Being a pet parent is one of the joys of life. The delight of waking up to a wagging tail is incomparable. Things turn out more fun when you have a lovely and loyal dog like the German shepherd. Talk of loyalty, intelligence, confidence, and trainability, and definitely the GSD is one of the dog breeds that won’t disappoint in either. They have a larger than life personality, and that’s what makes them among the most famous dog breeds, not only in the United States but also on the entire planet. Now, like any other dog kind, to deal with your GSD effectively will need you to first have a deeper understanding of them. For instance, you need to know how to train them effectively, their daily basic requirements, demeanor, and of course, how to calm them down!
Having that said, how exactly can you get German shepherds to calm down? Well, the fact is that these dogs are a bundle of energy and will more often display some undesirable behavior. However, by taking a few necessary steps, it’s possible to calm your GSD to the dog you’ve always wanted.
Why Are German Shepherds So Energetic?
Before we get into the main agenda of today’s article, let’s begin by understanding the reason behind the GSD’s enormous energy. So, why are some dogs like GSD’s more energetic than others?
It’s simple- the main difference in energy levels come in their genetic makeup. German shepherds were originally bred for herding sheep. They were for watching over the sheep from any attack by predators. These canines were also to help in gathering the sheep in a particular way and preventing them from running all over.
To perform these tasks effectively, a dog needs to have an athletic body. Other necessary traits include high levels of intelligence, confidence, and courage. And yes, that’s exactly what the German shepherds have.
Now, if you don’t give your German shepherd sheep to herd, or keep him physically and mentally stimulated, the excess energy may prompt him to act out.
At What Age Do German Shepherds Become Energetic?
As stated earlier, German shepherds don’t pick this trait from the external environment. It’s an inborn trait, something that comes locked deep in their genetic composition. Hence, they have it right at birth.
Nevertheless, they lack the physical capability to execute the behavior, and that’s why they won’t portray even a clue of it at the early stages of their puppyhood. However, as they continue to grow, the behavior begins to unleash. This is when they begin to show some form of aggression and start to chew stuff around the house. But just when are you going to begin to note the behavior?
Well, the age will differ from one GSD to another. However, most of the GSDs will start displaying some bursts of energy at the age of three months. At this time, all their bred-in traits are already solidified. It’s time they become too curious about their surroundings and just want to explore everything around them.
This stage will continue until they are about 3 years old. But before they are three, they already have enough energy, body, and courage. At this stage, the vast amount of energy can lure them to behaving inappropriately. But as you are just about to learn, there are many ways you can handle your lovely GSD effectively.
How To Get Your German Shepherd To Calm Down
German shepherds are one of the dog breeds that excel in tasking jobs. Have you ever heard the story about the canine hero Rin Tin Tin? Well, for the uninitiated, this lovely canine was famous in battlefields during World War II. He went on to star on lots of Hollywood shows.
But after him, we’ve seen more of these dogs feature in movies, leave alone meeting them walking down the streets with the military. And of course, the huge amount of energy they pack is one of the core things we can attribute to their heroics. Nevertheless, this energy can at times invite trouble. Here are some of the steps to implement if your GSD is already displaying some unnecessary amount of energy.
Make Exercise a Routine
German shepherds fall in the category of herding dogs. They want to remain physically active. That’s why you should have the proper arrangements in place for keeping them active even before you pay a visit to a breeder or an animal shelter.
Now, there are many ways you can adopt to help your pup dispel any excess amount of energy. For instance, if you go for morning runs, your German shepherd can make a great running partner. When training him for runs, begin him at a low pace with plenty of water breaks. You can then increase the distance gradually until he is comfortable running the distance you see fit for him.
Another effective way you can keep him physically active is by scheduling regular walks. For a GSD, a daily walk of about 2 hours is enough to help him get rid of the excess energy. You can take one long walk or schedule one in the morning and afternoon (or evening) depending on your availability.
If you don’t have enough time for such walks, you can embark on other effective ways. A case in point is playing around with him. Your German shepherd will find fun in games such as tug of war and a game of fetch. In fact, these games will not only keep him active but also help him develop a strong bond with your GSD quite fast.
However, ensure that you don’t overwork your dog. According to experts, GSDs are among the dog breeds that have extended puppyhood. To be precise, the puppyhood of these dogs will continue until they are 2-3 years. Hence, any form of heavy exercise can cause developmental disorders such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy (DM), and many other common conditions in GSDs. That said, it’s wise to seek to advice from a pet or professional before you involve your puppy in any form of exercise.
Keep A Close Check On The Diet
Like any other living organism, German shepherds need food to generate energy. Therefore, it’s possible to control their energy levels by regulating what you offer them for food. Of course, food is a necessity for survival, but giving them more than what they actually need can attract some negative behaviors such as aggression, chewing stuff, jumping on people, and more.
So, how much amount of food is good for your furry friend? Well, the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies has an answer to this. According to this body, with an active lifestyle, a mature German shepherd (weighing 60-90 lbs.) will need about 1700 to 2100 calories. However, for those that don’t have much to do, they need anywhere between 1272 and 1500 calories.
However, when dealing with a German shepherd puppy, their dietary needs differ from that of the adults. For instance, while the protein content in adult food needs to be about 18%, foods for puppies need to have more protein content to help them grow. It should account for at least 22% of their food.
Now, if you don’t have enough time to meet their daily exercise requirements, you can cut on the number of calories. However, be sure to not starve him. Remember that the major aim is to get rid of the excess amount of energy without making him lose his body mass.
Keep Him Mentally Stimulated
Keeping an active dog is more than just regular exercise, proper diet, and vet visits. Your dog needs things to keep their minds at work. They were originally for herding, a job that requires a pup to have the ability to make quick and wise decisions. Hence, one way to have them calm down is through adequate mental stimulation.
There are many ways of keeping your GSD mentally active. For instance, you can buy him a chew toy. German shepherds, especially puppies love to chew. That’s why you may have heard some people call them “land sharks”.
It’s easy to get the right toy for your dog. They come in different sizes, colors, shapes, and constructions so finding the right one for your German shepherd should be quite straightforward.
Other than toys, puzzles will also keep your dog mentally active. Some puzzles will allow you to stuff your dog’s favorite treat inside. They require the dogs to work out the puzzle to find a way of accessing the treat inside.
If you don’t want to use toys or puzzles, or maybe are struggling to get the ideal one for your pet, you can opt to play mental-stimulating games like the Hide and Seek. German shepherds find much fun in this game. It’s one game that will keep their mind hyper-alert and racing as they try to find you.
Still, you can come up with a game of your own. For instance, you can choose to hide a packet of her favorite snacks and make her find it. This is not only mentally stimulating but also helps your furbaby put her nose to the test. How good you hide the snacks will determine how long the game will last.
Never Underestimate The Value of Training
Training is something that every dog needs, no matter the breed. The importance can never be overstated when we are talking about an energetic dog breed like the German shepherd. And while the ease of trainability varies from one dog breed to another, the good news is that German shepherds are among the easiest dogs to train.
In fact, in his book; “The Intelligence of Dogs” Stanley Corren, a professor of canine psychology classifies them third on the list of the smartest dog breeds, only after Border Collie and Poodle. According to him, German shepherds can learn new commands in five exposures or less and obey them in the first command in at least 95% of the time.
Training involves teaching your pooch to obey your commands. It involves instilling the right behavior in your pup. While it’s another way of stimulating him mentally, it provides a way for you to communicate with your canine. With proper training, you can command your dog when to behave in a better way.
German shepherds will excel in training no matter their age. However, most experts recommend embarking on training as early as possible, preferably at the age of 8 weeks. When training, begin with basic commands and use one-word commands. Also, keep the sessions as short as possible and use positive re-enforcement methods.
Ignore Any Bad Behavior
German shepherds are among the dogs that do their things to please you. They always want to get your attention. Now, if you notice that your dog is behaving inappropriately, let’s say like jumping on you when you return home, one way to discourage that behavior is by ignoring him. This means denying him your attention, don’t even greet him, or push him.
Ignoring your pet is a great and effective way of telling them that you are not happy or interested in whatever he is doing. However, when he gets back to his feet, you can now greet him. If he jumps again on you, ignore him until he’s again back to his four feet.
Socialize Your Pet
The intelligence and hunting instincts of German shepherds do not allow them to befriend people and other pets in the first meeting. I mean, by default, German shepherds will grow to display a standoffish behavior around strangers.
That’s why as a pet owner, you need to get your German shepherd to meet new people right from the early days of their puppyhood. By doing this, you are simply teaching them not all unfamiliar faces are bad.
One good way to socialize your canine is by getting him to meet your friends when you invite them over for a party. Having your GSD puppy accompany you to public places such as the marketplace is another effective way you can use to help him learn to remain calm when meeting strangers.
It’s normal for a German shepherd to display some behaviors. Luckily, there is a way to make him as calm as a sleeping baby when you notice that he is often directing the surplus energy to undesirable behavior. Regular physical and mental stimulation, training, socialization, and controlling his diet are among the most successful methods you can use.
The good thing about these dogs is that they are clever, loyal, willing to learn, and are always motivated by the need to please their human partners. These traits make them more obedient to your commands and therefore will only do what they think will please you.