How to Keep a German Shepherd Entertained and Busy At Any Age

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Have you ever taken your German Shepherd for a 5-mile walk, only to get back home and they stare at you with boredom asking for more entertainment?

If so, then it’s time to learn how to keep a German Shepherd entertained and busy…

At any age!

If you’re only giving your German Shepherd physical exercise, you might just be increasing their stamina so they are primed for even more physical activity, rather than what you want… 

To tire them out!

That’s why it’s so important to keep them entertained and their brains busy, which helps them become a better-behaved member of your family.

German Shepherd Activity Requirements

german shepherd activity requirements
Your German Shepherd needs more than physical entertainment.

You probably already know that your German Shepherd is a highly active dog with superior intelligence. 

But, did you know that your dog has the intelligence to understand more than 150 words (source)?

It’s no wonder your German Shepherd seems bored and needs more entertainment to keep busy!

And while you know that you’re supposed to walk your dog every day, do you know how much and what type of activity your GSD actually requires to thrive?

Your German Shepherd is one of the most high-energy dogs and requires:

  • At least 2 hours of activity per day, ideally more
  • 2 long walks of 45 minutes each, preferably longer 
  • Mental stimulation of 15 to 20 minutes daily, spaced throughout the day
  • Obedience training in short sessions of at least 15 to 20 minutes a day in total

If you don’t meet your dog’s activity requirements, you’ll likely find they get bored and look for their own forms of entertainment…

Don’t leave it up to your German Shepherd to decide how to keep themselves busy. A GSD is a mastermind at getting into trouble through their curiosity and drive for natural stimulation. You don’t want to come home to find a living room full of torn cushions, half-eaten shoes, and the scratch marks deeply dug into your front door!

Instead, learn how to keep a German Shepherd entertained and busy by showing them the right ways to reduce their boredom.

Understand Your Dog’s Breed Needs

german shepherd breed needs
Your breed has many natural desires that you need to focus on and channel.

Most importantly, your German Shepherd has a deep desire to enjoy their favorite person…


GSDs love to spend time with their families and must have ample time throughout the day to interact with their owners.

If you don’t spend enough quality time interacting with your Shepherd they can develop:

  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Excessive barking
  • Unwanted chewing
  • Clinginess
  • Digging
  • Inappropriate crying and whining

And this list doesn’t even cover all the unwanted behavior problems a GSD could get through lack of social interaction or the right types of entertainment to keep them occupied. You want to find the right ways to keep your GSD busy to avoid long-term behavior issues that are difficult to repair.

Your dog also needs plenty of rest, so be sure to offer them the best bed for a German Shepherd to keep them comfortable.

Let them be German Shepherds!

German Shepherds, with their working drive, need to stay active and stimulated or your relationship will fail! 

This breed requires extensive socialization to maintain its health. They cannot be left out in the yard all day or for you to tell them you’re too busy to walk them or spend time entertaining them. Don’t plan on sitting around watching movies or playing on your phone living with a German Shepherd. 

They aren’t couch potatoes! They are a working breed that doesn’t respond well to being left alone for long periods of time (source).

Your dog has breed-specific behaviors that you can’t simply train out of them. For example, your breed has some of these hard-wired behaviors:

  • To run freely, even chase things
  • To watch and alert of danger
  • To stay close to their family, as their protection and guard

You won’t be able to stop your German Shepherd from wanting to do these behaviors. But, you can channel their energy to help them focus on these drives!

If that means you need to step up your training, play with your dog every night, get creative with the mental stimulation, or find a job for your German Shepherd then that’s what you do…

Even if you’re tired, had a hard day, or worked and went to school for long hours. 

Your dog needs to express their natural behaviors to stay healthy and happy. You could spend a lifetime fighting these desires and living a sad life with your GSD. Or, you can think of all the ways to let your dog have an outlet for his innate breed needs.

Ideas to Entertain and Keep Your German Shepherd Busy — Fast Solutions for Boredom

It’s up to you to make their lives livable in a modern world, with their roots still closely tied to their working nature.

So, what will you do with your German Shepherd to help them keep busy?

That’s where this list of ideas for entertaining your German Shepherd will help you. 

1. Give your dog a stuffed Kong 

stuffed kong entertainment
No German Shepherd should be without a Kong Extreme dog toy.

Kong dog toys are widely recommended for the prevention of under-stimulation, or boredom. These toys provide both mental and physical stimulation. A stuffed Kong is a great way to provide relief for a teething puppy as they chew and mouth the rubber to earn their reward. 

In the beginning, make it easy for your dog or puppy to earn their food reward by lightly placing their meals or treats inside the cavity of the Kong. This keeps them motivated to keep playing with the toy. 

As they become more experienced in earning their food, you might want to make the Kong more challenging. This is how:

  • Pack it! Place the food stuffing tighter inside the center.
  • Wedge it! Lay dog treats or biscuits inside the opening of the cavity, using the rim of the opening to hold the food in more securely.
  • Smear it! Place a dollop of xylitol-free peanut butter (Xylitol is toxic to dogs!) near the small end of the Kong, smearing it on the inside tip cavity with a long spoon to encourage longer licking and chewing sessions.
  • Freeze it! Try various tasty combinations of dog-safe foods and layer the treats. 
  • Cheese it! Sprinkle a spoonful of shredded cheese mixed in with your dog’s usual kibble inside the cavity. Now, microwave the Kong for less than 30 seconds while in a mug that holds the Kong in place. LET THE KONG COOL COMPLETELY and give to your dog for an extra-special dinner.

Clean the Kong thoroughly after use — they’re dishwasher safe. Always supervise your dog while enjoying their Kong until you’re confident your puppy can enjoy the toy without you. 

For a German Shepherd, get a Kong Extreme Food Dispensing Toy because they are the most durable and last longer. The large or XL size is best for GSDs.

2. Enjoy interactive puzzles together

enjoy interactive puzzles together
This puzzle toy hides treats under the pieces and is a beginner game.

Your dog was bred to solve complex tasks and loves to figure out these problems together with its handler. In the modern world, there are dog puzzles for your German Shepherd to work their brain.

These puzzle toys range in levels, from beginner to advanced, and are generally customizable to a puppy or senior German Shepherd’s abilities. Using their nose and paws your GSD flips, turns, spins, and moves puzzle pieces to earn their food reward. It’s fun to watch your dog figure out the pattern to receive their treats!

Puzzle levels include:

  • Beginner (Level 1): Easy puzzle toys that require little or no training and are great for dogs new to puzzle games and puppies
  • Intermediate (Level 2): Puzzles that require more steps or actions for your dog to earn their reward
  • Advanced (Level 3): The ultimate challenge for your GSD that may take a few tries, many steps, or require a combination of moves to release the food

With so many puzzle toys on the market, it’s difficult to decide not only what type of game to get, but also what skills are required for each puzzle. 

One of the best beginner puzzles for you to play with your dog is this Activity and Strategy Puzzle Game, which uses a simple peg system to introduce your dog to mind games. 

If you want to dig a little deeper and choose a more challenging game based on your dog’s personality then check out The Best Puzzle Games for a German Shepherd and pick one from the guide.

German Shepherds are designed to solve problems, so you must give them an outlet for their drive. Keep in mind, this is not a toy that gets left alone with your GSD. It’s a game between the two of you.

3. Practice short bursts of obedience training

practice short bursts of obedience training
Obedience training, in short sessions, works your dog’s mind and body.

Obedience training will help keep your German Shepherd focused and happy. Training also helps give structure in his life, which your GSD thrives on.

Teach your dog new cues that’ll be helpful to them and you in your everyday life: 

  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Leave It
  • Come

These are just the start of the commands. For further details on obedience, read Easy German Shepherd Training at Home to learn how to communicate these cues. 

Once your dog knows the cues at home, work on training them in other areas with more distractions, like:

  • In the backyard
  • In the front yard
  • At the park
  • Near a cafe
  • At a dog-friendly store

Keep training upbeat and fun and spread out the training sessions into only 2 to 3-minute bursts, 3 to 4 times a day. Practice frequently by integrating your training into your routine, such as:

  • Lying down before their dinner
  • Coming to you and sitting for their leash to be clipped 
  • Sitting before you open the door

As long as you keep training exciting for them your German Shepherd is happy to participate!

4. Create an indoor obstacle course

create an indoor obstacle and agility course
Begin agility training indoors with the right creative thinking.

Starting or enjoying agility with your German Shepherd doesn’t need to take up a large amount of space…

Or cost a lot of money!

With their natural desire to herd and move through obstacles, an indoor agility course is just what you need. Get creative using what you already have around the house:

  • Empty cardboard boxes of varying sizes for your dog to go around
  • Chairs or tables for your puppy to crawl under
  • A sheet or towel draped over two stools for a make-shift tunnel

Look around and use what you already own to start creating your indoor obstacle course. As long as you keep your dog safe from any falling objects and work within their health needs (No jumping for puppies or GSDs with hip and joint issues!), then you can design the agility course to challenge your dog’s drive and herding traits. 

An even simpler solution is to buy a piece of agility equipment that you can use both indoors and out. Try this lightweight dog agility kit that sets up in minutes and is customizable for a variety of exercises.

It’s basically a mobile gym in a bag for your German Shepherd! 

5. Play “Guess the Hand” game

play guess the hand game
This simple game is a smart way to introduce nose and scent games to your GSD.

“Guess the Hand” or the “Which Hand” game is one of the easiest ways to entertain a bored German Shepherd — even for puppies.

You don’t even need to get up from your sofa!

Here’s what you do to play:

  • Place a small piece of your dog’s favorite treat and hide it in one of your hands.
  • With hands closed into a light fist, place them in front of your dog to guess where the treat is. Let your dog sniff both of your hands. 
  • Whichever hand they touch with their nose first is your dog’s answer.
  • If they sniff the wrong hand, open it and gently say something like “Guess again,” placing your hands behind your back and switching up which fist will hold the treat. 
  • If he guesses correctly, then immediately turn over your hand and let them take the treat while saying something positive to them, such as “Good job!” or “Right guess!”

After a few rounds, your German Shepherd becomes easily conditioned into playing this game. When they look bored, call them over to you and engage them in the game. You can even try this game outdoors to work on them interacting with you with distractions.

See, getting your German Shepherd to pay attention to you doesn’t sound so hard now, does it?

This game is actually an amazing way to introduce scent games or scent tricks with your GSD, especially for puppies who are easily distracted. It’s so easy to play you’ll wonder why you don’t entertain your German Shepherd more with it.

It’s also a fun party trick to show off your dog’s intelligence!

6. Offer their meals in a slow-feeder bowl

german shepherd eating from slow feeder bowl
Here’s my German Shepherd about to eat from her slow-feeder bowl which she LOVES!

You work hard to provide the best you can for your dog, but they just gobble and wolf down their food without a care in the world.

Why not give them a slow-feeder bowl to regulate their eating and make meals last longer. Plus, slow feeders engage your dog’s mind as they work their mouths and tongue around the raised edges and designs in the bowl. 

If you’re short on time, giving your German Shepherd (who are notoriously fast eaters) their meals in a slow-feeding dish is another way to keep them entertained for longer and only takes you a couple of minutes (if that long) to place in the dish.

These dishes are especially useful to keep a puppy’s eating habits under control and prevent them from taking too much food too quickly, which can:

  • Cause stomach issues and gastric upset
  • Increase the chance of bloat and regurgitation
  • Contribute to canine obesity

The design of this interactive slow-feeder bowl encourages a longer eating time. With its swirled pattern your dog places their tongue along the groove tracks to move their kibble along — until they reach a side where they can push their food into their mouths.

If your German Shepherd inhales their food and you wonder if they’re actually chewing the kibble, then a slow-feed will help extend their mealtime and keep them busier for longer.

7. Play hide and seek with them

play hide and seek with your german shepherd
German Shepherd puppies love to play Hide and Seek with their owners.

If you’ve got a German Shepherd who is toy-motivated, then why not enjoy a game of Hide and Seek with them?

This game also hones in on your breed’s scenting and tracking abilities as they sniff out their toy for a quick game with you. Appealing to their prey drive, finding the toy also gives your dog a sense of confidence as they accomplish their tracking goal.

Playing hide and seek with your dog’s toys goes like this:

  • Have your dog wait outside the room where you’ll hide their toy so they don’t see you.
  • Good hiding spots include behind open doors, in corners, under couches, and beneath tables. Look for easy hiding spots in the beginning so that puppies don’t get frustrated with the job.
  • When you’re done hiding the toy, ask your dog to “Find” the toy. Help them along, as they won’t know the game to start with.
  • Walk around with them searching for the toy. 
  • When they find it, congratulate them with praise and play a quick game with them and the toy (Some ideas are a ball for fetch, a tug toy for tug-of-war, or any other toy and game they love.).

As your dog begins to consistently find the toy, move the toy to different locations to keep the game fun and fresh. You can even begin hiding the toy in more difficult — but safe — spots or try hiding two different toys if your dog knows the toy’s name and asking them to find only one of them.

If weather permits and you have a secure yard, why not try this game outdoors in a larger area to keep your dog from getting too bored with the indoor game.

8. Provide a long-lasting chew

give your german shepherd long-lasting chews
Short of time? Offer your dog a long-lasting chew for entertainment.

It’s going to happen sometimes that you’re just too tired to entertain your German Shepherd.

I know, I’ve been there before too!

But, don’t let your lack of time or energy keep your dog bored. It takes only seconds to offer your dog a long-lasting chew for them to enjoy. While it’s not as interactive as your German Shepherd wants to be with you, it does entertain them.

Look for chews that take a while to eat so they last. Some of my German Shepherd’s favorite chews include:

While it’s okay to have a chew session (even daily) as it pleases your GSD’s natural urges, remember that it doesn’t replace your dog’s need for your personal interaction with them, your direction and training, and your one-on-one quality time with them.

Not sure what else your German Shepherd will enjoy chewing?

Then use this guide to find the best chew toys for bored German Shepherds

Always supervise your dog with any toy or chew to avoid any accidents, as well as considering their weight and dietary needs.

9. Teach your dog a new trick 

teach your german shepherd tricks
Top up your German Shepherd’s day by teaching them a new trick.

Your smart dog needs to stay busy and loves to learn new tricks. While teaching tricks might seem unnecessary to you, they’re critical for keeping your dog entertained and spending quality time with them.

Think of them as simply an extension of their obedience training. And many tricks have other practical purposes. 

More importantly, training your dog to perform tricks:

  • Engages their minds
  • Teaches them a new skill
  • Helps prevent training burnout (for both of you)
  • Can get them to learn to focus and concentrate
  • Is fun and a great bonding activity

There are so many tricks that you could teach your German Shepherd to help keep them from becoming bored. Have you taught them to:

  • Shake
  • High-five
  • Sit pretty
  • Spin
  • Roll over

Have you heard that engaging your dog in 20 minutes of training is nearly equivalent to an hour’s walk in terms of stimulation?

One way to teach your dog’s tricks is to enroll them in an online dog training program that includes not only their basic obedience but the steps to perform these fun cues with you. 

Since I know you’re probably busy (no excuse for not training your dog), there’s always the option to enroll in a positive, game-based training program that you can use to entertain your German Shepherd and keep them busy.

Try Brain Training for Dogs to keep you on track with your tricks and reduce boredom in your German Shepherd. 💡

10. Rotate your dog’s toys

rotate your german shepherd's toys to reduce boredom
While it sounds easy, rotating your dog’s toys can help stave off boredom.

Sometimes you don’t always have a lot of resources on hand or extra cash to spend on puzzles. You can easily entertain your German Shepherd by rotating their toys out so they don’t become bored with their toys.

Let me explain:

  • I have two baskets of toys (but you could have more baskets to add to the mix) for my German Shepherd’s toy rotation schedule.
  • Every week, I switch up the toy baskets. 
  • So, it’s like she gets a new toy every week, but I don’t spend any money!

Generally, I get excited about the new toy basket selection when I bring it out to show her so she takes a lot of interest in the basket. I sit down on the floor and engage her in inspecting all the toys. I give her toys names and say those names as I pull out the toy, one at a time. 

I always include:

  • Tug toys (mandatory for most German Shepherds)
  • Soft and stuffed toys (not for tearing up, for gentle play)
  • A tough ball toy (not a tennis ball, generally a larger rubber ball)
  • Toy that squeaks (until she busts the squeaker and I replace that toy)
  • Different puzzle toys (I keep those on a shelf and not in the toy basket)

My German Shepherd usually picks a toy she wants to play with right then and there. So, we enjoy a game together with her top pick. You can put the other toy basket away for next week when your dog isn’t watching. You don’t want it to look like you’re taking away their toys or it might stress them.

Aim for a Balance of Mental and Physical Activities

balance your GSDs mental and physical activities
Try to offer a good balance of activities for both mental and physical entertainment.

It’s true that many German Shepherds would benefit from more physical exercise. But, it’s important to note that mental exercise and entertainment are just as important for your dog’s health. 

Instead of thinking about how long or far you need to walk your dog, consider all the ways you could also use these creative ideas to keep your dog from becoming bored and destructive.

When your German Shepherd’s brain uses fuel to figure out a new activity, it leaves them mentally tired. A combination of mental entertainment and physical activity helps to ensure that your dog’s day is more balanced. The skills they learn during training, puzzle games, and interactive play give them an extra boost in their lives with you to keep them healthier. 

You don’t want to miss out on the benefits of mind stimulation. This post on super-easy German Shepherd mental stimulation is a must-read!

Your goal here is to mix both areas of your dog’s life so that your dog becomes more tired and relaxed and you two spend more time together, which is EXACTLY what your German Shepherd wants and NEEDS.

Don’t Nag Your German Shepherd — Entertain Them!

What happens when you nag your German Shepherd because they’re behaving badly?

They ignore you! 

It’s nearly always better to find a strategy to prevent bad or unwanted behaviors in the first place. Don’t consider your entertainment options giving in to your German Shepherd if they misbehave. 

In fact, having ways to entertain your German Shepherd and keep them busy posted right on your refrigerator as a helpful reminder is a smart plan of action! 

It’s sensible behavior management that maintains a positive relationship between you and your German Shepherd.

Busy German Shepherds

busy german shepherd
Far removed from his working background, your GSD must stay entertained in your modern life.

If your GSD could choose their owner they’d probably choose an owner who loves to do lots of activities with them! The German Shepherd is a busy soul at heart and would love to enjoy a companion who would go on long hikes, train for a marathon, become a triathlete, never stop playing tug or fetch, and train them every day.

To your dog, your profession doesn’t matter, whether that’s a doctor, lawyer, teacher, student, or full-time parent. And your GSD doesn’t care about your income, bonuses, or how much is in your bank account.

But, what they do care about is:

  • Your interest in them and their lives
  • Engaging positively with them
  • Keeping them busy and entertained
  • Watching out for their health (both mental and physical)
  • Enjoying quality time together

Set aside scheduled playtimes where you provide your German Shepherd with your undivided attention (don’t check your social media accounts or have your earbuds in). These scheduled times are a great way to alleviate boredom and reduce separation anxiety. 

Playing with your German Shepherd and providing him with quality attention and exercise is a proven prescription to avoid a stressed dog. It’s important to schedule these sessions of attention before you leave the house each day, when you return home, and ideally before you retire to bed.

The owner of a GSD is in it for a lifetime of business with their breed. So, the best owner for a GSD is someone who wants a real canine companion and best friend for their life with a 100% devoted dog.

Now, create this quality of life by scheduling your plan of action.

Creating an Entertainment Schedule

entertainment schedule for your german shepherd to keep them busy
To make it easier on you and your GSD, use a simple schedule for activities to reduce boredom.

All of the ideas described above will help your German Shepherd keep busy. However, the more consistent you are the better the results you’ll see with your dog’s behaviors. Try to schedule at least one entertaining activity per day to start.

Get creative! 

The more ideas you have scheduled the more likely your dog will have a great “workweek” and keep entertained and happy. Set yourself and your GSD up for success by always keeping your interactions with your dog positive and happy. 

Here’s an example of a busy entertainment schedule for a German Shepherd (yes, even puppies).

Keeping Your Dog Entertained

Energy Level of DogMorningDuring workdayAfter workEveningNight
Highest Energy DogFeed breakfast from a puzzle toyLeave dog with stuffed KongIndoor obstacle courseTeach a new trickLong-lasting chew
High Energy DogTraining walk before workLeave dog with stuffed KongObedience training at a cafeDinner in a puzzle toy
Low Energy Dog (Senior)Feed meal from a slow-feeding bowlPlay a game of Hide and Seek with bits of treats left earlier for them to findTeach a new trick
Depending on your German Shepherd’s energy level use this table to plan their entertainment.

This schedule is just a suggestion for your entertainment. You can use the ideas and follow the steps below to write your own schedule to reduce your German Shepherd’s boredom.

Below you’ll find the steps to follow if you prefer to make your own schedule.

A Step-by-Step Guide for German Shepherd Entertainment

steps to a german shepherd entertainment schedule to avoid boredom
These are the steps to making a German Shepherd entertainment schedule to avoid boredom.

Use the following steps to create your own schedule for entertaining a bored German Shepherd. You don’t have to include all of the ideas, but try to choose one idea from each group.

Keep in mind your dog’s likes and dislikes, energy level, and physical and mental abilities when going through the steps.

Step 1: Food Activities

  • Stuffed kong
  • Puzzle toys
  • Slow-feeding bowls
  • Long-lasting chews

Step 2: Games

  • Indoor obstacle and agility course
  • “Guess the Hand” game
  • Hide and seek
  • Rotating toys

Step 3: Training

  • Obedience training in short bursts
  • Teaching your dog a new trick

Step 4: Create a Schedule

  • Morning
  • During your workday
  • Evening
  • Night

Entertaining a High-Energy, Busy German Shepherd

entertaining a high energy german shepherd
Knowing how to entertain a high-energy German Shepherd can strengthen your bond with them.

Your German Shepherd has instinctual desires that you can’t train out of him. Give him creative ways to focus and channel those instincts into positive behaviors. 

This provides your dog with a job and a workweek that reduces boredom and burns off mental and physical energy. Remember, your German Shepherd wants to live an active life with you and have the ability to do just about anything you ask of them.

Always take time out of your busy day to spend quality time together. No matter how busy you get with your work, school, chores, computer games, and social media, remember this:

Your German Shepherd has only you and you are the highlight of their day.

Do all that you can for him. Spend time forging a bond with your German Shepherd and he’ll be your most trusted friend. 

Want even more things to do with your dog?

Your dog will love these fun games and activities for German Shepherds