Gerberian Shepskies are among the best athletes of the canine world, due to their astounding endurance and superior genetics. Capable of running fast and far, jumping tall structures as well as long distances, and pulling or carrying logic-defying amounts of weight, the Gerberian Shepsky has some serious athletic prowess.
However, because these dogs are capable of such feats, this also means they require activity and exercise that allows them to fulfill their innate drives. Listed here are fun activities for you and your dog, guaranteed to keep him happy and healthy!
Running, whether on trails, road, bike path, or park is natural for your Gerberian Shepsky. He would love nothing more than to accompany you for a long run, and can even carry equipment, such as water, in a specialized doggy backpack. Shepskies are especially suited to running in colder climates because of their thick coats, but can do so in warm weather, as well, provided plenty of water breaks are allowed.
Because both Husky and German Shepherd are working dogs, the Shepsky will be the ultimate running partner, not allowing you to stop until the task is complete. As with all exercise, do not begin until your dog is fully grown (typically around 18 months). Start slowly, even if he seems like he has all the energy in the world to continue running. A good idea is to begin with a one mile run, and add on an extra five minutes every few days.
Be mindful of terrain, as a dog’s paws need time to form sufficient calluses, especially if running primarily on cement or asphalt. If you are not interested in running but think that your dog needs an extra outlet for his energy, Gerberian Shepskies can easily be trained to run on a treadmill in the comfort of your home.
Urban mushing is a relatively new phenomenon which describes any activity where a dog pulls a person or object for sport or travel. Examples of urban mushing are diverse, and can include hooking your dog up to a sled, cart, bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or rollerblades. The “urban” aspect refers to performing these activities on dry land, as opposed to snow, and can be accomplished anywhere you and your dog are comfortable (and legally allowed to be). Bike paths, country roads, sidewalks, and trails are all acceptable venues.
For dog/owner duos who wish to be competitive, competitions for carting, bikejoring (where a dog pulls a person on a bicycle), and weight pulling (where a dog is judged by how much weight he can pull in a sled) are available. Urban mushing is a great activity for Gerberian Shepskies because it combines many of the breed’s natural inclinations for running, working, and pulling. This activity is a sure-fire way to efficiently exercise your dog’s body and mind while also enjoying the great outdoors. Local sled dog or Siberian Husky associations are good resources to find more information about urban mushing in your area.
Hiking and Camping
Gerberian Shepskies also make great hiking partners, especially on difficult terrain or technical trails. Their agile nature makes climbing even the steepest of cliffs appear easy. The Shepsky’s natural freighting capability also makes him useful for carrying gear in a specially designed saddle bag. While some conditioned dogs can carry more, a good rule of thumb is not to pack more than 25% of your dog’s body weight on his back.
A backpacking weekend in the wilderness would be an ideal outdoor activity for you and your dog. Be aware, though, that not all parks allow dogs, and the ones that do typically require leashes. A great advantage is that your Gerberian Shepsky can fare inclement weather and poor conditions better than most breeds, but still be sure to pack plenty of food and water for your pup, as well as bedding. If hiking or camping in warm weaether, consider investing in a cooling collar to help your dog stay comfortable.
German Shepherds and Huskies excel at the most important traits for Agility competition: speed, teamwork, obedience, intelligence, and, obviously, agility! Also a quick learner, a Gerberian Shepsky can easily climb the ranks from Novice to Expert in no time. As an added bonus, Agility is very mentally stimulating, which fulfills one of your dog’s inherent needs. Agility is not only reliant on the dog’s ability to perform the maneuvers, but also on his ability to independently think and strategize, as well as work with the handler to efficiently move through the course.
It is here that Shepskies gain an advantage, because unlike most breeds, they excel in both trainability and sheer athletic talent. Although the American Kennel Club does not allow mixed breeds to compete, a number of other associations, such as Canine Performance Events, Dogs on Course in North America, and United States Dog Agility Association gladly would allow the Gerberian Shepsky through their doors.
Although not commonly considered as a hunting dog, the Gerberian Shepsky has all the skills necessary to be trained for retrieving small prey. Considering the use of German Shepherds as police and military dogs, the Gerberian Shepsky is unlikely to be gun shy when properly trained. Despite a strong prey drive, the Shepsky can be taught to exercise enough restraint to retrieve animals without destroying them. Their intelligence and independent thinking also makes them great at strategizing situations not covered during training – such as how to flush out treed squirrels. Equally eager to learn as eager to please, the Shepsky would thoroughly enjoy a fall afternoon spent in the sun, hunting rabbit, squirrel, or bird with his favorite human.
The combined intelligence, agility, endurance, and trainability of the German Shepherd and Siberian Husky breeds makes the Gerberian Shepsky capable of practically every undertaking. If there is an activity you would like to try with your dog that is not on this list, give it a go! At the very least your dog will put his best effort towards trying to learn the new skill, which is one of the most endearing traits of the breed.