Not only can exercising your German Shepherd be a great bonding experience between you and your puppy/dog, but research has shown owners with a dog are 34% more likely to get their own recommended weekly exercise as a result
Exercising your German Shepherd is a win-win for both of you!
In this guide we’ve outlined 20 indoor and outdoor exercises and activities you might do with your GSD.
You might get some new fun ideas.
Let’s jump into it!
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s)
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20 Fun Indoor & Outdoor Exercises For German Shepherds
First Off, How Much Exercise Does A German Shepherd Need?
German Shepherds tend to be a large breed of dog that need roughly half an hour to an hour of exercise a day.
This will not only keep them healthy physically, but help curb mental boredom and minimise the chance of them becoming destructive in your household.
You might look for these indicators in your GSD to know when they are getting too much or too little exercise per LoveThatPet.com –
An overweight or obese dog (GSDs are prone to weight issues as they age)
Jumping the fence or attempting to climb objects
Your dog starts to lag during exercise, or suddenly stops to lie down
Excessive panting, wheezing or shortness of breath
Drinking too much or too little water
Visible signs of distress or agitation
Signs of lameness in their legs and joints
What Do German Shepherds Like To Do For Fun?
The answer is anything which stimulates them physically and/or mentally – German Shepherds are as intelligent as they are athletic.
Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to go for a 10 mile walk or run to tire out or exercise your GSD.
We actually wrote a separate guide about things that German Shepherds might like to do, some of which don’t involve exercise.
Onto the list of fun indoor and outdoor exercises ….
1) Fetch/Throw Frisbee
A favorite past time of many dog owners.
Take any item which your GSD can pick up in its mouth safely and fetch, and throw it as far as you can for your GSD to retrieve.
Tennis balls, frisbees and even sticks can be thrown for your GSD to run after time and time again.
Some of the top choices for dog frisbee toys and discs are:
- Hyperflite Jawz Competition Dog Disc (on Amazon) [Competition grade disc]
- KONG Classic Flyer Frisbee Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- Chuckit! Flying Squirrel (on Chewy)
- Hyper Pet Flippy Flopper Frisbee Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- Hyper Pet Flippy Flopper Dog Frisbee (on Amazon)
- Chuckit! Paraflight Dog Toy (on Amazon)
- Chuckit! Zipflight Disc Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- Chuckit! Zipflight Dog Toy (on Amazon)
The most common form of exercise for most dog owners, that requires a good leash/lead, collar and harness setup.
Give your GSD both on leash training and off leash training to make both of your lives easier.
Heeling training for your GSD may help too.
Read about the Best Collars, Leashes and Harnesses for German Shepherds.
Want to know how to tire out a German Shepherd fast?
Take your German Shepherd running with you on a leash.
For GSDs with high energy, this can be a welcome change to walking and a chance to stretch out their legs and utilise their athleticism.
Tracking involves a scent being laid out, and left to age for a while.
You and your GSD must then find the object at the end of the scent.
German Shepherd Tracking Harnesses are required for this activity.
5) German Shepherd Sports: IPO, Dock Diving, Jumping and Agility Races, Flyball, Ralley and other Dog Events
Can be very fast paced and energy intensive, which is perfect to tire an athletic breed like the German Shepherd.
Spend some time on YouTube looking up each of these sports … you’ll be on there for hours! Schutzhund (IPO) in particular is German Shepherd breed sport which can test aspects like working ability and temperament.
Great for both dog and owner, we’ve already written an article about Hiking and Camping with your German Shepherd
A chance to sample the outdoors, conquer hiking trails and get plenty of exercise for the both of you.
Consider a doggy backpack which you can store both yours and your GSD’s supplies in.
Read about the Best German Shepherd Backpacks.
Take your GSD swimming in your backyard pool (if you are lucky enough to have one!), at the beach or at the lake.
Is your GSD afraid of the water, or perhaps needs some swimming training?
Have a read of ‘Do German Shepherds Like to Swim? Like, or Hate Water‘.
A doggy flotation device can be a good idea for owners who want a little more safety for their puppy or dog.
Read more about the Best German Shepherd Life Jackets.
8) Stand Up Paddle Board
This is a pretty cool one.
Paddle boarding isn’t hard to learn if you’ve never done it before.
You can even go out to the shallows of your local beach and practice there with your GSD which can be alot of fun.
It does require some balance and obedience to stay still from your GSD’s end.
Great mental stimulation for your GSD and a good bonding exercise for you both.
You get a workout and your GSD gets to take in the different sights and sounds of the ocean or surrounding lake area.
Want to know how to tire out your German Shepherd if you can’t run?
Take it cycling on a leash next to you.
You can cover massive distances cycling, and it caters for people who don’t have a great fitness level or are injured (bad knees, legs etc.).
It can be a little dangerous for younger or untrained GSDs if they don’t know how to behave on the leash and run under one of your bike wheels or get tangled up in the chain.
So, make sure your GSD is leash trained and practice is areas with less people traffic to begin with.
A fun one you can do on a clear stretch of beachfront or bike/walking track.
Your GSD may even decide it would like to pull you along which is a welcome help!
12) Skate Boarding and Hover boarding
Probably for the younger crowd.
If teenagers and younger people like to skate or get on their hover board for fun, why not combine it with exercise for your GSD?
13) Dog Yoga or Doga
You read that right.
There are Doga (Yoga classes for you and your dog) classes you can go to that encourage you to take your dog along.
Doga sometimes involves some doggy massage that I’m sure your GSD will appreciate.
14) Dog Friendly Boots Camps
Similar to Doga, dog boot camps encourage dogs to come along while the owner gets a cardio and core strength workout in.
You can get dog friendly soccer balls (teeth resistant) that you can kick to your GSD. The aim is then for them to paddle it back to you with their snout.
16) Obedience and Training
Seems simple, but this is great mental exercise, especially for puppies.
The added benefit is you add to your GSD’s discipline, build the bond between you both and they learn new skills and behaviors.
Read about 10 of The Best German Shepherd Obedience and Training Tips.
17) Dog Toys and Bones
There’s many different types of dog toys to choose from.
Chew toys, ball toys, and treat type toys in particular can provide interaction and stimulation for dogs.
Read more in our guide on some of the best dog toys for German Shepherds here.
As a summary, some of our top rated dog toys and relevant guides to check out from that guide were:
- Chuckit! Ultra Rubber Ball Dog Toy, Large (on Chewy)
- Chuckit! Fetch Ball Dog Toy, Medium (on Chewy)
- Chuckit! Ultra Ball (on Amazon) (2.5 inch balls and bigger, for medium to bigger dogs)
- Chuckit! Ultra Ball (on Amazon) (2 inch ball, for smaller dogs)
Ball Thrower Toys
- Chuckit! Classic Launcher (on Chewy)
- Chuckit! Sport Launcher Dog Ball Thrower (on Amazon), or Chuckit! Pro Launcher (on Amazon)
- KONG Extreme Ball Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- KONG Extreme Ball Dog Toy (on Amazon) (small, and medium/large sizes available)
- Nylabone DuraChew Original Flavor Bone Dog Toy (on Chewy), or Nylabone DuraChew Peanut Butter Flavor Souper Dog Chew Toy (on Chewy)
- Nylabone Original Dura Chew Dog Chew Toy (on Amazon)
- West Paw Zogoflex Jive Tough Ball Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- West Paw Design Jive Zogoflex Durable Ball Dog Chew Toy (on Amazon)
- Nylabone Power Chew Wishbone Dog Chew Toy (on Chewy)
- Nylabone Power Chew Extreme Wishbone Dog Chew Toy (on Amazon) (for dogs 35 lbs and under)
- Deer and Elk Antlers
- Raw Bones (approved by a vet)
- ZippyPaws Burrow Squeaky Hide & Seek Plush Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- ZippyPaws Woodland Friends Burrow, Interactive Squeaky Hide and Seek Plush Dog Toy (on Amazon)
- Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- SmartPetLove Snuggle Puppy Behavioral Aid Toy (on Amazon)
- Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- Outward Hound Interactive Puzzle Plush Hide and Seek Activity Dog Toy (on Amazon)
- Frisco Hide and Seek Plush Volcano Puzzle Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- Multipet Plush Dog Toys (on Amazon)
Treat Dispensing, & Stuffable Toys
- KONG Classic Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- KONG Classic Dog Toy (on Amazon)
- KONG Extreme Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- KONG Extreme Dog Toy (on Amazon)
- KONG Wobbler Dog Toy (on Chewy)
- KONG Wobbler Treat Dispensing Dog Toy (on Amazon)
Eco Friendly & Sustainable Toys
- Wooden Sticks (made from safe wood, with sharp edges rounded off, and big enough that your dog won’t swallow it or choke on it)
- Second hand or used toys from other dog owners, garage sales, and thrift/charity stores
- Used Plastic Soda Bottles (unfilled, or filled with with food and treats. And, BPA, PVC & Phthalate free)
- Used & Second Hand Balls (Tennis Balls, & Other Balls Like Soccer Balls and Footballs)
Toys Specifically For Large Dogs
Toys Specifically For Small Dogs, & Puppies
Taking your dog to the dog park for a run, and letting it interact with other dogs on it’s daily walks is important for socialisation, as well as physical and mental health.
Socialising your GSD activates a different part of your GSD’s brain and keeps it’s behavior normal providing it doesn’t already have behavioral problems.
19) Doggy Dancing
Yes, there are classes for you and your dog to participate in freestyle dancing.
Per The World Canine Freestyle Organisation:
“The object of musical freestyle is to display the dog and handler in a creative, innovative and original dance, using music and intricate movements to showcase teamwork, artistry, costuming, athleticism and style in interpreting the theme of the music”
You can find classes at the WCFO, or Musical Dog Sports Association.
20) Snow Skiing and Snow Activities
German Shepherds are among the 20 best cold weather dog breeds, showcasing their versatility.
If you live near the snow, take your GSD skiing or snowboarding along the ski flats for a great workout.
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