Do you have a German Shepherd? If so, congratulations – they are one of the most beautiful and versatile dog breeds out there. But with all that versatility comes responsibility: namely, making sure your GSD gets enough exercise.
German Shepherds are known for their intelligence, loyalty and obedience to their owners; that’s why they’re popular guide dogs! They make great family pets but require a lot of exercise, so they are perfect for active families who love to get outdoors.
A healthy German Shepherd should get at least 2 hours of exercise every day, maybe a couple of 45-minute walks and some free play, obedience training or games of fetch on top.
So what sort of activities do German Shepherds enjoy? Well, these pups are natural-born athletes who love being active outdoors with their families!
Some popular activities include running, hiking or canine dog sports. These intelligent pups also excel at agility training courses where they can show off all their skills.
In this blog post, we’ll break down how much exercise does a German Shepherd need? Plus, give you some tips on how to make sure they get it. So read on if you want to keep your pooch healthy and happy!
Why is Exercise Vital for German Shepherds?
Originally bred as a herding dog, German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and active dogs. Many German Shepherds require more exercise than most other dogs to properly burn off their excess energy.
Alongside their daily walks, German Shepherds need plenty of proper exercise and physical activity to limit any destructive behaviors that they may be predisposed to. At least one hour of moderate exercise involving dog toys and games is recommended for this breed, along with walks. As the old saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog.
Although German Shepherds need a lot of physical and mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy, dog owners should be aware of the health problems that their German Shepherd is more prone to developing.
German Shepherds are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia and canine degenerative myelopathy than other breeds, so it’s best to engage in low impact exercises with your dog. Make sure to make routine vet visits to monitor your German Shepherd’s health.
How Much Exercise Does a German Shepherd Need?
You should exercise your German Shepherd for around 2 hours every day to maintain a healthy body weight and keep your dog’s mind active. Exercising your German Shepherd should include a combination of daily walks and off-lead play in a safe area for your pup to run.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for daily long walks, you might consider hiring a dog walker a few days a week to take some of the strain.
Active games are the best exercise for your German Shepherd, so time spent at the dog park where you can play fetch and allow him to run free will be good exercise for your adult GSD. Allowing your German Shepherd to burn energy in this way will meet his exercise needs and result in a happy and healthy pooch.
Best Types of Exercise for German Shepherds
It’s essential to keep a German Shepherd busy as this working dog breed has a lot of pent up energy. Below are some great activities that can be combined with daily walks to offer mental stimulation, increase flexibility, strengthen their core and, best of all, are fantastic fun!
German Shepherds are born to run, so persuading your dog to bolt around the park shouldn’t be too much trouble! Like most dogs, German Shepherds love to play fetch and other command-based games, so engaging with your dog in this way can help form a strong bond between dog and owner.
Planning your walks around a trip to the park should help you to meet your German Shepherd’s daily exercise needs, but be cautious of how much space he’ll need to really benefit from a good run.
Setting up a slalom course or other obstacle avoiding game is a great way to provide mental stimulation at the same time as physical activity. Just be wary if your German Shepherd is easily distracted by other dogs.
Tug of War
German Shepherds love to play tug, and this form of low impact exercise is great for your pup, especially as he ages. Tug of war is a healthy way to meet your dog’s natural predatory needs and helps to reinforce the human-canine bond that the two of you share.
Games like tug of war provide mental stimulation alongside physical exercise; just make sure that your German Shepherd knows the rules, so he doesn’t get over-excited and take things too far! A well-trained dog that’s been trained from a puppy should have no problems playing this game with its owner.
This video shows how to make a tug toy for your dog
Setting up an obstacle course to include weave poles and hurdles is a great way to tap into your German Shepherd’s natural herding instincts.
Allowing your dog to navigate these obstacles by command will stimulate him mentally and physically and help him stay happy and healthy.
These high impact games should take into account your dog’s age, as a senior German Shepherd may cause himself harm trying to keep up with the pace of a younger dog. Not all German Shepherds will feel their herding instincts as strongly, so don’t be upset if your dog doesn’t respond to this form of exercise.
Doggy squats are a great core strengthening exercise, especially for dogs prone to developing elbow and hip dysplasia. Strengthening your dog’s core muscles will help him better support his joints and allow him to enjoy his walks and runs much later in his life.
Use a piece of food or treat to position your German Shepherd into a sitting position and guide him to gradually perform a hind limb stand. Make sure to use positive reinforcement to reward your German Shepherd during this exercise.
We don’t advise teaching doggy squats to German Shepherd puppies as this form of exercise can harm their joints as they grow.
This short video shows how to do doggy squats
Balance boards are a fantastic tool to develop your dog’s strength and agility training skills. This form of exercise will strengthen his core and allow him to better support his joints when engaging in more intense activities like running and jumping.
Use treats and positive reinforcement to train your German Shepherd to hold positions on the balance board, rewarding him for maintaining the position for 3-5 seconds at a time. This exercise helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog.
Can a German Shepherd Have Too Much Exercise?
A healthy adult German Shepherd can run for miles. However, it is possible to over-exercise your pup if you’re not careful. Your German Shepherd exercise routine should include around an hour of walking and an hour of dedicated exercise a day.
Too much exercise can cause joint issues and result in your German Shepherd developing serious issues like hip and elbow dysplasia. Sticking to a regular routine and planning this around the age of your German Shepherd will help to manage how much exercise your pup is getting.
How Much Exercise Does a Senior German Shepherd Need?
As your German Shepherd ages, his exercise needs will gradually change. Generally speaking, a German Shepherd is considered a senior at around eight years old.
You should shorten his walks and limit any high-impact exercise like running and other doggy sports at this stage in his life.
It’s always wise to schedule regular vet checkups throughout your dog’s life, especially as he beings to reach old age. Your vet can give tailored advice on your dog’s health issues and diet, helping you plan a suitable exercise routine to keep him fit and healthy.
How Much Exercise Does a German Shepherd Puppy Need?
German Shepherds are a very popular breed, so many owners will raise their dogs from a puppy. A German Shepherd puppy has different needs than any adult dog will, so you should be careful not to overexert them.
A puppy aged 3-6 months
A GSD puppy will not need more than 5 minutes of exercise per day per month of age; this will mostly come from your puppy playing, training and exploring his new home. There’s no need to worry about a dedicated workout plan before your German Shepherd reaches around six months old.
German Shepherd puppies 6-12 months
Once your German Shepherd has had his puppy shots, introducing him to other puppies can provide him with the exercise he needs, alongside giving him experience around other dogs.
Gradually raise the amount of time you dedicate to exercise with your puppy’s age and use mental exercise instead of high impact exercises before your puppy is 12 months old.
There are many aspects to a well-balanced daily German Shepherd exercise routine. Depending on your GSD’s age, general health, and activity level, adjust your physical activity’s time, distance, and intensity to suit.
So how much exercise does a German Shepherd need on a daily basis? Most German Shepherds need at least 2 hours of physical activity daily, including long walks plus mental activity games and training. These dogs make great hiking companions and often do well in dog sports like Canicross.
It’s crucial for dog owners not to push their dogs too hard too quickly. Use a variety of activities to keep your dog from becoming bored.
Give them rest and time to recover after strenuous exercise to keep them healthy. Don’t forget mental exercises such as puzzle toys to keep Fido occupied and prevent destructive behaviours.
We hope you’ve found this post useful in helping you create a fitness routine that works for you and your dog!