Whether you’ve got a German Shepherd puppy and you want to help them control their high levels of energy, or you’ve got an aging German Shepherd that’s still got just as much energy as their younger days – one of the best ways to keep your four-legged pal stimulated is to incorporate the addition of “jobs” into their daily routine.
Now, we’re using that term pretty loosely, because these commands are actually super fun for German Shepherds! Not only do these tasks help to keep German Shepherds busy throughout the day, but it will help to improve their overall behavior, and will even serve as a way to keep them entertained – especially if you’re busy throughout the day.
Below, we’re going to be talking you through some of the best jobs that you can teach your German Shepherd, as well as some fun tricks and games that you can play with them along the way.
Even though they’ll probably be used the most around the household, these tricks and tasks can be enjoyed with your dog just about anywhere you like, including on walks. Let’s jump in!
Why Is It A Good Idea To Give Your German Shepherd Jobs To Do?
If you’re currently asking yourself this question, then rest assured that you’re not alone. As we’re sure you’re already familiar with, German Shepherds have a lot of energy, and this mainly comes down to the fact that they were bred to be working dogs, herding flocks on farms.
Fast forward to the modern-day, and even though there might not be such a high demand for herding and guarding flocks, the German Shepherd breed is still characterized by their intelligence and high levels of energy – which is why they’re so commonly used as service dogs, police dogs and, of course, as household pets.
So, seeing as German Shepherds have plenty of energy and are one of the most intelligent breeds of dog, it means that they require both mental and physical stimulation daily, otherwise they may begin to become naughty and bored due to their pent-up boredom and frustration.
Besides getting a physical workout every day from exercise and lots of playtime with their owners and other dog friends, it’s also a good idea to introduce the addition of “jobs” into a German Shepherds routine, as these simple yet engaging activities will help to give them a mental workout, too.
Not only will this have a positive impact on their overall well-being, but it will also help to improve their behavior. So much so, that many dog owners state that after just a few weeks of introducing tasks into their dog’s everyday routine, they noticed fewer signs of boredom, reduction in naughty behavior, and a general uplift in their dog’s mood each day.
Besides all of that, whether alone, with their owners, or spending time with other dogs at the park, German Shepherds absolutely love to play. So much so, that German Shepherds are known for having a childlike spirit that lasts throughout the entirety of their lives.
Just from that alone, it only makes sense that they should have plenty of fun things to keep them occupied throughout their days right? Right. This brings us to our next section.
7 Fun Jobs To Give Your German Shepherd:
Compared to other breeds of dogs, German Shepherds tend to be more prone to engaging in naughty behavior if they aren’t given anything to do, and this mostly comes down to their energetic nature.
Plus, just like we mentioned above, German Shepherds are also naturally clever and like to help their owners! So, besides helping your dog to stay active and stimulated, your dog will also feel happy because they will think that they’re helping you.
Choosing jobs to give your German Shepherd can be pretty tricky to figure out, especially if you’ve never given them one to do before.
However, there is a variety of fun and engaging tasks that your German Shepherd will love to do and the best part? They’re simple, quick, and super easy to learn, regardless of whether your dog is trained or is undergoing training.
To help make things even easier, below, we’re going to be talking you through some of the simplest and easiest jobs that you can begin teaching your dog to do today. Alongside each job, you’ll find a description of what it entails, as well as some guidance and instructions for teaching it to your dog. Ready to begin? Let’s take a look:
1. “Close The Door” Command
By far one of the easiest jobs you can give your German Shepherd is the Close The Door job. Not only will this be a super fun job for your German Shepherd, but it will also come in handy for those times when you walk into a room, get comfortable on a sofa or bed, and discover that you’ve accidentally forgotten to shut the door behind you!
Now, to successfully get your German Shepherd to carry out this job, you’re going to need to make sure that you’ve already taught them the common dog skill which is known as “target”.
If your German Shepherd has already been trained in this skill, then you might want to skip this part and head straight for the instructions on how to teach Close The Door to your German Shepherd. If you haven’t, though, take a look at the following instructions before proceeding to the next section:
In order to teach your dog to close doors, you’ll first need to make sure that you’ve taught your dog how to target. In a nutshell, targeting is when a dog is given a target to touch with a part of its body and is a great way to help build a dog’s confidence, while also improving the strength of the bond you share with your dog.
The easiest way to teach your German Shepherd how to target it is to rub some food on your hand so that your dog will then sniff your hand where the food touched.
Whenever your dog leans in to sniff your hand, say a special word (such as “touch”) followed by giving them a treat. Sooner or later, your German Shepherd will learn that whenever you say the special word that you picked, he will need to tap your hand with his nose. This can then be applied to the Close The Door task, as well as other jobs, too!
Close The Door Instructions:
As soon as your dog has learned how to target, teaching Close The Door (including many other jobs on this list) will be a whole lot easier.
When teaching your dog to close a door, simply place a target on the door, teach them to touch it with their paw or even their nose, then make sure to positively reinforce the behavior with a treat. Keep doing this until your German Shepherd is able to close doors on command!
2. “Carry Your Stuff” Command
Even though this job is called Carry Your Stuff, meaning that you’ll be teaching your dog to pick up their own items off the floor, you could also use it when you need your German Shepherd to help carry some of your items, such as things from the grocery store.
This task is pretty simple to teach, although we will say that you should only make sure that you tell your German Shepherd to pick up stuff that won’t be too heavy, and will be small enough to pick up in their mouth.
Alternatively, you could even give your German Shepherd a little bag to carry in his mouth that you could fill with toys or something similar, and then ask your dog to carry it for you.
Even though this job sounds pretty mundane, as a working dog, this will no doubt be extremely rewarding to your German Shepherd, especially if you make sure to give your dog lots of cuddles and praise after he has performed it.
Just like the Close The Door task, you’re going to need to make sure that your German Shepherd is already familiar with target training.
Carry Your Stuff Instructions:
To teach your German Shepherd this task, all you will need to do is place a target on the object or bag you are going to be training him with and then repeat the command “Carry your stuff” every time he picks the item up in his mouth.
In addition to speaking the command, make sure that you are giving your German Shepherd a treat after performing the job correctly, and keep repeating until the command has been learned.
3. “Put A Treat On Your Paw” Trick
This next job isn’t so much a job, but rather a mentally engaging trick that will help to improve your German Shepherd’s focus and concentration levels.
Just like we’ve already said, German Shepherds need just as much mental stimulation as physical stimulation to help prevent boredom and naughty behavior, so this task will be extremely fun for your German Shepherd!
In particular, this trick is especially useful to older German Shepherds who are not as active as they once were, although you could most definitely teach it to a younger German Shepherd who needs some help harnessing their high levels of energy in a positive way.
However, if your case is the latter, then keep in mind that teaching this trick might require some patience on your end – especially if you have a German Shepherd pup!
Put A Treat On Your Paw Instructions:
To begin teaching this trick to your German Shepherd dog, begin with your dog in a down position. Alternatively, if you have a puppy that is finding it hard to stay in one spot, it might be better to try teaching this trick when your puppy is relaxed and lying down.
Whenever you’re ready, take a treat and place it on one of your German Shepherd’s paws, making sure that you don’t let him eat it by either covering it with your hand or lifting it away if your dog tries to take it.
Alternatively, if your dog knows a “leave” command, use it on him if he attempts to eat the treat that has been placed on his paw.
When you’ve established with your dog that he can’t eat the treat just yet, wait a few moments before telling your dog to “take it” while also reinforcing his behavior with lots of praise and cuddles.
After doing this, we then recommend repeating this process a few more times, until your dog has learned to not take the treat off his paws until you tell him to go ahead and take it.
Additionally, you could even make things a little more interesting by balancing two treats on both of your dog’s front paws, which will be sure to engage your German Shepherd as he waits for the green light from you to eat the treats balancing on his paws.
4. “Pick The Cup” Game
The next task we’re going to be talking you through is Pick The Cup, which is a super fun game that will puzzle and excite your German Shepherd! It involves three cups, a tasty treat – and an inquisitive German Shepherd!
Ideal for all ages of German Shepherds, we’re sure that you’ll be pretty familiar with this game, and probably played it as a child. However, unlike the usual game which includes a dice or ball underneath one of the cups, for this dog-friendly version, we’re going to switch things up and incorporate a tasty treat to help engage your German Shepherd.
How to play this game:
In order to play this game, you’re going to need to grab three plastic cups, as well as one or two of your dog’s favorite treats. As a side note, we recommend that you get everything set up prior to calling your dog over, otherwise, he will know exactly where the treat is!
Once you are all set up, call your dog over to you and ask him to sit down in front of the cups, you’ll probably already notice that your German Shepherd can smell the treat hiding underneath the cup!
When you’re ready, begin moving the cups around for a few moments, before stopping and asking your dog to “pick” a cup. The aim of the game is for your dog to pick the right cup, so if he doesn’t get it right straight away, you can either choose to say “wrong cup” or immediately just begin moving the cups around again.
By doing this, your dog will learn that his job is to pick the right cup with the treat inside. As soon as your dog picks the right cup, you can then reward him by letting him eat the treat, while also giving him lots of praise!
Keep in mind that it might take your dog a few tries to get the hang of this game, so don’t get disheartened if you find that he’s not picking it up straight away. Keep at it, and soon enough this will be a fun game for you and your dog to play together.
5. “Zigzag Through The Cones” Game
The next job that you can give your German Shepherd is the zigzag game. If you’ve ever taken your dog to a training class, then you’ll likely have already played this game with your German Shepherd – the only difference is that your dog probably had to run through agility poles instead of through cones.
This game is ideal for playing both indoor and outdoor and is especially ideal for getting your German Shepherd active in smaller household spaces. This game is also great for older German Shepherds who need some moderate exercise that isn’t going to be too strenuous or painful on their joints.
In addition to this, your German Shepherd will respond in a similar way to this game, as he would if he were herding a flock of sheep!
In order to play this game with your German Shepherd, you’re going to need to have some cones at hand, as well as enough space to be able to make a zig-zag pattern with enough room for your German Shepherd to wiggle through. Follow the steps below to make sure that you set the game up correctly:
- Choose the space that you are going to be playing the zigzag game in. Then, make sure to clear away furniture or objects that could potentially be a hazard and get in the way while your dog is playing.
- Set up your cones, making sure that you are carefully spacing enough room in between all cones that will allow your dog to safely run through the cones without knocking them over or getting hurt.
- When you’ve set up the cones and you’re ready for your dog to play, call him over and ask him to sit in front of the cones. Let him take a look at the cones so that he is comfortable around them, and then take one of his favorite treats.
- With the treat in our hand, lure your German Shepherd towards the cones, and slowly walk him through the zigzag course so that he can get familiar with it.
- Each time you walk your German Shepherd through the cones, tell him “zigzag through the cones” before then giving him his treat once he has successfully completed it.
- Keep repeating this process until your German Shepherd is able to zigzag through the cones on command.
As a side note, while just starting out the game, we recommend that you place large spaces between the cones so that the game will be a lot easier and enjoyable for your dog to play.
However, as he starts to get the hang of the game, you can then begin to make things a little bit more challenging and engaging by pushing the cones a little closer together.
In addition to this, make sure that there is always enough space between the cones for your German Shepherd to be able to easily and safely move in between, especially if your dog is older.
Even though this game is ideal for indoor spaces with not a lot of room, this game can also be enjoyed outdoors, either in the backyard or at your local dog park!
6. “Tidy Up Your Toys” Command
Teaching your dog to be able to pick up his toys after playing with them is one of the most useful jobs you will give your German Shepherd! Once you have successfully taught your German Shepherd to be able to tidy up after playtime, it means that you won’t have to do it, and your dog is going to feel proud and satisfied for helping you.
Prior to teaching your dog this trick, you’re going to need to make sure that he already knows the “drop” and “pick up” commands. Follow the steps below to teach your dog how to tidy up his toys:
- The first thing you’re going to need to do is to grab a toy box or basket that you plan on keeping your German Shepherd’s toys inside.
- Wait until your German Shepherd has been playing with his toys, and when he has finished you can then proceed to ask him to tidy up his toys.
- For the best results, we recommend kneeling down next to the box or basket you plan on keeping the toys inside and then asking your dog to pick up one toy at a time.
- As soon as your dog brings one of his toys to you, make sure that you praise him and give him plenty of cuddles, as this will help him to understand that he is doing a good job.
- When you’re ready and finished giving your dog praise, you can then go ahead and ask him to drop the toy inside the toy box or basket. As soon as your German Shepherd drops the toy inside, make sure that you give him lots of praise again.
After you have taught your German Shepherd to successfully pick up his toys and drop them inside the box, you can then begin to attach a phrase to it, so that your dog will understand the command whenever you say it.
7. “Where’s Your Dinner?” Game
Last but certainly not least, another fun way that you can help to make your German Shepherd’s daily routine more interesting and engaging is by hiding his food and making him search around the house for it.
Your German Shepherd is no doubt already used to having his food given to him in the same bowl and location every day, so this game is sure to pique his interest! Follow the steps below:
- Instead of pouring your German Shepherd’s food into one bowl, take a few plastic bowls and divide your dog’s dinner into each bowl. After doing that, take each bowl to a different spot of the house, concealing each one so that your dog will have to sniff them out.
- Seeing as this will be your first time playing the game with your dog, we recommend starting off by showing your dog what you’re doing while you are hiding each bowl of food. This will help him to understand the game as time goes on.
- When you’ve hidden each bowl and you’re ready to start the game, ask your dog “Where’s your dinner?” before guiding him around each hiding location so that he can sniff out the food and retrieve each bowl.
- During the game, make sure that you are repeating the question, “Where’s your dinner?” as this will help him to understand to go and search for his dinner during any future games that you might play with him.
- After your dog has found all of his dinners, make sure that you give him plenty of praise!
- For any future games that you play with your dog, make sure that you are hiding his food while he is in a different room, as this will make it more fun for your German Shepherd to play, especially as they have a super keen sense of smell!
As your German Shepherd gets the gist of the game, you will then find that you are able to say to him “Where’s your dinner?” and he will instantly begin sniffing around your home trying to locate his delicious food.
As a slight alternative, you could even put treats inside a toy to give to your German Shepherd. This is ideal for German Shepherds of all ages, although it is especially ideal for older German Shepherds that aren’t as active as they used to be, or even for German Shepherd puppies who need some help channeling their energy throughout their day.