German Shepherds are wonderful dogs, but they have a lot of energy and can be quite a handful if you don’t keep them entertained. Some owners have large yards and several family members that can help keep the dog busy, but it can be a struggle to keep finding something to do if there are only one or two people in your household. If this sounds like your situation, keep reading while we list several activities you can do with your German Shepherd to keep it happy and well behaved. For each entry, we’ll provide you with a short description of the activity and a short video if we can find one to help you get started immediately.
Games To Play with Your German Shepherd (and the Materials Required)
Aerobic Games for German Shepherds
Fetch is the most basic dog game that almost everyone knows. To play this game, all you need is a Frisbee, ball, or any toy that you can throw so your dog can chase it and bring it back. Most dogs know this game instinctively, so it’s extremely easy to play. Balls and Frisbees work well because you can get a good distance with them, which will keep the dog more active. These toys can cause your dog to expend a large amount of energy in a short amount of time without you needing to put in a lot of effort. There are even accessories you can purchase to help you throw the ball further with less effort.
The downside to this game is that you need a lot of room for the dog to run.
Check out this great video of a German Shepherd playing fetch by Brody, the German Shepherd.
2. Tug of War
Tug of war can be a great game to play with your German Shepherd, and it’s another that your dog will likely pick up on naturally. To play this game, you only require a piece of rope with knots in it so you and the dog can get a grip. Many commercial ropes will work perfectly, and there are many varieties available, so you can find one that is comfortable to use. To play, let the dog grab one end with its teeth, and you take the other. All you need to do is try to pull the rope out of the dog’s mouth. Spoiler alert, you’ll likely drag it all over the house or yard instead, as your dog will never give up the rope. Tug of war will likely be one of your dog’s favorite games, and it’s great for bonding because you are face to face the entire game. It will also help your dog expend energy quickly, especially if you are in good health, and can make the dog work harder to keep the rope.
It only requires a fraction of the space fetch does, but it does require considerable strength to play against a full-grown German Shepherd for more than a few minutes. However, your dog will probably be content to watch you fail at removing the rope and isn’t likely to pull back and drag you.
3. Obstacle Training
Obstacle training can be a lot of fun for you and your dog. It will help your pet burn off excess energy quickly and sharpen your skills as a trainer. It will also improve your dog’s coordination and make it more physically fit. To play obstacle training, you will need plenty of room to set up obstacles. The obstacles can be anything, but we recommend starting with something simple like a piece of wood or a chair. Put the obstacle between you and the dog and call it toward you. If it jumps the barrier, give it a treat and try again. Your intelligent German Shepherd will catch on quickly, and in a few months, your dog will be taking on all types of obstacles, and you’ll be getting told to clean up the yard.
The downside to obstacle training is that it will go a lot easier for someone with experience training, and it can take up a lot of room in your yard if there are several obstacles.
Here’s a video of a German Shepherd Chow mix working on obstacle course training from Zera Falconer.
As strange as it may seem, wrestling is one of the best ways to bond with your German Shepherd because few other activities cause you to be in such close proximity with your attention focused on each other. If you’ve owned dogs before, you know most of them like to play wrestle, and it can be a great way to let off steam. If you’re unsure how to instigate it, holding a ball so the dog can see it but not letting it have it is a sure-fire method to get the game started. The dog will climb all over you to try to get the ball, and you can flip your pup over (gently) to get the belly which will get it all riled up.
The downside to wrestling is that it can take a lot of strength and endurance on your part, so it’s not something you are likely to see grandma playing, and it’s also possible for you or the dog to get injured, so some owners might not allow it.
Here’s a video of a man safely wrestling with his dog from NerdVlog.
5. Flirt Pole
The Flirt Pole is similar to a toy you usually buy for a cat. It has a long pole that you hold. Attached to the pole is a long string that has a toy tied at the end. The toy usually squeaks, and you use it almost like a fishing pole to dangle the toy in front of the dog to get it to chase it. Our dogs get a lot of enjoyment from the Flirt Pole, and the only downside is that the dog chews them, so you will need to replace them every few weeks.
Here’s a great video of a German Shepherd playing with a flirt pole from the German Shepherd Man Official Channel.
Mind Games for German Shepherds
6. Treasure Hunt
Treasure hunt is another one of our German Shepherd’s favorite games because it means she gets to eat treats. You only need a few of your pet’s favorite treats and some places to hide them to play this game. To get started, hide a treat in plain sight, then let your dog see you hide another behind a wall. Tell it to “find it” to initiate the hunt if it doesn’t look for it. Try a few more easy hides, and when your dog starts to catch on, you can make them a little more difficult. Once your dog has mastered the game, you can say “find it” at any time, and your dog will begin to search the house for a treat.
Here’s a great video of a dog playing treasure hunt from K9 of Mine.
7. Hide and Seek
If you don’t have any treats, a great alternative is to hide and turn it into a game of old-fashioned hide and seek. The easiest way to play this game is to wait until your dog is out of sight and then call them but quickly run and hide before they get there. When the dog arrives, they will be confused and begin to search for you and will usually continue looking until they find you. As the dog catches on, they will begin to check past hiding spots first, so you will need to be clever.
Here’s a video of someone playing hide and seek with their German Shepherd from Claudia’s Diary.
8. Find a Treat
Playing “find a treat” with your German Shepherd is easy and only requires a few empty plastic party cups and a few of your dog’s favorite treats. Place several cups face down on the floor, and while your dog isn’t looking, place a treat under one of them. Call your dog over and watch as they turn them over looking for the treat. As they get more skilled, they will find the treat faster, so you can add even more cups.
Here’s a German Shepherd playing find a treat from Simba the White GSD.
9. Ring Stack
If you have children or know someone that does, there is a good chance that you are familiar with the ring stacking toys for babies. You can also use these toys with your German Shepherd and learn to stack the rings in the right order with a little patience. The best way to play is to start with only a few rings and add more as your dog catches on.
Here’s an example of a German Shepherd playing the Ring Stack game from Pokeypig22.
10. Name Game
The name game is a little more complex than the others we’ve been looking at, but it’s a great way to teach your dog a few words. To play this game, get a few of your dog’s favorite toys and show it to them as you say its name, for instance, “ball.” Do several activities with the item, paying extra attention to calling it by name. After some time, put the item on the floor and instruct your dog to fetch it. For instance, “gimme the ball.” If your dog retrieves the correct toy, give them a treat. After several months, you will be amazed at how many items your dog knows by name.
Here is a great video of someone playing the name game with their German Shepherd from All Four Paws of Florida.
11. Food-Dispensing Toys
Several brands create food dispensing toys for your cat or dog, and they all work the same way, by hiding treats under doors and panels that your dog needs to learn how to open to get the treats. Some are extremely easy and only require the dog to step on a lever, while others are quite complex, requiring multiple steps to unlock the treat. Some can keep your dog entertained for quite a while, but in our experience, it doesn’t take a German Shepherd long to master it and can then open the most difficult ones as fast as we can.
If you have the space, it’s hard to beat a game like fetch. It burns off excess energy extremely fast and helps keep your dog in top shape. Since the dog will tire quickly, it’s not such an inconvenience to keep the dog active and healthy, and you would likely need to spend an hour per day or more walking to get the same results as 15 minutes of fast-paced fetch. The other games are all fun, but they take longer and require a bigger commitment of your time. Luckily, you can play as many games as you want, so you can play fetch every day and do some wrestling on your days off work. Mind games are equally important, and we recommend using these games as often as possible when giving your pet treats instead of just letting them have them unless it’s for training or reward.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this list and found the answers you need. If we have helped you keep your dog entertained, please share these eleven best games to play with your German Shepherd on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: kscholl, Pixabay