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German shepherds are some of the most popular dog breeds in the United States. They are very strong, intelligent, and capable of working. Furthermore, they are versatile.
If you own a German Shepherd dog, you will want to take it hiking sometime. However, it’s important to know if it’s ideal or not to go hiking with a German Shepherd. We’ll be discussing that in this article.
ALSO SEE: Are Boxers Good Hiking Dogs?
Are German Shepherds Good Hiking Dogs?
As earlier mentioned, German shepherds are strong working dogs. They are physically and mentally able to survive outdoors. Hence, they are good hiking dogs.
Hiking involves going up and down difficult terrains, crossing rocks, streams, and the likes. The majority of the time, these activities last for hours. Your dog won’t mind because German Shepherds love energy-intensive exercises.
You can take your German Shepherd dog on a hiking trip if he’s well trained. It’s necessary to get them used to the outdoor environment before embarking on your trip.
While German Shepherds are good hiking dogs, there could be limits in some situations. This mainly includes your dog’s physical health state and age.
What Makes German Shepherds So Good at Hiking?
One of the reasons why people get German shepherd dogs is because of their protective nature. They can protect their owners and intimidate any potential threat. That’s one reason why they’re good for hiking.
The breed was originally developed in Germany to help shepherds in herding. Hence the name, “German Shepherds”. They were developed to be fearless, intelligent, loyal, and enduring.
Due to their intelligence, you can get your German Shepherd accustomed to hiking easier than most other dog breeds. When outdoors, your pet will learn various tasks and interpret your instructions better than most other dog breeds.
How Old Should A German Shepherd Be Before Hiking Him?
Age is important when deciding if to take your pet hiking or not. It’s ideal not to take your German Shepherd dog for any long walk outdoors until he’s at least nine (9) months old. Working him up at a very young age could result in hip problems in the future.
If you’re going on a long hiking trip where you’ll cover multiple miles daily, your German Shepherd should be at least a year old. It doesn’t matter if your dog seems to be very energetic.
The best way to know if your dog is ok enough for hiking is to consult with your Vet. He’ll be able to advise you after a full physical examination.
How Many Miles Should A German Shepherd Hike A Day?
German Shepherds are energetic, and so they can hike for very long miles per day. Most of the time, you will get tired before your pet during the hike. Nevertheless, age and health are critical here.
If your German Shepherd dog is mature and in good physical health, you can hike him for up to 8 miles a day without problems. We would recommend hiking your pet 2 to 4 hours daily as a standard. You can split this between two or three walks.
As you hike with your dog, monitor him so you know when he’s had enough.
How Much Exercise Does a German Shepherd Need to Hike Properly?
As your dog grows, the longer his workout hours. German Shepherd dog trainers recommend five minutes of exercise per month of age. That said, your German Shepherd needs as much exercise as possible so that he can hike properly.
You can exercise your German Shepherd for up to 90 minutes every day in multiple sessions. Since you’re planning on taking him on a hike, these should mainly involve outdoor exercises.
However, senior German Shepherd dogs and puppies should exercise less. Overworking could cause future mobility issues for the puppies and promote joint issues in the senior dogs.
Can You Jog with a German Shepherd?
German Shepherds are herding dogs, so they have very good athletic abilities – speed and stamina. Their athletic abilities make them ideal jogging partners. They are always ready for action and physical activity.
Normally, your pet will spend most of his time running around the house. If your German Shepherd is in good health, you have no problem jogging with him. Jogging is also a great way to exercise your German Shepherd and prepare him for hiking.
However, you must ensure that your pet is fit before going jogging with him. If he’s in a bad state, he won’t enjoy jogging as much.
Are German Shepherds Good Off-Leash?
How your dog behaves off-leash has a lot to do with how he was trained. Some of the major characteristics of German Shepherd dogs are loyalty and intelligence. Thus, if your pet is well trained, he’ll behave accordingly when off-leash.
It’s not recommended to keep your German Shepherd puppy off-leash, especially when outdoors. At that age, your dog is most likely not trained enough to behave well. Hence, he could wander off.
To make your dog good off-leash, you should start teaching him recalls as early as possible. Importantly, you should only leave your pet off-leash while hiking in a relatively safe environment.
How to Train German Shepherd for Hiking
There are three most important training aspects when it comes to hiking with a German Shepherd dog. Check them below;
● Leash Training
Leash training is first because your German Shepherd dog should be used to going for walks. The leash is to keep him under your control and keep him from fleeing.
Dogs as young as eight (8) weeks old can walk on a leash. It can take up to ten weeks to complete leash training.
● Command Training
There are some commands that all dogs should know. Come, sit, stay, wait, let’s go, and so on. Your German Shepherd dog must know these commands to prevent misbehaving while hiking, especially if he is not leashed.
Due to their intelligence, teaching your pet these commands won’t be difficult. However, repetition is essential. The more you practice these commands, the better your dog will understand and respond to them.
● Sleeping Practice
Hiking and camping go together. If you’re camping, your dog won’t be sleeping in his cozy bed. You’ll be sleeping in tents instead, and he’ll require a dog sleeping pad.
As a result, he should practice sleeping with sleeping pads. Allowing him to take afternoon naps on his sleeping pad is a good way to start. With time, switch him between bed and pad at night until he gets accustomed to both.
Things to watch out for when hiking with your German Shepherd
When you’re out hiking with your pet, here are some things to watch out for;
● His Physical State
The first thing to examine is if your pet is ok for hiking or not. As explained earlier, it’s not recommended to take very young German Shepherd dogs on long miles.
Talk to your vet before embarking on any hiking trip. Learn what and what your dog needs to survive outdoors.
● Hiking Area
The hiking area is important to consider to ensure your pet doesn’t get overwhelmed. This mainly has to do with the other people that’ll be around.
While German Shepherds are strong and protective, they sometimes get scared when around too many other people and animals.
● Hiking Trail
As you should know, not all hiking trails allow dogs. Similarly, not all hiking trails are safe for dogs to walk on. Therefore, you should cross-check what rules apply to the hiking trail you’ve chosen.
Trails with cliffs, drop-offs, rocky or rough terrain are not very friendly for dogs.
● The Weather
The weather condition can greatly affect your hiking experience with your German Shepherd dog. Therefore, before setting out, you should check and know what weather to expect.
Knowing the prospective weather condition will help you prepare better and get the right gear.
What to Bring When Hiking With a German Shepherd
What should you take along with you when hiking with your German Shepherd dog? Well, below are the most important ones;
- Leash and harness: This is important to keep you in control of your pet. A harness is recommended as German Shepherds are big.
- Sleeping pad: Your pet needs a comfortable place to sleep if you’re camping overnight.
- Location tracker: Should your dog get lost or wander off, you can easily find him with a good location tracking collar.
- First aid kit: Accidents and injuries are inevitable when hiking and camping. They occur no matter how small. You should be prepared to tackle them by bringing along a packed first aid kit.
- Food, water, and treats: Of course, you have to bring these along to feed your pet. You should bring a lot as hiking will exhaust a relatively huge amount of energy from him.
- Paw protectors: These are necessary to keep your pet’s paws safe if you’re hiking in difficult terrains.
- Dog backpack: It’ll be difficult to carry all the load alone. You can share it with your pet by getting him a backpack, although you have to train him on how to wear it.
- ID Tag: This will help others identify your dog if he gets lost.
Keeping your German Shepherd Safe on Hikes
It’s your duty as a dog owner to ensure that your German Shepherd is safe when you’re outdoors. To do that, here are some things you can do;
- Ensure he’s on a leash and close to you while hiking, so he doesn’t get lost.
- Don’t go close to dangerous plants such as sumac, ivy, and oak. These are common in some hiking areas, and your dog’s health is at serious risk if he ingests them.
- Ensure you take minute breaks in between walks. Let your pet rest and give him water and food if needed.
- Don’t hike when the weather is too hot, as your pet will easily get dehydrated. Conversely, you shouldn’t hike in very cold weather. Warm is best.
- Avoid hiking areas common with unfriendly animals like coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and snakes.
- Examine your pet for ticks and fleas after each hiking session. Get rid of them immediately if there’s any.
In conclusion, German Shepherds are indeed good hiking dogs. They’re born to work and can easily learn how to behave properly when outdoors.
If you plan on hiking with your German Shepherd dog, ensure he gets all the outdoor training he needs. Pack all things he’ll need and make sure he’s safe on the trails.