12 Best Dog Sports for German Shepherds

Categorized as German Shepherd Basic, Sport & Exercise
dog sports for German Shepherd

We’ve all seen how smart and agile German Shepherds can be. They’re loyal, gentle, and always up for a good time. And you know what else? They are also great at doing sports! There is no shortage of fun activities that they will love playing with their humans. As long as you have the space to do it, there are plenty of dog sports out there just waiting for your pup to try them out! Here are ten different options that we think any German Shepherd would love…

1. Agility

Agility is a great sport for German Shepherds because it combines all their favorite things: running, climbing, jumping, and teamwork. To make this sport even more fun, you can do it with your other dog(s) or other family members!

If you’re interested in doing agility with your GSD, you can find information on classes in your area by joining clubs that run agility meets. Agility is a great solo sport as well, and all it takes are some obstacles to set up at home!

You can also build your own agility course in your yard. You’ll need to install poles, tires, ramps, and other obstacles to make it a challenging course for your pooch. Even better- make the agility course match up with items found outdoors. For example, if you have stumps or logs lying around outside, place them in a row, so your dog has to run through them when practicing agility!

2. Herding

Herding is a great dog sport that requires both obedience and athleticism. Herding dogs are bred to herd livestock, but German Shepherds can do it too! The best way to get started with this sport is by taking classes.

Both you and your GSD will have to learn the commands and hand signals that work best for herding, and classes are a great way to do so. You can then practice at home by having your dog herd around living things like a small herd of animals or flock of birds.

Once he has mastered this at home, take the show on the road! Herding can be done anywhere that livestock can be found, so find a local farm or ranch and take your German Shepherd for a walk.

3. Nosework

Nosework is another great dog sport that German Shepherds can get involved in, especially if they are already accustomed to using their sense of smell for other things. This sport involves training your dog to find items based on their scent.

Thanks to German Shepherds’ powerful noses, this isn’t too difficult! Nosework classes can be found online or in your area, and all you need is a box of treats to get started. Then, your dog will search for items using only his nose and sniffing skills.

This sport is great for any dog who loves sniffing things out (and what German Shepherd doesn’t?). Once he has mastered this skill, you can even use it to locate missing objects around your home.

4. Tracking

Tracking is another great activity that can be done with German Shepherds because of their incredible sense of smell. In this sport, your dog will follow the trail of an item that has previously been walked over by a person or animal.

And the great thing about this dog sport? You can do it right in your own backyard.

An easy way to start training for tracking is by hiding an object in plain sight on the floor and then rewarding your GSD when he finds it after sniffing around for a bit. As your dog improves, you can make it harder by hiding the object in an area with more distractions or moving around where you hid it.

There are tons of objects that can serve as track materials in order for your GSD to follow a scent trail. You can use items like pieces of fabric, natural items like pine cones and sticks, and even scented toys!


Schutzhund is a very popular sport that German Shepherds can participate in. This sport involves obedience, tracking, and protection work. It was originally designed to test the working abilities of dogs that were being used for police work.

Nowadays, it is mainly used in competitions to see how much a dog has been trained. If you’re looking for a sport that tests your GSD’s obedience and protectiveness, look into this one!

For this sport, the dogs must first pass a series of obedience tests to compete. The dog must show that he is a well-mannered member of the family and be able to listen to commands from his handler.

After this test, the dog will work on tracking skills. He will then learn how to track an individual on command, search for an item based on scent, and show off his guarding skills by protecting the item from another dog. When this is all done, the dog can compete alongside other dogs.

If you have a German Shepherd who is naturally athletic and loves to learn new things, Schutzhund may be a great dog sport for you both! The training is very challenging, but you and your dog will learn so much from it.

6. Rally Obedience

Rally obedience is another obedience-based dog sport that involves your GSD running from station to station where he receives commands like sit, down, and stand. Thanks to German Shepherd’s intelligence and work ethic, they can do very well at this sport.

To make it more interesting for your dog, there are also different courses set up with directions such as “forward” and “around.” These courses require the dog to receive visual cues to figure out where to go next.

This sport is a great way for your GSD to learn to follow commands while also getting some exercise. It’s also a lot of fun for you and your dog to train together!

7. Treibball

Interested in herding but lack a sheep or instinctive dog? Well, then you’re in luck! Treibball is a great game that involves your GSD being herded into a goal using balls.

Treibball is a relatively new dog sport, but it’s been growing in popularity. It’s an excellent way for your GSD to get some exercise while having fun and learning at the same time! Since German Shepherds are naturally very active, they are one of the best herding breeds for Treibball.

To start training your GSD to play this sport, you will first want to teach him some necessary commands such as come, sit, and down. Once he has mastered these commands with a few weeks of practice, you’ll be ready to move onto teaching your GSD how to push the balls towards a goal.

8. Flyball

Flyball is a dog sport involving a team of dogs racing against each other to get their balls into the box together. It’s a very energetic sport, and it can double as an excellent way for your GSD to stay fit.

You can start training your GSD for this sport by teaching him how to run through a tunnel, which will be used as the starting line. Once he has mastered that, you’ll then move on, teaching him to catch a ball and then run with it towards the box.

Once he has caught on to how catching and carrying balls work, you can try adding in jumping over the box on command and then dropping the ball. After he has figured out those two tricks, you’ll be ready to start practicing with other dogs!

9. Dock Diving

If you have a GSD who loves to jump and water, then dock diving may be the sport for you! This sport involves a dog jumping off an elevated platform into the water and retrieving an object.

It’s important that your dog is trained well to compete in this sport. He should know how to sit and lie down before taking on dock diving. If he doesn’t know how to do these commands, then it would be difficult for him to maneuver the platform and retrieve his toy!

The best way for your dog to learn this sport is by encouraging him to jump from things like a couch or table every day while throwing a ball just out of reach on the ground below.  This teaches him how to jump onto platforms and dive into the water—exactly what he’ll need to do in the competition!

10. Barn Hunt

If your German Shepherd loves to play in the dirt and explore, then barn hunting may be a perfect fit for you! In this sport, dogs are tasked with finding various items around the barn, such as keys, boards, and towels.

While this dog sport does have some similarities to agility and obedience training, with this sport, dogs are not limited to following courses! They are free to explore the entire barn and use their noses to find all of the items.

11. Disc Dogs

In disc dog competitions, your GSD will be tasked with catching frisbees and bringing them back to you.

Training for this sport is very simple! First, you should have a frisbee for your dog to play with. Then, every time he brings back a frisbee that you’ve thrown, you should reward him with a treat. Finally, when he gets the hang of bringing back frisbees and gets used to catch them, you’ll want to increase the difficulty for training.

For example, you can start throwing your frisbees higher or farther away so that he has to run for them.  This is very easy to incorporate into playtime! Just make sure that you’re playing in an area where it’s safe to throw the frisbee, such as a field or playground.

12. Lure Coursing

In lure coursing, dogs race against each other while chasing a lure. This sport can be a lot of fun for all dog owners!

The best way to train for this sport is by using foods as lures, such as pieces of steak or chicken. You can also use small plastic toys like squirrels, small ducks, etc. When you’re ready to run your dog in a trial, you can use anything that will attract your GSD and entice him to run.

Your dog should learn how to chase the lure and return to you on command before he is ready for a trial. Make sure that your dog knows how to be attentive and focus while on a walk because, in lure coursing competitions, your dog will have to chase the lure when it is thrown.

Additional tips to get started in the world of dog sport activities!

As you decide to get your dog into more sporting activities, you must keep some key things in mind. You should always make sure that the sport is appropriate for your dog and that he is healthy enough to continue doing them. It’s also important to remember not only his physical health but also his mental health.

For example, if your dog has a tendency to get overly excited and stress easily, then you’ll want to make sure that the sport isn’t harmful to him or his mental well-being. If he is in any way uncomfortable during training, then it would be best for you to stop the activity and focus on something else.


The sport that your German Shepherd is best suited for will depend on his energy levels, what he enjoys doing most, and how much time you’re willing to dedicate towards training him.  

If you want a dog sports activity that’s easy to do with your GSD, then a simple game of fetch is likely the best option for you.  But if you’re interested in competing at local or national trials and want to achieve higher rankings, then more demanding activities like Schutzhund or agility may be best!

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful and useful as you raise and train your German Shepherd.

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By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.