“What a beautiful dog!” I hear that on a regular basis and I won’t lie, it makes me smile. Qwerty is beautiful and I love him to bits and pieces, but I also want people to know that life with Qwerty is nothing short of a challenge. Think of the energy of a Labrador Retriever times 10 with the intelligence and need for independence of a 4 year old child. So, what should you expect when getting your first German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), let me tell you what I have discovered.
Exercise is absolute key.
I am not talking about a couple walks a day, exercise to these guys is a few miles of running. According to Qwerty’s fitness tracker (FitBark2) he needs minimum of 12 miles or 2-3 hours of running a day. Without this Qwerty becomes naughty, he grabs our kids toys (even though he knows he should not), he chases the cats, he barks incessantly outside, he also had been known to destroy things.How do we deal with this with 2 young children and full time jobs? Qwerty goes to Doggy Daycare 2 days a week and we try to get him to the dog park as often as possible. Frisbee is our back up when he is short on exercise for the day. He LOVES being active and when he has had enough exercise he will just lay down on the couch and relax, it’s amazing. I am not sure how we survived before discovering the wonders of doggy day care and frisbee. What do we do in bad weather? We are lucky to have stairs in our house. When push comes to shove we have Qwerty chase toys up and down the stairs. You do need to take some caution with this to make sure that your dog does not get injured though. I am not a marathon runner, or a runner at all. To be honest I love Netflix and there were days in my past that I could spend an entire day watching an entire season of a show. Having Qwerty has definitely changed that, which is probably a good thing, but I had to be willing to accept the fact that I was going to go outside and exercise, rain, shine, snow storm, freezing weather, ect….
Mental stimulation is just as important as exercise.
This kind of goes along with exercise, but mental stimulation is so important. We switch up the types of exercise Qwerty gets to help keep him on his toes. We are so very lucky to have a large variety of dog parks very close to where we live and work, this helps so we can change up which dog parks we take Qwerty to. One dog park seems to have a large squirrel population, another one has more birds. There are also different dogs and owners that frequent each one. This helps make it so Qwerty is not doing the same thing every day, when he goes to one dog park too often he seems to get bored and not want to do as much when we are there, so switching them up keeps things interesting. We also enroll him in training classes to help us learn new things and have him learn new things in a setting with distractions. Training classes have also been a wonderful way to bond with Qwerty and meet new friends! When it’s raining or too cold to play outside (we live in the Midwest USA, winters are looong) we play a game called find it. Find it is incredibly simple, take a pocket full of treats, make your dog sit and wait (or stay, which every command you use) then hide a treat somewhere in the house, the use your release word along with the command “find it”, the object of the game? Find the treat, get the reward. This is a great game to help work on some of your training as well as keep them mentally engaged. Sometimes we play for a few minutes, other times its closer to a half hour, usually after playing this for a while Qwerty will be able to settle, if he gets wound up again we do another round later.
Prey Drive is STRONG.
GSPs are hunting dogs. They are bred for birds and small mammals. This can make training while outside difficult. Qwerty does not hunt, but we are well aware of his instincts (hence why we go to the dog park to allow him to use these). If you have cats, birds, or any other small pets at home a GSP may not be a good fit. We brought Qwerty home at 8 weeks old and we already had 2 indoor cats (Rya’c who was 12 and Kiwi who was 8 at the time, not so much into playing with a VERY energetic puppy) we have had to work very hard making sure everyone gets along around here. Some GSPs have such a high prey drive that they cannot live with cats or other small critters, please keep that in mind before you bring a GSP home. Prey drive can also be a huge distraction with training, you need to make sure you have a very strong recall or your dog will see a bird and they are gone! If you are not willing to put time and serious effort in to training, you will not have a good, happy relationship with your dog.
Cuddles and kisses are worth every second.
When Qwerty is tired he will jump up on the couch and sit on your shoulder and wrap his head around you, he can be such a lover. When you pet him he leans into you and gives you these sad puppy eyes, these moments are the reasons why I tolerate his crazy antics. The only problem he has around kids is we had to teach him a command when he is giving too many kisses. German Shorthairs were bred to be excellent hunting and family dogs, which makes them very appealing, and its one of the major reasons I love them so much.
Separation Anxiety is real.
We are so lucky with Qwerty, he actually does not really have separation anxiety, but it is a VERY common issue with these guys. Most GSP owners will tell you that their dogs are Velcro Dogs, meaning they like to be attached to their owners, always near them. Sometimes separation anxiety can lead to destructive behaviors. I found that early crate training helped with this. Qwerty knows that his kennel is his safe place, so when we are not home he does not feel scared or anxious. Crate training is not for everyone, but I highly recommend trying it, especially with a GSP. It eases my fears knowing when I am not home he can’t get into trouble.
You must be okay with lack of Personal Space.
I hope you are ok with a 45-75+ lb dog in your business. Going along with the Velcro dog stance, these guys will take any and all chances to be as close to you as possible. I have caught Qwerty trying to snuggle as close to our baby as possible. When I am sitting down on the couch or a chair he will sit on the top around my shoulders. Going to the bathroom by yourself? Forget about it. Luckily for me I was used to this already, between the toddler and cats I haven’t had a peaceful bathroom experience in YEARS.
I love the breed, love them, but you will often hear me saying that they are NOT for everyone. A bored dog is a destructive dog and these guys get bored very easily. If you are not willing to put in the work you will not be happy with this breed. As with bringing any living thing in to your home, please do your research. Remember, there are many purebred rescues that have great dogs up for adoption, so you can always consider rescue.
If you are interested in learning more about the GSP here are some awesome links: