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German Shepherd puppies are incredibly playful. The way you play with them while they’re still small will have a profound impact on their physical and mental wellbeing as they grow into adulthood. So how do you play with a German Shepherd puppy?
This article will examine the best way to play and entertain your German Shepherd puppy, providing example games to play and activities to do.
How to Play With a German Shepherd Puppy?
The best way to play with a German Shepherd puppy is through short bursts of low-impact physical activity. This will keep their growing bones and joints safe from injury and malformation. Additionally, play games that sharpen their motors skills and hone their natural abilities.
How Much Should You Play With Your German Shepherd Puppy?
All dogs have a maximum tolerance for exercise, and playtime counts towards that limit. Most will play for as long as you allow them.
Thus, you need to pay attention and keep them from overexertion, especially during activities that involve plenty of physical movement.
In general, young dogs should have two sessions of exercise per day where each session is about 5 minutes per month of age. So, a German Shepherd puppy of around 2 months old should only get 10 minutes of playtime twice a day while a 6-month-old pup can tolerate two 30-minute sessions.
By the time your GSD is a year old, they should be able to tolerate hour-long sessions of play or exercise. Keep in mind, however, that these are general guidelines.
You need to keep an eye on your dog and determine their own tolerance to avoid serious consequences like overheating and overexertion.
Why is Play Important to a GSD Puppy?
Like children, individual dogs have different preferences. You’ll need to take the time to interact with and learn what your own puppy likes.
Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that everything in the world is new to a young pup. Use play as a means to strengthen their motor skills, nurture their sense of curiosity, and build their confidence.
What Do German Shepherd Puppies Like to Play With?
The best toys for young German Shepherds are interactive ones that stimulate their senses. Especially exciting are treat dispensers and squeaky toys while teething toys provide tons of comfort. They also love balls that they can grasp and chase after.
But GSD puppies don’t just love toys and things. They also love playing with people and other animals. It’s best to start socializing your pup as early as possible so they can enjoy being their playful selves with others.
Games to Play With a German Shepherd Puppy
Having a young puppy is an exciting time and you won’t be the first dog parent that can’t help but play every chance you get. Here are some games you can teach your GSD puppy:
Once you’ve taught your puppy the four basic commands of sit, down, stay, and come, make a game out of making sure they master each one. Doing this often will help prove each of these commands and ensure they will obey no matter the situation.
Have fun with the Obedience Shuffle by randomly asking for each command and rewarding your dog every time they obey. Make it increasingly difficult for them by adding distractions in between.
Hide-and-Seek is an excellent game to play with your German Shepherd puppy because it requires some concentration, sniffing, and running. It also primes them to think of you as the best reward.
To play this, ask your dog to stay while you hide. Release them from their stay position and respond with excitement and praises when they find you.
Hide in easy-to-find spots at first and find more difficult hiding places as your pup picks up on the object of the game.
Like Hide-and-Seek, Find-the-Treats is mentally stimulating and also sharpens your GSD pup’s natural scenting abilities. To play this, hide some kibble in places that aren’t immediately visible and your dog to go on their treasure hunt.
You can start by keeping your pup in a down position as they watch you hide the treats. When they understand the point of the game, you can make it more challenging by keeping them in another room and letting them in only when all the treats are hidden.
The Shell Game is a simpler version of Find-the-Treats but enables you to interact more with your puppy. It also requires very little space and involves more concentration and nose work.
To play the shell game, take 3 cups and some treats, and sit across from your dog. Place the cups upside down on the floor and keep a treat under only one. Shuffle the cups before arranging them in a row.
Turn over the first one your pup touches. If they get the right one, let them have the treat. If not, re-shuffle the cups and play again.
Find-and-Retrieve is not just a game of obedience and concentration. It also hones your dog’s intelligence and builds their vocabulary.
This game involves teaching your dog the proper names of things, finding those things on command, and handing them over to you.
To play this game, start by teaching your dog the name of one toy. For example, place a ball in front of your dog, reach out with an open palm, and say “ball.” It might take a few tries, but when they take the ball and hand it to you, make sure you reward them.
Then, make the game more difficult by asking them to retrieve the ball from other places. You can add more items to their vocabulary once they’ve mastered the last.
Other Activities to Do With a German Shepherd Puppy
Playtime doesn’t always have to involve structured games. Here are other things you can do to interact with your puppy, strengthen your bond, and help them to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally:
Walking can be a good way for your GSD pup to learn more about the world outside of your home. Allow young pups to walk at their own pace and try not to be too harsh on the lead.
Let them stop to sniff and interact with whatever they might find interesting. This will form a huge part of their socialization.
Introduce your German Shepherd puppy to water while they’re young so they don’t grow up to be afraid of it. German Shepherds typically like water if they are exposed to it and learn how fun it can be.
Swimming is also an excellent way to have fun with your growing dog since it is easy on the bones and joints. Being in water will also help strengthen muscles for even better skeletal development.
Puzzle toys for dogs are not only excellent for mental stimulation but also for independent play. Depending on the toy, it could also help prime your German Shepherd for nose work, combat boredom, and control their impulses.
Additionally, these toys prompt the pleasure center in your dog’s brain to release dopamine, which floods your dog with feelings of happiness.
Although these might not seem very useful, tricks training is an excellent way to stimulate your dog’s mind and strengthen your bond.
Although canine sports like Agility and Flyball are for older dogs, you can start your GSD puppy on other AKC events like Rally and Tracking. They can compete in these companion sports as early as 6 months old or you can simply join local clubs to engage in these activities for fun.
Either way, treating sports training as play can be excellent for your German Shepherd puppy’s development.
Activities to Avoid When Playing With a GSD Pup
Growth plates are most active between 4 and 8 months and generally close when your dog is around 1 year old. Allowing them to fully mature before engaging in high-impact activities keeps from disrupting your puppy’s skeletal development. This helps avoid issues like hip and elbow dysplasia in the future.
Until your German Shepherd has developed into adulthood, you should generally avoid activities that involve plenty of jumping. Staircases and other steep angles are safe enough for regular use but not as a means to exercise.
Additionally, when running or walking, opt for turf and soil rather than concrete.
Discovering the best ways to play with your German Shepherd puppy will help you develop a strong bond and learn to communicate with one another. These games will also help stimulate their intellect and develop a love for learning. Lastly, these activities will satisfy your pup’s need for physical exercise while keeping their growing bones and joints safe.
Of course, raising a puppy—especially one as headstrong as a German Shepherd—isn’t all about play. Learning how to discipline your GSD puppy correctly will teach them to respect your leadership and stay on their best behavior.