Just like any dog, a German Shepherd requires exercise. Because they are naturally active dogs, they require a longer amount of exercise.
So, How much exercise does your German Shepherd need? A German Shepherd dog requires at least 2 hours of exercise.
How much exercise does a German Shepherd need?
A German Shepherd is a very active dog. They will need at least 2 hours of exercise so they can be happy and preoccupied.
Some of the exercises include off running, walking, and even playtime can be included as an exercise. The intensity of various exercises can cause a difference in the duration; the higher the intensity, the shorter the time and vice versa.
There are three types of intensity in exercise for your German Shepherd:
- Low-intensity exercises: These are exercises such as walking, playing fetch, and chewing on chew toys that require 2 1/2 to 4 hours of exercise for your German Shepherd.
- Medium intensity: These activities include walking, agility courses, and playing fetch. You can spend 2 hours on these types of activities.
- High intensity: There are activities such as running, swimming, and competitive obstacle course that is of high intensity. You can spend about 1 hour of exercise with German Shepherd.
How much exercise does a German Shepherd puppy need?
Because their bones, muscles, and joints are still developing, they don’t need vigorous exercise. They only need free play and toys appropriate for their age.
In playtime, they do move their bodies and use the energy that they have at specific times so they don’t get overexercised.
Puppies under 3 months shouldn’t be exercised as they are still developing and haven’t received their vaccination.
As they get older, you can take them out for walking for some time. You have to make sure that they don’t become overexercised.
As a general rule, it is best to exercise your puppy 5 minutes for each month of age. For example, if your puppy is 5 months old, you can exercise them for about 25 minutes.
You have to also be careful with signs of fatigue and lagging that your German Shepherd may appear to have.
If you find that your German Shepherd puppy is tired, stop immediately and let them relax.
Why does your German Shepherd need exercise?
There are many reasons why a German Shepherd needs physical and mental stimulation.
Keeps them fit and maintains their weight
Exercise helps keep German Shepherds fit and lean because they are constantly using their minds and bodies so they lose fat, gain muscles and keep their minds sharp.
They are also less likely to have problems such as joint issues, diabetes, and some form of cancers. These problems happen because of a lack of exercise.
Exercise can also help in maintaining your dog’s weight by using the food that they eat as energy instead of the body storing it.
Many obese dogs have also lost weight when they exercise. Exercise mainly helps with weight management and weight loss so it’s a win-win situation.
Maintains emotional health
Being confirmed to their house for a long period of time will definitely affect your dog’s emotional health; they will feel trapped and will become depressed especially German Shepherd.
German Shepherds can get bored and become destructive in their behavior. They will then start to chew on things such as furniture and make a big mess.
Helps with mobility
Exercise can help dogs who have certain conditions such as German Shepherds who can develop conditions such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.
Exercise helps dogs with either hip dysplasia or arthritis because the movement helps lubricate the joints making it easier to move and walk with less pain.
It also increases flexibility and will circulate blood to the joints causing your dog to move easier.
Builds a bond with your dog
You can also build a bond with your dog when you are exercising with them.
Your dog will feel happy when they are exercising for two reasons. The first reason is that they will be releasing their pent up energy so they will be relaxed after they finish.
The second reason is that they are with you so they are much happier spending time with you.
Signs that your German Shepherd needs exercise
If you don’t exercise your German Shepherd or give them enough exercise, they can become destructive, start barking, and may pester you.
1.) Destructive behavior
Your dog may become destructive when they have so much energy but can’t get it out so they will look for other ways to get that energy off; they will become destructive.
A German Shepherd will start chewing on your furniture and other stuff such as shoes. They will do lots of other destructive behaviors which will cause a mess in your house.
2.) Barking excessively
Your dog will start barking excessively as a way to let off some of the energy that they have. They will bark a lot to tell you that they need something, in this case, it’s exercise.
Barking is used as a way of communication so you have to pay attention to why your dog is barking and the reason that they are barking especially when your dog is barking excessively.
Your German Shepherd can bug you when they need exercise. They may follow you around wherever you go and may get you a toy so you can play with them.
Your German Shepherd will follow you wherever you go so you can pay attention to them.
German Shepherd exercise requirements
A German Shepherd has three types of exercises that you must provide to your dog every day:
- Daily walk
- High-intensity exercise
- Mental Stimulation
A daily walk can be any walk in the park or in an area that they enjoy walking in.
Walking a German Shepherd can stimulate a German Shepherd’s mind with sights, sounds, and smells that they find while they are walking.
A high-intensity exercise for full of strong and intense periods of exercise that your dog will enjoy and release all the pent up energy that they have.
Mental stimulation keeps your dog’s mind sharp and minimizes boredom. Your dog needs mental stimulation so they can not only be fit but also can become easily trained.
Also, dogs who aren’t mentally challenged will find out destructive ways to use their minds. Your German Shepherd’s bad behavior can be such as digging, excessive barking, and escaping.
Physical exercises that German Shepherds can do
Walking a German Shepherd is one of the best exercises that you give to your German Shepherd. You can either let them walk for a long distance or a shorter distance depending on how they are handling the exercise.
This mainly comes from factors such as their age, the conditions that they have, and the weather.
When your dog is old, they will need exercise that is not vigorous so they don’t get tired and get overexercised.
Unlike a healthy German Shepherd, they can walk for a long-distance and have more energy.
If your German Shepherd has conditions such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, it will affect your dog’s speed and the type of exercise that they do.
However, walking is a good exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia and arthritis; It will strengthen the muscles around the joints.
One of the important tips when walking a German Shepherd with either condition is to let them set their own pace.
Your vet may recommend that your dog may walk for 20 minutes at their own pace.
Another area that affects how much can a German Shepherd exercise is the weather.
If the weather is too cold and snowy, even though your German Shepherd can tolerate the cold, it shouldn’t stay with your dog for a long period of time. Just walk them and get back with them indoors.
Never leave them for long periods of time in the cold because they can get frostbite or hypothermia.
If the weather is too hot, walk your German Shepherd for shorter walks or you could walk them during the evening when the sun is down.
So why the extra caution? The reason is that the weather is very hot and can cause a heat stroke or hydration to your dog.
Your German Shepherd may also run alongside you as a running partner. It is a great bonding exercise with your dog in which they will get all the exercise that they need and it makes them stay fit.
Because the German Shepherd has strong stamina, they can run for a long distance.
One of the best times is early in the morning where you and your dog can get all the exercise that you need.
Before you let your dog run for long distances, build up the intensity and distance gradually so your dog doesn’t get injured.
How to condition your dog to run
Don’t start with 30 minutes run for the first time. First, start with a walk for 5 minutes.
Depending on your dog’s fitness level, you have to start with 1 minute of running followed by 1 minute of walking for 15 minutes for the first 2 weeks.
Then, in the third week, you can let your dog run and walk for 20 minutes. They can run for 2 minutes and walk for 1 minute for 20 minutes.
In the fifth week, your dog can run for 3 to 5 minutes and walk 1 minute in between for 30 minutes.
By the seventh week, your dog can run the whole 30 minutes.
Generally, a German Shepherd is able to run from 5 to 20 miles at a speed of 30 mph so you have to not overdo it or else your German Shepherd will get really tired.
You can also monitor your dog sleeping and eating habits to know whether they are showing signs of injury and soreness or not. If they do show any sign, stop them from running and let them walk instead.
German Shepherds aren’t naturally good swimmers; however, they can be taught with proper training on how to swim. This will definitely take time and patience for your dog to fully learn swimming.
Due to their cleverness and quickness, they can easily learn how to swim with no problem.
So why German Shepherd’s don’t know how to swim? The reason is that they weren’t bred to know how to swim. Instead, they were bred to become police dogs, used as guard dogs, herd sheep, and many other roles.
Therefore, swimming isn’t a natural activity for a German Shepherd.
If you want to teach them how to swim, you can follow these steps:
1.) When starting the training, you can start by letting your dog wear a dog vest. This is a great way for them to become comfortable with water without causing them to panic.
It is also better to start in calming water as it will be easier and more comfortable for your German Shepherd.
2.) Start with getting your German Shepherd’s toes and feet wet and then work your way with your dog into the water.
Never rush your German Shepherd into the water as this will cause them to become nervous and fearful of the water.
3.) When you are together with your German Shepherd in the water, you have to keep an eye on their limbs and legs to see if they are moving and kicking.
4.) After your German Shepherd becomes comfortable, you can remove the vest and let them swim on their own.
Fetch is a great exercise for your German Shepherd. It consists of a few actions that your dog should know.
First, your dog will look at you to know when you are about to throw the object that they will fetch. Then, they will hold the object in their mouth so they can bring it back.
The best time to teach your German Shepherd about the fetch game is when they are a puppy so they can really grasp the game at their age.
The toy you throw has to not be too large that your German Shepherd can’t carry or too small that your dog can swallow causing them a serious problem.
The best places that you can play with your German Shepherd is the backyard so they can easily run and play freely.
Never play fetch with your dog in the park as this will make other dogs chase after the toy.
How to play fetch with your dog:
1.) Get them curious and excited
You can get your German Shepherd excited toward a toy through waving it around and making some noise before tossing it around. Also, let it stay in front of your dog’s face all the time.
2.) Use smell to your advantage
Rub treats on the toy to make it smell so your dog will more likely to chase after it when you toss it away.
3.) Toss it close
Start by tossing it away not really far so you can encourage your dog to go after it without losing focus.
4.) Toss it far
Gradually, begin to toss it far and see how your dog will chase after it. Begin to test them with longer distances and different directions.
Repeat the same process so your German Shepherd gets used to the game. You will most likely find them wanting to play this game.
5.) Tug of war
This is a great game to build strong muscles, teeth, and strength for your German Shepherd. It is also fun which will make them use all the extra energy that they have.
However, you have to be careful so your dog doesn’t get injured.
Rules to follow when playing tug of war with your dog
1.) Never let your German Shepherd initiate the game. It has to always be initiated by you.
2.) Always be in control when playing with a tug of war with your dog. Your dog has to listen to you when you are telling them to sit or any other command while you play with them. This has to be done every 30 seconds.
Best practice when playing with your dog tug of war
When you want to get the toy from their hold, stop tugging and freeze while you are in front of your dog. Then, tell them “thank you”.
With your other hand, put a treat in front of their face. After they release the toy and begin to sniff the treat, praise your dog and ask them to sit.
When they sit, give them the treat and give them back the toy again.
The main purpose of this practice is to teach your dog to not guard the toy to the extent that they don’t want to let it go.
It will reinforce back that it isn’t a problem when someone takes their toy or possession because they will get it back again.
Some of the behaviors that your dog might do
1.) They may bite you accidentally
If they do bite you accidentally, then immediately yelp and freeze for a moment. Take the toy away from your dog for some time.
Then, go ask them to sit and give them back the toy.
2.) If your dog tries to take the toy before you tell them
Give them a thirty-second time out and then ask them to sit and offer the toy again.
6.) Dog sports
German Shepherds are ideal for herding as a sport so they can actually do it. You can apply them for herding trials where they can win championships.
The one downside to this sport is having access. Dog parents may drive up for hours to find a farm and flock for training and competitions.
2.) Obedience/ Rally
Obedience is another form of training in which your dog performs difficult exercises such as heeling, scent recognition, retrieving, and basic commands.
Agility is a dog sport in which the handler guides the German Shepherd dog toward a unique obstacle course.
You can’t touch the dog or the equipment; however, you can give your dog an unlimited number of commands or signals.
This is a training that is mainly created for your German Shepherd. This sport tests the breed’s mental toughness, courage, and physical abilities.
It will test your dog’s endurance and intelligence. So, how does it measure your dog’s endurance and intelligence?
It does so because it is divided into three stages. The first is tracking where a dog tracks objects through their sense of smell.
The second is obedience where a dog is asked to do certain commands.
The third is protection work which is the same as when they are trained in police and military work.
Mental exercises for your German Shepherd to do
1.) Puzzle toys
Puzzle toys are the best fit for German Shepherd dogs; they will definitely challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills.
Other benefits of puzzle toys are that they provide both physical and mental exercise that your dog needs every day to be healthy.
Also, when you are too busy to play with your German Shepherd, you can just give them a puzzle toy for them to play with where they will use their mind and body to solve the puzzle to get the treat.
These toys also help with managing your dog’s weight. Mainly this happens because a dog eats slowly which allows their body to feel full even if it is a small amount.
The toys allow your dog to eat slowly so they feel very full at a very short time.
These puzzle toys also help with preventing dementia in older dogs. Your dog’s mind will use their memory so they will not be at risk of memory loss.
2.) Scenting games
German Shepherds have strong noses that can smell many things. You can play with your German Shepherd some of these scenting and tracking games.
Scenting games activates your dog’s senses such as smell. It will also stimulate your dog’s mind to keep searching for the object while it’s hidden.
Being a fun exercise for your German Shepherd, they will definitely love it and will be determined to find the object that is hidden.
3.) Chew toys
Chew toys help your German Shepherd to relax and use their pent up energy. It helps release endorphins which make your dog relax.
It also chases away the boredom when German Shepherds are alone and want to destroy things. Your German Shepherd will be preoccupied with the chew toy that they will not want to engage in destructive behavior.
Chew toys also help keep your dog’s teeth clean and stop plaque from forming so it doesn’t cause any serious conditions. It also keeps oral breath smelling good by minimizing plaque.
It will also help with relieving teeth pain when a puppy is in pain and feeling uncomfortable while teething.
Finally, it’s a very fun toy that your German Shepherd will enjoy playing with it during their playtime.
Giving your dog training will definitely keep their mind sharp especially when teaching them basic commands and tricks that they can learn.
You can teach them commands such as sit, down, stay, and heel. They will use both their mind and body when they are being trained.
To know more about how to train your German Shepherd in basic commands and other types of training, check How to Train A German Shepherd on Basic Obedience Training and Much More!
Through repetition, your dog’s mind will become used and get accustomed to the commands and perform them smoothly.
How to know if you are overexercising your German Shepherd?
Sometimes too much exercise does more harm than good to your dog. If your German Shepherd becomes overexercised, they will become so tired and won’t be able to continue.
You will know that your German Shepherd is overexercised when they show the following signs:
1.) Become overheated
It’s normal for dogs to pant and get out of breath for some time; however, it shouldn’t be the majority of the time.
When your dog is overheated, your dog may suffer from a heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Your dog will not be balanced and will pant extremely. In extreme cases, they will collapse.
In order to prevent this from happening, If your German Shepherd pants and is out of breath, then you should take a break immediately and give your dog water to drink.
2.) Stiffness and sore muscles
Another sign that you have overexercised your German Shepherd is that their muscles become stiff and sore.
Most of the time, you will find that your dog’s muscles are stiff and sore the next day after the intense exercise.
If this happens, take your dog on a walk to loosen out their muscles.
Reconsider next time to not give your dog an intense workout so they don’t get stiff and sore muscles.
3.) Refusal to exercise
A German Shepherd will continue to exercise as long as they are alright and don’t feel tired.
When your German Shepherd is so tired, they will stop and will not want to continue the exercise.
You have to respect that they don’t want to continue exercise and stop immediately.
A German Shepherd requires exercise so they can be fit and healthy. They can either have low, medium, or high-intensity exercise.
Some of the physical exercises that they can do are walking, running, swimming, fetch, and tug of war.
They can also have mental exercises such as puzzle toys, training, chew toys, and scent games.
It is really important to give your dog both mental and physical exercises.
To know more about how to groom a German Shepherd, check Complete German Shepherd Dog Grooming Simplified in Easy Steps
Share your experience with us. How do you exercise your German Shepherd? What kind of exercises does your German Shepherd do?