Do German Shepherds make good running partners?
Yes, German Shepherds can make for good running partners. They’re strong, athletic, and full of energy making them very much capable of keeping up with their owners even when running long distances.
That said, a German Shepherd’s capability to run will primarily rely on its health and built-up endurance. Similar to how you can’t expect an untrained person to run a marathon, a German Shepherd that hasn’t built-up the strength and endurance to run will be unlikely to become the ideal running partner that you want.
Therefore, for a German Shepherd to become a good running companion, it needs to be trained and undergo a gradual process of strength and endurance build-up.
How To Start Running With Your German Shepherd
Consult With A Veterinarian
Before everything else, you want to consult with a veterinarian about your German Shepherd’s fitness. That way, your vet will be able to provide you with proper insight into your dog’s current capabilities and give you advice on how you can exercise and prepare your dog for running.
Also, if your German Shepherd is younger than 12 to 18 months of age, your vet may then caution you about taking your German Shepherd out for distance running. Note that your German Shepherd is still developing during this period and running may actually cause damage to its joints and bones.
That said, should you be given the green light, you can then proceed with exercising and training your German Shepherd to become your running partner.
While German Shepherds are generally gifted with the physical ability and energy to keep up with the stride of an average runner, they will still need to train and build up endurance to become ideal running partners. Without exercise and training, you shouldn’t expect your German Shepherd to take on long distances or fast-paced runs.
So, in order to get your German Shepherd fit for running, start slow by first taking it out for walks and slow jogs. As your dog gets more and more used to jogging, you can then start to increase both pace and distance until it eventually becomes comfortable running.
Here are specific steps provided by Active.com that you can take to help build up both your German Shepherd’s pace and distance:
First, identify your average mile time by timing your mile run at a comfortable pace.
You then take that time and multiply it to either a 5k (3.1 miles) or 10k (6.2miles) distance to get your projected run time for the respective distances. For example, suppose your mile time is 10 minutes, then your projected 5k time would be 31 minutes while your 10k time would be 62 minutes. The projected results are then the times that you and your German Shepherd should aim to reach during training.
After recording your mile time and calculating your projected times, you can then start training by running with your dog for 10 minutes every other day for a week. Then for every week thereafter, you add 10 minutes to the running time while following the routine of running every other day. Continue adding 10 minutes of run time weekly until you reach the projected time, which you’ve calculated beforehand.
Once you’ve reached your time, you can then comfortably keep running with your German Shepherd.
Always Warm Up And Cool Down
In relation to taking it slow, never forget about warming up and cooling down. Doing so will help prevent your German Shepherd from having injuries to its joints and muscles.
So, let your dog walk and move around for a few minutes before and after running.
Stay Patient And Take Breaks
It’s important to note that training your German Shepherd for running is a process. Meaning, it can take some time before your dog turns into an ideal running partner.
So, learn to be patient, and learn to keep an eye out for your dog, especially during training. There may be instances wherein they won’t be able to run consistently for the allocated time or distance. If that happens, allow your dog to rest and tend to its needs.
Furthermore, as the owner, provide your dog water and snacks as needed, and always keep a lookout for signs of overexertion. If you push your dog too hard, then it may feel tired, sore, and become susceptible to muscle and joint injuries like hip dysplasia.
If you notice your German Shepherd panting, lagging, and being lethargic, don’t hesitate to stop running to let your dog rest and rehydrate.
Teach Your German Shepherd Cues And Commands
Aside from getting your German Shepherd into running shape, you should also teach your dog cues and commands during training.
Teaching your dog commands such as “walk,” “jog,” “run,” and “stop” will allow you to more easily control your dog’s pace. It will also allow your dog to keep up with you better, and make it easier for them to adjust their pace according to the cue or command that you give.
To do so, try to mix in cues as you transition from one pace to another. For example, before stopping, give out the command to stop and praise your dog, should it act accordingly. Through consistent use of cues and commands, your German Shepherd will eventually associate them with the proper way to react.
Other Important Considerations
Leash Training And Socialization
Given that running is an outdoor activity, it’s your responsibility as the owner to keep your German Shepherd’s actions in check and make sure that it doesn’t disrupt others in any way.
Simply put, you can’t allow your dog to chase around pets and other people. And so it’s important to both socialize and leash train your German Shepherd.
Socialization will allow your German Shepherd to become familiar and essentially desensitized from the different stimuli it may encounter while running. While on the other hand, leash training will allow you to restrain your dog with a leash comfortably.
With both, you’d be able to have better control of your dog’s actions and movements during runs and most importantly, prevent possible issues due to loss of control.
Terrain And Weather
You should also consider your dog’s safety when going out for runs. So before running, be sure to check up on both weather and terrain.
For instance, when it comes to weather, make sure that you try to avoid going out for runs when it’s either too hot or too cold.
Going out on a run when both temperature and humidity are high will put your dog at risk of heatstroke. In the same way, going out for long runs on very cold days may cause problems such as frostbite or hypothermia.
As for terrain, keep in mind that rough terrain may end up hurting your German Shepherd’s paws. So, you may want to take your German Shepherd out to soft dirt trails, parks, or beaches where it can run on gentle surfaces like sand and grass instead of hard pavement or rocky terrain.
Always Be Prepared
Lastly, always be prepared when it comes to your dog’s needs. Again, be sure that you’re able to provide your German Shepherd with water and snacks as needed.
But aside from that, you should also be prepared for when your dog needs to relieve itself. So, be sure to bring along some poop bags as well.
Should You Run With Your German Shepherd?
Given the need for training, is it even worth it to run with a German Shepherd? Should you put in the effort to train your German Shepherd for running?
Well, it depends on you. If you truly intend to have your German Shepherd as a running partner, then, by all means, start training.
After all, running is a great way to both bond with your dog and to keep it healthy and in shape. So, not only will running with your German Shepherd satisfy your need for a running partner, it will serve as a good way to address your dog’s exercise and social needs.
Do German Shepherds Make Good Running Partners?
Yes they do! With their innate physical abilities, trainability, and eagerness to learn, given time and effort, they will most definitely make for a great running partners.
What Age Can A German Shepherd Start Running?
A German Shepherd can generally start running at around 6 months of age. Any earlier, and running may affect the dog’s growing joints and muscles.
Also, a German Shepherd younger than around 12 to 18 months of age will still not be suitable for distance running, and may only safely do so when fully grown.
How Fast Can German Shepherds Run?
German Shepherds can run up to 30 mph and are one of the fastest canines. This is, of course, given that the dog is in shape and in good medical condition.
How Far Can You Run With A German Shepherd?
The distance that a German Shepherd can run depends highly on its endurance. Given the proper training and conditioning, they may be capable of running between 5 to 20 miles.