How Much Exercise does a German Shepherd Need Each Day

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A GSD is a naturally high-energy dog breed so investing time and effort towards your German Shepherd exercise needs is very important. GSDs are prone to destructive behavior, escape attempts and anxiety if they do not play games or exercise regularly.

Suitable games and activities for GSD’s

The following list describes appropriate physical and mental exercise for German Shepherds.

Advanced obedience training

Enroll your GSD in advanced obedience training classes where they can learn how to stop barking when there are nearby strangers, go straight to their kennel or bed when commanded and behave themselves when put on a leash.

This greatly helps GSD mental health but may not be sufficient for overall daily GSD physical activity.

Playing fetch

This is a basic game that can be played in most areas and is simple to perform. Toys, balls or sticks can be used as objects for your GSD to fetch. This develops your GSD’s strength, hand-eye coordination and provides sufficient physical exercise for a day.

The objective in playing fetch is simple and your GSD may soon grow bored of it.

Tracking training

Training your GSD to track objects is an engaging activity that has major benefits for its mental health. Your GSD will sharpen its naturally keen sense of smell, familiarize it with different objects or people and can help maintain daily physical activity.

Prolonged tracking training may confuse or exhaust your GSD’s mental and physical facilities, so limit tracking training to about 20 minutes per day.

Agility courses

Go to your nearest dog park and inquire about agility or obstacle courses. Usually these circuit courses have enough obstacles and hoops to keep your GSD occupied for a long period of time. This is a great alternative to playing fetch with your GSD at the park if it starts to get bored and can develop GSD quickness, responsiveness and strength.

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You may have to pay a membership or entrance fee to access courses like these in dog parks and you may have to share the course with other dogs.

Chew toys

Invest in buying sturdy chew toys for your GSD. Make sure that the chew toy material is very sturdy and durable as GSDs are known to have a very powerful bite. Chew toys are low maintenance activity tools for GSDs that develop their jaw and bite strength as well as help maintain a healthy mouth. Chew toys can also double as fetch objects.

Chew toys are beneficial for bite strength, but may need to be replaced frequently over time as your GSD grows and becomes more powerful.


Medium to large dog breeds like GSDs benefit greatly from swimming activities. Swimming increases your GSD’s strength as well as mental and physical coordination by getting them used to floating and moving around underwater.

Initially, your GSD may have difficulties being comfortable in water and may start latching or lunging onto other people if it is not used to floating. 

If your GSD is not used to swimming, you will need to slowly introduce it to the water slowly. Bring it to the shore first and slowly walk towards the deeper end, paying attention to your GSD if it needs help. Toys will help in reducing anxiety and serve as incentives to bring your GSD closer to the deeper end.

How much exercise does my GSD need? 

The American Kennel Club recommends at least two hours of exercise activity spent with your GSD every day. This amount of time may be as low as 60 minutes if it is strenuous or vigorous exercise. Depending on how much intensity you put into exercising your GSD, you may spend more time outdoors when deciding how much walking does a German Shepherd need.

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Low intensity

Walking at a leisurely pace, playing fetch in a small area or having your GSD play alone with its chew toys are low intensity exercises and can require 2 ½ to 4 hours to adequately provide enough exercise for your GSD in one day. This translates to roughly walking your GSD for less than 4 km each day.

Low intensity exercises are good for GSDs that are physically impaired or have medical conditions that render them unable to perform strenuous activities.

Medium intensity

Brisk walking, agility courses, playing fetch in a large park and swimming all fall into medium intensity exercise levels. You can spend 2 hours performing medium intensity exercises everyday for GSD and this should be enough for their exercise requirements. This equals about 8-16 km of walking a day for your GSD.

Medium intensity exercises are the standard intensity exercises and are best suited for all healthy adolescent to adult GSDs.

High intensity

Running, fast swimming and competitive obstacle course conditioning are examples of high intensity exercises for your GSD. You can spend up to 1 hour exercising your GSD at this intensity level. This equates to 16 km of walking everyday when considering how much walking does a German Shepherd need for high intensity exercises.

High intensity exercises are best suited for GSDs trained for guard duty, protection detail or just generally live active lifestyles.

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