German Shepherds are special dogs and only special people can have them as their BFFs.
I’m serious! Not everyone is a good fit for a GSD owner. These dogs are quite the handful and need someone strong and dominant to guide them.
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my clients wondering if it is hard to own a GSD, and where they could get one. The breed has become popular lately, and I’ve seen all kinds of people walking GSDs down the street.
But, as far as I know, raising a Beagle and a GSD will never be the same. No dog breed can come close to the German Shepherd. No matter which breed you owned before, the transition to a GSD will be difficult.
That’s why I’m brutally honest and I tell poor GSD owner candidates that they should never own this breed. Not because they’re bad dogs, but because they wouldn’t manage them.
Imagine having Chihuahuas your entire life, and then switching to a GSD. That’s quite a change, isn’t it.
One of the first things I warn people about GSDs is their activity. Of course, hand in hand with activity are their exercise needs.
You won’t make a good GSD owner if you’re a couch potato. You shouldn’t get this breed if you’re always stuck at work.
These pups need a steady workout regime and regular walks, and here’s how to achieve it.
How Often Should German Shepherds Go For Walks?
Let me answer this question from my personal experience.
My family is big on German Shepherds. I grew up with several marvelous specimens of the breed and I knew I’d adopt a GSD once I started living on my own.
Of course, that didn’t happen immediately after moving into my own place. It was a tiny apartment and it was not a place for such a dog.
Fast forward a few years later, and I’m finally living the dream in a nice, cozy house in the suburbs. The next big decision was to get a family dog. Yes, a German Shepherd because no other breed was ever in the running.
I adopted my GSD when he was still a puppy. We went through a lot, especially with the training because he’s one stubborn creature. But, I’ve always had a strict workout routine that has never changed, not for five years since my pooch has been with me.
Ever since my puppy was still a smol pupper, we have gone for two walks a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. This excludes exercising in the meantime, playing, mental stimulation, and potty breaks.
Puppies should exercise for five minutes for each month they have. For example, if you have a nine-month-old puppy, he should get 45 minutes of exercise a day. You get the math, don’t you.
My puppy was always very energetic. He always needed more games or walkies to become tired at the end of the day.
My word of advice is to watch your dog’s needs. When they’re still young, two walks should be just fine, plus playtime in the meanwhile.
As your dog grows up, watch his needs and increase the number of walks from two to three or four, but don’t over-exercise your dog.
How About Other Exercise Routines?
I always talk about walks and exercise routines as two separate things. Well, in my mind, they are.
My dog and I go for steady-paced walks. We usually go to our park where he can inspect things on our path, enjoy nature, and catch up with his buddies. It’s more of a way to stretch our legs than to tire ourselves out.
I’m blessed to have a flexible work schedule, and I spend a lot of time at home. My dog benefits from this the most.
Here’s what our normal day looks like.
The first thing in the morning is a potty break, then breakfast. After breakfast, I do some errands around the house, check my schedule for the day, and do some work. About two hours after we get up, we go for a walk that usually lasts thirty to forty-five minutes depending on our mood.
Then, we head back to the house where I work a bit more. My dog gets some alone time and loves to play with his puzzle toys and balls when I’m busy. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.
After that, it’s lunch time for both of us because my dog eats three smaller meals a day to help with his digestion. Some thirty minutes later, we’re out in the back yard playing with each other. That lasts for about an hour and a half… never a minute under.
His favorite games are ball and frisbee, but lately, I’ve been trying out courses and obstacle training and it looks like he enjoys it.
Later in the evening, it’s time for a brisk walk that doesn’t last for more than thirty minutes.
Trust me… my dog is always down before I am. He’s always tired out without any spare energy in his bars.
If you go back and calculate our exercise time, you’ll come to the conclusion that my dog exercises for two and a half hours a day. That suits him just right.
Of course, you can increase or decrease the time depending on how your dog reacts. But, given the fact that it’s a GSD, I’m sure nothing will be enough!
Fun Ways To Spice Up Your Dog’s Exercise Routine
Walking and running around can become boring, not just for you, but also for your dog.
Walks are pretty simple. There’s not much to change about them except for the duration and the route you’re taking.
But, your exercise routine could use a change and a major switch from simple balls to fun games.
Here’s what you can implement in your dog’s workout routine today:
- Swimming is ideal (if there’s a river, a pool, or a lake nearby that is safe for swimming)
- Hiking in the mountains
- An obstacle course (ours has a doggy tunnel and some poles, but I plan to add ramps and hoops, too)
- Tug-o-war (we go through these toys a lot)
- Flyball (but he competes against his own time)
- A flirt pole
To Sum Up…
Of course, the suggested number of walks, the exercise routine, and the time recommended for it works only for young adult dogs.
Senior German Shepherds shouldn’t exercise for more than one hour a day. That’s because they’re older dogs with fragile bones and joints, and a breed prone to mobility issues like hip dysplasia.
The bottom line is, if you have a young, healthy German Shepherd, you can start with two walks a day in addition to your exercise routine, and listen to your dog’s needs.
Some dogs need less exercise, some need more. But, if your German Shepherd is a real German Shepherd, he or she could only ask for more activity.
That’s the way they roll.