Do German Shepherds Like to Hike? Tips & Hiking Gear

white german shepherd on hiking trail

If you’re the active kind and have a German Shepherd at home, you might be wondering where you can take your dog to. Is it possible for you to go on hikes instead of ordinary walks with your dog? Even if it is possible, will that be the type of activity that your German enjoys?

German Shepherds will like to hike as long as you train them and get them used to it. It is the perfect energy-intensive exercise for active breeds. However, it is also important to know your dog’s limits to avoid problems.

To find out more about why your German Shepherd is one of the best-suited dogs for hiking and what you need to do when you take them out to hike, keep reading this article. 

What Type of Dog Is a German Shepherd?

A German Shepherd is a dog that was bred as a herding and guard dog. These types of dogs were initially in charge of herding large groups of animals from one place to another or guarding a group of animals against predators.

As a result, you can imagine that they are quite energetic, though aggressive at times. Hence, they need to be kept occupied through a regiment of exercise.

Fully-grown German Shepherds at approximately 3 years of age require an average of at least 2 hours of exercise a day.

While the duration of exercise for younger German Shepherds is not quite that long, they still require their daily dose of exercise. 

If you don’t take them out enough, a German Shepherd will begin behaving in a high-strung and mischievous manner.

This is because they’re not receiving the proper stimulation and burning off the required amount of energy every day, resulting in the energy becoming pent-up and your dog acting out. 

Thus, it is guaranteed that your German Shepherd would love to go hiking with you because hiking is the perfect kind of energy-intensive exercise suited to working, guarding, and herding breeds like German Shepherds. 

How Do You Get Your German Shepherd Accustomed to Hiking?

Although German Shepherds need energy-intensive exercises, this does not mean that they know what hiking is. Your dog might get spooked or refuse to continue hiking if they are not used to it, or if you try to make them hike for a very long distance, especially on steep terrain. 

Instead, try bringing your dog with you to hike short distances periodically, and then slowly increase the distance until both you and your animal companion are comfortable hiking long distances. This should be rather easy because German Shepherds are one of the most obedient dogs out there. 

Keep in mind that the distance your dog can hike depends on its age. For example, you should not take a four-month-old hiking at all because it is too much stress on a puppy’s skeleton and could lead to hip problems later on. 

Even after your German Shepherd hits the eight-month age and it is possible to take them hiking for a mile or so, you need to pay attention to the distance you cover to not overexert your dog and to any telltale signs of tiredness in your dog. 

Here are some identifiers of tiredness in your German Shepherd:

  • Reluctance to follow commands. German Shepherds can be very mischievous at times, but they’re usually very obedient. If your dog is refusing to follow the commands that you give them while on a hike, it could mean that they’re extremely tired.  
  • Reluctance to continue exercising. A German Shepherd is always full of energy and usually very bouncy and playful. If they just lie down and refuse to walk, or you have to start dragging them along on the leash, it means they’re extremely tired. A continuation of exercise at this point could result in joint problems and muscle stiffness. 
  • Excessive panting or drooling. Panting or drooling is to be expected when your dog is doing vigorous exercise. However, excessive panting could mean that your dog is overheating and well on the way to overexertion. 
  • Bright red gums. Dogs with heat stroke often have bright red gums because they’re trying to cool their body temperature by bringing blood and the accompanying heat with it to the surface. 

Supplies You Need to Go Hiking With Your German Shepherd

If you plan on going for a hike that could last at least a few hours, you need to ensure that you are properly equipped.

Here are some helpful items that you should consider bringing along on your hike to make sure that you and your German Shepherd are prepared for whatever may come your way:

Dog Bowl

Instead of a regular dog bowl, it’s more practical to have a collapsible one when you go traveling because it saves space. You can buy this EWYO Collapsible Dog Bowl on Amazon if you don’t already have one. 

ID Tags

Any pet should always have an ID tag because there is a possibility that your pet could wander off without you. Even if you’ve microchipped your dog, an ID tag is always a good precautionary extra measure. 

Walking Harness

A well-fitting harness ensures that your dogs can breathe, but also that they won’t be able to slip out.

The WALKTOFINE Dog Harness No Pull Reflective Harness with Handle is a fully adjustable harness. It is designed for large dogs and will help you keep control of your GSD. In fact, you may even find this a very helpful aid in hiking steep terrain, as your GSD may literally pull you along!

Location Tracker

You can also go the extra mile and get some tech to make sure that you never lose track of your German Shepherd with the Whistle GO & GO Explore Location Tracker.

With this tracking collar, you can be sure that your GSD won’t wander off and get himself into some unexpected trouble.

High Quality Leash

When hiking with your GSD, you will need a leash that is strong that won’t break under the pressure of pulling, and not so long that it may get tangles on trail obstacles.

The BAAPET 5 foot long leash is perfect for this. It’s made from rock climbing rope and is comfortable to hang on to.

Camping Blanket

If you plan to hike for multiple days, you need a blanket for your dog to sleep on at night and when they’re taking breaks during the day. We find that the Arcturus Military Wool Blanket works perfectly. It’s warm and weather resistant – perfect for your dog on a cold night!

Paw Protectors

This could be a new concept for first-time dog owners, but paw protectors are essential for protecting dog’s paws over different kinds of terrain. You can buy these All Weather Neoprene Paw Protector Dog Boots from Amazon. They are great for hiking in any weather, and even swimming!

First-Aid Kit

Superficial bruising and cuts can occur very easily when dogs come into contact with branches and rocks. A first aid kit is necessary to ensure that these cuts do not get infected and remain bacteria-free. 

The Pet First-Aid Kit from Rayco fits the bill perfectly. It contains all of the essentials to patch up scrapes and cuts and will give you the security that your pup is safe and well cared for in case of minor injury.

Dog Specific Drying Towel

You need to rub your dog down with a towel to remove both sweat and any dirt that might have gotten into their coats. The Bone Dry Embroidered Pet Towel is the perfect choice. It’s lightweight, durable, easy to carry, and will make sure that your GSD stays dry and warm when needed.

Dog Food and Treats

This is self-explanatory because your dog is going to be expanding a large amount of energy while exercising, they need to replenish it via food. 

So just take a baggie of your dog’s regular food, and perhaps supplement with Merrick Power Bites All Natural Grain Free Gluten Free Soft & Chewy Chews Dog Treats. Just like a power bar for you, these little treats pack a punch to keep your GSD going on those long hikes!

Plastic Poop Baggies

It doesn’t matter where you are, you need to clean up after your dog defecates, and especially in places where others walk. 

These Earth Rated Dog Poop Bags are perfect for the job. They are guaranteed leak-proof so you won’t have to worry about any of the bags causing a mess while you are enjoying your time along with your hiking buddy!

Throughout the hike, it is important to take water breaks frequently both for you and your dog so that both of you stay hydrated.

You should also remember not to feed your dog large meals right before the hike because they could vomit it out or become very lethargic. Instead, feed them a portion of their meal and give them treats frequently during the hike. 

As for weather conditions, go hiking in the afternoon or the evening when it is cooler, and you do not have the overbearing sun shining upon you.

Final Thoughts

German Shepherds are one of the most active breeds out there, and you can bring them along with you to enjoy any number of different activities like hiking, swimming, etc. They’re always up to trying out new things, it’s in their nature. 

However, this does not mean that they have unlimited energy. You need to take proper care of your German Shepherd and watch out for any symptoms of exhaustion because overexertion can lead to injuries.

Remember that German Shepherds are a breed of dog that are very prone to hip and joint injuries, so take your time, be careful, and you will be sure to build great memories while hiking with your GSD!

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

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