Puppies to approximately 4 Months of age:
Cuteness is the only job requirement at this time. However, you will probably be expected to attend kindergarten and this will provide you with a good opportunity to display your blossoming talents. For example, if you have already mastered barking, this is an excellent time to give a demonstration to other class members.
Every now and then you may follow commands if you so desire. Though not expected of you at this stage of your development, it will thrill your humans no end, and make them feel so smart about getting a GSD in the first place.
Age 4 months-1 Year:
You must retain your cuteness as this is one of your most endearing qualities. However, you are now required to understand the fundamentals of being a German Shepherd Dog. This means you appreciate the niceties of indulging your humans by obeying when ordered to: sit, stay, down, quiet, off, cease, leave it, no, give, drop, and wait. You are also expected to begin Search and Destroy. This is fairly simple task for a dog of your intelligence and ingenuity. Locate any object that is owned and cherished by your humans, then rip, tear, and chew it so that it becomes unrecognizable.
Age One-Two Years:
Beginning now, your horizons will expand. You will probably be taken lots of interesting places and situations as your humans are proud of you and will want to show you off. It is now your job to embarrass them to the best of your ability. This can be accomplished in many ways, but here are a few examples: piddling on grandma's new carpet, stealing uncle's socks, digging holes in a friend's flower border, and/or chasing the family cat, throwing up under the dining table, dropping your ball in the clam dip. You get the idea-the variations are endless. Remember, you are now an adolescent, and you may do all the things that teenagers do, which is exactly what you are NOT supposed to do! You can also scream at your dad when he plays his horn, go ballistic at flashing lights, sleep on the humans' bed, transport things that belong in the house into the yard (and vice versa).
Age Two-Three Years:
You are starting to mature. Your humans will no doubt give you more responsibility at this time. This means you may be awarded The Freedom of the House. This is a landmark in your development. You have by now mastered many arts like sorting laundry, picking up and shredding dropped items, retrieving and filing the mail, repotting houseplants, catching flies and other flying insects. You have acquired superb supervisory skills, and excel in directing and training humans in their daily tasks. You screen all visitors and guests with great thoroughness and enthusiasm.
Age Three Years and over:
The skills you have acquired should now be fully developed. And the opportunities to perform GSD duties are endless. For example, the optimum time for a lengthy, robust barking session is when your humans are
(a) on the phone,
(b) at the computer, or
(c) in the bathroom.
Humor them frequently by obeying their commands. Make them feel guilty by rejecting the food in your dish every so often. Get them up early on weekends; then lie around and sleep as soon as you've been fed breakfast. Sample your humans food to make sure it's both healthful and palatable. Engage them in recreational activities. Provide them with round-the-clock and immediate warnings of incoming marauders such as: cats, skunks, possums, owls, lizards, squirrels, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, mice, creepy crawlies of all kinds, things that go bump in the night, all humans making deliveries, all humans on bicycles, all humans walking dogs, all humans jogging, and all humans on skateboards.
Once you reach this lofty status, no matter how much your humans beg and cajole, you are NOT obliged to wear silly items of clothing or adornment, e.g., Santa hats, Halloween costumes, ribbons, flowers, veils, boots or shoes, caps and gowns, t-shirts, or sunglasses. Such buffoonery should be reserved for the immature or miniature poodles. Above all, you MUST preserve your dignity.
Always be mindful of your protection duties. You should regard with suspicion and, if warranted, investigate all UUOs (unidentified unfamiliar objects). These include, but are not limited to: blowing leaves, stacks of clothes left in unusual places, mom's new crockpot on the kitchen counter, ice cubes in your water dish, rising bread dough, popcorn popping in the microwave, things floating in the neighbor's swimming pool, helicopters, and pieces of luggage. Never reveal that you are intimidated by these things. Put on your fiercest GSD front, and dispel these demons from your household.
It may be beneficial, but not mandatory, to take sick leave once in a while. This will generally make your humans very worried. In this instance, you may choose to limp, whine, pace, shake your head, scratch and chew at yourself, or stay very still and quiet. Or you might want to try the following posture which is guaranteed to get attention: lie down, spread front paws before you, place head on paws, flatten ears to head, and adopt THE MOURNFUL LOOK.
Remember you are valued for your intelligence and resourcefulness, so you may add to your skills at any time. This will make your humans so proud that you will be granted many privileges. In addition, you will be the object of much esteem. Your humans will talk and write about you endlessly, make videos of your accomplishments, take photos of you to carry around and show to other people, to have on display in home and office, or to post on the World Wide Web. You will be included in family gatherings, birthdays, and weddings; you will receive many gifts and treats, be allowed to stay up and watch TV, lie around on the living room furniture, use the telephone, and explore cyberspace.
As a mature GSD, you are well-rounded, adept, multi-faceted, and possess diverse interests. You will welcome new experiences, thrive on challenges, and forever seek ways to apply your perceptive talents in a variety of situations. Here are just a few examples of activities you may wish to pursue:
Your human is lying down and not moving. Check for vital signs by inserting cold nose in ear.
Your human has disappeared! You discover he/she is in the bathroom and the door is closed. Sniff loudly at the threshold. If no response, bang loudly on door with paw.
Your favorite toy rolled under a piece of furniture and is out of your reach. Your human is not aware of this crisis. You may chose to:
(a) sit close to human and place paw on leg;
(b) sit close to human and point in direction of lost object;
(c) sit close to human and whimper pitifully;
(d) move over to the furniture and dig furiously at carpet.
Your human is on the telephone. It is 5 minutes past your normal feeding time. Sit close to your human and adopt the PITIFUL LOOK. If this doesn't work, sound the alarm! Bark furiously so that all other canines within earshot know you are being mistreated. Herding: This comes naturally to those of you from working lines. Others of you might want to become proficient in this skill, as it is very important that you know the whereabouts of your humans at all times. In the event that one of them moves, it is incumbentincumbant upon you to ensure that they resume their proper place. This is in your best interests as you might need them one day for a task requiring opposable thumbs.
Many of you are already computer literate. If you are lacking in this skill, you will need some lessons. Wait until your humans are using the computer. Observe their actions closely. Then, pirate the machine whenever you can and communicate with all of your canine friends. This is an important adjunct to TRACKING mentioned above. With the computer, you can monitor the movements of all manner of creatures from state-to-state and even from country-to-country.
This skill is essential for successful use of the TV and VCR remote controls. While its complexities can aggravate your humans, throw them into a frenzy, and result in the shouting of many big words, it presents no problem for a canine of your intelligence. Remember that this skill, well learned, can provide the source of much entertainment when your humans leave you home alone.
You will soon excel in this form of communication. It is vital that you maintain contact with other GSDs in order to exchange information. This will also give you something to do in those long, boring hours when your humans expect you to lie around and sleep all night. A prerequisite of this skill is COMPUTING.
This duty is very important to GSDs. It encompasses a vast array of areas in which you are expected to be proficient at as an adult. For instance, it is essential that you detect every nick, cut, scrape and other hurts incurred by your humans so you can kiss and lick them until they feel better. You must detect every new item brought into your house or yard. Remember, this means EVERYTHING. If your mom returns from the store with a sack of groceries, you must be recognize this fact and be prepared to make a thorough inspection. If your dad buys a new tool at the hardware store, make sure you go over it completely before he uses it. The same holds true for new plants in your yard, new articles of clothing worn by your humans, all things arriving by mail or delivery, and any strangers (both human and animal) who come to your premises. Note that your TRACKING and INVESTIGATING skills are brought into play here.
Sometimes you will be called upon to detect ACTIONS or FEELINGS rather than objects. This is a more advanced skill. For instance, your humans are engaged in people talk and not paying any attention to you. Detect this at once and take appropriate action (see ALERTING; also SICK LEAVE).
There may be times when your humans feel despondent. It is acceptable to lie down, stay quiet, and be sad with them for a while. However, do not let them indulge in self-pity. Time the duration of this sadness, and when it has gone on long enough, do something absurd to make them laugh.
Now one final note. Fortunately your humans will be content rather than downhearted most of the time. After all they have you in their life. Be sure to take credit for this and be happy with them. Be grateful the love they bestow on you, tolerate their ministrations, accept their guidance, and walk proudly by their side.