9 German Shepherd Exercise Routines (for Rock-Solid Health)

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A German Shepherd exercise routine is a must for your high energy breed!

But there’s more to exercise than just keeping your dog moving. An exercise routine not only keeps them fit and healthy but also helps give them better behavior.

This guide has everything you need to start and keep your dog on the right track for a healthy life.

1. Walking your German Shepherd daily for the right amount.

walking with your german shepherd

Walking a German Shepherd is the most popular form of exercise for fitness and health. Walk your German Shepherd at least twice.

But aim for 3 walks if your dog is high energy and healthy.

Vary the surface you walk on. For example, don’t always walk on concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads.

Look for green grass, sand, or dirt paths that are softer on your GSD’s hips and joints. If you have any nature paths or trails nearby, use them and allow your dog to enjoy sniffing around and exploring the trees.

Invest in a no-pull dog harness, which is easier on your dog’s neck and your shoulder. I use this no-pull harness because it help me have more control on our walks.

Exercise routine: Two walks of one hour each for an adult, healthy German Shepherd is a good start for an exercise routine to meet their needs. If you’re walking a puppy go slowly and don’t walk your puppy for more than 5 minutes for every month they’re old.

Related: The 5 Best Exercises for German Shepherd Puppies

2. Jogging and running to increase endurance.

jogging and running with your german shepherd

Jogging and running with your German Shepherd is a great way to get in both you and your dog’s cardio fitness and exercise.

Your puppy’s bones must totally fuse before you take your dog for this high-intensity activity. Bone fusing occurs around 12 to 18 months.

Many German Shepherds love to run for fun with their owners. Your breed is built to move long distances over grassy, hilly terrain, and this shows in their need for physical stimulation and movement.

There are also benefits to jogging or running on hard surfaces.

Running on harder surfaces has benefits for your dog, such as:

  • Strengthening large muscles
  • Naturally keeps nails short and filed
  • Increase strength in long bones, tendons, and ligaments
  • Conditions and slowly hardens their pads (which helps the skin to withstand small cuts and abrasions)

While you can put on your special athletic shoes to cushion your joints, your dog can’t. Consider the impact on your dog’s joints if you run or jog on asphalt roads or concrete sidewalks.

Vary your surfaces for maximum health benefits. Try soft grass and dirt trails for variety and to give your dog’s bones and muscles a break from concrete and asphalt.

Also, running and jogging at a set pace is very repetitive on joints.

A change of pace is beneficial in terms of both pleasure and exercise value as the variety keeps your dog’s muscles and brain working differently and can increase the health benefits.

Exercise routine: Jog or run with your adult Shepherd 3 to 4 times a week and give them plenty of time to recover so their muscles don’t become overworked or fatigued.

3. Spring pole for strength and power training.

German Shepherds are powerful and athletic.

Include simple strength training exercises at home to increase muscle mass and overall power by installing a spring pole.

The charm of the spring pole is that it allows your German Shepherd to play tug-of-war with themselves!

This makes it convenient since you don’t have to stand around and pull the tug. It’s a perfect way to provide your GSD with countless hours of entertainment and fun.

The spring pole allows them to use up their excess energy (which results in a better-behaved dog that’s easier to train).

And a spring pole goes a long way in helping your Shepherd develop fuller, stronger muscles and more energy and vitality.

The spring tug pole for large breed dogs sets up in minutes in a small space and provides a portable strength training solution for your dog.

Exercise routine: 2 to 3 times a week in areas that your dog won’t slip since they need traction to stabilize their muscles to pull and tug.

4. A flirt pole increases endurance.

flirt pole for german shepherd

The flirt pole is a gift to worn-out German Shepherd owners.

It not only helps your dog improve their basic manners and impulse control, but it also gives them a workout. And in just a few minutes!

You don’t have to do much work yourself, either!

Look for a pole with an enticing lure to excite and interest your dog. I prefer this inexpensive fleece lure flirt pole since it’s easy to handle and really encourages my GSD to chase it.

How a Flirt Pole Works

  • Lure your dog to play by dragging the toy on the ground in a circle pattern.
  • They chase the lure while you move the toy in different ways to keep them moving.
  • They catch the lure and tug.
  • You give their release or drop command and start the exercise game again.

It’s like a giant cat toy, but better because it’s for German Shepherds!

Avoid using this with young puppies as they lack the coordination to chase lures without slipping. Their joints aren’t strong enough for the quick twists and abrupt turns.

Exercise routine: 2 to 3 times a week, but only on soft surfaces such as grass in case there’s a fall or tumble. Don’t use this exercise tool to make your dog jump too high or you’ll risk an injury!

5. Include doggy squats for healthy hips.

german shepherd dog squats

Dog squats help build strength in the large leg muscles.

They also can help an aging Shepherd maintain their strength to keep them more mobile and prevent hip issues later in life. Dog squats are like human squats.

How to do Doggy Squats

  • Have your dog follow your sit command.
  • Then, have them stand.
  • Use treats to entice them to keep repeating the action.
  • After two weeks, increase the reps in healthy dogs (not puppies or seniors).
  • Have your dog start with 2 sets of 5 squats and add on from there.

Practice doggy squats in different areas so your dog doesn’t get bored with the training. Use a variety of tasty treats to keep them interested and motivated.

Exercise routine: 2 to 3 times a week, but don’t do these if you think your dog has a hip issue or you are concerned about hip problems in your dog.

6. Running uphill improves muscle power and cardio.

Having your dog run uphill gives a great, free strength training workout.

As your dog pushes themselves uphill, they must engage their rear leg muscles intensely. This is a great all over bodybuilding exercise, but especially for their back end.

Don’t use steep hills. Instead, look for a moderate rolling hill and throw a ball for your dog to retrieve up and down the hill.

Repeat this hill run a few times. Then, give your dog rest and repeat. Don’t overdo it or your dog’s hips will become sore.

Exercise routine: 2 times a week with plenty of rest in between hill runs to recover. Only use gently sloping hills and check the hills aren’t slippery.

7. A balancing disk helps improve reflexes and prevent falls.

The goal of balance activity is to enhance body awareness, encourage stable weight shifts, and promote stability and motor function. In a nutshell, balance exercises help teach your dog the way their body moves and how to alter their movements to adjust more easily.

This means that your dog is less prone to injuries since their bodies are agile. Balance work enables you to target your dog’s postural muscles and improve their reflexes.

Balancing disks are a very popular piece of exercise equipment for dogs. They allow you to train your dog from the comfort of your home with minimal space.

The FitPaws balancing disk is an inexpensive exercise tool to add to your German Shepherd’s exercise routine.

It works by having your dog stand on the disk and using their muscles to stay balanced and stable. These are great for strengthening all the muscle groups as a complete body workout.

The Instability Challenge

On the FitPaws balance disk, there are three basic ways to create a challenge for your dog.

  • Have your dog stand on the platform and manually move your dog with small, light motions so they must stabilize themselves.
  • Physically move the platform under your dog to increase the difficulty level.
  • Decrease the amount of physical support you provide by reducing the air in the disk or offering less harness support to make the challenge harder.

Balancing is also a great way to bond with your dog since they need to trust your commands and the support you provide to them.

Exercise routine: 3 to 4 times a week. Start with an easy pose and increase the time slowly as you ask them to hold other poses, for example, front paws on disk, back paws on disk, and stepping on and off slowly.

8. Sprints build muscle and cardio fitness.

sprints with a tennis ball launcer

Sprints increase your dog’s speed and overall performance. They’re also fun!

And your German Shepherd naturally excels at speed because of their herding history. But you don’t want to injure your arm trying to keep up with your dog’s boundless energy.

Use this tennis ball launcher to save your shoulder while exercising your German Shepherd.

You can launch tennis balls up to 50 feet in the air without exhausting your arms! Sprints are great for burning away energy that would otherwise become pent up anxiety in your dog.

The Tennis Ball Blaster works with any standard tennis balls and you don’t even have to touch the wet, muddy tennis ball since you can use the launcher to pick up the ball.

Sprints also increase lung and heart health, challenge muscles and balance, improve coordination, and make your German Shepherd happy!

Exercise routine: 3 to 4 times a week with rests during your sprints so they can catch their breath. Avoid this routine on hot and humid days.

Read more about interesting, fun toys that German Shepherd love to keep your dog content and out of mischief.

9. Weave poles for speed and agility.

weave poles for speed

Did you know that the German Shepherd holds the record for completing the fastest weave pole (source)?

Nature made your breed for weaving! So don’t leave this agility sport off the table when creating a great exercise routine for your German Shepherd.

Weave poles are easy to teach by luring your dog through with a treat. It’s easier to use an adjustable weave pole to start since the poles move into a wide position for beginner training.

Try this durable, adjustable weave pole brand that is easy to set up and store away.

Here’s how you can use your weave poles at home.

  • Set up your weave poles in your yard. Adjust them so they’re wide to start since it’s the easiest way to teach your dog the weaving motion.
  • Begin at one end of the weave poles and slowly lure your GSD through the poles. Reinforce with tasty rewards regularly.
  • Practice slowly. Gently speed up after a few repetitions. Add in your command word to weave.
  • Gradually phase out the rewards during the weaving and only reward a treat at the end.

Don’t rush your early training and your dog will speed up quickly when they get the idea and the feel for the weaving motion.

Many Shepherds love the weave and will readily enjoy it when you increase the difficulty with more poles.

Exercise routine: 2 to 3 days a week, increasing the challenge by adding in more poles or shortening the distance between poles.

The Best German Shepherd Exercise Routine for Health

Experiment with different activities to see what your dog enjoys. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to an activity routine for the best health benefits for your companion.

A complete fitness routine also means that your dog’s mind, behavior, social interactions, and body is active and strong.

This means:

Without a complete fitness and health program, your dog is likely to experience problems.

Problems of Under Exercising

problems with under excercising

Your dog can develop a variety of problems when they don’t receive enough opportunities for exercise.

These negative behaviors can cause issues for your family that disrupts your lives. Don’t let lack of activity cause issues for your dog when it’s entirely preventable.

Behavior and Mental Problems

  • Incessant tail chasing
  • Pacing
  • Inability to settle or relax (hyperactivity)
  • Easily excitability
  • Chewing of both belongings and household furniture
  • Garbage raiding
  • Excessive barking from boredom and unused pent up energy
  • Abnormal toileting issues, often when left alone
  • Separation anxiety

Health and Weight Problems

  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Joint issues
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Lack of coordination and strength
  • Bone and spine degeneration
  • Diabetes

A lack of activity often leads to lifelong mental and physical illness.

This spells disaster for both you and your dog.

Following this guide allows you and your dog to enjoy many happy and healthy years together and avoid unnecessary and preventable problems.

Wondering what else you can do to increase your German Shepherd’s health and longevity? Then read more tips about the “German Shepherd Life Span: 15 Way to Increase Longevity

Planning Your German Shepherd’s Exercises

Exercising your German Shepherd doesn’t mean just walking them.

There are many parts of a well-balanced German Shepherd exercise routine.

Depending on your GSDs age and activity level, adjust the time, distance, and intensity of your activities. Don’t push your dog too hard too soon. Use a variety of exercises and activities to keep your dog active.

Plan your GSD’s of rest, nutrition, and time to recover after strenuous activity to keep them fit and healthy. Don’t forget to include a variety of German Shepherd obedience commands for a dog that’s easier to live with.

Find a fitness routine that works for you and your dog and enjoy watching them become super athletes and the picture of physical health.

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