Many German Shepherd owners of our breed mistakenly believe that young puppies (12 months old) should have enough exercise. Because the German shepherd dog is a fast-growing breed (compared with some other working breeds), in fact, it is the opposite. Excessive exercise stress on the bones of young German shepherds is usually irreversible. The extension of ligaments in infancy, the pressure on the growing joints in infancy, or excessive load on the whole skeleton can cause damage to puppies and cause problems in adulthood. Compare a young shepherd to a 3-4-year-old human child – certainly not ready to run a marathon, but as you grow and mature, this moment may come.
As a general rule of thumb and guiding principle for novice German shepherd dog owners, the German shepherd dog’s leading movement should be very limited before the German shepherd dog reaches its final growth and height at about 12 months old. At that time, puppies can start to exercise longer. If there is any possibility of wear on the hip and elbow joints of German shepherd dogs, we will seek further advice for proper exercise. Then, and only in this way, you should develop your dog to the level of health you need in any area of your choice – whether it’s showing dogs, training, agility, or being a family partner for adult animals – all while growing up.
Until then, German Shepherds should be careful and slow. At 12 months old, natural free running is the best way for young German shepherd dogs to exercise. Once tired, they can easily stop performing instead of continuing to perform because they want to please and keep up with you! Of course, you’ll want leadership to train and socialize your puppies, but sport leadership should not go beyond that. A 6-month-old pup should not spend more than 5 minutes (equivalent to a short walk in the local block or park) in a single walk (fast walk), and then rest. Dogs need plenty of rest and sleep, just like children. Of course, they can play in your backyard or kennel, but when they get tired, they stop to rest and play again. More than six months – lead training can be extended to 10 minutes if you like, but moderation is the best instruction, and if a dog shows a tendency to fatigue, stop!
Let your German Shepherd grow steadily and slowly, and the pleasure of having a companion to run a few kilometers with you (as an adult dog) won’t be hurt by doing too much and too fast. Enjoy the first 12 months of your little German Shepherd as a friend and enjoy your whole life with a healthy adult German shepherd dog.
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