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How Much Exercise Does Your German Shepherd Need?

German Shepherds are active dogs that will require a great deal of exercise. Just as humans, they need to do physical activity and cognitive work to stay healthy and happy. Thus, if you have a GSD or consider adopting one, it’s essential to know how much exercise such an energetic dog breed needs!

German Shepherd Exercise

Most German Shepherds should ideally get at least 2 hours of exercise per day. It should include daily walks (45-60 minutes), purposeful activity (45-60 minutes), and mental stimulation (30-45 minutes). To figure out how much exercise your dog needs, you also have to consider his age, health, and energy level. 

Bred to perform multiple tasks and work with humans all day long, the GSD is an excellent companion for active people. With proper conditioning, training, and preparation, this energetic breed can be the ultimate partner for running, hiking, and other sports.

However, there are many things you should know to exercise your German Shepherd properly.

How Much Exercise Does Your German Shepherd Need?

Most resources recommend a minimum of two hours of daily exercise for this type of working breed. In my opinion, anywhere from 1 to 2 hours should be enough to keep your dog in good shape. Ideally, the more physical and mental activity you can provide him is the best.

Unfortunately, this general guideline isn’t accurate for all German Shepherds. Since every animal is unique, they don’t have the same exercise requirements despite their similarity.

Thus, you must understand your dog’s conditions and needs to care for his health and well-being.

What Can Influence Your German Shepherd’s Exercise Requirements?

Even if dogs of the same breed have many common traits, they don’t necessarily need the same amount of physical activity or mental stimulation.

German Shepherds have huge stimulation requirements because they are naturally hardworking, intelligent, and active life partners. Yet, other factors such as your dog’s age, health conditions, or energy level can also change how much exercise he should have!

Disclaimer: The general guideline (1 to 2 hours of daily exercise) relates to an active and healthy adult German Shepherd.

Age. (Puppy + Senior)

The first element you must take into account to exercise your GSD properly is how old he is. Whatever age he has, physical activity and mind enrichment are still essential.

However, you should not do the same amount and type of workouts with a puppy, an adult, or a senior German Shepherd.

How Much Exercise Does Your Puppy German Shepherd Need?

Too much vigorous activity can be harmful to very young dogs, so you must be careful. Before 3 months of age, purposeful exercise is not necessary for your GSD puppy. Then, I highly recommend you stick with the 5-minutes rule.

A puppy German Shepherd will need around 5 minutes of exercise per month of age up to twice per day. At 4 months old, he should get approximately 20 to 40 minutes of moderate physical activity. Puppy play, gentle walking, and fun games are great ways to exercise young German Shepherds.

Puppy AgeExercise Needs
3 Months Old15-30 Minutes
4 Months Old20-40 Minutes
5 Months Old25-45 Minutes
6 Months Old30-60 Minutes
Exercise Needs Chart For Puppy German Shepherds.

To start running, hiking, or any other intense workout, you should wait until your dog is fully grown. Before reaching adulthood, his bones, joints, and muscles are still in development, so they are fragile. That’s why puppies are more prone to injuries than adults.

Thus, you should only provide your German Shepherd with low-impact exercise if he’s not mature yet. As large dogs, they can take from 24 to 36 months (2 to 3 years) to be fully grown and ready for adventures!

How Much Exercise Does Your Senior GSD Need?

As your dog ages, his energy will slowly start decreasing. (Usually around 7 to 9 years old) It’s totally normal for senior German Shepherds to be less active and enthusiastic about working out. But it doesn’t mean they don’t need exercise anymore.

At an elderly stage, your GSD will be more prone to joint issues and injuries. Thus, it’s important to adjust the type of physical activity you enjoy together. Just as puppies, old dogs are too fragile for high-impact sports.

That’s why senior German Shepherds may need less exercise than a healthy adult in perfect shape. Around 1 hour of low-impact activity with some mental stimulation should be enough to keep them healthy and happy.

The best way to spend your elderly dog’s energy is with joint-friendly exercise such as moderate walking, swimming, and free playtime.

Health & Physical Conditions.

Another important factor to consider is your dog’s conditions. Even if German Shepherds are generally healthy, they can still be prone to several medical or physical restrictions.

That’s why I highly recommend you visit your vet to know if your GSD has any special problem you should be aware of. At the same time, you can ask him for personalized advice to exercise your dog properly. Talking to an expert is always the best way to have accurate answers to your questions.

Besides your German Shepherd’s health, you should also think about his fitness level and physical condition. They are also helpful to determine how much exercise he needs. Weight problems, joint issues, lack of stamina, and many other aspects can influence his requirements. 

Energy Level.

The last characteristic that you should analyze is your dog’s ability and enthusiasm to sustain vigorous activity. German Shepherds are definitely among the most energetic working breeds, but some are more hyper than others. 

Have you ever heard that a tired dog is a happy/good dog? If you want to prevent your GSD from boredom and keep him healthy, your ultimate goal is to spend all of his pent-up energy at the end of the day.

Therefore, your German Shepherd’s exercise needs will vary according to the time required to tire him out. If he has a lot of energy, you consequently have to provide him with more physical activity and mental stimulation

Walking & Running As Exercise For German Shepherds!

Once you have a clearer idea of how much physical activity your dog needs, it’s time to set up an appropriate routine to meet them.

First of all, daily walks are essential for him to stimulate his mind and body at the same time. It’s also an excellent way to release his excess energy, get some fresh air, and help him to sleep better.

You probably already know that this healthy habit is fundamental to caring for your GSD’s well-being because it’s an important source of moderate exercise. Now the real question is about how often should you walk with him?

How Long Should You Walk Your German Shepherd?

For high-energy dog breeds, the longer they walk, the better it generally is. An adult German Shepherd in good shape has enough energy, stamina, and physical conditions to walk all day long. However, the minimum daily requirement for most GSDs is approximately 30 to 45 minutes of walking.

How Many Walks or Miles Do They Need?

Two walks from 15 to 30 minutes are ideal to meet your fundamental dog’s exercise needs. For the distance, anywhere between 2 and 5 miles of walking per day should be fine for the average German Shepherd.

Learn more about how far you can walk with your German Shepherd!

What About Walking With Your Puppy German Shepherd?

Since walking is a physical activity, a pup won’t need as many or long walks as an adult GSD. With 5 to 10 minutes of daily moderate exercise requirements per month of age, walking is still important for young dogs.

A puppy German Shepherd should walk around 5 minutes per day for every month of age. For instance, 20 minutes of daily walking is perfect for a 4-month-old puppy.

Formula: Your puppy’s age (in months) multiplied by 5 minutes = Approximately how much walking time he needs.

Can You Run With Your German Shepherd?

If you enjoy endurance sports and your dog is athletic, running can be a great way to exercise together. German Shepherds are strong, tough, fast, and generally have good stamina. With proper training and preparation, they can make awesome running partners!

If you want to run with your German Shepherd, I have another article to help you out!

5 Ways To Provide Your GSD With Physical Activity!

Let’s be honest that walking and running are probably not enough to spend all of your dog’s pent-up energy. To keep him fit, healthy, and happy, you have to find other ways to exercise. But don’t worry, I have selected 5 awesome ideas to help you tire out your German Shepherd!

Interactive Games.

Playing fetch, tug-of-war, hide & seek, and tag are great ways to exercise your GSD. This type of interactive activity is fun for both of you, and it’s great to strengthen your bond. You can tire out your dog quite easily with nothing else than a ball or a tug rope.

The German Shepherd is very social, so playing games actively with him is essential. With some energy, time, and creativity, you have everything you need to exercise your dog. Thus, it’s time to play!

Try Some Dog Sports.

Another great idea to provide your German Shepherd with proper exercise is to practice sports together. Whether you like to run, bike, swim, or do any other physical activity, there’s a way to do it with your dog.

Some of the best sports for German Shepherds are agility training, Schutzhund (protection), canicross, bikejoring, and tracking. Smart, courageous, and active, they are generally good candidates for virtually any activity. Thus, you should always try to include your dog in your exercise routine!

Quick Tip: To make an obstacle course at your home, check out this agility equipment kit on Amazon!

Free Playtime.

If you are not a particularly sportive person, there are many other ways to keep your German Shepherd healthy and happy. Walking at the dog park to meet his four-legged friends is great for socialization, and it’s an excellent idea to provide him with physical activity.

Chasing bubbles, playing with the hose, and jumping in the snow are simple ideas to exercise your pooch. You don’t need any equipment or toy to spend his pent-up energy. Hanging out together in your backyard can be as fun and beneficial as any other physical activity.

Play With Dog Toys.

Keeping your GSD active and busy is probably not an easy task. Fortunately, some dog toys can help you provide him with proper exercise. Let me share with you my recommendations for such an energetic and intelligent companion.

My favorite exercise equipment for hyper dogs is the Flirt Pole. It’s similar to a teaser cat toy but in a giant and more sturdy version. If your German Shepherd has a lot of energy to spend and a high prey drive, the flirt pole is the perfect toy for him.

If your dog always wants to play fetch, I highly recommend you to check out the ChuckIt Ultra Ball Launcher. This accessory will help you throw the ball farther, pick it up easily, and avoid getting your hands dirty. Thus, it’s the perfect toy to make your fetch games more enjoyable for everyone!

For heavy chewers, my ultimate suggestion is the Goughnuts Tug MaXX. Virtually indestructible, it’s an excellent option if your German Shepherd usually destroys all of his toys. Made for him to chew and play tug-of-war safely, it might help you to entertain him!

Explore The Great Outdoors.

My favorite way to exercise alongside my dog is to take him on my outdoor adventures. There is nothing better than working out, getting some fresh air, and spending quality time together.

Escaping real life to enjoy nature is an excellent opportunity to have fun and do some physical activity with your four-legged companion.

Furthermore, German Shepherds are excellent hiking partners. Thus, you have no reason not to explore the great outdoors with your dog. With the right equipment and proper training, you will be able to head out on trails together and share unforgettable memories!

What About Mental Exercise For Your German Shepherd?

Cognitive work is as important as physical activity, especially for intelligent dogs such as German Shepherds. Providing them with appropriate mental exercise is essential to prevent boredom and care for their well-being.

But you may wonder how you can stimulate your dog’s brain efficiently. Don’t worry; I have done some research for you. There are certainly better ways than others, so here are some of my suggestions to keep your German Shepherd mentally satisfied.

First of all, the most important mind enrichment source for dogs should be training. By learning skills, your GSD will stimulate his brain, improve his manners, and burn off a lot of mental energy. Thus, I highly recommend you to teach him obedience commands or new impressive tricks if he is already obedient.

Besides training, challenging dog toys are also great for mental stimulation. If you don’t have any, the Nina Ottosson Brick Puzzle or the Bob-A-Lot Treat Dispensing Toy are excellent options to keep your German Shepherd busy.

There are many other ways to stimulate your dog’s mind. You can make him work for his food with the Snuffle Mat, let him play with the Classic Kong Toy, or give him bones to chew on. To keep your German Shepherd active and mentally satisfied, dog agility and scent work are also other ideas you may consider!

Why Is Exercise So Important For German Shepherds?

If you don’t take care of your dog’s well-being and health, there will be consequences. Without proper physical activity or mental stimulation, he’s very likely to get bored. In this state, your German Shepherd can develop destructive behaviors. (Chewing, Digging, or Barking)

Just put yourself in his place for two seconds; he has to entertain himself if nobody else helps him stay busy. Therefore, it’s beneficial for everyone to meet their dog’s exercise requirements.

Signs Your GSD Needs More Physical Activity or Mental Stimulation!

In general, it’s fairly straightforward to know when your dog needs more exercise. Destructive behaviors (chewing, digging, and barking) are obvious signs that he’s not totally satisfied.

On the other hand, your German Shepherd can also have weight issues or be hyperactive. These symptoms are more difficult to perceive, but they can still help you figure out when it’s time for him to improve his exercise routine!

What If You Don’t Have Time To Exercise Your German Shepherd?

Let’s be realistic; you might not have 1 to 2 hours available every day to walk, play, and work out with your dog. With personal life, work, other pets, and family, you have many things to manage.

Nonetheless, it’s still your responsibility to provide your German Shepherd with the exercise he needs. Thus, you might have to prioritize his health and well-being over other tasks. If you really have no free time, I highly recommend you consider hiring a dog walker to help you out.

Can You Over-Exercise Your German Shepherd?

If you are always in action, it’s possible to provide too much or too vigorous physical activity to your dog. Even with an energetic breed such as the German Shepherd, an excess of exercise isn’t good. Thus, here are some indications your buddy can’t keep up with you!

Signs Your GSD Is Getting Too Much Exercise!

Short-Term Signs:

  • Confusion/Incoordination.
  • Excessive panting.
  • Exercise-induced collapse.
  • Extreme thirst.
  • Decreased energy.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Trouble walking or standing.
  • Drooling.
  • Wobbliness
  • Etc.

Long-Term Symptoms:

  • Sore muscles.
  • Damaged paw pads.
  • Joint injury.
  • Behavioral changes.
  • Etc.

Unless you are hyperactive or your GSD has special conditions, I wouldn’t be too worried about over-exercising him. However, it’s still important to find the right balance because too much exercise can be as bad as not enough. Everything should be fine as long as you know your dog’s needs and respect his limits.

Last Thoughts About How Much Exercise Does Your German Shepherd Need!

Finally, anywhere between 1 and 2 hours of walking, purposeful activity, and mental stimulation per day is ideal to keep your dog in good shape.

This general guideline relates to a healthy adult German Shepherd. Each dog will have different exercise requirements according to his age, physical condition, and energy level. 

German Shepherd Running In Snow

I hope my article has helped you to find out what your GSD needs to stay healthy and happy. Now it’s time for you to unleash him, go out there, and spend your energy together. 

Good Workout & Don’t Forget To Have Fun!