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Do German Shepherds Play Fetch?

Do German Shepherds Play Fetch?

Have you always wanted your German Shepherd to run and play with you, chasing after a ball or a Frisbee before bringing it back to you to do it all over again?

Do German Shepherds Play Fetch? Yes, German Shepherds are the perfect breed of dog to play fetch with! They are highly intelligent and energetic, and they love to perform specific tasks for their owners.

This means that the “job” of running to get the ball or Frisbee and bringing it back to you is fun. Training your German Shepherd to fetch is the perfect way to ensure that you always have a game to play. The rest of this article will discuss how to teach your German Shepherd to play fetch, what to do if they refuse to drop the toy at the end, and what other games you can play with your pup.

Do German Shepherds play fetch?

Do German Shepherds play fetch? Yes, this breed is very smart and athletic, and fetch is the perfect game to play with them. In addition, German Shepherds are working dogs who were originally bred to herd livestock. They absolutely love to be given specific tasks to do, so training them to play fetch should be a breeze.

Is it easy to train my German Shepherd to play fetch?

Overall, it should be a fairly simple process to train your German shepherd to play fetch. However, every dog is different, so you may run into some difficulties if your dog decides that they do not feel like listening to you, or if they get overly excited by the idea of playtime!

Some tips to keep in mind when training your dog are:

  • Remain calm and patient
  • Tire your dog out a little
  • Be consistent

Training is something that can require a lot of patience and dedication. It may help you to tire your dog out a little first, too! Don’t absolutely wear them out—you don’t want them to be too tired to play fetch—but if they get overly excited by the presence of the toy, then allowing them to “play it out” a little first may be helpful to you.

How do I train my German Shepherd to play fetch?

Training your German Shepherd to play fetch is made up of a few different parts of the task. So, to train your pup, you’ll first need to teach them each of those individual parts, then put them all together.

Start by going to a big open area (but make sure it is enclosed for your dog’s safety!). A backyard, fenced-in sports field, or empty dog park are good ideas for this. Bring your pup’s favorite toy with you, as long as it is a good toy for fetch. You want something big enough that your dog isn’t going to swallow it.

Breaking Down the Parts

First, you’re going to want to teach your German Shepherd each of the individual parts of fetch. Then you can move on to putting them all together. These parts include: 

  • Catching the toy 
  • Holding onto the toy
  • Bringing the toy back to you

Some dogs may catch on to these parts more instinctively than others. If this is the case for your dog, great! You can move on to playing fetch much more quickly. However, many dogs will learn to catch the toy and then simply drop it or run away. In order to successfully play fetch, your dog needs to know how to put all three parts together.

Catching the Toy

Catching or grabbing onto the toy is the first step of playing fetch. You want your dog to chase the toy when you throw it and then pick it up. To encourage this, make the toy as exciting as possible for your pup! 

You already picked their favorite toy, so they should already be excited about it. However, you can do even more by getting excited yourself. Wave the toy around, making noise and getting your dog amped up before you throw it. You can also consider rubbing some treats on the toy to give it a yummy scent that will make your dog want to chase it and pick it up.

Begin by throwing the toy only a short distance. As your pup catches on, you can throw it further and further.

Holding the Toy

Next, you want your German Shepherd to actually hold onto the toy once they get to it, rather than simply dropping it the moment they catch it. The choice of the toy is something that can help with this as well. If you choose something very exciting for your dog, like something that tastes good or makes noise, your German Shepherd will be more inclined to hold onto it.

Once again, begin by staying close to your dog. Praise them when they pick up the toy and hold onto it. Some dogs may instinctively bring you the toy at this point. If your dog does so, give them lots of praise and love!

Bringing Back the Toy

Getting your German Shepherd to bring the toy back to you may be the hardest part of training them to play fetch. Once again, start off by only throwing the toy a short distance from your dog. Then, when they pick it up, make yourself as exciting as possible to encourage your dog to come back to you.

Jump up and down, waving your arms and calling for your German Shepherd in an excited tone. This will make them want to come back to you. When they return with the toy in hand, give them tons of praise and attention, and perhaps even treats.

What if my German Shepherd won’t drop the toy?

This may be an issue that you run into when training your German Shepherd to play fetch. Some dogs will adapt perfectly well to fetching the toy, but then once they get back to you, they will refuse to give the toy back, turning things into a game of keep-away.

The easiest way to prevent this is to train your dog to listen to the “Drop It” command. You can do this by distracting your dog with a treat or another toy while saying “Drop It” in a firm tone. When your dog drops the toy, reward them with a treat.

This may take some practice, but eventually, your German Shepherd will catch on to the idea that they should let go of the toy when you tell them to drop it.

What if my German Shepherd doesn’t like fetch?

Every dog is different, and some may simply not enjoy playing fetch. However, most dogs, especially German Shepherds, are perfectly capable of being trained to play fetch.

If you have trained your dog to play fetch but they do not seem like they are having a good time while playing, there is nothing saying that you are forced to continue playing fetch with them! There are plenty of other games and activities you can try with your German Shepherd that they may find more enticing than fetch.

What other games can I play with my German Shepherd?

Here are some ideas for other games you can play with your German Shepherd besides fetch.


Tug-of-War is a game where you hold onto one end of a toy and let your dog hold onto the other end with their mouth. Together, you will pull the toy back and forth until one of you wins the pulling war! Dogs love this.

Agility Courses

Running agility courses can be very rewarding for a German Shepherd for the same reason that they may love to play fetch. It gives them specific tasks to complete and allows them to work out their brains at the same time as their bodies. Your German Shepherd can weave in and out of poles, run through collapsible tunnels and over ramps, and leap over suspended pole jumps.

Water Games

Water games are another excellent idea for playing with your German Shepherd, especially when it is very hot outside. If you live in a hot weather climate, this is definitely one for you!

You can teach your German Shepherd to swim in the pool, or you can set up a garden sprinkler outside for your pup to run through. You can even just pull out the garden hose and spray it in various places for your dog to run and attempt to catch with their mouth.

German Shepherds love playing in the water, and even if they don’t like to completely swim, playing in the sprinkler or the garden hose are both good options for your dog to get some stimulation.


Do German Shepherds play fetch? Usually, yes! These dogs are very smart and agile and fetch is an amazing game to play with them. Getting your German Shepherd to play fetch may require some training, patience, and consistency, but you will get there eventually. 

If your dog simply does not like to play fetch, there are a number of other games out there that you can play with your dog instead. Good luck!