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How to Meet the Mental Needs of Your German Shepherd

This article will explore ways to keep your German Shepherd mentally stimulated. We will discuss the benefits of caring for your pal's mental needs and the repercussions of not meeting those needs.

Is The German Shepherd A Working Dog?

The German Shepherd was initially a sheep herding dog, so the breed is both a herding and working dog. Since that time, GSD's worldwide are used to work in many fields, including police, military, search-and-rescue, and disability assistance, because of their trainability, intelligence, and strength.

Most German Shepherds are beloved family pets; nevertheless, they still need a task; it's inherent with the breed. These dogs love their humans, and it gives them great joy to feel useful and an integral part of their family. When out for a walk or run with your dog, it's a good idea to assign him the task of carrying a backpack full of water bottles. This helps him feel like he's working. (Check out our article on our top 5 favorite harnesses for German Shepherds)

How Much Stimulation Does A German Shepherd Need?

Most adult German Shepherds require a minimum of 90 minutes of outdoor exercise per day. You can incorporate high-energy activities like walking, jogging, running, hiking, and playing.

GSD Puppies don't require as much physical activity as adults. Too much exercise can be harmful to a puppy's development as it can lead to joint and mobility conditions later in life. This breed is prone to medical issues like hip dysplasia, so you must be careful with your little friend. (Check out our article on 11 of the most common German Shepherd health issues)

Puppies generally need about five minutes of exercise (like walks) for each month of their age. These walks allow them to study their environment and to learn good behavior when outside in a controlled way.

GSD puppies need lots of mental stimulation in the home as they are pretty playful; just make sure they get enough sleep. Adult German Shepherds will enjoy playing indoors too. These dogs enjoy games, toys, and puzzles.

What Happens If A German Shepherd Doesn't Get Enough Mental Stimulation?

It's not good for these German Shepherds to lack mental stimulation and exercise. These dogs need owners that can match their interests. Otherwise, it can cause numerous problems for their mental and physical well-being. Inactivity tends to result in behavioral issues for most dogs, but it especially concerns the German Shepherd. Some of the repercussions of not providing a GSD with sufficient mental stimulation involve:

Destructive Behavior

When German Shepherds lack sufficient routine mental and physical exercise, they will find an outlet for their pent-up energy in the form of chewing the furniture, pooping in the wrong place, getting into the trash can, jumping on other dogs, and people.

Excessive Barking

Unnecessary barking is a GSD's way of communicating that he is bored and needs more exercise. You and your pet's health will improve significantly if you take him out for daily walks.

Separation Anxiety

This breed isn't one to be left at home all by himself with nothing to do for the whole day. That is plain wrong! This will undoubtedly cause your GSD to act out due to loneliness and boredom - this can include urinating, pacing, chewing, and barking.

Food Aggression

This breed may display aggression towards humans or other animals near their food because he perceives a threat. Your dog may remember an incident where someone took his food away from him and now has a higher tendency to guard his possessions. Dog owners need to be more intentional about how they act around their dogs. What might seem like a lark to you might mean something profound to your dog.

It is better to keep your pet mentally stimulated to be happy and learn to trust you and other people.

Being Depressed Or Withdrawn

It is unusual for German Shepherds to experience long-term depression. However, as this breed is sensitive, they can suffer if they lack daily activity, consistency, tasks, and routine in their day.

Please don't assume that they are exhibiting symptoms of depression. You must take your GSD to the vet for immediate attention.

Depression in German Shepherds can look like the following:

  • Sadness

  • Loss of interest in exercise and play

  • Loss of appetite

  • Excessive sleeping

  • Being reclusive

  • Aggression

How Do You Mentally Stimulate A German Shepherd Dog?

The mental stimulation of your German Shepherd starts from the day you get your new puppy, in the form of training and socialization. Once you have their respect, it will be easier to establish a routine with your dog, and they will relish all opportunities for activity. Let's look at the top 5 ways to provide mental stimulation:

Early Socialization/Indoor Training

Socialization involves bringing your dog out to various places like the dog park, beach, city, subway, forest, or just around your neighborhood - this enables your puppy to get acquainted with new sights, sounds, people, and pets.

Training your dog obedience at home helps him to see you as the alpha. When you have your dog's respect, it's much easier to teach him to learn and obey your commands. These dogs are exceptionally trainable and happy to obey your commands.

Hide And Seek

This game helps to hone your dog's natural inclination to hunt and forage. When you play this game initially, find a hiding spot where he can't see you but where he can hear you and know you are nearby.

Tracking Scents

A GSD's nose is between 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than a human's. Hiding a tasty treat for your dog to find will challenge his sense of smell and prey drive. Make the treasure hunting game easy with a strong-smelling item and make it increasingly more challenging.

Dog Puzzles And Treat Toys

Puzzle toys involve your dog using maneuvers and strategies to get treats out of a puzzle. These games are fantastic fun and highly recommended by animal behaviorists. You can purchase this device in any pet store or online.

Helping Around The House

This dog breed thrives in helping his family around the home. You can give your four-legged friend the task of fetching the newspaper, slippers or picking up his toys and putting them away. Earmarking a particular job for your four-legged friend will give him a sense of pride and belonging.


It's essential to care for the mental needs of a German Shepherd as they are incredibly clever. The GSD is a breed eager to please its owners and complete any task; these dogs are anything but work-shy, so don't hesitate to give them a job.

The German Shepherd, like any working dog, can develop behavioral problems if their mental needs are not met. Your German Shepherd is hard-wired with many excellent qualities and can be a fantastic asset to your life. This dog can protect and defend you; they are highly loyal to their owners. However, if you don't bond with them and provide tasks and training, you will miss out on an amazing relationship with your German Shepherd.

Welcome to the Pack!


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