Appropriate Exercise For Your Puppy
Exercise for puppies doesn’t always have to be a walk. High energy play also counts as exercise.
Just like for people, exercise is vital for puppies for their physical and mental wellbeing. While young puppies can’t do the levels of exercise they can as adults, building their exercise steadily and safely will help keep them fit and fabulous!
More about the appropriate exercise for puppies
Exercise is really important for puppies, for their health and also for their socialisation, lead training, and mental stimulation. Getting exercise every day should be part of the routine for all puppies, but this does need to be controlled. While puppies are young they are still developing and growing. In order to allow for this, the ends of the bones have growth-plates which allow bones to get longer. When pups are fully grown these growth plates harden up into bone themselves, and your dog has reached their adult size!
Normal exercise helps this process, but while the bones are still growing excessive exercise or impacts can injure or affect the bones or growth plates. For this reason, it is important that puppies are only exercised within their limits until they are fully grown. While most puppies are fully grown by a year old, some giant dog breeds mature much more slowly, and can take 18 months or more for their growth plates to fully close.
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule as to how much exercise is right for an individual puppy – just like us their needs vary, between breeds and between each individual. On average though puppies need five minutes of exercise per month of age up to twice a day. In other words, a three-month-old puppy will need fifteen minutes of exercise (once or twice a day) while a four-month-old will need twenty minutes (once or twice a day).
Exercise for puppies doesn’t always have to be a walk, either. High energy play also counts as exercise. Although it can be difficult to regulate, do try and consider how much time you spend with impact play or running around the house or garden with your puppy. If your puppy seems tired, always stop.
While each puppy is different there are some tips you can use to help determine what’s right for your dog:
- Look at your dog's shape. Dogs with shorter noses (brachycephaly), such as bulldogs and pugs, will struggle more with exercise as they often find breathing more restricted.
- Look at your dog's size. Large-breed dogs can actually have more problems associated with over-exercise as puppies than small breed dogs can.
- Look at your dog's mental agility. High-drive breeds, like shepherding dogs, need more stimulation than some other breeds. Exercise can be great for this, but training can also be a useful way to keep them entertained.
- Look at the type of exercise you are doing. Are you running around or doing a quiet lead stroll? High impact activity needs to be more closely monitored than calm explorations.
It is also important to consider the pattern of exercise your dog gets. ‘Weekend-warriors’ are no good for puppies, who need regular exercise at a consistent level.
- Teaching lead walking early on will make going out for a relaxing walk much easier
- Start slow. Build up the time spent walking and always stop if your puppy looks tired or refuses to walk any further.
- Breaks are fine! Take plenty of breaks when you are out walking with your puppy
- In hot weather pavements can heat up fast and heatstroke can also be a concern. Ice can lead to salt spreading and freezing underfoot which can also cause discomfort. Always try and walk your puppy at the time of day they will be most comfortable.
- Don't take your puppy out for a walk until they have had their vaccinations and you have had the all-clear from your vet. This is the best way to keep them safe from a whole range of nasty diseases
- Don't exercise your puppy just after they have eaten, especially in deep-chested dogs. This can lead to a twisting of the stomach, which is life-threatening.
Take water. Keeping hydrated on walks is really important for you and puppy, and on hot days even a very short walk should come with a refreshment break!
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