10 Best Games to Play with Your German Shepherd
Stacy Reed
Author: Stacy Reed
Stacy is a freelance writer who has always shared her life with dogs, especially German Shepherds.
Published date: September 5, 2022
Updated date: May 24, 2023
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

10 Best Games to Play with Your German Shepherd

German Shepherds, bless their hearts, can be a handful – especially if you don’t give them enough physical and mental stimulation to keep them busy and entertained. 

This can sound like a life sentence for a German shepherd owner who doesn’t have much free time or resources.

But don’t worry; you don’t have to walk miles daily to keep your dog healthy. Something as simple as games will work well too! 

Games will give your dog lots of exercise and help them form mental connections.

They will also help keep your puppy happy, engaged, and well-behaved. Read on to find the best games to play with your German Shepherd dog. 

10 Best German Shepherd Dog Games

Games for German Shepherds offer you the perfect activity to bond over with your furry friend.

The following list combines some exciting (and quite fun) games to add to your routine. Let’s take a look.

Flirt Pole

Flirt Pole

German Shepherds love to chase, so give them plenty of opportunities to do that with one simple dog training tool – the flirt pole. 

The flirt pole offers an element of never-ending fun to German shepherd dogs, who naturally have a high prey drive.

It gives your dog physical and mental exercise, teaches coordination and impulse control, and is the perfect way to burn off extra energy. 

How to play: 

  1. Dangle the pole in front of your dog, but make sure they don’t chase it until you tell them to.
  2. Use positive reinforcement to reward your dog with healthy treats whenever they catch the toy. Allow them to use their energy to tug on the toy, but make sure they drop it as soon as you ask them to, or you might find yourself replacing the tool every few days.
  3. Allow your dog to calm down fully before starting the process again. Also, ensure you keep switching the direction you wave the flirt pole to offer enhanced mental stimulation. 

Magic Cups 

German Shepherd dogs don’t shy away from challenges, which makes these intelligent dogs so much fun to be around!

While playing fetch in your backyard is sure to keep your dog busy, it can be hard to get on it when the weather isn’t at its best. 

Luckily, you can enjoy this fun indoor cup game with your German shepherd. 

Magic cups help increase the brain activity of puppies and adult dogs by stimulating their hunting and seeking skills and also works their curious mind.

These fun activities are low-impact, so they’re suitable for both puppies and full-grown dogs. 

How to play:

  1. Place three plastic cups upside down. Hide your German shepherd dog’s favorite treats under one while making your dog watch. 
  2. Now, ask your dog to ‘find’ the treat. When they nose the cup or paw it – or, in the case of the overexcited pups, knock it over – give them the treat as a reward.  
  3. Repeat the process while having your dog sit nearby, but this time shuffle the cups. You can even make the game harder by having your dog wait outside the room or by increasing the number of cups to give your dog plenty of mental stimulation. 



German Shepherd dogs delight in fun and frolic. The best games to play are as easy as fetch, as they give your dog’s mind and body a full workout.

It does that by stimulating thinking, enhancing mood, and offering anxiety relief. It also reduces behavior problems.

Another great thing? You can play fetch with a huge variety of toys, and most dogs absolutely adore a game of fetch.

However, if you have a pup, you may want to roll the toy closer to the ground. Doing so will help avoid stressing their joints, preventing long-term damage to their bones and joints.

How to play:

  1. Take a frisbee or a ball. Basically, any toy that can be tossed at a huge distance will work.
  2. Toss the toy a small distance from yourself and encourage your dog to ‘fetch’ it for you. If your dog is new to the concept, it may take some time (and lots of treats!) for them to get the hang of it, so be patient and avoid showing signs of frustration. 
  3. Reward your dog with a treat every time they come back with the toy, and increase the distance of the throw bit by bit. Take breaks when you think your dog is getting tired to allow it to relax and calm itself down.

Muffin Tin Game

Muffin tin games are one of the best canine enrichment games. They give your German shepherd dog a safe, fun way to use their excess energy and help improve their problem-solving skills. 

How to play:  

  1. To get your dog acquainted with the game, allow them to eat their favorite treats from the muffin tins.
  2. Now, you can conceal treats in the holes of muffin tins, then cover each hole with a muffin wrap. 
  3. Your dog must learn to remove the muffin wrapper to access the treat.
  4. Once they’re familiar with the exercise, you can use heavier items, such as a tennis ball, to cover the muffin tins. Then, have your dog move the tennis balls to get the treats. 

Obstacle Training

Obstacle Training

Obstacle training, one of the best mind games, is a form of agility training that can sharpen your dog’s motor skills and critical thinking.

It can also help your pet burn off excess energy, preventing obesity and keeping them fit. It also increases endurance and strengthens their bones and joints without special training!

You can play obstacle training with puppies and can also use it to entertain your fully-grown German Shepherd on a rainy day. 

How to play:

  1. Place a few safe objects like a pile of clothes, curtain rod, or laundry basket around the floor in a small part of the room to form your obstacle course. 
  2. Ensure the barriers are between you and your dog, so they’ll have more reason to see the game through. Command your dog to “come” and give it a treat as a reward when it does. 
  3. Once your dog gets familiar with the routine, you can place more hurdles along the way.

Ring Stack

Got a wee babe at home? Then, chances are, you already have a ring-stacking toy on hand. Did you know you could use it to play with your friend too?

Ring stacking is a great game that puts your hyperactive German Shepherd dog’s mental abilities to the test, so be prepared to dedicate lots of time and patience to the process.

How to play:

  1. Set up your ring stacker and direct your dog towards it with the ring. Your dog must understand the ‘fetch’ and ‘retrieve’ commands for this exercise. If they don’t, it would be best to give them basic training first to help them be on their best behavior.
  2. Now, command your dog to drop the ring near the ring stacker stick. Reward them only when they’re close to the target. 
  3. Repeat a couple of times. Chances are, your dog will likely drop the ring on the ring stack stick, albeit unknowingly. Cheer it on and give it a big treat for positive reinforcement. 
  4. Start with a single ring, then add more as you go till your dog gets the hang of it. With time and a little encouragement, your dog can stack the rings in the order of their size! 

If that game doesn’t speak for their intelligence, we don’t know what will.

Puzzle Games

Puzzle Games

Puzzle games are a great alternative to muffin tin games. It’s one of the best mind games for german shepherds to ever exist.

It entices German Shepherds of all shapes and sizes to use their minds (and bodies!) to win tasty treats. It comes in levels, so you can choose one that best complements your pooch.

Start with level 1, and increase the difficulty levels as your dog learns the ins and outs of it.

How to play:

  1. Grab some treats and command your dog to “sit” down.
  2. Once you’re sure their attention is on you, place the treats inside your dog’s favorite food dispensing toy. 
  3. Now, instruct your dog to find the treats. Your dog will have to learn to open the various compartments in the food dispensing toys to access the goodies. 

Dogs are pretty motivated when it comes to getting treats, so they’ll put in the work required to understand how the game works.

And, if they don’t, you can always give them plenty of encouragement to speed up the process.

The Name Game 

The name game is one of the best games for German Shepherds. It is complex, but as it results in your dogs learning a few choice words, it’s definitely worth the effort.

It keeps your German shepherd dog active and mentally strong; it also strengthens the bond between humans and dogs and can be played with young puppies and full-grown adults.

Start with one toy and add more as you go to keep your dog entertained for longer. 

How to play:

  1. Toss your dog’s toy and ask them to ‘retrieve’ it. As they go to fetch it, give the toy a name. Make sure the name is easy to understand, so your dog can easily pick up the concept. 
  2. Repeat this multiple times during your dog’s play hour, focusing on calling the toy by its correct name to avoid confusing your dog. 
  3. When your dog picks the right toy twice in a row, give them a treat. And, when it shows signs of learning its name, you can take things to the next level by introducing other toys to the game. 

By the end, you’ll be amazed by just how many names your intelligent pooch can remember and how many things it can relate to. 

Tug of War

Tug of War

Tug of war is a great game to play with your four-legged friend. It promotes impulse control and taps into the natural drives of the German Shepherd.

This indoor agility game requires lots of energy and can challenge your dog, especially when it comes to maintaining its grip on the rope. 

You can indulge in these fun activities with adult German shepherd dogs and puppies that have stopped teething.

It is one of those games where you won’t be required to train your dog – because, let’s face it, how many dogs have ever let anything go once they’ve got their eyes, err, mouth on it?

How to play:

  1. Get a rope and tie lots of knots on it for grip. You can choose whichever rope variety works for you. 
  2. Make your dog grab one end of the knotted rope in between its teeth. 
  3. Now, try to pull the rope off your dog’s mouth and engage it in a gentle game of tug. 
  4. Command your dog to ‘drop’ it, then reward them with a treat. 

Tug of war is a fun game, but it can stress your dog’s neck, back, and growing joints.

Thus, you are advised to play this game for only a couple of sessions per week, ranging from 10-15 minutes. It can help you train your dog – without the use of treats. 

Sherlock Bones

German Shepherds are known for their tracking and sniffing abilities. With this game, you can put their sense of smell to the test and give them the mental stimulation to last an entire day.

It’s one of the easiest games you can play with your German Shepherd puppies, and it can be played indoors – so both you and your pup can have some fun without leaving the comfort of your home. 

How to play:

  1. Leash your dog so it can’t follow you around. 
  2. Command your pup to ‘sit’ and offer them a piece of treat as temptation. 
  3. Now, place a few treats in plain sight, ensuring your dog’s attention is fixed on you.
  4. When your dog is successful in finding the treats you’ve hidden around the room, you can make the trail harder by hiding treats in more difficult places and letting them channel the inner explorer in them.

Once you’ve played this game a couple of times, you’ll only have to say ‘find’ for your dog to spring to action in the search for their favorite treats. 


German Shepherds are working dogs that thrive in homes where they’re given lots of love and play. 

In this article, we presented some of the best games to play with your German Shepherd, giving you the perfect opportunity to bond with your pup.

Playing games will also give your four-legged friend an outlet for their boundless energy, keep your dog’s physical health in its prime, and improve their behavior. 

So, which German Shepherd dog game are you most excited to try with your pup? Let us know in the comments below. 

Please note: Anything German Shepherd offers information, resources, and canine education to help you improve your German Shepherd dog’s quality of life.

Our content does not provide veterinary advice and, thus, should not be substituted for expert veterinary guidance.


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