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Taking a German Shepherd home for the first time is a memorable experience and they can definitely be a handful on that first night. Are German Shepherds high energy?
Yes, they definitely are, but this is completely normal. German Shepherds were bred to be working dogs, with herding being a popular use of that super-Shepherd work ethic. As such, you’re going to want to build a strategy so that your dog has a place to put all that energy.
In this article, we’ll explore this subject so that you’ll know how much exercise your dog needs, how to keep them from jumping, what breeds make good buddies, and more! Let’s talk about German Shepherds and putting their energies to good and obedient use!
Are German Shepherds High Energy?
If you’ve never owned a German Shepherd before, all of that energy might be a bit daunting. Relax – it’s normal and it’s all part and parcel of owning these amazing dogs. That said, if your dog jumps on you or knocks some things over in their excitement, it is imperative that you do NOT punish them
If you punish your German Shepherd, they aren’t going to understand it, and it could even erode their trust a little while you are trying so hard to build it. Distraction is a much better way to go. New toys and new obedience tricks can harness that energy and put it somewhere useful.
This way, your dog can still have fun and your bond is going to grow. You need to remember that these dogs were bred for working, with herding being the original intent. That meant many miles of walking and circling herds of sheep and other animals to ensure their protection.
Make sure that they are getting a minimum of 2 hours of exercise each day and if you have the time, more is better. Until they reach about 5 to 7 years of age, German Shepherds have tons of energy, and you need your help to put it somewhere. So, be patient and train your dog – give them something to do!
How much exercise does my Shepherd need?
2 hours of exercise is the minimum that your German Shepherd needs to be getting every day – but more is even better. The exception is with puppies, who won’t need as much as the adults. When your pup is about 3 months old, for instance, 15 minutes of exercise, twice daily, is just about perfect.
By 4 months of age, you can adjust to 20-minute sessions, twice a day, and you can slowly add 5 or more minutes each month until about the 9-month mark when 1-hour exercises sessions should be done twice a day and this will keep your dog happy and healthy.
Walks around the park definitely count, but if you are already exercising and want to conserve a little energy, you can do things like letting your dog play in the dog park or even teach them some fun games like fetching.
Shepherds can seem like boundless sources of energy, but with a little firm direction, they are much more manageable than you think!
Why does my Shepherd jump on me?
German Shepherds are clever dogs and this can be a little trying at times. Most often, when your dog jumps on you, it’s because one time they did this and got exactly what they wanted – so they’re just ‘using what works. As such, you’re going to need to teach them otherwise.
When your dog jumps at you, move away and ignore the behaviors, simply telling your dog to sit. Hold out a treat if they aren’t responding, as this will quickly get their attention, and tell them to sit again. Don’t give them the treat until they do!
Do this consistently every time that your dog tries to jump on you and, in time, they are going to get the message – jumping won’t get them treats, but sitting nearby and giving you a soulful look is certainly effective. It might well take a week or two, but if you are consistent then your Shepherd will learn.
If your Shepherd is jumping on you or others out of fear or even as a means of ‘bullying’, then that is a different issue. You can try enforcing the ‘sit’ command again in this case and it should work, but you might some extra obedience training either at home or with a professional trainer to deal with right away.
How do I stop them from jumping?
Aside from the ‘sit’ command, you have a few other ‘tried and true’ methods that you can employ to help make your Shepherd a little more polite. One of the easiest is this: Simply turn your back to your Shepherd when they jump on you.
Turning around and completely ignoring the dog is going to throw them for a loop. They may stop jumping completely for a moment and stare at you, most often followed by moving to your front to see what the issue is. The moment that they try to jump again, then you should turn around.
Don’t even say ‘no’ or ‘down!’—your actions will make it clear to your dog that you are displeased. Eventually, your puzzled Shepherd is going to simply sit down and look at you, and at this time, you should give them a treat.
Repeat this as-needed and your dog is going to pick it up quickly. After all, right now they are young and new to the house and they just don’t know the rules yet. By teaching them that jumping around won’t get them any treats, they’ll quickly adjust and be much more civil about how they greet you!
At what age will my Shepherd calm down?
Your German Shepherd is a hardy dog and their energy levels are going to reflect this until they are 5 to 7 years of age! At this point, they’ll still have a lot of energy, but they will be calmer and much more reserved.
German Shepherds live, on average, for between 9 and 13 years, and they have though ultra-high-energy levels on purpose. The breed is a mix of Sheepdogs that were selectively bred to be able to walk many miles each and every day, all while keeping an entire herd of animals in line and chasing away predators, too!
While you cannot change their bred-in energy levels, you can certainly redirect that energy into useful pursuits. Games are the best and really one of the most fun parts of owning a Shepherd. These dogs are very smart and if you work with them, you can even teach them to fetch specific items for you!
Training doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, however, and really just boils down to teaching your dog what to do when they are on their own or when they don’t know what you WANT them to do. Consider getting a doggy door if you don’t have a lot of training time and this will also help immensely with boredom!
Does my Shepherd need a buddy?
If you work quite a lot and you are worried that your furry friend might get a bit anxious with all of that alone time, then getting them a buddy might be a very good idea. Having another dog to play with helps your dog to socialize better and also helps them expend more of that ‘boundless’ energy.
Another German Shepherd of the same or different gender is fine, but it’s best to introduce them while they are young. That said, they are less likely to get into fights with a dog of the opposite sex. They should also be no more than 2 years apart in age so that their energy levels and maturity are compatible.
If you are choosing a different breed for a buddy, there are a few excellent choices out there that can help to ensure that the dogs get along – just be sure if they are opposite genders that everyone is spayed and neutered! That said, here are some breeds that typically do well with German Shepherds:
- Dobermans – Playful and energetic, Dobermans are a good match for German Shepherd energy levels and their desire to ‘goof around’. They also are quite good with kids, like German Shepherds, so this match can be a very happy one.
- Golden Retrievers – Smart and just so friendly, Golden Retrievers have a way of charming everyone they meet – even the surliest German Shepherd. While their energy levels are a little less, a Golden Retriever is still a great choice as your Shepherd’s new best friend and might even calm them a little.
- Siberian Huskies – While they are a little smaller than Shepherds, Siberian Huskies wre bred to be sled dogs, so they can definitely keep up with your Shepherd. They are also less territorial and protective, so your Shepherd can be the grumpy one without the two getting into a fight over it!
- Border Collies – As Border Collies are also herding dogs, they make excellent buddies for German Shepherds. Both will have the same, excited energy level, but keep a close eye on this pair – both are clever dogs and they’ll definitely get into some mischief together if you aren’t careful!
Getting your Shepherd to sleep
At the end of the day, your energetic Shepherd might be a bit reluctant to get to sleep exactly when you want them to, so it’s in your best interest to teach them the ‘go to bed’ command. This may take a few tries but be patient – your dog WILL pick this up.
To teach your dog to go to bed on command, you should start having an ‘evening ritual’ of bringing your dog to their bed at night, putting a treat in the bed, and saying ‘go to bed’. If they snatch up the treat and then just stand next to you, try getting on the other side of the dog bed and calling them to you.
When they step on the bed, point at the bed again and say ‘go to bed’ until your dog sits or lays down on it. When they do, say ‘good dog’ and give them a treat. Turn out the lights and if your dog is in your bedroom, then go to your own bed and go to sleep.
With repetition, your dog will accept this as the ‘evening ritual’ and they’ll go to bed when you tell them to!
Today we’ve talked about German Shepherd energy levels and as you can see, while they are indeed high-energy dogs this energy is certainly manageable. Give your dog lots of obedience training to make sure that they always know what to do and consider a buddy if you can’t be home very much.
Above all, be patient – it takes a little time, but these clever dogs truly want to make you happy. As long as you give them somewhere constructive to put that energy then you’re going to be pleased with the eventual results. You can count on it!