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German Shorthaired Pointers can be the best of both worlds. They are wild and crazy, and also sweet and cuddly. It can be a fantastic mix if you are prepared for their energy level and are up for giving them the appropriate amount of exercise they require.

GSPs were bred to be bird dogs. And like most hunting breeds, they were bred for speed, agility, and endurance.

If you are not hunting your dog (or if it is off-season) you need to supply appropriate outlets to burn off excess physical and mental energy. If not, you can find your hands full with some unwanted behaviors, as your GSP finds their own outlets for boredom.

How much exercise does a German Shorthaired Pointer need?

At least 1-2 hours of serious exercise, preferably split up between two separate sessions, one early in the day, and one in the evening. They will also require mental stimulation, which can be achieved through puzzle toys, and brain games.

By serious exercise, we are not talking about a basic walk. A walk supplies some mental stimulation through smelling but is not a great physical exertion.

A German Shorthaired Pointer needs to get their heart rate up. Swimming, running off-leash, and dog play are great options.

If you’re struggling to calm down your GSP, then be sure to read our post: Calm Down Your Crazy GSP!

How much to exercise a German Shorthaired Pointer puppy?

Your GSP puppy will have a lot of energy, too. But you want to be careful not to overwork their growing body!

So you want to split up about an hour of exercise into three mini sessions. These sessions will be slowly extended as your puppy gets older. And be sure to work that brain through smelling games such as hide-the-treat, and puzzle games.

Walks, swimming, and dog playgroups are better exercise options for puppies, especially if it can be done with other puppies for added socialization.

Long runs, hikes on rough terrain, or too much jumping can cause joint damage to a growing puppy.

Also, be sure to read our Complete Guide to Puppy Exercise.

Best exercises to do with a German Shorthaired Pointer

Being intelligent and athletic, the GSP excels at most activities! Here is a list of ways to exercise your German shorthaired pointer.

Hiking with your GSP

Once your German Shorthaired Pointer is full-grown, they will love to join your family on hikes. Their endurance and their curiosity make them perfect for all levels of hiking.

It will make for a perfect adventure for the whole family as long as you follow these rules:

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  1. Make sure you only take your GSP to trails that allow dogs.
  2. Keep your dog leashed. This prevents them from chasing any wildlife which can endanger both your dog and the wildlife – and being and hunting dog, GSP’s have an instinct to go get it!
  3. Hikers live by a “leave no trace” policy. So be sure to clean up after your dog.
  4. Make sure you bring water for your dog. This portable dog water bowl is my favorite.

Biking with your GSP

Biking with your German Shorthaired Pointer is one of the simplest ways to get your dog that serious exercise they thrive on.

If this sounds good to you, you will want to do some training to make sure the bike won’t spook your dog:

  1. Start by having your dog around a parked bike. Praise and reward any interaction.
  2. Walk the bike with your dog nearby. Do they look panicked?
  3. If you plan to use a bike leash (which usually holds the dog a safe distance from the bike so they don’t get caught in the spokes), introduce this, too.
  4. Attach your GSP to the bike lead and walk the bike, only if your dog seems comfortable.
  5. They may want to move faster right away. If so, get on and slowly peddle, speeding up as they indicate they are comfortable.

Running/jogging with your GSP

If you are a runner with a GSP, you just got yourself a running partner! I can’t imagine better motivation to take that run on a rainy day than a German Shorthaired Pointer with energy to burn.

Start with a short run. Not that your GSP can’t do a longer run, but you are making sure that you can handle jogging your dog. That means, do they try to drag you? Do they bark at other dogs or people? If so, you may want to consult with a dog trainer.

With proper training, both you and your GSP will have more fun!

And if running becomes your thing, there is a dog sport called Canicross. Canicross is how mushers keep their dogs conditioned when there isn’t any snow. Your GSP wears a special harness on a hands-free bungee leash. And you run!

If Canicross intrigues you check out Canicross USA.

canicross-GSP

GSP agility training

A German Shorthaired Pointer’s natural agility and their desire to work with their family members make agility a natural fit.

You can even start by doing training sessions in the backyard. Start with a tunnel, or even a hula hoop to get your dog trying obstacles.

Later you can have them weaving through poles, jumping, and linking an entire obstacle course.

Because agility training works their brain at the same time as exercising their body, it’s the perfect option for a GSP.

You might even find you will want to compete, which isn’t just a great sport for your GSP, but it’s also great for you! You will get to meet new people who are like-minded dog lovers, and with a GSP, you have a good chance of success. Perhaps even a trophy!

For more information on agility sports, check out the American Kennel Club Agility Getting Started page.

Flyball

Your German Shorthaired Pointer will love the excitement of flyball. From running the hurdles, and hitting the spring-loaded box to release the ball, they will love every minute.

If your GSP is great at catching a toy out of the air, this is the game for them. You can find more info at the North American Flyball Association.

Here is a video with more information about the dog sport of Flyball:

Dog Parkouring

German Shorthaired Pointers have a natural curiosity. This love of exploring makes them perfect for dog parkouring.

Dog parkouring uses the world around all of us as an agility course. You guide your dog through jumping, crawling, balancing, and going around anything you find outside in your neighborhood where dogs are allowed.

Visit the International Dog Parkouring Association to get more info and for videos that will help you train your dog to parkour.

Here’s a video of someone training their dog in a parkour trick:

GSP and swimming

German shorthaired pointers are born to swim. They have webbed feet and most take to it like, well, like a fish to water. Swimming burns energy but is also easy on their joints, so even older GSPs will enjoy a good swim.

It’s best to do a Google search for the best places to take your dog swimming in your area. Some public pools even offer doggy swim days!

Watch for swimming causing dry skin, a common problem with GSP dogs. If your German Shorthaired Pointer suffers from dry skin, read our post: GSP Dry Skin Care.

Introducing your GSP to water

While most German Shorthaired Pointers will take to water naturally, you want to be sure your dog loves it before bringing them to deep water.

I start puppies out by putting out a storage bin lid filled with just a splash of water. I praise and treat the puppy for any interest in the lid. Then I will try to lure them to step in (if they haven’t already). I never force it but treat the dog heavily when they step in.

Add more water and repeat! Soon they will graduate to bigger containers.

Dock Diving

If your German Shorthaired Pointer loves swimming and toys, then they will LOVE dock diving. It is easy to teach. You throw your dog’s favorite toy into a pool while your dog waits on a dock. You cue him to retrieve and he jumps in the water to get his toy.

It’s basically Fetch, but with swimming – the perfect exercise game for a GSP.

If you think this might be for you and your GSP visit North America Dock Diving Dogs for more info.

GSP and hunting

The German Shorthaired Pointer breed was developed for hunting, and so they will really be in their element when you do this activity with them. It will use their mind and exercise their body, fulfilling their needs perfectly.

Training for fieldwork, you will really see what your dog can do. I know owners that train their dogs, without ever wanting to take them hunting.

If this is something you want to explore you can visit the Positive Gun Dog Association for guidance. Or check out the book Positive Gun Dogs by Jim Barry, widely known as a gun dog expert.

Mental exercises to do with your German Shorthaired Pointer

GSP’s have all that energy, and guess what? Brains, too! You need to keep them mentally stimulated or they can get destructive and sometimes even depressed.

Here are some ideas to keep giving them mental outlets.

Positive reinforcement dog training

You will want to start your GSP training early. Puppy class will help to socialize them with dogs of other breeds as well as people, and laying the foundation for obedience early will help pave the way for success.

Be sure to read our post: PetSmart VS Petco: Puppy school and training comparison.

K9 Nose Work

Your German Shorthaired Pointer can reap the benefits of K9 nose work today, because no prior training is necessary, and they have a natural drive to hunt.

In this game (and sport) dogs get to use their nose to find scents (at the beginning: treats). The hunt burns mental and physical energy.

Watch this video on training K9 Nose Work:

Canine Musical Freestyle

This is dancing with your dogs! You teach a variety of tricks and string them together to music. So it helps your dog learn to pay attention to the next cue.

Find out more about this fun sport at the World Canine Freestyle Organization.

Food puzzles

Do not waste meal time! By using food puzzles or even creating a food hunt, your German Shorthaired Pointer can get both nutrition and mental stimulation at dinner time. Toys like our Hide ‘n’ Treat help your dog work their brain to figure out how to get their dinner.

The toy also allows for upskilling, meaning once your GSP works out the puzzle, you can put them up to the next level to increase the difficulty.

Final Word

It won’t be easy, but with a plan in place, you can supply the exercise for a busy working dog like the German Shorthaired Pointer needs.

Create a list that includes both mental and physical exercises. And stick to it!

And for those extra busy days, give yourself a break and find a quality doggy daycare to help tire out your GSP. Here is a great article with info on how to find the right daycare for your baby.

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