I love videos of dogs that are so excited, they channel their inner rabbit and hop all over the place. German Shepherds are huge dogs, so surely they can also jump pretty high, right?
How high can a German Shepherd jump?
German Shepherds are capable of jumping between 4 to 6 feet high. Since they’re a working breed with jobs where they need to protect others, they were bred to be super athletic. This, of course, attributes to its ability to jump.
If you’re curious about the German Shepherds’ ability to jump, or you’re looking to train your own GS to jump, feel free to read on.
Why They Jump
For domestic GSDs, the biggest reason why they might like to jump over fences is that they’re bored. If they’re not getting enough physical and mental exercise, or they feel there’s a lack of attention headed their way, they’ll want to jump over
One reason why GSDs jump on people is because they want attention. GSDs are attention hogs. They really do want a lot of it. Since dogs are used to greeting other dogs at face level, this is a way for them to get face-to-face with a taller human so that they can greet and interact with them.
In the case of jumping on people, another reason they jump may be that they want food.
Building a Jump-Proof Fence
If you own a German Shepherd or are thinking about getting one, it’s really important to make sure your house is equipped with a fence that’s not going to make it easy for your pup to jump over and escape.
For most breeds, including German Shepherds, a six-foot fence should be sufficient. Four feet would be easy for them and other big breeds to hop over.
If you have a fence your dog keeps jumping over, look into building a new fence rather than raising the height. Raising the height will teach your dog to jump higher and higher.
When it comes to the materials, look into high-quality wood and vinyl or composite materials. If you use older materials, then it will be easier for your dog to squeeze or break their way out. Using these materials will cause your dog to resist charging or chewing on it.
One of the best fences for keeping dogs in is a nine-gauge chain link fence. It’s practically indestructible, and it still allows a dog to enjoy what’s happening in the outside world.
Chain link fences do have one con, and it’s that they aren’t recommended if your dog likes to climb. The chains would give them easy footholds. In this case, a solid panel fence would be best.
Whatever fence you decide to build, it’s important to ensure that, along with jumping over, your dog can’t push through the fence or dig under it.
Another important tip is to make sure there’s nothing that your GSD can use as a boost. Don’t put any decorations that your dog can climb onto to give them enough height to get over the fence.
Bonus Video: Dog Climbs Chain Link Fence!
How to Train Your GSD to Not Jump
If you have an issue where your German Shepherd likes to jump on you or your friends, there’s a way that you can train them to stop this behavior.
Here is one method you could try:
- Have a family member, trainer, or friend standing 6-7 feet away with your German Shepherd on a short leash.
- With a handful of treats, approach your German Shepherd slowly. Make sure they know you have treats by showing them or letting them smell them beforehand.
- If your German Shepherd jumps as you approach, take a step away and say “No” in a calm, but firm voice. If you are able to keep moving forward without your dog jumping, give them a treat and some attention (i.e., a pat on the head).
- At some point, you should change to rewarding them with just your attention so they don’t become motivated by food rewards.
- Keep up with this training and repeat until you form a habit.
GSDs are opportunistic. This means that if they can do something to get what they want, they will. If that behavior is reinforced, they will be more likely to do it again.
If this has been the case with jumping, and you want them to stop, then you can make this habit stop by not rewarding them when they do this.
Where a German Shepherd’s Height Comes From
German Shepherds are protection dogs. For decades, they have been bred for working and herding jobs. In order to meet the physical demands of these jobs, GSDs needed to be bred to be very athletic.
GSDs are one of the strongest dog breeds there are, which is why they’re a favorite choice for being police dogs or working in narcotics. If there’s ever a bad guy jumping a fence, a German Shepherd can chase after them with ease.
German Shepherds are big dogs with a bunch of energy. Coupled with their athleticism, it’s natural for them to want to jump, whether around in the air or on things.
While a GSD can jump up pretty high in the air, they can jump through the air even farther (up to 10 feet)! With German Shepherds that are going to live as family pets, it’s important as the owner to control their jumping behavior early in their puppy years or else they’re going to become crazy rockets when they’re adults.
BONUS TIPS: Is your German Shepherd a picky eater? In working with our breeder, we found our dog much preferred Royal Canin dog food over the brand we were giving her. They offer puppy food and adult food that is designed just for the German Shepherd. If you are considering a change of food, I would definitely give this one a try.
How could I train my GSD to stop jumping over fences?
A major factor in jumping fences is boredom. If you want to stop your dog from jumping the fence, you need to make your dog not want to escape. To make this happen and stop their bored mischief, you need to provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation for your GSD.