25 Doberman Exercise and Activity Ideas

Doberman jumps for a toy while running outdoors in field.

It’s a well-known fact that Dobermans need a lot of exercise throughout the day. In fact, most Dobermans need between one and two hours of exercise every single day in order to remain calm and reduce their anxiety levels. If you fail to give your Doberman the exercise and engagement they need, your Doberman will make up their own ways of getting out their extra energy, and it may not always be pretty.

As a trainer who specializes in Dobermans, I know how Dobermans can develop horrible barking or howling habits, start chewing on furniture in the house, overreact to common daily noises, and a whole lot of other negative behaviors, simply because they aren’t getting the exercise they need.

So, that’s why it’s good to have a list of activity ideas to have on hand to help you get your Doberman the exercise and stimulation they need.

Here are some of my favorite activities to do with Dobermans.

Doberman Activity List (Quick-Reference)

Click on any activity below to learn more.

ActivityExerciseMental StimulationIndoor/OutdoorSpecial Equipment Needed
Agility CourseHighHighEitherDog obstacles
SwimmingHighModerateOutdoorDog life jacket
Dog Park TripHighModerateOutdoorNone
Flirt PoleHighModerateEitherFlirt pole
Sprinkler PlayHighModerateOutdoorNone
Chase BubblesHighModerateEitherDog-safe bubbles
Chase Snow BallsHighModerateOutdoorNone
Play in the LeavesHighLowOutdoorNone
Run or JogHighLowOutdoorNone
FetchHighLowEitherBall or Dog Toy
FrisbeeHighLowEitherFrisbee
Biking or SkatingHighLowOutdoorBike or skates
Hide and SeekModerateHighEitherDog treats/reward
Puzzle ToyModerateHighEitherPuzzle toy
Tug of WarModerateModerateEitherRope or dog toy
HikingModerateModerateOutdoorBackpack (optional)
WalkingModerateLowOutdoorNone
Go to a Dog ShowModerateLowEitherNone
CampingLowHighOutdoorNone
Command TrainingLowHighEitherDog treats/reward
Behavior TrainingLowHighEitherDog treats/reward
Outdoor RestaurantLowModerateOutdoorNone
Bring to WorkLowModerateEitherNone
Boat RideLowModerateOutdoorDog life jacket
PicnicLowModerateOutdoorDog food or treats

1. Do an Agility Course

Items You May Need

  • Dog obstacles
  • Dog treats or reward

Agility courses are incredibly fun to do with a Doberman and they’re naturally fairly good at it! Since Dobermans are so highly trainable and focused on their owners, they’re a great fit for this activity. This is also one of the few activities you can do with your Doberman that is both highly physical and highly mind-engaging. It will also help your role as the leader in the house and, as if that wasn’t enough, it’ll provide you a chance to work on your dog’s general obedience.

I can’t say enough about how good this is for your dog. Take a look on YouTube for some examples of dog agility courses for some good ideas. You can build one in your backyard to practice on, buy some basic pre-made obstacles online, or fairly easily join a canine agility club near you. These agility clubs have regular meet-ups and owners come to practice this fun sport with dogs of all different breeds. You can even compete in agility events and earn ribbons for your dog as he or she gets better. See the AKC’s page on getting started in agility for more info.

2. Go Swimming

Items You May Need

  • Dog life-jacket

Swimming is a great activity for a Doberman, and although they tend to be easily turned on to this activity, Dobermans aren’t the best swimmers due to their dense bodies and lean muscle mass. Once you get your Doberman to love swimming, you’ll have a blast visiting the local lake or river, or even a trip in a pool. This is a high-energy activity for your Doberman and it does moderately engage their brain in the process.

I’ve found that using something with a gradual entry into the water, like a lake, for example, is a lot easier for getting a Doberman accustomed to swimming as opposed to a swimming pool that may have steps or other sharp drop-offs. Just keep safety in mind first and foremost as these dogs do have a hard time swimming at times. Swimming somewhere without a current or other dangerous features is a good idea.

Doberman goes for a swim in a beautiful lake.
Swimming in a lake is a great activity for a Doberman—try tossing a floating toy or stick to convince your dog to go in!

3. Take a Trip to the Dog Park

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash

There are a ton of benefits of spending a little time at the dog park if your Doberman is good with other dogs. For one, it leads to a lot of exercise and your dog’s interactions with other dogs at the park will also engage his or her brain. It’s also great to help socialize your dog and get them more comfortable being around others.

Another great benefit of a dog park is that dogs are fantastic at self-regulating each other. So, for example, if you’re struggling through the biting and nipping stage with a young Doberman, having interactions with older dogs can be great as they’ll often help to reduce that tendency (and help to teach your dog bite inhibition). Not to mention, a dog park is also a great chance for you to connect with other dog owners and as a Doberman owner, you’ll definitely get plenty of questions about your dog!

4. Play with a Flirt Pole

Items You May Need

  • Flirt pole

A flirt pole is fantastic because it’s a high-energy workout for your Doberman and it can be used in a small area (indoor or outdoors). Also, it requires very little energy from the owner so most owners find it easy to keep it up for a long period of time. Dobermans have a strong prey drive, and that’s what makes them so interested in flirt poles.

Essentially, it’s just a long pole with a rope at the end and a “lure” attached to the end of the rope. Think of it like a small fishing pole or cat teaser pole. You simply move the lure back and forth on either side of you using the pole and your dog runs around at high speed trying to grab the lure. You can easily make a homemade flirt pole yourself or get a relatively inexpensive one that lots of Doberman owners use like the Squishy Face Studio Flirt Pole, for example (see it on Amazon here, or Chewy here).

5. Play in the Sprinklers

Items You May Need

  • Sprinkler system
  • Towel

Dobermans don’t do exceptionally well in hot climates, but this is one activity that can make the hottest of days bearable. It’s generally very exciting for a Doberman and will lead to a high level of physical output and exercise. It may only moderately engage their brain (such as when they’re finding different ways to bite at the water), but it’s still plenty of fun.

Check to see if your sprinklers have manual or electronic controls to them where you are able to turn them on temporarily for this purpose. If you’re doing this in a fenced yard it’s even better as you won’t need a tether to your dog and he (or she) can really go crazy!

6. Chase Bubbles

Items You May Need

  • Dog-safe bubbles

Since Dobermans have a high prey drive, they love chasing things down. That’s why playing with bubbles can be so effective with this breed as a way to get out that extra energy. It’s a highly physical activity that’s a ton of fun, even if it only moderately engages the mind.

You can use an automatic bubble-blowing machine to keep your dog busy for a long time, or manually blow the bubbles yourself. Just make sure that you get bubbles that are dog-safe. I’ve found that peanut-butter flavored bubbles seem to make Dobermans go extra crazy. You can pick some up at your local pet store or on Amazon here or on Chewy here.

7. Chase Snow Balls

Items You May Need

  • Snow

Chasing snowballs is actually a really fun activity for a Doberman and it taps into their natural prey drive. It’s also moderately mind-engaging since snowballs act in ways that are very different from the normal ball your Doberman is used to chasing. In fact, snowballs seem to completely “disappear” to your Doberman once it hits the ground, often leading your dog to search the whole area looking for the ball.

If you want your snowball to disappear easily, then pack it lightly in your hand before tossing it. If you want to give your dog a chance of actually finding it and bringing it back to you, pack it as tightly as you can and then toss it. This can be a fun workout for you too on a snowy day. Just remember to keep an eye on your dog and bring him or her inside if it’s getting too cold for a safe playtime to continue.

8. Play in the Leaves

Items You May Need

  • Lots of leaves
  • A rake

If it’s fall and you need an excuse not only to clean up your yard but also get some energy out of your Doberman, why not rake some of those leaves into a big pile and let your Doberman go crazy in them for a bit! Most Dobermans are hesitant at first but soon fall right into the fun and excitement of it. It’s a high-energy activity to do with your Doberman that’s also lots of fun. This one isn’t usually super mind-engaging, however.

Just make sure you keep your rake handy as your Doberman will likely quickly destroy your nice pile of leaves you made. Try tossing a ball or toy into the pile of leaves and watch your dog jump headlong into the pile and root around trying to find it.

A weighted backpack on a Doberman.
A hike or backpacking trip is a great idea, especially if you’re using a dog backpack where your Doberman can carry all their own supplies.

9. Go for a Run or Jog

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Collapsible water bowl

This is a step up in terms of exercise level from walking, this is considered a high-level exercise. Remember not to attempt this if your dog is younger than 18-months of age as a Doberman’s joints are still developing and repetitive, high-impact, exercise such as this can damage their joints. Even better is to wait until your dog is at least 24-months old and then ease into this activity slowly.

Not only is this activity good for your Doberman, but it’s great for you too! Just remember to take extra water breaks with your dog and know the signs of heatstroke so you can keep an eye out for it. A collapsible water bowl is great here as it’s easy to carry with you on a run.

10. Play Fetch

Items You May Need

  • Ball or tossable dog toy

Playing fetch is a great way to burn some extra energy out of your Doberman and it appeals directly to this breed’s natural habit-building tendencies. While some Dobermans may be hesitant to fetch an item and bring it back to their owner instinctually (they aren’t retrievers after all), most will get the idea of how to do this with a little guidance and will quickly make this action a habit.

This activity provides just a little mental stimulation once they have the hang of what to do, but in the beginning, as your Doberman is learning, it may provide higher levels of mental engagement. It’s also something you can easily play indoors on a rainy or snowy day.

11. Play Frisbee

Items You May Need

  • Frisbee

Frisbee is similar to playing fetch in the sense that it takes a fairly high level of physical exertion from your Doberman to play, but it’s usually lower on the mental stimulation side of things. That is, of course, assuming your Doberman is used to this game. In the beginning, it will provide higher levels of mental stimulation as they’re figuring out what you expect of them.

A frisbee is easier on the owner as well since it takes less energy to make the frisbee cover a longer distance, meaning you’ll hopefully be able to keep this up with your dog for a longer period of time. Make sure you’re using a durable frisbee or you’re very watchful of your Doberman and ensuring they don’t chew on it excessively since a Doberman can make short work of most frisbees.

12. Go Biking or Skating

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • A bike, scooter, skates, or skateboard

This activity will certainly get that extra energy out of your Doberman and it’s a great one for the younger ones in your house to do. Just be careful that if your Doberman is pulling you, that it’s done in a safe environment or you have sufficient control over your dog. You don’t want your dog to be running towards a busy street, pulling you along, with no way to stop him.

Although mental stimulation levels for this activity are fairly low, it does get your Doberman out into the world and experiencing new sights, sounds, and people. All of which will help with your socialization efforts and help them get more accustomed to the world in general, which will lead to a calmer adult Doberman.

13. Play Hide and Seek

Items You May Need

  • Dod treats or reward

Hide and seek is such a great game for a Doberman for many reasons. For one, they’re velcro dogs so they love being by your side and will try incredibly hard to find you. Secondly, they have an incredible sense of smell and will rely on this during the search for you, even if you’re hiding in the complete dark. Also, Dobermans love playing along with this game and will “sit” and “stay” easily while you hide, as long as you’ve built a solid “stay” command into your Doberman of course.

Just have your Doberman stay, hide somewhere, and yell out your release command. When your dog finds you, praise and reward them. This can be good exercise, depending on how big the area is your dog is searching, and it certainly highly engages their mind while they search the area for you. It can also be a great game to play indoors on rainy or snowy days.

Man and his Doberman sitting on the front porch of a rustic cabin.
Camping with your Doberman is a great activity for both of you!

14. Play with a Puzzle Toy

Items You May Need

  • A puzzle toy
  • Dog food or treats

The entire purpose of a puzzle toy is to engage a dog’s mind. Since the Doberman is widely accepted to be the fifth smartest dog breed in the world, they have no problem doing this. It can also be a moderately high-energy endeavor depending on the specific toy that is used.

In case you aren’t familiar with puzzle toys, essentially they are dog toys where a dog needs to squeeze or move the toy in a certain way, or interact with it in some other manner, to get to an ultimate goal. Usually, the goal is to get the toy to release a dog treat of some type. Letting your Doberman go crazy with a puzzle toy is a great thing to do inside on a rainy day as it usually calms your Doberman while keeping him in one spot. I have some of my favorite puzzle toys listed on my Doberman toy page here if you want to see some that work great for Dobermans!

15. Play Tug-of-War

Items You May Need

  • Rope or dog toy

Tug-of-war is a classic game for Dobermans and it really helps to build their confidence levels. It can be done indoors on cold rainy days or outdoors, it’s a decent workout for them, and it does (surprisingly) engage their mind a fair amount. As you’re playing tug-of-war with your Doberman, you may notice him or her thinking hard during the game of different ways to pull on the toy to get it out of your grasp. This is where the mental engagement occurs in this game.

Since this activity builds confidence in your Doberman, make sure you’re using it wisely. For example, it’s not a good idea to play lots of tug-of-war with a Doberman when they’re under a year of age and in the phase where they’re challenging your leadership role in the house (this is a normal occurrence for Dobermans of this age). Playing this during that time can build their confidence too high, making this stage more difficult. On the other hand, if you have a timid Doberman, this game might be great to build their confidence up (just make sure they win a decent amount).

16. Go Hiking

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Collapsible dog bowl
  • Booties
  • Vaseline
  • Dog backpack

Hiking is a great outdoor activity to do with your Doberman, and it can be anywhere from a low-level workout (on flat, open terrain for example) to a high-level and very strenuous workout (on rougher terrain). There are also lots of new smells to experience and it does a generally decent job of engaging a Doberman’s mind.

Bringing a collapsible dog bowl and plenty of water is a good idea. But remember that if your dog hurts or cracks a pad on their foot when you are miles into a hike, you could be in serious trouble. Having vaseline and some booties to protect the paw on your way out in case of injury is a great idea. I have a lot of this gear listed in my recommended walking and hiking gear for Dobermans page if you need ideas of what works well for this breed.

17. Go for a Walk

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Collapsible water bowl

This is probably the most common activity Doberman owners regularly do with their dogs. It’s great if you can get in the habit of going on a walk at the same time every day with your Doberman since this breed loves having a strong routine so much. Just remember not to do exceptionally long walks on hard surfaces until your dog is at least 18 months of age since high-impact exercise can damage their joints.

While this activity is considered low mental stimulation, it’s really good for your dog because they learn proper leash etiquette (as long as you’re training your dog correctly, see my leash training guide if you need help there), and they’re getting exposed to unique sights, smells, and sounds. There are many benefits to frequent walks with your Doberman.

18. Go to a Dog Show

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash

Bringing your Doberman to a dog show is a great way to meet other dog enthusiasts. Even if your dog isn’t competing, it’s still a lot of fun and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some pretty impressive Dobermans competing in the process. This is great for their socialization and is often moderately good exercise since most dog shows are spread out with plenty of walking between judging areas.

Just make sure your dog is well accustomed to being around other dogs, the last thing you want is for your Doberman to make a scene or “mess up” and perfectly beautified champion dog by getting into a scuffle. To find a list of dog shows near you that may include Dobermans, see infodog.com.

19. Go Camping

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Dog bowls
  • Dog backpack
  • Portable dog pen

Camping with your Doberman is not only an event that often leads to great exercise opportunities, but it’s also a great way to bond deeper with your dog. In most camping situations, your Doberman will be exposed to new people, animals, smells, sights, and sounds. All of these things will help to deeply engage their mind.

What’s most amazing about camping with a Doberman is to see their protective instincts in play, especially if you are camping in the woods, away from civilization. Most Dobermans will almost always sleep in your tent (or cabin) facing the door. They are smart enough to know you’re staying in a new place and will watch intensely over you while you sleep.

20. Train a New Command

Items You May Need

  • Dog treats or reward

Training a new command in your Doberman is a fantastic way to highly engage their brain. While it may not be the most physically-intense thing you can do with your Doberman, stimulating the mind is incredibly important and will equally help to relax them. Doing this asserts your leadership status in the home (very important with Dobermans), and it can also be done indoors on a cold or rainy day.

For some great ideas on some cool tricks you can teach to your Doberman, you can see my list of 13 easy tricks for Dobermans to learn here. Then, once your dog is getting fairly advanced with their command training, you can attempt to move on to some more complicated commands such as those listed in my advance tricks to teach a Doberman guide here.

A Doberman tries to catch a toy in the snow.
Plenty of fun can be had with your Doberman—even on a snowy day!

21. Train a New Behavior

Items You May Need

  • Dog treats or reward

Dobermans have an innate desire to please their owners, and they love habit and routine. You can use both of these things to build a new behavior in your dog that will make life with them much easier. Although this usually requires a low amount of physical output from your dog, it almost always requires focus and will provide high levels of mental stimulation in the process.

Try creating a new habit such as having your Doberman go to their bed and lay down when you walk in through the front door of your house. Spend some time orienting your Doberman to what you want by walking in the door, guiding them to their bed with commands they know already, then praising and rewarding. Repeat this for a while until you can come through the door and have him (or her) run straight to their bed and lay down, waiting for a release command. As your Doberman progresses, try going longer and longer stretches of time before giving the release command. This is a very useful behavior to teach to your dog!

22. Find a Dog-Friendly Restaurant or Coffee House

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash

Taking your Doberman to one of the many restaurants or coffee houses that allow dogs (search for ones with outdoor seating as those are most likely to allow dogs) is a great activity for your dog. Although this action by itself doesn’t take a lot of energy, sometimes it’s done at the end of a long walk with your dog which is a great finish to a workout. Also, it’s a great way to socialize your dog with other people and get them to relax being out in public and around large groups.

Having a Doberman with you will get lots of attention and likely quite a few people will want to pet your dog. This is great for your dog, but just make sure your Doberman is relaxed enough and ready to accept petting from strangers first. Remember, you’re representing the entire Doberman breed out there!

23. Bring Your Doberman to Work

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Dog bed
  • Bowl

Bringing your Doberman to work is an incredibly great way to bond. It’s also great for their socialization since most of the time they’ll see new sights, meet new people, hear new sounds, and so on. It’ll also help teach them to be able to relax in areas away from home. Now admittedly for most of us workers, this is a low-energy endeavor on the part of your dog (especially if you have an office job), but it does engage the mind moderately well due to the increase in socialization they generally get.

You may want to consider getting a second bed for your Doberman (one to keep at work), as well as a bowl so you can provide your dog with some water while you’re working the day away. But other than that, you really don’t need much else!

24. Go for a Boat Ride

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Dog life-jacket

Going for a boat ride with your Doberman is a great activity to do and it really helps to expose your dog to a completely different experience than they’re probably used to. Riding on a boat has really unique sounds, feelings, and sensations and it would be great to do early on during the critical socialization window. It may not be a lot of exercise, but it’s a very beneficial activity that does engage their mind in the process.

Just make sure you keep things safe for your dog and the others on the boat. A dog life jacket is a great idea, as is making sure your dog is sufficiently contained. In case your pup has a real “freak out” moment on the boat and starts jumping around, you want to make sure he or she doesn’t end up in the water or knock someone else in the water! If your dog does start to “freak out”, stop the boat, calm things down, and only progress as long as your dog doesn’t appear anxious. The last thing you want to do is traumatize them to this new experience.

25. Go for a Picnic

Items You May Need

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Water bowl
  • Portable dog pen
  • Dog food or treats

While a picnic might be a low-exercise activity to do with your Doberman, it is fairly mind-engaging (new sights, smells, people, etc) and it’s a great way to bond tighter with your dog. This is a great activity to do during that critical socialization window for Dobermans that occurs up until they’re about 16 weeks of age.

You can also bring a frisbee or ball with you and play some fetch or incorporate any other number of activities into your picnic day. A portable pen is nice to create an easily movable “safe space” for your dog while you’re relaxing. I use a great MidWest brand collapsible dog pen that’s easily movable (see it on Amazon here, or Chewy here) if you’re interested in getting one for your dog.

Final Thoughts

The great thing about Dobermans is they love being active and they need plenty of exercise throughout the day. They’re also very owner-focused and trainable. All this means they are the perfect adventure companions and really the list of things you can do with your Doberman is almost endless.

The single biggest piece of advice I can give you to have a happy and relaxed Doberman is to simply incorporate your dog’s life into your life, as much as possible. This will strengthen the bond between you and soon you’ll be finding you both getting healthier by having plenty of adventures together. Now get out there and have fun together!

John Walter

I'm the founder of Doberman Planet. I live in the Sacramento area of California and love spending quality time with Cooper, my 6-year-old Doberman Pinscher.

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