Tampa Bay German Shepherd Rescue - Together We Can Make A Difference!

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Rescue Adoption Handbook

Thank you for welcoming a rescue dog into your family.  While all dogs require a commitment of time, attention and money, rescue dogs sometimes need a bit more of these.   Your love and patience during the bonding period will pay off handsomely. 

Before picking up your dog, have the following ready:

The magnificent GSD in profileFood and water bowl - We recommend stainless steel.  They are easier to clean and some dogs react to the chemicals in plastic.

Quality dog food - We recommend the following brands:

Iams Large Breed Chunks

Exceed Lamb & Rice

Exceed Chicken & Rice



Natures Recipe

Pro Plan Performance

Purina One

These are all premium foods.  They require less in order to maintain good condition and they produce smaller stools because the dogs' metabolism uses more from the food.

Dog crate - We recommend a crate until the dog is settled into your routine.  Dogs crated when no one can watch them do not chew, mess or destroy stuff from boredom.  We do rent crates ($75 deposit and $10 per month) and sell used crates from $50 to $100.  Crates can also be used as the dog’s bed.  Dogs are den animals and that becomes their security when stressed.  NEVER use a crate as punishment.  We crate train all dogs here in rescue and feed in the crate and use treats when the dog goes into the crate.

Collars and leash - We recommend a rolled leather collar for tags, medium weight chain choker for training and walking and 6’ leather leash.

Checking for dangers:

  • Do a room to room check to see if it is safe for the dog.  Check for wires, cords, low glass that might be at tail height. 

  • Dogs drink from toilets even when cleansers are present; either close all lids or remove cleaners and flush several times.

  • Cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning, keep these out of reach of your dog including butts.

  • Christmas decorations can be harmful; dogs can think they are toys.

  • Chocolate can kill; it contains a chemical called theobromine which animals can not metabolize.

  • Check your fencing for holes, weakness or things the dogs can climb on and jump over.

  • Windows and screens are not secure enough to hold back a German Shepherd Dog.  Do not leave them on the patio or leave windows open and expect the dog not to tear them out.

  • There are plants that are deadly to your pets, please check with your vet for ornamentals and native plants in your area.

Once you get your new family member home... Give your new family member time to settle in.

they will want to investigate everything.  Remember this is not yet their home; you are not yet their people and they may be stressed.  We recommend that you follow them around or watch them in the house; even dogs that are house broken can have accidents under stress.  Gradually give them more privileges and more room as they earn it.

When they go outside keep the leash on them even in a fenced yard.  Again this is all new and they may not come back when you call them.  If you do not want your new leash dragging get a 10’ tracking leash or even cloth line and put knots in it about every 2’ to 3’ to step on or grab as needed.  The long line also works great in working with the come command.

The new dog should be introduced to the other 4 legged family members on neutral grounds: a friend's fenced yard, a fenced park (small area), tennis court.  When on leash both dogs should be on loose leashes.  With a tight leash, the dog gets the signal that the other dog is a threat.  They will sniff each other, circle, and sniff.  Praise them both in a happy manner; let them play but keep the leashes attached to the buckle collar only.  DO NOT HAVE THE CHAIN CHOKER ON EITHER DOG.  When you get home again keep them leashed but let the leads drag during play. 

Always feed with separate bowls and allow each to have their own toys. (Do not just give the new dog some of the other dogs toys.  Kids do not share well sometimes and neither do dogs).

If they seem to be getting into a scuffle try to distract them, spray bottle with water works well most of the time.  Never try to break up a dog fight, someone could get bitten.

If your other 4 legged family member is a cat, don’t force the meeting immediately.  Let the dog get settled in and do the introduction with the dog on leash and so the cat has an escape route.  Always supervise the meeting the first few times.  Dogs and cats normally work things out and become good friends but remember dogs can and do kill cats and cats can and do blind dogs.

Veterinary Care:Regular visits to the vet for a long healthy life together.

Please have your dog examined by a vet within 72 hours.  It is important for your vet to meet and assess the health of your new dog.  While we try to ensure that the dogs we place are healthy, unfortunately we cannot guarantee their health.  Frequently we have very little information regarding prior history for many of our placements nor do we know family history.  There is always the possibility that one of our dogs could be incubating a disease without showing any symptoms at the time of adoption. 

All the dogs we place have been tested for heartworm and are currently on heartworm preventative.  Heartworm is a lethal disease spread by mosquitoes and easy to prevent.  In Florida prevention is required every month, year round, for the rest of your dog’s life.  Heartworm preventative is cheap in relation to what it cost to treat. 

Your dog has received a routine worming with Strongid T; we do recommend you have your dog’s stool tested when you go to the vets for their check-up.  Your dog may need additional worming as some worms take several treatments to clear up.

Your dog has received a vaccination against Canine Distemper, Adenovirus type 2, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis and a 3 year rabies vaccine.  We do not vaccinate for Coronavirus (a young puppy disease only) or Bordetella (air born disease and required for boarding).   Many of these dogs have no prior vaccination history and we do recommend that they receive a 2nd DHLPP vaccination in 3 to 4 weeks from the original date.

All dogs have been sterilized prior to placement.  If the dog has just had surgery the date will be in the contract and the stitches will need to be removed by your vet 10 days from the surgery date.


Housetraining with adult dogs needs to be approached the same way as with a puppy.  Even housebroken adults can have accidents.  Stress from change can also cause accidents.

Teach your dog where you want it to eliminate.  Take it to the same area every time using a command like “hurry up & potty”, “outside & go potty” or “go potty”.  Praise the dog for sniffing and offer lots of praise after. Join Tampa Bay German Shepherd Rescue!! Together we can make a difference.

You will need to take the dog out every couple hours, after meals, upon awaking and immediately upon coming out of the crate.  Meals should be 3 to 5 hours before bedtime to allow plenty of time to eliminate before you retire for the night.

Preventing mistakes is the most challenging part of housetraining.  You must supervise the dog constantly.  When you cannot do so confine them in their crate to avoid accidents.  Always take them out to eliminate before confining them.

Punishment is the least effective and overused approach to housetraining.  A correction should only be if you catch the dog in the act and no more than a distraction then immediately take them outside to finish.

Chewing is natural for dogs.  This is how they explore their surroundings.  Puppy-proof your house.  New dogs need to be treated as puppies and gain freedom as they earn it.  Throw rugs, wires and cords, shoes, toys and paper products seem to be the favorite in terms of taboo chewies.  Limit the number of toys the dog has until they learn what is theirs and what is yours.

An active pup is a happy pup.Activity:

Physical exercise is vital to your dog's well-being.
GSDs require lots of activity to burn off their energy.  Being such an intelligent breed, they require challenges in order to keep them alert. If German Shepherd Dogs become bored, they can turn their energy toward more destructive ends.  We recommend keeping them mentally and physically stimulated with daily exercise such as those associated with the following activities:



Rally Obedience  



Therapy Work



Contact your local dog training club or check the AKC website at www.akc.org to find clubs in your area.  It is best to participate in group lessons at a training club rather than engaging a private trainer that comes to your house.  The dog receives socialization with exposure to other people and unfamiliar dogs and you may find other fun-filled activities of interest to both you and your dog. 

Hot Weather Tips:

  • Overheating can kill dogs in a short time.  NEVER leave a dog alone in a vehicle, even with windows down and auto can become a furnace in a short time.

  • Don’t force your dog to eat immediately after exercise nor feed and then exercise.

  • Don’t force your dog to walk on the hot pavement.  It can burn their feet and they heat up quickly and do not sweat like we do.  Take your walks or do your training in the early morning or late evening.

  • Don’t take your dog to the beach unless you can provide shade and plenty of cold water, they can die from drinking salt water.

Just in case, have your pet-friendly disaster plan in place!

Disaster Preparedness:


Because we are residents of Florida, having a disaster preparedness plan in place is important!  Hurricanes, fires, tornados, flooding are all reasons you may have to leave in a hurry.  What you need for your dog, these are also good for regular travel out of town:

  • Food & Water with bowls for a week.

  • Medication and vet records for dogs with medical problems that may require treatment while away from your normal vet.

  • Leash & collar – While I do not recommend a muzzle or halti for everyday use, in high stress or confinement with other unknown animals it could be helpful.

  • Rabies and identification tags - I also recommend all dogs be micro chipped with the AVID chips and registered though AVID.

  • The Crate is your dog’s security at times of stress.

  • Plastic bags to pick up waste, sandwich bags work well; they go over your hand then have the top to fold over.

After you get home and before your pets are let out into the yard, check for weak spots in the fence, debris or downed power lines, and contaminated food or water.

© Copyright 2004 Tampa Bay German Shepherd Rescue

Tampa Bay German Shepherd Rescue
11904 Mc Mullen Loop
Riverview, FL 33569
Phone: 813-671-2913

Email: dianeroberts.gsd@verizon.net

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