Do German Shepherds Need A Lot Of Attention? (And 5 Tips To Give It To Them)

If you are thinking about getting a German Shepherd, there are a lot of things that you have to consider first, but one of the key factors is how much attention German Shepherds require. Different breeds of dogs need very varying amounts of attention, and it’s important to be well informed about a dog’s requirements before you get one.

So, do German Shepherds need a lot of attention? We’re going to look at how much they need at different ages and offer some top tips on how you can make sure that your dog is getting as much attention as it requires.

Yes, German Shepherds are universally considered a high maintenance (although very rewarding) breed of dog. They do need their people to be around a lot, as they like to have plenty of interaction and exercise. They are incredibly clever and will thrive on attention and new challenges.

Do German Shepherds Need A Lot Of Attention?

German Shepherds do need a lot of attention, yes. This is a standard characteristic of the breed and is something that you need to be aware of before you consider adopting one. You cannot train your German Shepherd to spend more time alone or leave it with other people because you are busy. It needs you to be there most of the time.

These dogs like quality time with their families, and you will need to be prepared to provide this if you wish to own one of these dogs. They enjoy being useful and having a purpose, and they are usually trained to work very closely with people (think police, military, or herding situations).

Your dog will usually be happiest when it is with you, especially if you are focused on it. Plenty of playtime and training time, as well as long walks, are necessary parts of owning a German Shepherd.

German Shepherds that aren’t given sufficient attention can become destructive, badly behaved, and very difficult to handle. Your dog might chew things, break things, bark excessively, and refuse to listen to you in an attempt to get more attention, even if the attention is negative. A neglected German Shepherd is not easy to look after.

If you can’t commit to the amount of time that a German Shepherd needs, look for another breed that is lower maintenance and does not require as much of your attention, for both your sake and the dog’s sake.

How Much Attention And Activity Does A German Shepherd Need?

In order to help you make an informed decision about getting a dog and the amount of time that you can commit to it, let’s look at how much attention a German Shepherd needs at the different stages of its life.

Be aware that a new dog of any age will generally require more attention for the first few weeks in your home. It will need plenty of reassurance and interaction while it gets used to you and the new environment, so plan around this and consider taking time off work if necessary to help your dog get settled in.

This may help even if you are bringing an adult German Shepherd into your home (e.g. from a rescue). Your presence will make the transition smoother and more successful for the dog, which will form a strong bond with you and may feel anxious if you aren’t around.

Don’t leave a new German Shepherd alone in your home for longer than is strictly necessary for the first few weeks.

How Much Attention Does A German Shepherd Puppy Need?

Puppies need a great deal of attention, far more than adults. They need to be toilet trained, watched, played with, socialized, cared for, talked to, and cuddled. They also, of course, need exercise, but this is somewhere to approach with a bit of care.

It’s important not to over-exercise a puppy, as this can have a detrimental effect on their growth and muscular skeleton. If your puppy seems worn out and wants to stop, pay attention and let them; they should not be pushed beyond their limits.

As a rough rule of thumb, give your German Shepherd five minutes of continuous exercise (such as on-leash walking) for every month of their age. That means a month-old puppy should only be exercising for about five minutes per go, whereas a six-month-old one can do about thirty minutes of constant exercise.

Less continuous exercise can be better for them, so play lots of games to let them exercise and socialize thoroughly without overdoing their workout. It’s good to take heavy panting or an inclination to lie down as a clear sign to stop playing.

How Much Attention Does An Adult German Shepherd Need?

Adult German Shepherds require considerably more physical exercise than puppies, although not necessarily more attention, since puppies need to learn to socialize. An adult German Shepherd needs a minimum of an hour and a half or two hours of exercise per day.

You shouldn’t leave your adult dog alone for longer than four hours at a stretch, so if you work away from home, you will need to pop back or hire a dog walker to ensure it does not get lonely and anxious by itself; this could lead to destructive behavior otherwise.

German shephard dog looking aside and laying on the floor in home waithing for her owner, with sunny window in the background

Ways To Give Your German Shepherd Attention

So, what are the best ways to provide your German Shepherd with attention?

Tip One: Play

A top way to engage with your German Shepherd is to play with it. Lots of toys are a good start, but your dog usually wants you to be involved too. Try a rope toy and play tug of war, or break out a ball for a game of fetch.

Tip Two: Walking

Obviously, another great way to engage with your dog is to go on long walks together. Because German Shepherds need a lot of exercise, they are great walking companions, so get out into nature and spend some quality time with your dog.

Tip Three: Training

Next, your dog needs to be trained, and Germans Shepherds tend to thrive on this sort of interaction. They like being challenged to learn new things and will enjoy training sessions as much as play sessions, as long as you make sure they are positive experiences.

Incorporate lots of treats so that your dog is having fun too!

Tip Four: Engage In Chase

German Shepherds have a high prey drive and will love chasing you around. Once you are familiar with your dog, encourage it to chase you by taking a toy and running off with it. Toss the toy to the dog when it catches up with you.

Tip Five: Talk To Your Dog

Learning your dog’s language and helping it to learn yours is another key part of giving your German Shepherd attention. If you look for the signals of your dog’s mood, you will be better able to provide the attention that suits what it needs right then.

Look at the position of your dog’s ears and tail, and see how it responds to the sound of your voice, as well as how it stands, sits, or lies, for a good idea of how your dog is feeling. Dogs talk with their bodies more than their voices (although German Shepherds are keen barkers!).

Tip Six: Provide Affection

It might sound basic, but one of the most fundamental things that your German Shepherd needs from you is your love and attention. Even if your hands are full, you can chatter to your dog, and it will enjoy the attention.

German Shepherds might have a fierce reputation, but they love to cuddle and will happily take any invitation to jump up on the couch or the bed for a good snuggle session. Make sure you meet their need for physical affection as well as exercise and mental stimulation.

What Other Kinds Of Attention Does A German Shepherd Need?

So, what else do you need to do to keep a German Shepherd happy and healthy? As well as play, exercise, training, and cuddles, what commitments are you looking at making when you take on one of these dogs?

One: Grooming

According to PDSA, German Shepherds need a lot of grooming, and you will either need to pay a professional groomer on a regular basis or do at least some of the grooming yourself. These dogs have very thick coats that need regular brushing to keep them in good condition and free from matting.

Particularly with long-coated German Shepherds, you will usually find that you need to groom them a couple of times a week as a minimum, and often more frequently. Regular grooming removes dead hair, keeps the dog comfortable, gets rid of burs and muck, and prevents mats.

Two: Dietary Regulation

German Shepherds are large dogs that need careful diet regulation, especially when they are growing. You need to be prepared to keep an eye on what they are eating and make sure it is suitable.

Generally, you will feed your German Shepherd high-quality, balanced food twice a day. Any treats you give should be less than ten percent of the dog’s daily food allowance, and you may want to reduce the food a little to compensate for them.

Three: Health Checks

Like any dog, German Shepherds need regular checkups with a vet, and you should factor this into your care considerations. You will need to teach a puppy some good behavior while traveling in the car and visiting the vet and may have to provide extra reassurance and attention to both puppies and adults surrounding pet visits.

Four: Close Connections

Some dogs love anybody that they meet; German Shepherds are much more selective about who they spend time with. You should expect your dog to bond closely with one or two family members (although they will be protective of everyone in the household).

That means you need to make sure these family members are around to provide the emotional bond and look after the dog as much as possible. While a dog walker or friend can serve as a stop-gap on occasion, your dog will be very attached to you personally and needs you to be there for it regularly.

Want To Train Your German Shepherd With Peace Of Mind?

If you haven’t trained your German Shepherd properly, then this is the perfect time to start. Whatever bad behavior your shepherd has, whether it’s barking at night or other bad behaviors, using the right training program is the key to having an obedient and happy pup.

The training program I love and highly recommend is Brain Training For Dogs.

With Brain Training For Dogs you’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why your dog won’t listen, you’ll follow a path that has been tried, tested, and most importantly, that’s given proven results. Not to mention the fact, you’ll be able to fit the course around your schedule, not fit your schedule around a trainer or obedience class.

So instead of worrying about whether they’re going to be well-behaved or not, you’ll only have to worry about how much fun you’ll have with them!

And in most cases it’s still going to be:

  • Cheaper than hiring a professional.
  • Cheaper than replacing everything they might break.
  • And definitely cheaper than a lawsuit against you, if they decide to bite someone.

Just imagine how great it will feel to finally be able to trust your German Shepherd completely and never worry whether they’ll be naughty or not. Instead, you’ll have the peace of mind that you have a well-behaved pup, and the boundaries you set for them, will always be there, EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT.

And the best part is it also has a 60-day money-back guarantee! So there’s no reason not to give Brain Training For Dogs a try!

So if you’re tired of your dog’s bad behavior, or how they react around other people and pooches, then give it a try! You’ll be amazed by the results!

(You can also check out a full review here, to learn exactly what the course has to offer!)


So, what other questions might you have about these wonderful dogs?

Q: How Many Hours Of Attention Do German Shepherds Need?

A: GermanShepherdsOwner recommends a minimum of an hour of exercise a day, but most people feel that they need at least two hours. On top of that, your dog will also want some playtime and training, especially when it is young. Add in cuddles, and you are probably looking at spending three to four hours of your attention on your dog most days.

Q: Why Are German Shepherds So Needy?

A: The reason that some German Shepherds seem needy is that they form close emotional bonds with their owners and don’t like to be separated from them. With a pack mentality, they need their owners nearby, as TheGermanShepherder notes. They are traditionally herding dogs but also work closely with police and military personnel, typically with a single handler that they are with almost constantly.


German Shepherds are extremely intelligent, rewarding dogs, but they do need an immense amount of time and attention from their owners. Their exercise requirements alone are enough to be daunting to many dog owners, and if you can’t put in the time they need, they can become very difficult to handle.

These dogs are happiest when they are working with their humans toward a common goal. They enjoy exercising and playing and training, and although they do sleep quite a lot, they want to be with you most of the time when they are awake.

Do not get a German Shepherd if you can’t commit a good amount of time to them every day; they will become unhappy and will make you unhappy. Choose a lower maintenance dog to offer a home to, and only get a German Shepherd if you are dedicated enough to handle one.