We’ve been the proud parents of three different German Shepherd Dogs since my wife and I have been married, and of course we’ve also had dogs when we were children as family pets before we even knew each other.
Our first German Shepherd was an adopted adult with really bad hips, another is a 10 year old we got as a puppy.
And finally, we’re going through it all again with our third, who is also a pup. We’re currently going through puppy-hood again and find ourselves re-learning some of the things we’d forgotten over time now that our big girl is 10 years old.
One of those things that has come back out again is just how energetic German Shepherd puppies are. If there is one thing that is consistent with all GSDs, it’s that they’re hyper when young.
I remember the first time I sought an answer for this question, this time around I have an answer:
When will my German Shepherd calm down?
Most German Shepherds will calm down between 6 months and 2 or 3 years of age. Really, there is more that goes into it than just picking out a number because it can vary greatly between one dog and the next and between male and female. As a general rule of thumb, the older your dog gets, the calmer it will get by default.
If you cannot wait, we’ve got some pointers to help your dog release some of that energy to get your dog to calm down a bit.
German Shepherds are not for everyone —
The first pointer is that German Shepherds are not for everyone. To be sure, this is a working dog that has a lot of energy. To add injury to insult, they’re also the third smartest dog breed and are pound for pound the best protectors in terms of willingness to please their master, smarts, stamina, and strength.
To me, there really isn’t a better dog, and I’ve had a lot of other protective breeds like rottweilers, doberman pincer, and bull mastiffs.
But they aren’t for everyone. German Shepherds require attention and exercise and a big enough yard to run around in if at all possible to help them get all of their energy out of them.
You can get around not having a yard if you’re willing to do other forms of exercise with your dog, like going for daily walks. But the point is that if you don’t have the time to give your dog, you might be better off with a different breed of dog that’s not from the working class.
If you’re still set on getting a German Shepherd as a companion because they’re great dogs, then maybe adopting an older dog is the better bet because they don’t need as much exercise.
Takeaway: The takeaway is that German Shepherd Dogs are not the best animal for everyone. There is no shame in admitting this. If you don’t have the time to give this dog go with a different breed. It’s better to come to that conclusion beforehand.
Exercise your German Shepherd —
We’ve found that the best way for us to get our GSDs to calm down is with plenty of exercise. The German Shepherd dog is made to be a worker and a guardian. If you think about what a “shepherd” is, it’s a herder of sheep. A herder of sheep is a hard worker, who also must be willing to protect his flock from carnivores to the best of his or her ability.
Because of this, the German Shepherd dog has an excellent work ethic and is willing to work for hours on end. They were bred for this reason. While giving a roof over your dog’s head is very generous, they need more from you. Remember that they were bred to work, and if they’re not working they need an outlet for their pent up energy.
That’s where the exercise comes into play.
As stated in the beginning of this post, we’ve had our one girl since she was a pup. She’s now 10 and doesn’t require anywhere near the same amount of exercise as she once did. But, when she was a puppy she was outside playing fetch and frisbee with us a lot. In fact, up until about the time she was 5 or 6 years old she could play for hours if we’d let her.
Now, she still loves to play, but can only move so fast. She’s still a puppy at heart and her number one goal in life seems to be to please me.
Anyway, we had more than an acre of flat land where we used to live when she was younger and I would whip that frisbee as far as I could, which was nearly the whole length of the yard. When she was younger she could play that game for hours taking breaks here and there and of course getting plenty of water.
It was her favorite thing to do.
And, when she’d come back inside the house she was done. Pooped. Exhausted. For at least a while. That was the sweet spot.
We’ve got another GSD puppy right now as I write this article (currently 8 weeks old, pictured at the top). Because I’m more experienced with this breed now than I was then, I know that when she’s being nippy and biting everyone that it’s only because she needs to get her butt outside and move. So I walk her up our fairly long driveway and back down again a few times.
She’s still leash shy so it’s difficult, but this is the thing that works the best. And, right before bed, I take her out for our nightly walk to wear her down before bed.
With the exercise, I’ve essentially given her an outlet to expend her energy and when she comes back inside the house, all the biting and nipping at our heels and furniture is nearly gone.
Takeaway: The takeaway here is that your GSD needs to be getting regular exercise each and every day. While the older dogs don’t need as much, they still need to do some exercise, too, to help keep them both mentally and physically healthy. Puppies and young dogs need much more exercise.
Training your German Shepherd —
A little while ago I stated that these are among the smartest breed of dogs out there and it’s true. They’re also strong and have excellent stamina. In addition to physical exercise as stated above, they also need mental exercise to challenge them.
For the most part they are extremely easy to train because they are so smart. We taught our 10 year old girl how to sit and stay in an afternoon and it stuck all these years later. Basic commands are incredibly simple once they reach a certain age.
A young puppy like our 8 week old is still learning her name but as I condition her to hearing her name so she knows herself when I call, I can see the gears turning.
Once your dog has mastered “sit,” “stay,” and the other basic commands, start training in a new language to keep her mentally stimulated.
We adopted an adult male German Shepherd who came to use trained in English and German. Of course, because the pound found him in a dumpster, we had no background info on him other than he was a stray with a tattoo in his ear.
One day I was looking at a paper and muttered “setzen” and the dog sat down. My mind was blown. I eagerly looked up other commands, “plotz” I’d say, and he laid down.
There are a lot of other things you can do with your dog to keep him mentally stimulated. There are certain toys designed to make your dog think that do well. Other dog owners will hide something in the yard and have their dog seek it out.
Rewarding the good behavior is important and will help your dog want to please you each time.
Takeaway: The takeaway here is that training your dog will help release some of the mental energy she has pent up. These dogs always seem to be thinking and the extra stimulation that comes with training will help tremendously. Not only that, but a well-trained dog is also much easier to manage during daily tasks
German Shepherd agility training —
The best of both worlds is when you can physically and mentally work your dog out at the same time. What I mean here, is something like an agility course.
The standard agility course is both mentally and physically demanding. They have to think about how to clear each obstacle in the course as well as which one to go to next. Then, they have to actually clear it with their body. This is something you can set up in your own yard if you have enough space to do so.
Simply searching on YouTube will yield you results on what an agility course looks like, and then watching people train their dogs will give you the idea about how to do it. Of course, you need time to do this, but the benefit is huge as it works your dog out in ways other types of exercise cannot.
Takeaway: If you can combine something that is fun for your GSD to do that uses up that mental and physical energy, you’ll take out two little birdies with one stone. This isn’t something that can be done all the time because it is time consuming. It is totally worth it though and most GSDs excel with this.
German Shepherds and time —
Over time your dog will naturally calm down. As stated at the beginning of this article, it may take up to 3 years, but he will get there. You can help your sanity out if you’re willing to work with your dog get rid of some of the pent up energy she has.
And of course, your dog will also be that much happier.
There are plenty of other ways people have used to calm their shepherd down. The thing to remember is that a worked GSD is usually going to be a happy one. You obviously don’t want to overdo it, but within reason, doing the above is a great thing that leads to a happy and healthy dog.