15 Best exercise Ideas for German Shepherds That Will Keep Your Dog Fit and Happy

Categorized as Sport & Exercise
best exercise ideas for german shepherds

The German Shepherd is an energetic and strong dog with loads of stamina. It is necessary to engage German Shepherd dogs in activities that quickly burn their extra energy.

High-intensity games and muscle training exercises are good for them. Strong muscles will help their tendons and joints that will keep injuries at bay. Giving your German Shepherd the right type of toys is another way to make them do a physical and mental exercise. Here is a list of exercise ideas (in no particular order) that will keep your German shepherd fit and energetic.

1. Jolly Ball

A Jolly Ball is a big-size indestructible ball that dogs can play with — pushing and chasing it around. These balls are available in many sizes and styles. You and your dog can play tug of war with the Jolly Ball having a rope or handle attached to it. 

The German Shepherd is a herding dog, and it enjoys playing outdoor games. The Jolly Ball offers your dog a great way to keep itself playfully engaged, which would also offer it some necessary workout for the whole body.

2. Frisbee Toss

Chasing and catching a ball is an easy feat for most pet dogs — the German Shepherds are only too good at it. But playing it with Frisbee is a lot more fun as it requires both you and your dog to exhibit better coordination and timing for your dog to develop the necessary skills. 

It is a spectacular sight to see the dog do all the running and chasing and trying to catch the Frisbee by its mouth. You should train the dog slowly by first rolling it along the ground, then by tossing it a little in the air, and then gradually throwing it further and further up in the air — while your dog tries to catch it in its mouth. 

As you go about doing this, and your dog trying to be a perfect match not ready to allow the Frisbee to touch the ground, you can’t stop marveling at your dog’s acrobatic skills and agility.

3. Backyard Agility

Use your creativity to set up an obstacle or agility course in an isolated corner of your backyard. This will both enliven that remote corner in your house as well as create a playground for your dog to indulge in some useful twists and turns.

You may take help from the children and use discarded items in your home to build your own agility course. Alternatively, you can buy a reasonably priced agility and obstruction course from Amazon.

You can make provisions for tasks such as hurdle jumps, weave, jumping through hoops, tunnels, and a narrow platform to stay after jumping onto it.

4. Flirt Pole

A flirt pole is a great interactive toy for providing German Shepherds with fun exercise and mental stimulation. It’s similar to a large cat teaser, with a long handle and rope attached. At the end of the rope is an indestructible lure or toy that the dog is motivated to chase after.

Some top-recommended flirt pole toys for German Shepherds include the Outward Hound Tail Teaser which has a furry squirrel lure, or the Leerburg Dog Training Teaser Wand which has a leather lure at the end. To use a flirt pole, swing the lure around in circles or different patterns along the ground, encouraging your German Shepherd to jump and run after it. This provides an excellent workout that engages their entire body and muscles.

Flirt pole exercises are also great for improving obedience skills. You can teach your German Shepherd to “leave it” and practice impulse control by having them wait for a release command before allowing them to catch the toy. It’s important not to overdo flirt pole play, as the high-intensity chasing can be taxing on joints if done for too long. Short 5-10 minute sessions a few times a week is sufficient.

5. Fetch

Playing Fetch with your dog is one of the great German Shepherd exercises ideas. It will help burn the extra calories stored in its body. Generally speaking, German Shepherds are fond of balls and toys that allow them to run, jump, and use their powerful jaws.

Sturdy rubber balls and flying discs are ideal for playing Fetch, as German Shepherds love to run full speed and leap high in the air to catch toys. Their strong jaws and teeth can destroy plush toys quickly, so rubber toys provide more durability.

Instead of throwing the ball yourself, you can use a Ball Launcher to give a twist to the game. The Ball Launcher allows you to launch balls much farther than you could throw, enabling your German Shepherd to run farther and faster to retrieve them.

This provides excellent exercise. It also allows your dog to play Fetch all by itself if you are unable to actively participate. Seeing your German Shepherd eagerly awaiting the next ball launch and then sprinting after the ball once fired can be very satisfying.

German Shepherds are highly intelligent and easy to train, which can be done by focusing their attention on the activity you want them to learn. With some practice, your German Shepherd can be trained to safely load balls into the Ball Launcher, allowing independent Fetch play.

Seeing your German Shepherd using the Ball Launcher all by itself can be an enjoyable experience for both dog and owner. The durable rubber balls and automated Ball Launcher are ideal toys for keeping your energetic German Shepherd happily occupied.

6. Stair Exercise

Using the stairs to give your dog a workout is a good idea. For this, bring your dog to the bottom of the stairs and, from there, throw the ball to the top of the stairs. Ask your dog to go for it quickly and allow it to come down slowly so that it does not injure itself.

Repeat this as long as your dog enjoys the game. This is a great energy burner, and your dog will soon exhaust all its pent-up energy. Running up and down the stairs is a good weight training exercise for the dog in which the dog’s rear legs get worked while climbing up the stairs and the forward legs on its return journey.

7. Run with Your Dog in Two

Running with your German Shepherd can be an invigorating experience for both you and your dog. German Shepherds have incredible endurance and love accompanying their owners on runs or hikes. Their athletic build and tireless energy makes them the perfect workout buddy.

Before hitting the trails, be sure your German Shepherd is in good physical health. Gradually build up mileage to condition its body. Run at a pace comfortable for your dog, taking walking breaks as needed. German Shepherds can run for miles without tiring, but monitor for signs of fatigue like panting and slowing down. Bring water for rest stops to prevent dehydration.

Try varied terrain like beaches, parks, and wooded trails to add challenge and mental stimulation. Your German Shepherd will happily blaze trails, leap over logs, and charge up hills with encouragement. Reward good behavior so your dog associates these outings with fun.

Use a hands-free leash to avoid restricting your dog’s movement. This allows your German Shepherd to run alongside you off-leash safely. Train your dog to maintain distance so it doesn’t trip you up mid-stride. Practice verbal cues like “stay back” and “slow down.” Your German Shepherd will soon master running politely at your side.

8. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent exercise for German Shepherds, engaging their whole body without excessive impact. The buoyancy of water supports their frame while allowing free range of motion.

This makes swimming ideal for dogs recovering from injuries or joint problems. The water provides gentle resistance that strengthens muscles without added weight on limbs. Even perfectly healthy German Shepherds benefit from the full-body workout swimming provides.

Most German Shepherds are natural swimmers thanks to their muscular build and webbed paws. They typically love jumping into pools, lakes, or oceans to fetch toys or just splash around. Start by ensuring your dog is comfortable in the water.

Allow them to enter at their own pace and provide encouragement. Use flotation devices if needed until your dog learns to paddle efficiently. Reward them with treats and praise for progress.

Swimming is a vigorous calorie-burning exercise that tires out energetic German Shepherds. A pool provides convenience for frequent swims year-round. Lakes and beaches offer exciting open water challenges. No matter the location, your German Shepherd will delight in the chance to leap, swim, and retrieve in the water.

Supervise closely, watching for signs of fatigue. After an invigorating swim, your dog will be pleasantly worn out. The low-impact nature makes swimming an ideal lifelong activity to keep your German Shepherd fit and happy.

9. Tug of War

Playing the tug-of-war with your dog or allowing it to play it with other dogs can be another playful yet very effective way to give your dog some workout.

Let the dog crouch and use all its energy. This will help him build muscles as well as strength. But make sure it’s a controlled game, and when you ask your dog to stop and release the tug, it follows your command.

10. Playing with Puzzle Toys

Your German Shepherd, like most other breed types, is an intelligent dog, and it needs adequate mental stimulation to feel better. If they are not engaged in games that make them use more of their mind, they start expressing mental fatigue in destructive behaviors like escaping, digging, and barking.

Puzzle toys are a great way to engage your German Shepherd in problem-solving mental exercises. German Shepherd dogs are usually more intelligent and can solve the puzzles more easily and quickly than other dogs. So, try and find puzzle toys with higher difficulty levels for them.

11. Scenting and Nose Games

German Shepherds have highly evolved sensory organs that help it to trace out things by its smell. This attribute of German Shepherd makes it an ideal working dog for military, police, and spy jobs.

You can figure out some nose and scenting games for your dog and keep it engaged for some time.

12. Give them Chew Toys

Chewing is an excellent pastime for dogs. They can simply chew about anything for hours and hours. Chewing helps relax their jaws where much of their stress is held. Besides, chewing releases endorphins in dogs, which calms and relaxes the dog. You can help your dog by bringing home some strong chew toys.

13. Make Them Learn Names

Dogs can learn words and names. So, they can be taught the names of their toys, which can give them a vigorous mental stimulation.

14. Allow Your Dog to Play with Other Dogs

Not all German Shepherd knows how to behave with other dogs, and this can give rise to dog fights when you take your dog out for a walk. Allowing it to play with other dogs in your neighborhood or during the walk can give it some natural workout as well as enliven its mood.

Such social interaction will keep it physically and mentally more in tune with its surroundings. At the same time, your pet will learn some necessary social skills.

15. Enroll Him in A Canine Club

There are many dog clubs that organize regular dog sports events, including competitions and tournaments. Your German Shepherd may enjoy taking part in such events, which will be physically vigorous and mentally stimulating for him.

This way, your pet will get to see more of their world and be feeling more grounded and better about it. So, enrolling your dog in a canine club is undoubtedly one of the cutest German Shepherd exercise ideas.

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.