not done their homework.  

The Shepherd is one of the biggest shedders, to the point that many of us call them German Shedders. You’ll need brushes, strong vacuum cleaners (Dyson) and the patience to endlessly groom and explain to friends why your house has changed so much.  When your Shepherd ‘blows' their coat twice a year, you are about to be drowning in dog hair.


4) German Shepherds have strong pack instincts - this means that they need to be with their pack (you) in your home, not shut outside.  They also need a strong and consistent leader (you).  Otherwise they can take on the role of leading and correcting you and your family.  Again, this is one of the main reasons that German Shepherds have developed their aggressive or negative reputation.  The dog was unlucky enough to be purchased by an inexperienced owner who did not know about pack structure, leadership and boundaries.  The dog takes over and our phone rings.


5) German Shepherds need training - they love to work and thrive on new challenges.  They are also very smart.  An out of control Shepherd is dangerous and can lead to some awful situations.  We strongly recommend that all new owners seek help and train their new dogs.  Do you want guests coming to your home in fear of your dog?  Do you want to give up walking your dog because it is aggressive to every other dog it sees?  Growling at other dogs or your kids if they go near its toys or food?  Chasing other animals and being a general nuisance?  You are considering adopting a very large powerful dog.  Unless you are prepared to train your dog, you should think about one of the hundreds of other breeds.


6) German Shepherds have lots of energy - people often ask if they can hike 2-3 miles.  The reality is that they can run or hike further than 99.9% of people.  There’s good reasons they are used by the police and the military and their energy levels is one of them.  Failure to properly exercise your Shepherd will mean that your dog will start to demonstrate bad behaviors.  Again, this is one of the number one reasons we take owner surrender dogs.  The person just cannot commit the time.  If you don’t have the energy or time to exercise your dog at least twice a day - find a different breed. That’s totally OK.


7) German Shepherds are very smart - this is one of the things we love most about them.  They look for jobs and need to work.  They are not ideal hangout dogs or couch potatoes. A bored or idle German Shepherd will find work.  This can involve chewing, digging or worse.

We believe that all of this makes the German Shepherd one of the most difficult breeds of dog to own. It’s the reason that so many end up in shelters with major behavioral issues.  They weren’t born bad, they were made bad by poor owners.

German Shepherds in the right hands are one of the very best breeds of all.  Their loyalty, intelligence and strong pack instincts make them a very unique breed.

Everyone who gets a German Shepherd starts off with good intentions.  Sadly for the dog, many ignore these warnings and don’t think it through. There’s nothing wrong in reconsidering and getting a different breed as we are sure that dog will be just as wonderful for you. 

We sometimes receive calls from new adopters in the first week saying that the dog does not seem happy, or maybe does not seem to like its new pack.

At that point we’ll introduce people to the 1-3-8 rule.

Imagine if you’d suddenly been taken away from your family and put in a noisy jail, alone in a cell and wondering what had happened.  The next thing you know a person arrived at took you to their house.  Then several days later you were taken to another home and spent several weeks there. Now you’ve landed in another house with yet more people you don’t know.  You’re wondering what is going on.  Don’t forget that these people don’t speak your language and can’t explain what’s going on.

This is the reality faced by most adopted dogs.  they found their way into a shelter, were saved from that and moved into a couple of foster parents before finding themselves in their furever home.  The problem is that they have no idea if the furever home really is ….furever

So let’s go back to the 1-3-8 rule.

Your new dog could be nervously sniffing round your home, trying to understand what had happened and concerned that this is just another staging post in this very worrying journey.  The best thing you can do is provide calm and peace and let your new dog come to you when they are ready. Don’t worry if your dog seems a bit freaked out. Amazingly, many dogs, settle into their new home immediately, but many don’t. As foster parents we see this all the time.  


You’re starting to see the real temperament of your new dog.  He or she is getting to know you and your routines.   Trust is developing and everything seems so different from day one. Take things slowly and you’ll continue to see development. Again, as foster parents we see this all the time.  The dog is now following us about the house, eating well and things are starting to hit normal. Concerns are starting to disappear. 

You’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.  It will feel like you and your ’new’ dog have been together for ever.  Routines will have started to develop and the concerns of day one are distant memories. It’s amazing how fast the dogs adapt and how strong they are after what they have been through. Send us a picture to celebrate day 8 and another successful rescue  

A German Shepherd Rescue involves the dog moving through quite a few homes, the key thing for us to consider is that on the first day the dog does not know that you are furever. 


Today was quite the German Shepherd Rescue adventure.

Rob drove rom Novato to Santa Rosa and met Kristy and then drove to Ukiah. We met with the Animal services team and evaluated a 5 month old male GSD.

He is stunning. We took him for a walk for 15 minutes to help him calm down from the chaos of a shelter. He has a most wonderful prance like walk and is super alert. he has huge paws! Here he is and he is called Mendo.

We then drove home all the way back to San Rafael and met up with JJ who took him back down the Castro Valley. This is GSD rescue.

Mendo will soon be a German Shepherd for Adoption.

We are often asked what the dog levels mean.  Is a level 3 better than a level 2?  Or is a level 2 better than a level 1?  No! 

German Shepherds are a large working breed. Versus most other breeds, a typical German Shepherd will have more energy and be more demanding to own. Our levels are a broad guide to the degree of difficulty in owning a German Shepherd. Most other breeds would start at level zero and rarely reach a level 2. Think of levels as representing the strength of the sea.  The inexperienced swimmer will struggle in strong tides... it's the same with a GSD. 


The Companion German Shepherd (level 1)

Some of the German Shepherds in our program make ideal companion dogs and will fit perfectly into a slower life style or a family where young kids are around.

These dogs are easier to own and require less stimulation and daily activity.  Many of our favorite dogs over the years have been level 1 dogs because they have a sweetness of temperament and gentleness that we love.  It's as close to plug and play as you can get.


The Typical German Shepherd (level 2)

If you have not owned a high energy large working breed dog before, you're going to be surprised at just how much energy your typical German Shepherd dog actually has. They will hike all day and demonstrate all the classic instincts and traits of this breed that we love. This is the best dog for most owners. The dog will be great with people and other dogs and have no real behavioral issues. 

A typical German Shepherd will have enough energy to hike and run more than 99% of all known humans :-) 

If you have never personally owned a large breed dog, this will be a challenge and only manageable if you are committed to training, establishing proper pack structure and have a serious commitment to your dog.    

The Challenging German Shepherd (level 3)

This dog is the same as a level 2 with more energy or there may be some aspects to its temperament that need work from its new handler. This might be high prey drive (aggression towards critters). It could be uncontrolled energy that can be difficult for your kids.  It might be a lack of basic obedience that will require the new owner to commit to serious 1:1 training. It could involve minor leash reactivity towards other dogs that will require more training.  Some larger dogs are very mouthy and take treats roughly. All of these behaviors will be too much for the inexperienced owner. 

Our dogs are good dogs, but some need more work that others. 

A level 3 dog is not for anyone who has never owned a large working breed dog. If you have young children we will have to be very careful. We will also expect that you can demonstrate good large dog handling capabilities that are beyond pet store "puppy class".

Continuing the sea analogy - we will be your lifeguard on the beach and when we say that it's too rough out there, we're saying it for your benefit.


German Shepherd Puppies (level 4)

Puppies are a level 4 dog.  In fact most of our foster parents don't want puppies!  There's a reason. German Shepherd puppies can be relentless, with boundless energy and razor sharp teeth in strong jaws and no self control to not nip and chew anything they can find. Unless you can demonstrate that you have personally managed a working breed puppy, you won't be able to adopt a puppy.

The first year of a German Shepherd's life is critical for many reasons. People give up dogs because they have failed to properly socialize the dog in it's first 12 months. The dog becomes reactive. Owning a German Shepherd puppy is a large responsibility that involves a lot of time, sleepless nights, commitment and experience.

Many people think that unless they get a puppy the dog will not bond with them.  As foster parents of over 1,000 German Shepherds we can tell you this is simply not true.  Our foster dogs bond with us at all ages and are often ecstatic when they return to our events and meet us again.   


The Working German Shepherd (level 5)

We rarely have these dogs in our program. They have been bred to work and have a degree of intensity and focus that is sought out by trainers and the police. They are not family pets. In the right hands they are epic dogs.  With 99.9% of owners they are potentially dangerous.

We have a whole series of contacts that we reach out to with these dogs.  If you are interested in a level 5 dog you will need to demonstrate your experience and capabilities to our trainers.


We hope this is helpful.  As always, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact your adoption counselor, or email us here .

Today we drove over 400 miles to Tahama County to meet the team in Red Bluff.  It was a long day but we met the wonderful Heidi. She should be available soon.


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Wine and Wags - Sunday June 2nd

June 2nd !!

Mark your calendar for this wonderful 2nd Annual Wine & Wags event, in Livermore. Big White House Winery/John Evan Cellar has graciously offered us a spot at their beautiful winery where we will have our BAGSR table ! More than 15 wineries are sponsoring this event and many rescues are participating. Please plan on a beautiful Sunday and come do ya thing....with the wine glass thing and support our dogs. We will have a few ambassadogs there. Thank you for Carmen and Mark Battle, as well as Kathy Ramirez, who reached out to us. Who wants to have some fun in the sun?

Holiday Pup Pics 2018

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!

Holiday Pup Pics

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!


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