Daily physical and mental exercise are cornerstones in maintaining protection dog’s strength and endurance so that if the need arises he will be ready to perform their job to the best of his ability. Daily exercise is a great way to continue to build the bond between you and your protection dog as well as implementing and practicing his training.
Additionally, maintaining balance in your protection dog’s daily life through exercise prevents unwanted behaviors and boredom in the long run. The best way to do this is to have a variety of ways to exercise your dog physically and mentally. Czech German Shepherds are moderate to high energy dogs who are very intelligent so they love the challenge of doing different exercises.
For any of these workouts, it is important to take safety precautions to prevent injuries by utilizing warm up stretches or simply start your dog on-leash and have him in a controlled walk for a minimum of five minutes prior to letting him exert himself by trotting, jogging, running and/or jumping. Additionally, if your dog has a high activity exercise – never allow him to just collapse in the car or on the ground – hot and panting heavily. It is imperative that you cool your German Shepherd down by slowing his heart rate and breathing. Slow walking and stretching is the best way to cool your dog down. And lastly, do not feed your dog prior to exercise. Bloat kills. For more information on safe and effective techniques and exercises for warm-ups and cool-downs, stay tuned for our next blog article!
One of the many perks to owning a Valor Protection Dog is that all of our German Shepherds are raised by professional dog trainers and are tailor made to be go-anywhere and do-anything adventure dogs! Here are some of the fun ways our dogs love to workout!
Hiking with your personal protection dog
Valor Protection Dogs are raised in the beautiful Boise area, a mecca for hiking trails, so our dogs love to rack up the miles on outdoor trails! With their rock solid training, you can confidently explore knowing that you have complete control over your canine no matter what you may encounter.
Pro Tip: Make sure you know the terrain and weather of the trail you want to hike so that you can take precautions. The two most common injuries amongst hiking dogs are torn paw pads and heat stroke. So, utilize dog boots and/or musher’s wax to prevent paw pad injury and bring bone broth and water with you to keep your dog hydrated. The flavor of bone broth entices dogs to drink.
Never underestimate the value of a loose leash walk! It is an extremely effective way to give your dog a mental and physical workout. By practicing obedience and asking your dog to perform different behaviors for you, it keeps your dog on his toes. It is also a great way to keep your dog’s Heel command sharp!
Swimming with your German Shepherd
Swimming is one of the BEST and SAFEST exercises for your protection dog! It is non weight bearing and engages all major muscle groups. Swimming is guaranteed to keep your canine in great shape. Additionally, if your dog ever has a minor injury, swimming is a great way to ensure you don’t aggravate it while your dog is on the mend. All of our dogs are introduced to water at an early age and thoroughly enjoy swimming, boating and all of life’s water activities to include fetching sticks and balls thrown into the water. To see one of our young family protection dogs in action in the water, click here.
Playing fetch with your protection dog
Our dogs grow up learning and loving the game of fetch, and we know all dog owners love this game too! Our dogs learn the three rules of play at an early age: 1) wait to engage the toy, 2) bring it back, and 3) drop it on command. We only recommend using rubber balls and toys, not tennis balls (the felt on the tennis balls will drastically wear down the enamel on your German Shepherd’s teeth). And we highly recommend that all toys you are playing fetch with are size Large or bigger to prevent any accidental choking hazard. The game of fetch is a unique activity that directly involves explosive movement which means sudden and fast stopping and full extension running. It is of the utmost importance that you do a thorough warm-up to stretch out your protection dog prior to beginning to play fetch.
Pro Tip: Always be aware of the surface you are going to play on. We only recommend playing fetch on level and soft surfaces, such as grass or sand, to avoid accidental injuries.
A treadmill is one of the best pieces of equipment you can have if you own a protection dog! Working Line German Shepherds need exercise, and if you have a busy work day, or if the weather is bad, you can utilize the treadmill for those days when your dog might need an extra workout. All Valor Protection Dogs come fully treadmill trained so they can walk, trot and jog on it without direct supervision; however, for safety reasons, we recommend never leaving your dog alone on the treadmill. Interval treadmill exercise is a great workout. Meaning, alternating the speed at which your dog is going every 15 to 20 minutes. If you do plan to trot or jog your dog on the treadmill, make sure you always give him or her a five to 10 minute warm-up walking first and then increase the speed. Prior to taking your dog off of the treadmill, cool him down with another five to 10 minute walk where, every two minutes, you are slowing the pace of the walk.
Canine Fitness Circuit Exercises
Utilizing Fitpaws equipment is a guaranteed mental and physical workout with endless ways with which you can use each piece of equipment. Canine fitness is a fun and effective outdoor or indoor exercise. It’s also a great workout on days when you may be limited on time as you can tailor this to a 10 minute workout or a 45 minute workout! Furthermore, the only downside to exercising your dog via walks, hikes and running is that it only works one to two major muscle groups. So rotating canine fitness exercises into your regime is a great way to ensure you’re keeping your German Shepherd in top shape through strength and flexibility training.
Pro Tip: Utilize carpet, a rug or a yoga mat to ensure your dog doesn’t slip or slide as that can lead to injury.
Do you love to cruise around your neighborhood or local green belt? Bring your protection dog with you! Our Valor Protection Dogs have been trained to respect bikes and other wheeled objects like quads so you can confidently exercise your dog knowing that you won’t get dragged or run into it.
Pro Tip: Besides Huskies, dogs aren’t typically made to run long distances without stopping. So make sure that your dog determines the pace at which you go. If your dog slows down, you should slow down as well. A good rule of thumb is that if your bike and your dog are parallel, or your dog is slightly ahead, then that is a good pace for your dog. We only recommend biking in weather conditions that are safe for dogs to exert themselves. Avoid extreme cold (below 35 degrees), wet or icy ground, extreme heat or humidity (above 75 degrees) to avoid heat stroke or burned paws.
Valor Protection Dogs are very athletic and love agility obstacles! Purchasing agility jumps, a tunnel, A-frame, K9 Climb and/or tunnel shoot are quick and easy to set up in your yard or garage/room with non-slip surface. Agility is a great workout for endurance training and always a challenging mental workout. Best of all, it is fun for both you and your protection dog! We recommend only doing agility on groomed and level ground such as grass, artificial turf, sand or non-slip rubber to avoid accidental injury.
Final tips for exercising your protection dog
While exercise is important, and we do recommend exercising your protection dog five to six times a week, be careful that you do not create an athlete with unlimited endurance. By switching up your workouts and challenging different muscle groups, and by providing exercise that offers mental stimulation as well, you will have a healthy, fit and well-rounded dog who thrives off the various exercises your providing. You do not want to stick to just one or two workouts on a constant basis, or your dog will grow bored of them and not be challenged like you intend. Our protection dogs are Working Line German Shepherds and as such, they love a good challenge! Mix it up, and have fun with it, so your dog enjoys the workouts and finds them both mentally and physically tiring. Exercise is a fantastic way to bond with your dog. For more ways to keep your German Shepherd healthy, check out our article on nutrition!