It’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to German Shepherd exercise requirements. Because there’s nothing Shepherds like more than spending time with their owners they can appear to quite happily lounge around at your feet all day if you let them.
Letting them do so is a mistake though, because this dog breed needs a lot of exercise to maintain their mental and physical health. So with that said, just how much exercise does a German Shepherd need?
How Much Exercise Does A German Shepherd need?
The German Shepherd was originally bred to be a herding dog and so naturally this involved working all day and getting lots of exercise. This is one reason they need a lot of physical activity in their daily lives.
If you can, you should take your Shepherd for daily walks, ideally somewhere you can let them off the leash to run around freely. You should only do this somewhere both the dog and other people and other dogs are safe.
German Shepherds can be prone to suffering from joint problems and the best way to avoid this is to ensure they remain active. Taking your dog for lots of walks is a good way to stave off any joint problems until much later in their life.
Going out for walks with your dog also provides them with lots of mental stimulation. Any dog owner will know that dogs don’t like to just walk from A to B. They like to stop off every few metres to have a good sniff around and investigate. This keeps them in good mental health; every walk is a stimulating adventure for your dog.
When your dog is younger you can take them for lots of long, brisk walks to burn the calories and keep them fit. You can even jog with them or go for a bike ride as they happily run alongside you.
As your dog ages though, they will start to slow down and so you should adjust your walks. Never force your dog to walk at a faster pace than they are comfortable with and always keep their age and state of phsyical fitness in mind.
As well as taking your German Shepherd for daily walks, you should also play with them every day.
Shepherds are like most dogs in that they love nothing better than a good game of tug of war. Not only is tug of war great fun for your dog, but it’s also good for them too as it gives their jaw and shoulder muscles a good workout.
Keep in mind that Shepherds are large, strong dogs and so they’ll need tough, resilient toys or they’ll just destroy them.
Shepherds also love to chase after balls, sticks and even frisbees if you have the space. Watching a German Shepherd leap high into the air to catch a frisbee in their mouth is a magnificent sight.
As well as physical games, you should also involve your dog in mentally stimulating games too. The Shepherd is a highly intelligent dog that needs a mental workout as much as a physical one.
You can buy food puzzle toys where your dog has to work out how to get treats out of them. These kind of toys keep dogs occupied for long periods of time, and give them a sense of achievement when they finally solve the puzzle.
Hiding things around the house or backyard for your dog to find is another great game to play. You can even play hide and seek with your Shepherd by hiding yourself so they have to try and find you.
Always remember to reward your dog with lots of praise and petting when they solve a puzzle or find you when you’ve hidden.
Bored German Shepherds that don’t get as much exercise as they need can become depressed and start showing destructive and annoying behavior. This can take the form of chewing furniture, excessive barking, or digging in the garden.
If your dog starts indulging in such unwanted behavior, this is a sign they’re not getting enough physical and mental exercise and you need to increase their levels.