Is it possible to tire out a German Shepherd? This is a question many Shepherd owners have found themselves asking on more than one occasion.
German Shepherds are naturally high-energy dogs and few families are physically active enough to keep up with them. This means that you’ll have to give your dog opportunities to get their own exercise throughout the day on top of you walking or running with him.
This begs the question, how much exercise does a German Shepherd need? And the next one, is it possible for them to get enough?
While it may not seem like it sometimes, it is definitely possible for German Shepherds to get enough exercise. Overexercising can actually instigate the hip dysplasia problems that the breed is already prone to.
Thus, it is important to know how much exercise your German Shepherd should be getting — and what kind. So that’s what we’ll talk about today. By the end of this article, you'll know exactly how to get your pup some quality, healthy exercise. Let’s get started!
How Much Exercise Does a German Shepherd Need?
There’s a reason German Shepherds are called German Shepherds — and not German Loungers. Originally, they were bred for hard work on the farm, herding and guarding flocks of sheep.
They would spend hours each day keeping the flock together, which requires a lot of running. Plus, they were constantly on alert for danger and ready to neutralize threats to their charges.
Put into perspective like that, lying on a couch all day certainly doesn’t fulfill these dogs’ natural purpose. These high-energy dogs need plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy. For most dogs, this translates to at least 90 minutes of exercise each day.
This can happen in bursts throughout the day and a wide variety of high-energy activities count. This includes taking them for walks or runs, hiking, playing fetch, agility classes, and so much more.
If you're an active person looking for a running or hiking buddy, a German Shepherd is a perfect dog for you! They have the energy and endurance to keep up with you on long walks or runs.
German Shepherds also make great agility dogs - they love to jump, run, and play! If you're looking for a fun way to exercise your German Shepherd (and yourself!), consider enrolling in an agility class together.
What if running 5 miles a day isn’t your idea of a good time? Or what if you don’t have the time to dedicate to exercising your pup? There are things you can do to help them exercise themselves. However, you’ll find owning a German Shepherd is more challenging than another type of dog who might be more willing to lay around all day.
The Importance of Exercise for German Shepherds
If you are (or have ever been) highly active, you’ll understand this. If you don’t get enough exercise, you feel restless. Maybe you have a hard time sitting still or concentrating on a task. You might even feel a little anxious. Whatever it is, the frustration dissipates as soon as you go for a good run.
German Shepherds are like that — all the time.
They can’t just lay around all day. They’ll get bored and restless and start looking for ways to entertain themselves. Unfortunately for you, this usually means getting into things you don’t want them to.
As we’ve mentioned, the average German Shepherd needs about 90 minutes of exercise daily. However, individual needs vary. These can be based on factors such as age, general health, overall fitness level and habits, and more.
To make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise, watch out for these signs that he isn’t getting enough.
1. Restlessness or Boredom
Your German Shepherd may seem restless or bored if they’re not getting enough exercise. They may try to get your attention by barking, whining, or jumping up on you. Perhaps they pace back and forth or otherwise appear anxious.
2. Excessive Chewing or Digging
With those feelings of restlessness pushing them, dogs start to look for ways to burn off their excess energy. Unfortunately for us, this usually means they start digging up the yard or chewing on the furniture.
Whatever is within a bored German Shepherd's reach has no hope for escape.
3. Excessive Barking
Another annoying method they will use to burn off excess energy is to bark at everything that moves. They may be trying to give themselves a job to do, seeking attention out of boredom, or both. Regardless, it’s an annoying habit that will quickly frustrate your neighbors.
4. Weight Gain
Just like people, a lack of exercise puts German Shepherds at risk of gaining weight. This is especially true if they have free access to food. They may eat more out of pure boredom.
Unfortunately, these dogs are already susceptible to problems like hip dysplasia, which is greatly exacerbated by being overweight.
Exercise For German Shepherd Puppies
German Shepherd puppies have a lot of energy, just like adult dogs. Thus, they need plenty of exercise too. However, they need it in shorter, more frequent doses.
Playful pups get a lot of it themselves as they run around and explore their world. However, you should provide about 5 minutes of formal exercise (such as a walk) for every month of their age.
The best exercises for German Shepherd puppies are short walks or runs, playing fetch games, and swimming. These activities will help them burn off some of their energy while learning commands and socializing with other dogs.
Exercise for Senior German Shepherds
As dogs age, their muscles get weaker and their joints become more sensitive. They still need to move around, but it’s important to give them opportunities for light exercise that won’t put too much strain on their bodies.
Senior German Shepherds should get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day, but no more than 60 minutes. The best type of exercise for senior German Shepherds is walking or slow jogging. Swimming is also a great exercise for a senior German Shepherd as it puts no strain on their joints.
Other forms of low-impact exercise for senior German Shepherds include playing fetch and agility training. Just make sure to keep the activity level low and short, and never push them too hard.
The Best Type of Exercise for German Shepherds
The best type of exercise for German shepherds is a combination of aerobic activity and mental stimulation.
Aerobic activity is important for German Shepherds because it helps to keep their heart and lungs healthy. Mental stimulation is also vital for preventing boredom. A daily walk or run will provide both these needs for German Shepherds — and it’s good for you too!
In addition to daily walks or runs, German shepherds also benefit from other forms of exercise, such as active games like fetch or tug-of-war, swimming, and agility training. If you have the space, it might be helpful to set up an agility course in your yard. You can take your dog through the course during training sessions, and he can also play by himself when you’re at work.
Another great option is to enroll your dog in dog sports. If you want to really give your German Shepherd a workout, dog sports such as agility or flyball are excellent. These activities will tire your pup out both physically and mentally.
You can also get dog toys that are specifically designed to be mentally stimulating for pups. These are helpful for days when you are short on time, but should not take the place of regular exercise.
If you like to be active, include your pup! Take your dog hiking with you and give him a chance to explore different terrain and new areas.
The Fi GPS collar is a great tool for tracking how much exercise your dog gets each day. They are equipped with an activity monitor that keeps track of your dog's walks, when they go for walks, how long they exercise, and even when they sleep. Using the app, you can check your dog's activity levels and sleep patterns in real time.
German shepherds are versatile dogs that can excel at any type of exercise, so get creative and have fun with it.
For more helpful articles about pet-parenting tips, check out the Off Leash blog at TryFi.com.
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