Exercising puppies – how much do they need?

Exercising puppies

If you have ever wondered about exercising puppies and how much exercise your puppy needs, you are not alone.

Many new puppy owners can be confused about how little or how much exercise is right for their puppy, and whether it is a good or bad thing to get them running about as much as possible during the day, in the hope of a peaceful night’s sleep.

Exercising puppies too much can cause long term damage

While our puppies have a lot of extra energy they need to burn off, and we certainly do need to keep their brains and bodies active, over-exercising puppies can damage their developing bones and joints.

This can lead to many common joint injuries and other issues including arthritis, knee, elbow and hip displaysia, while excessive exercise can also harm a puppy’s growth plates, cartilage tissue, and developing skeletal system.

Breed influences exercise needs as well

Your puppies breed will also influence their exercise needs, as large breed puppies need even more consideration when it comes to protecting their bones and joints.  They also have different dietary considerations and grow at a different rate to smaller breed puppies, so it is important that you talk to your vet about your puppy’s specific needs.

In general though, the American Kennel Club suggests a common rule of five minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice a day. For example, if your puppy is three months old, the you can exercise him or her for 15 minutes up to twice a day. Follow this rule until your puppy is fully grown. Once your dog is fully developed, they can exercise longer.

Find appropriate exercise

Avoid taking your puppy for long walks or runs on concrete paths and roads for the first 12 months of their life, longer for those larger breeds.

As we also want to make sure our puppies are socialised as much as possible during their critical period of development, exposing them to as many new environments, where they can play and interact with other dogs, people and objects as much as possible, will provide them with plenty of exercise as well.  c

Try taking your pup to the park or beach, where the grass and sand are softer on their joints. Of course, be aware of the need to keep them safe as well, as some older dogs can be impatient and even become aggressive to little puppies that are still learning the rules of dog interactions.  Read my tips HERE on keeping your puppy or any dog safe at dog parks and beaches, and also ensure  they have their vaccinations, before taking them to busy dog areas.

Exercising puppies with interactive toys and games

While it is important we take our puppies outside the home and into new environments as much as possible for their socialisation, there are of course many ways for exercising puppies at home as well.

It is just as important to exercise their brains too, to help develop their cognitive ability and problem solving skills .

Games of tug and fetch get their bodies moving, while interactive toys, puzzles and snuffle mats provide both physical and mental stimulation as does obedience training, teaching them fun tricks and playing brain games with them.  This type of environmental enrichment can

Know your breed

Some dog breeds require a lot more exercise than others, so make sure you do your research on the exercise needs of a breed you are considering and ensure you are able to meet their needs to help avoid many common dog behaviour problems.

The exercise needs of high-energy working dog breeds like the Border Collie is going to differ to that of a lap dog like the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel for example.

If you have just brought home, or are considering getting a puppy, then do make sure you check out more of my puppy-related articles HERE to help.


About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, petfood nutritionist and Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.

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