Most people end up becoming involved with their breed of choice by accident, coincidence or just stumble upon a dog they believe will be enjoyable. This way of getting involved in the German Shepherd Dog breed usually ends up with some heartbreak or disappointment. The reason for this disappointment is that usually when we start out this way, we end up with a poorly bred dog that we love dearly. We end up with a poorly bred dog because we did not know the importance of researching before buying that adorable puppy. By the time we realize that this puppy, which is now part of our family, has health and/or temperament issues, our heart is already in love. Even if you are fortunate enough to have a dog with no health or temperament issues, it is unlikely that the dog will be well suited for your choice of venue if you should decide to train, compete, work with the dog or become involved in breeding. This often leads to frustration and disappointment when trying to become more involved in the breed and/or dog sport of your choice.
That is why it is extremely important to educate yourself before you buy that puppy! It is way too easy to go visit a litter of puppies and leave with one, regardless of what your head is telling you. Do not visit a litter unless you have fully researched and know without a doubt it is a litter in which you are prepared to buy a puppy. Doing your homework before you purchase will save you much time, money and heartache in the future!
With that said, if you are like most of the people who do end up falling into Schutzhund, conformation, herding, or any other venue with your current dog, do not let yourself become discouraged! Even if your current dog is not well suited for what you wish to attempt, you can still learn a ton of valuable experience by getting started with him. If you wish to begin participating in a dog sport such as Schutzhund (IPO), visit a club and have your dog evaluated. If your dog is not suited for protection work, you can still begin training in the obedience and tracking phases. If your dog is able, take him as far as he can go. At the same time, you can also begin learning from the club, while researching before you purchase your next dog! It is a win / win situation! Your current dog gets the enjoyment of your time, commitment, training and love while you are learning and preparing yourself for the future. You will also make unforgettable memories together that you will always cherish.