German Shepherds are one of the most popular breeds of dog in the world, and for good reason! They are intelligent, athletic, and owner oriented. With this high level of popularity, many first-time German Shepherd owners may have gotten a dog without fully understanding the energy requirements that this breed requires.
Now, they are wondering how to manage their new German Shepherd’s energy and are wondering if their pups will ever run out of energy. So, when do German Shepherds calm down?
As a high energy breed, German Shepherds generally do not show a decrease in energy levels until their late adult or early senior years. They can calm down earlier if they are given appropriate energy outlets and proper training, and if their needs are met daily. Certain individuals may display more energy than others.
In the following article, we’ll look at the German Shepherd’s high energy and low energy periods on a deeper level, and what can contribute to excessive energy.
We’ll also discuss if high or low energy levels in individual German Shepherds are a concern, and I’ll provide some tips for how to help manage your German Shepherd’s high energy levels.
When Will My German Shepherd Calm Down?
While each individual dog can be different and there are a lot of external factors that can contribute to a German Shepherd’s energy level (or lack thereof), in general German Shepherds tend to be energetic well into their senior years due to their history as a working dog.
Newborn German Shepherd puppies are less active than those who are nearing the weaning stage from their mothers, and their activity levels only increase from there!
German Shepherds are a very curious and brave breed, so puppies tend to be quite active and engaged with the world from a very young age, which can lead to higher energy levels.
As the puppies reach sexual maturity and enter into adolescence, their energy reaches a peak and they will need quite a bit of interaction and activity in order to keep them happy and healthy.
Just look at these puppies, do you think you could keep up with these cuties?
As German Shepherds reach around a year old, they will be at their most active and this period of high energy will usually last all the way up until about 6 or 7 years.
This is the point in their life where a German Shepherd can really test their owners in terms of having their energy needs met, so it’s important that they receive adequate physical and mental stimulation during these years or else they may find their own way to entertain themselves (and it usually involves destruction!).
Some German Shepherds who come from working line genetics or those whose background involves ancestors who were heavily involved (and specifically bred for) certain high adrenaline dog sports will likely be even higher in energy levels.
German Shepherds who were bred for police and military work will generally show the highest energy levels, and those bred for show, pets, or for use as service animals will generally have typical or lower energy levels compared to the breed standard.
The working line dogs will also likely maintain their energy levels far later into life than other lines, and may need additional outlets for that continuous energy.
The energy levels of German Shepherds tend to start declining as they reach their senior years (which can start as early as 7 or 8 years for some dogs), but they often still show quick bursts of high activity level, and many healthy German Shepherds can and will stay quite active up into their twilight years.
My own senior German Shepherd will be turning 18 this summer, and while he can’t get around like he used to, he still enjoys racing to the back door for a leisurely walk around the block or a good game of Tug of War.
Why Won’t My German Shepherd Calm Down?
It is worth repeating that each German Shepherd is an individual, and they may have their own ebbs and flows of energy levels throughout their lives.
But there are a few factors that can directly influence the energy level of a German Shepherd, and why they seem to have more energy than they should.
Lack of Enrichment
Dogs require both physical and mental stimulation in order to be happy and healthy, and as a working breed German Shepherds tend to require an increased amount in order to have their needs met when compared to a breed of dog that traditionally has only been used as a companion, such as many of the Toy breeds.
German Shepherds are also very owner-oriented, and if they are left alone for long periods of time with nothing to do, they can build up frustrated energy which can express itself as destructive behaviors or separation anxiety and increased vocalizations.
German Shepherds who are kept crated or tethered all day, every day will also develop pent up energy that will evolve into behavioral issues down the line. Enrichment is important to a dog’s health and well-being and ensuring that your German Shepherd has all their needs met on a daily basis will help keep their energy levels more manageable.
Not Enough Exercise
German Shepherds are considered a highly active and athletic breed of dog, and if they are not receiving enough physical exercise their energy levels may reach an unmanageable point.
Similar to dogs experiencing a lack of enrichment, a lack of exercise can cause an increase in pent up energy which will eventually express itself as destructive behaviors and/or behavioral disorders.
This is especially true for German Shepherds in the adolescent and adult stages of their lives, where their energy is often much higher than at other points. The adolescent period in particular is also usually the stage in which dogs become more confident and interested in the world around them, and other unwanted behaviors may appear which the pent-up energy can make worse.
Oftentimes, a simple walk around the block is not enough physical exercise for a young, exuberant German Shepherd so you must supplement with vigorous playtime or more extensive exercise on the weekends such as a lengthy hike or a trip to the lake for a good swimming session.
Poor Impulse Control
Aside from their natural athleticism which can increase their energy levels, German Shepherds are also considered highly intelligent dogs who require training from a young age in order to manage their tenacity and interest in everything and anything around them.
If they do not receive proper training and develop poor impulse control as a result, they may show a higher level of energy at inappropriate times and may not know how to curb that energy into more appropriate outlets.
A good example of this is when a young German Shepherd has not been taught polite greetings when a guest arrives at the house. Their excitement at having someone new over at the house could be so great that they don’t know what to do with that excess energy, thus they usually end up jumping at the guest, barking and crying, perhaps even peeing, mouthing at, or pacing in circles around the guest.
If this pup had been taught that the arrival of guests is an ordinary occurrence that requires more reserved enthusiasm, or they were taught to go get a toy to occupy themselves when a guest arrives or to go to their “place” until the energy has calmed down, then they would show better impulse control and more management of that excited energy.
Medical Or Behavioral Issues
In some cases, excessive energy is a result of an underlying medical or behavioral issue. German Shepherds who suffer from separation anxiety or who display increases in energy as a result of reactivity or attention-seeking behaviors may show higher energy levels than they should when in certain situations or environments.
In these instances, it may require the intervention of a vet or a reputable dog trainer to help the German Shepherd change their association with these triggers and/or receive help via medications and specialized behavioral work.
How Can I Calm My German Shepherd Down?
There are several things that you can do as a responsible dog owner to help your German Shepherd find outlets for their energy and to keep them happy and healthy.
Exercise Your Pup Daily
Exercising your German Shepherd is a given if you want to have a peaceful household! Daily walks are the minimum requirement for most German Shepherds, and you often have to include additional playtime if your walks are short or there are not enough sensory experiences along your walking route to tire your pup out mentally.
Extensive play sessions involving tug of war or fetch are other good ways to help tire your dog out. While German Shepherds can do well without a big yard, if you happen to have one you could also set up agility equipment or even basic play equipment normally designed for children to give them something to do when you are not able to walk them.
There are even doggy treadmills available for owners to purchase for those particularly energetic German Shepherds if running a 5k every day doesn’t sound like your cup of tea!
Provide Sensory Experiences
Mental enrichment is another important part of dog ownership, and this is especially true for German Shepherds due to their high intelligence levels and interest in solving puzzles and playing games.
Changing up your walking route or stopping for “sniff breaks” throughout the walk are both good ways to add some different sensory experiences to your daily walks.
Doing different physical activities or games with your German Shepherd are also good ways to provide some mental enrichment as well as tire them out physically. Flyball, agility, or lure coursing are all good high energy activities that German Shepherds can do well with.
You can also utilize puzzle toys, and snuffle mats, or teach your German Shepherd some nose work games to provide mental enrichment but in a quieter, less energetic way.
Train Your Pup
Training is not only a necessary part of being a responsible dog owner, but it is also a great way to help with energy and provides mental enrichment for German Shepherds.
Outside of typical obedience training (which will help develop good impulse control in your pup), you can also train your German Shepherd to do pretty much anything and everything. The list is almost endless!
Training your German Shepherd can help alleviate pent up energy due to boredom, and also helps keep them interested and engaged with you rather than acting silly. Trick training (shake, roll over, etc.) and task training (opening the door, putting laundry in the basket, etc.) are both great ways of helping meet the needs of your German Shepherd.
Is It Bad If My German Shepherd Has Too Much Energy?
This depends entirely on how your German Shepherd uses their excessive energy, and if the energy is a result of their needs not being met.
If the excessive energy interferes with training, is a safety concern, or causes problems in your household or neighborhood, then the energy probably needs dealt with and additional measures should be taken to make sure your German Shepherd is receiving appropriate care and that their physical and mental needs are being met.
If the excess energy is a result of your German Shepherd being in the adolescent stage or they just have naturally high energy levels due to genetics, and if you can safely and effectively make sure they have appropriate outlets for that energy, then it’s probably OK if your pup has higher energy levels.
Is It Bad If My German Shepherd Is Not Energetic?
It’s important to understand your German Shepherd’s normal energy levels before determining if a lack of energy is a bad thing.
Did you just take them on a particularly exhaustive hike, or are they recovering from an illness or injury? Then the lower energy levels they may be displaying are probably normal and nothing to be concerned about.
Some German Shepherds are also just a bit lazier than other German Shepherds, and as your dog enters into their senior years you may notice steadily decreasing energy levels.
But if your German Shepherd suddenly displays a lack of energy in comparison to their normal energy level, then a vet visit might be in order. Certain illnesses can cause a decrease in energy, and in some cases, a sudden onset of lethargy is a serious concern that requires immediate veterinary attention when accompanied by other symptoms such as drooling, excessive panting, crying, inability to find a comfortable position, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If your German Shepherd is not as energetic as he usually is, it might be worth a check up just to rule out any underlying issues.
While each individual German Shepherd may have varying energy levels, most German Shepherds have their highest energy levels during their adolescent and adult years and then their energy begins to decrease once they enter into their senior years.
They are considered a high energy breed, but as long as their physical and mental needs are being met on a daily basis their energy is manageable. German Shepherds who do not have their needs met, or who may be suffering from an underlying medical or behavioral issue, may show higher bursts of energy at inappropriate times or they may engage in unwanted behaviors including chewing, digging, and howling.
Making sure that you exercise your German Shepherd physically and mentally will help keep them happy and healthy!