Bred to be versatile hunting dogs, the German Shorthaired Pointer is a much a loving family companion as he is a focused field assistant. GSP's love to be with people and are happiest when outdoors among friends. This breed is excellent with kids, though toddlers may get knocked over by a well meaning dog, so play should always be supervised. They are excellent watchdogs, and can be counted on to bark when there is a person approaching the home. Their bark is not aggressive, however, it's simply an alert. For an active, outdoorsy family, the German Shorthaired Pointer is an ideal choice.
One to two hours of vigorous outdoor exercise is a minimum for this energetic breed. They experience an extended puppyhood and adult GSP's are just as bouncy and rowdy as puppies, so burning off excess energy is a must. Couch potatoes and apartment dwellers are not an appropriate match for a Shorthaired Pointer, as confinement quickly leads to anxiety and destructiveness.
Hunting is their favorite activity and they can spend an entire day in the field acting as trackers, pointers and retrievers. Hunters value them for their independent nature, and their instincts are inborn, so they require very little training in the field.
Their webbed feet makes them efficient water retrievers, and these dogs love to swim. Hikes around lakes or rivers are the German Shorthaired Pointer's idea of heaven and will retrieve sticks from the water as long as someone is willing to toss them. They can keep up on jogs and bike rides and are excellent at catching frisbees.
When outdoors, it is important that the Pointer be kept on a leash or in a fenced in yard. They are chasers and will take off like a shot after birds, cats or other small animals. Fences should be at least six feet high and be well rooted below the ground. Pointers can leap higher than you might think, and if leaping doesn't work, they'll resort to digging in order to get out and search for adventure.
German Shorthaired Pointers can be difficult to train. They pick up hunting commands quickly, but basic household obedience is a completely different story. They are distracted by every sight, sound and smell and if they catch something interesting it can be nearly impossible to get them re-focused on the task at hand. Training should be conducted early and sessions should be kept short. Positive reinforcement and a gentle but always consistent hand are the keys to training a GSP.
Separation Anxiety is common among this people-oriented breed. They attach themselves deeply to their family and become easily depressed when left alone. They express this through chewing, digging and excessive barking. Providing German Shorthaired Pointers with enough physical activity to tire them out can stave off anxiousness, but they are generally best suited for families with a stay at home parent or for those who don't work long hours.
While Shorthaired Pointers are generally easy going creatures, they should not be trusted around cats or small dogs. Their desire to chase will overcome them at some point, even if they are raised alongside these smaller animals. Males can sometimes exhibit aggression toward other male dogs, so if you have a male GSP, any other dogs brought into the home should be female.