Those intelligent, brown eyes are staring at me. Again.
I close my laptop and look at Cody who is now pretending to lick one of his paws while giving me sidelong glances.
“You know, you’re seven years old, don’t you think it’s time maybe you took it a bit easier?”
Ignoring what I said, Cody gets up and goes to sit by the front door. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years is that German Shepherds are full of energy. Not just in the morning. All the time.
One walk is just the prelude to the next one. Playing ball? Get yourself a ball thrower before your arm falls off. Every piece of resource material you read tells you German Shepherds are an ‘active breed’. That’s not true. They are perpetual motion machines.
If you have just brought your first German Shepherd puppy home, I would advise you to go to a website such as the one the United States Marine Corps maintains, and start in on their fitness program, pronto.
Can’t run a mile? German Shepherds can, in their sleep. Can’t play tug-of-war with an eighty-five-pound canine for fifteen minutes at a stretch? You better start swinging that kettle bell because German Shepherds are strong. Even when they’re tired.
I haul myself reluctantly off the sofa and start to get dressed for the next marathon walk. Hat, coat, gloves. All the while Cody is pacing past me in the porch, sometimes emitting a little whine, knocking me off balance while I’m trying to get my boots on. I try to tell him I’m going as fast as I can but he won’t listen.
He plants himself by the door so I don’t have a chance of getting out without him. Psychology calls that learned behavior. I call it dogged determination. Now Cody’s tongue is hanging out and he’s panting with excitement.
Ears erect and eyes boring holes in my forehead. Did I mention patience? Cody doesn’t have any. It’s not in the German Shepherd DNA as far as I can tell. Also, Cody can spell. So, don’t bother trying to use the w-a-l-k code in his presence. If you do, he sniffs it out every time. You’ll set off a pacing, whining session that won’t subside until you’re going out the door. After Cody, of course.
Remember these are the dogs that police departments use to track criminals. Search and rescue groups use them to find disaster survivors. They don’t want to join a couch potato society. German Shepherds get excited at the mere thought of doing something. Anything.
A minimum of two hours a day of activity. That’s what these dogs need. You can’t get around that. If you try and skimp, German Shepherds have been known to devise their own exercise program. Like chewing the leg off your dining room table.
Sometimes Cody, in his desperation for another exercise fix, fakes me out. He’ll give a low growl and go running to the front door.
Then maybe a couple more excited barks just to entice me into thinking the UPS guy is here. If you fall for it and go to check out what he’s whoofing at, he’ll give you a pitiful look, maybe with his ears back a little bit, looking somewhat sheepish. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there’s no one there. He’s just trying to tell you he hasn’t been outside for days. OK, maybe it’s been a half hour, but it seems like a long time anyway. Cody is sure of it.
One good thing about the high energy level is German Shepherds like to train. They love exercises. The more repetitive the better. You’ll need to devise some for your own sanity. I have this one workout that I do with Cody that he can’t get enough of.
I have a large plastic barrel that I position on the incline of a small hill. Then I drop his favorite frisbee in the barrel and make him sit about seventy-five yards away from said leaning barrel.
Then I release him. He sprints to the barrel, jumps up to knock it over and it starts rolling down the hill. Cody’s challenge is to retrieve the frisbee out of the rolling barrel and bring it back to me. He would do this endlessly. Sometimes when we’re outside trying to do real work, he pretends to be looking in the barrel as if to say, it’s been a while, what do you think?
We’re out the door now and headed for the walking trail behind our house..
Cody’s casual stroll always proceeds at a dead trot. All the time. Places to go. Things to sniff. He will cover ten times the territory I do, all the while with his nose working overtime and keeping an eye on my whereabouts. My legs are stiff from all the exercise but Cody seems to have an extra twinkle in his eyes.
There is a rare sight every night after dinner in my house. The ‘canis lupus familiaris’ at rest. The only time Cody isn’t on the move is when he’s asleep. Probably dreaming about all the walks and frisbee chasing he’s going to do tomorrow. I guess it’s hard to blame him. After all it’s in his DNA.
So, if you are looking at that adorable little German Shepherd puppy right now, who is almost certainly going to run you off your feet, remember, you can always join a German Shepherd owners group on Facebook. At least you’ll have lots of people to commiserate with. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.
David Daignault is the author of the best-selling book “The Complete Guide to German Shepherds”. Read more about his adventures with Cody in the book, which is available from Amazon.com.
Last Updated on February 13, 2021 by Shepped Team