Tips & Tricks

Best Dog Toys for German Shepherds

adorable dog bed home

The intelligent, energetic German Shepherd is one of the most favored dog breeds for a good reason. Their loyalty, courage, and versatility make them an excellent companion. However, their high activity levels and urge to work mean German Shepherds require extensive daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Without adequate outlets for their energy, these clever dogs will become bored and potentially destructive. Chewing, digging, barking, and other undesirable behaviors can develop. That’s why providing your German Shepherd with the right toys is so important. In this guide, we’ll share the best 7 toys for German Shepherds based on their breed traits and needs.

Let’s dive in.

Exercise Needs for German Shepherds

First, it’s essential to understand the exercise requirements for German Shepherds to realize the importance of activity-based toys. Initially bred as herding dogs, German Shepherds have a strong work ethic and tons of energy.

This athletic breed needs vigorous daily exercise to maintain its health and happiness. The recommended minimum is two hours of activity per day. Ideally, this includes high-intensity exercise like running, hiking, swimming, fetch, or activities that provide both mental and physical challenges.

two german shepherd dogs

Best Dog Toys for German Shepherds

Without adequate exercise, your intelligent Shepherd will likely become frustrated and bored. This can lead to undesirable behaviors like excessive barking, chewing, digging, and hyperactivity. Interactive toys are a great supplement to meet their stimulation needs.

#1. Multi-Functional Rolling Drum Treat Dispenser

The Rolling Drum treat dispenser is an interactive toy that will fully engage your intelligent German Shepherd, both physically and mentally. This ingenious toy features a large plastic bottle secured inside a durable bamboo stand. The stand has a wide, stable base to prevent tipping during enthusiastic play.

To start, your dog will roll and nudge the drum with their nose or paws to make kibble spill out from inside. You can adjust the openings on the bottle to control how quickly treats are dispensed based on your dog’s skill level. Start easier, then increase the challenge over time.


The toy’s 11+ cup capacity means you can fill it with your dog’s whole meal if desired, transforming feeding time into an active game. As your German Shepherd plays with the toy, they’ll be focused and rewarded by the kibble periodically spilling out. It satisfies their natural foraging instincts while keeping their body engaged and mind stimulated.

With its adjustable difficulty, large capacity, and anti-tip design, this interactive rolling drum feeds your German Shepherd’s body and brain! It’s a great choice for dogs of all ages to prevent boredom and problematic behaviors.

#2. Spin Bottles Treat Dispensing Toy

If your highly intelligent German Shepherd has mastered beginner-level puzzle toys, you can elevate their puzzle-solving abilities with this innovative flipping bottle dispenser.

This classic toy is designed to keep your dog entertained while engaging their brain. Just fill the bottles with their favorite treats or healthy snacks like carrot cubes and watch as they figure out how to release the goodies. It’s a great way to challenge their problem-solving skills in an enjoyable way.

These 3 bottles are made of materials free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates. They’re not only safe but also easy to clean, ensuring hygiene and durability. 

The Spin Bottles Toy is more than just a treat dispenser; it’s a fun, engaging way to stimulate your German Shepherd’s intellect, keeping them physically active and mentally sharp.


#3. Hide-and-Seek Dog Puzzle Toys

If you’re looking for an advanced-level interactive puzzle toy for your clever German Shepherd, consider this Hide-and-Seek Dog Puzzle Toy. It’s made of sturdy bamboo and features eight compartments where you can hide your pup’s favorite treats.

As your furry friend slides the panels and explores each chamber, their detective skills will be put to the test as they search for the hidden food rewards. This engaging activity will keep their mind stimulated and provide a sense of accomplishment when they discover each treat-filled section.

The durability of this bamboo puzzle toy makes it perfect for highly intelligent German Shepherds who crave mental challenges. You can also adjust the difficulty level by filling only some of the hiding spots with treats, ensuring that your pup stays engaged as they develop their problem-solving abilities.

Not all German Shepherds will solve this puzzle immediately, but with time and learning, most can eventually figure it out. It’s a great way to provide mental stimulation and prevent destructive behaviors caused by boredom.

close up cute dog playing with owner

#4. Fetch and Retrieval Toys

Fetch is likely your German Shepherd’s favorite game, thanks to their natural drive to chase prey. Your energetic Shepherd will love sprinting after balls, discs, and other fast-moving toys that mimic the thrill of the hunt. Choose fetch toys of an appropriate size for your large-breed dog to safely carry and catch without choking.

Balls and disc toys made of tough rubber are ideal, as they can withstand enthusiastic retrieving without damage. A tennis ball thrower allows you to launch balls far distances so your athletic Shepherd can run at top speeds during fetch.

For water-loving Shepherds, floating retrieval toys add fun during swimming. Take safety precautions like avoiding fetch with sticks to prevent impaling injuries in the mouth. Overall, fetch provides an easy and enjoyable bonding experience that melts away your Shepherd’s pent-up energy.

close up owner couch smiley dog

#5. Chews and Chew Toys

Hard rubber chew toys and natural chews are essential outlets for your German Shepherd’s intense urge to chomp and gnaw. Their strong jaw muscles need a stimulating and long-lasting challenge. Aggressive chewers require ultra-durable options that can withstand their power without splintering.

Look for tough rubber chew toys made in Germany from the highest-quality materials and designed specifically for heavy chewing. Brands like West Paw test chew toy toughness on lions! For natural chews, split antlers and bully sticks last for months, providing enrichment. Rotate chews in your Shepherd’s toy box to keep things exciting. The right chew satisfies their instincts, keeps them occupied, and promotes dental health.

#6. Tug Toys

Your German Shepherd will love engaging their herding and pulling instincts during an energetic game of tug. Tug taps into their desire to “hunt” and subdue prey using their mighty strength. Choose rope or rubber tug toys with reinforced stitching to withstand an aggressive Shepherd’s grip. Establish tug rules like “drop it” and let your dog win regularly.

Proper tug play strengthens trust and bonding between you and your Shepherd. A vigorous tug game before bed can help calm and settle high-energy Shepherds after a good workout. It satisfies their natural drives in a positive way.

german shepherds

Tips for Safely Using Toys with your German Shepherd

Playing with toys can be incredibly enjoyable for your German Shepherd, but it is crucial to prioritize their safety. Follow these detailed tips to ensure a secure playtime experience:

1. Take great care when selecting toys, opting for those manufactured from non-toxic materials and of appropriate size for your dog. Avoid purchasing toys that have small parts, which could potentially cause choking hazards. Always prioritize your dog’s safety and well-being.

2. Before purchasing, conduct the fingernail test on hard chew toys. By pressing your nail into the toy, you can determine if it is too hard for your dog’s teeth. If the toy remains undented, it is too rigid and can potentially crack your dog’s teeth. Select toys that provide adequate give to prevent dental damage.

3. It is vitally important to supervise your dog whenever they engage with new toys or balls. Ensure that they do not attempt to tear or swallow any pieces that may lead to injury. Keep a vigilant eye on them, as sometimes accidents can happen in the blink of an eye.

4. Regularly inspect your dog’s toys for any signs of damage, including sharp edges or torn-off small parts. Promptly discard any broken toys, as they can potentially lacerate your dog’s mouth or present choking hazards.

5. To keep your dog’s toys clean and germ-free, make it a habit to frequently clean their toys. This helps prevent the development of mold and bacteria, which can potentially cause illnesses. By maintaining proper hygiene of their toys, you’ll be taking steps to protect their health.

6. If a toy appears too small for your fully grown dog, it is essential to replace it with a larger one. Small toys pose a significant choking risk, so opt for appropriately sized toys to minimize potential harm.

7. If you ever find yourself uncertain about a toy’s safety, consult with your veterinarian for expert guidance. They can assist in determining which toys align with your Shepherd’s chewing style and help prevent any potential harm. 

dog german shepherd

Why Toys are Important for German Shepherds

All dogs were bred for specific purposes, but German Shepherds take their jobs very seriously. Whether herding livestock, working with the police, or detecting bombs, these versatile dogs can do it all. As a result, this breed requires constant physical activity and mental stimulation, which can be challenging to provide at all times. This is where toys play a crucial role.

Toys offer several benefits for German Shepherds:

1. Burning off Physical Energy.

German Shepherds have a natural athleticism that stems from their herding background. They have a strong need for daily exercise to release their energy. However, not everyone can keep up with the breed’s high energy levels. Toys come in handy by providing an alternative way to engage them physically. 

sportive dog performing lure coursing competition

If you’re short on time for a one-hour walk or jog, you can opt for playing dog puzzle toys with them or engaging in a game of tug-of-war in the yard instead.

2. Providing Mental Stimulation.

Being highly intelligent, German Shepherds are not only physically demanding but also mentally exhausting. They require constant mental engagement to prevent boredom. While training sessions help to some extent, sometimes you can’t give them your full attention, such as during rainy days or when you’re away from home. 

Toys, especially interactive ones and puzzles, can keep them occupied and mentally stimulated, preventing destructive behavior and alleviating boredom.

3. Easing Anxiety

German Shepherds tend to experience anxiety, especially when left alone. These dogs form strong bonds with their owners and can feel stressed when separated. Anxiety can lead to various problems, including destructive chewing, excessive barking, and even health issues. Toys designed to relieve anxiety redirect their focus and provide comfort, reducing overall stress levels.

smiley dog sitting couch

4. Offering a Safe Outlet for Chewing Instincts.

If you don’t offer your German Shepherd a dog-safe chew or chew toy, they will resort to chewing on things they shouldn’t, like your favorite shoes or throw pillows. This can be both expensive and dangerous, as non-chew items can cause mouth injuries, bowel obstructions, and even poisoning. Chewing is an innate instinct for dogs, and providing them with a safe outlet helps prevent destructive behavior.

Final Words

Thank you for taking the time to read this guide. I hope it has given you some ideas and inspiration. 


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.