I’ll never forget the look my puppy obedience class trainer gave me when I told her proudly that my puppy had gone on a two-mile hike with me. As she explained, puppies, especially large-breed puppies, should not be exercised too much, as over-exercising could cause joint and bone problems, and two miles was definitely too much for my three-month-old dog.
While I never made that mistake again, it did leave me with a few questions. Just how much exercise is too much for a puppy, and how do you know when enough is enough?
Subject of Debate
There is a lot of debate in the dog world about puppies and exercise. Veterinarians, breeders, and trainers all seem to agree that too much exercise is just as bad as not enough, but there is no set formula for calculating your puppy’s progress.
While it would be nice if there were a 100-percent-accurate chart you could look at that broke down puppies by breed and age and explained how much exercise they needed each day, complete with mileage and a puppy activity tracker, the reality is more complicated.
Veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly points out that some of this confusion stems from a combination of a lack of scientific studies and a variety of personal opinions. She compares the debate about puppy exercise to the ongoing debate about exercise, sports, and children – there are many different approaches to exercise, and each has its ups and downs.
How Much Exercise Does Your Puppy Need?
We may not have exact measurements, but there are a few common-sense considerations that can help you come up with a plan to keep your puppy active and healthy.
For starters, consider your dog’s breed. A Bulldog puppy and a Border Collie puppy will both love playtime, but a Border Collie will probably have a higher exercise tolerance than a Bulldog, not to mention a higher heat tolerance for outdoor play.
Breed size matters, too. There have been studies that show potential links between too much exercise and orthopedic disease in large-breed dogs. Forcing your 8-week-old Great Dane for a two-mile walk every day, for instance, is probably not a great idea, even if he could keep up. Most people would not consider taking a smaller-breed puppy for a hike that long, but with higher energy levels, larger breeds can fool us into thinking they need longer walks than is good for them.
Learning as much as you can about your breed is a good place to start. Large and giant breeds grow quickly and mature slowly, which may mean you have to put off certain activities, like jumping in agility, until they are fully grown. Toy breeds, on the other hand, mature more quickly but require small, frequent feedings throughout the day as puppies, which can mean you may need to adjust their exercise accordingly.
All breeds require mental stimulation, but high-drive, working breeds, such as Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, and German Shepherd Dogs need more mental stimulation than other breeds. Working training sessions and interactive toys into their exercise routine is just as important as exercise itself.
Your puppy’s exercise needs will change as she grows. When your puppy is very young, veterinarians recommend keeping exercise limited to short walks and multiple play sessions throughout the day, with plenty of time for naps.
Older puppies will require more exercise. A six-month-old dog might be capable of taking longer walks or even short jogs (if your vet helps you determine he’s in good overall health and up for it), for example, but long hikes over rough terrain or strenuous agility classes are still potentially dangerous.
You can slowly build your puppy up to longer walks with time, taking plenty of breaks to keep him from tiring out or hurting himself, but how long is too long? And what about puppies that never seem to get tired, no matter how much they run around?
No Easy Answers
As with humans, all the recommendations in the world boil down to an inconvenient reality: the amount of exercise your puppy needs depends on your puppy.
“On the one hand, we know wolf pups run with their packs for miles. On the other, we know that the risks for a sedentary puppy with a weekend-warrior exercise pattern are worse than for a puppy that gets continuous, self-regulated exercise,” says Dr. Marc Wosar, MSpVM, DACVS, an orthopedic specialist. “Unfortunately, there are no hard-and-fast rules in these cases.”
This leaves owners struggling to come up with the answers themselves. Talking with your veterinarian is a great place to start, and Dr. Kuhly cautions against spending too much time focusing on “how much exercise is too much,” and instead advises owners to remember that while there are no fixed rules about what is too much exercise, not getting enough exercise over a lifetime is far more dangerous.
Your veterinarian is a great place to start your research. You can also talk to your breeder, contact breed enthusiast groups for advice, or talk to other owners about their experience with puppies of a similar breed. Most importantly, watch your puppy carefully for signs of excessive tiredness or lameness, as this could be more than just a symptom of too much exercise and could be a sign of a more serious problem.
Puppy Exercise Safety Tips
Regardless of your dog’s age, there are a few safety tips that can help keep your puppy safe during exercise.
- Teach your puppy how to walk on a leash.
- Begin with short walks, taking frequent breaks.
- Increase the length of the walk gradually.
- Avoid walks during the hottest and coldest parts of the day.
- Walk on safe footing, avoiding slippery or sharp surfaces.
- Call your veterinarian if your puppy shows any signs of lameness.
Types of Exercise
Puppies love to play, whether that involves romping, chasing, wrestling, or tugging. This is good news for owners, because it provides lots of variety in exercise for their pups. Variety may also help reduce some of the risks associated with repetitive exercise, and can help you bond with your new dog.
Consistency is important for puppies. Taking long runs on the weekend and short walks during the week can hurt your puppy’s growing body, but consistency doesn’t mean you have to repeat the same activities. Vary the type of your puppy’s activities. If the weather is warm, try taking your puppy swimming to help get her used to water. Go for walks on different surfaces, like grass, wooded trails, and even pavement to help her grow comfortable in new environments. Find puppy playgroups and obedience classes, and introduce her to new toys and games.
Above all, make sure she gets at least three exercise sessions a day. Two of these could be short walks around the neighborhood to work on her leash training, while the third could be a rousing game of tug in the yard or hide-and-seek in the house. As you get to know your dog, you may find that she tells you when she is too tired to keep playing, which is your cue to enjoy a few moments of peace and quiet while your puppy takes a nap.
Exercise for puppies doesn’t always have to be a walk. High energy play also counts as exercise.
Puppies have a lot of energy! It could be tempting to try to tire them out by running around and playing with them until they’re tired and needing a nap, but did you know that you can overdo it and exercise puppies more than is good for them?
Puppies grow so quickly! In developing bones and joints, there are special areas called
growth plates, where new bone is laid down. Growth plates stop making new bone, or
‘close’ at set times and become strong bone, but until they do, they are fragile and can be damaged by trauma, such as falls from furniture or hard bumps.
Although structures such as bones, together with muscles, tendons and ligaments (what we often call ‘soft tissue’) need to be trained for their jobs in life through normal movement and physical activity, they also need plenty of time to grow and repair. Too much physical activity and not enough rest-and-repair time can have a detrimental effect on their health and development.
You’ll have noticed that puppies seem to be awake and running around for a little while and then they have to go off to sleep to recharge. As they get older, they spend longer awake and shorter periods asleep. They only play until they’re tired and then they rest.
When we’re playing with puppies, or training them, or perhaps taking them for a walk once they’re old enough, we have to decide on their behalf when it’s time to rest, because puppies like to do things with us and it’s easy to let them overdo it.
Exercise includes the more obvious things such as playing (with humans or with other dogs or pets), training, going for walks, sniffing to find things and swimming.
Some of these forms of exercise are tiring physically, while others are more mentally tiring. It’s important to make sure the time you spend with your puppy is a mix of both physical and mental exercise and also not to wait until your puppy looks tired before you stop
There are lots of views on this, because puppies have been brought up with all sorts of
approaches to exercise and have grown up healthy and sound. However, the more we
understand about dog health and physiology and as more evidence is uncovered by
research, some general advice becomes easier to offer.
As a rule, where physical exercise is concerned, other than free play with toys or with other pets, the average puppy who is still growing could do about five minutes for every month of their age, one or twice a day. For example, a puppy of five months old can do 25 minutes of exercise up to twice a day. There is some individual variation in this – not all puppies will need or manage this much physical activity, while others may have recharged and be ready for more fun so quickly that they will create their own mischief if they don’t get an extra session of play or another little walk.
If your puppy sits or lies down during a walk or wanders off during playtime and looks as though they want to take some time out, give them a rest.
If you’re out on a walk, you could carry them or you could give them time to recover some energy and finish the walk, but perhaps reduce the length of walks for the
next week or so. If you find your puppy seems to lack energy or to get tired very quickly, it might be worth having a chat with your vet team, just to make sure there’s no underlying reason.
Some breeds of dog reach physical maturity sooner than others. In general, the larger the breed, the longer it will take for their bones and joints to be fully developed. If you have a large-breed puppy, err on the side of caution as you increase their exercise. You might like to break up exercise periods into smaller chunks to allow your puppy to rest more frequently.
Find out about your puppy’s breed and if you aren’t sure at what age they are
considered fully grown, or how much exercise is right for them, check with your vet team.
Breeds who have been designed to work, such as collies, spaniels and terriers, are normally very energetic. If you were to try to tire them out using physical exercise alone, you might risk overdoing things. Instead, make sure they can play freely in the garden, or do some calm training with them. Look into games involving searching for things using their nose, or toys that require them to focus or use up some energy by chewing. These activities can tire them out without risking their health.
Brachycephalic, or flat-faced puppies, may want to play and take part in activities just like anyone else, but often, they can’t manage as much physical exercise because it can be difficult for them to breathe properly. Keep a close eye on how they’re coping, focus on less physically demanding activities and check with your vet if you are worried about their energy levels or if you can hear loud noises from their nose or mouth when they’re playing or resting.
It’s not a good idea to exercise any puppy in hot or humid weather, but this is
particularly important with brachycephalic breeds, who can’t cool themselves easily.
Small breeds of dog grow faster than larger breeds, so they’ll reach physical maturity earlier. This means that they should be able to cope with some activities sooner than larger breeds. Remember though that, although small breeds are often full of energy, they do only have little legs, so taking them for a walk requires a lot of effort on their part in order to keep up! Keep walks reasonably short and steady so your small-breed puppy can go at their own pace.
Lots of energetic breeds will settle nicely after mental exercise, so find games for them that aren’t physically tiring, but that get them thinking. Puzzle games and activities that involve using their nose to find things are great for busy dogs. Some breeds are ‘mouthier’ than others and get a lot of pleasure from settling down with something to chew, so provide your puppy with safe toys that they can have a good chomp on.
Getting to know your own puppy, adapting the ‘five minutes per month of age’ rule to suit them and making use of different sorts of exercise and activities should help to give your puppy a great start in life!
If you have a puppy, you’re probably looking for some ideas on how to safely tire him out, especially if he’s in that naughty, “teenage” stage.
Taking your puppy for walks is a good idea, but you may be wondering how far you can walk him without putting too much stress on his joints. And, is it safe to take him running?
I asked two dog trainers to share some of their ideas for exercising a puppy, and here’s what they had to say.
Tips for tiring out your puppy
1. Go for lots of short walks
A series of short walks throughout the day is a good way to help your puppy feel tired without overdoing it, said Abby Harrison, a dog trainer with Sit Dog Stay in Texas.
“At a young age, it’s not so much about hard core exercise as it is exploring the world,” she said.
Dog trainer Kate Connell recommended puppy owners start with a 15 to 20 minute walk twice a day, and then gradually increase the time of each walk.
She works with the dog training company Calmer Canines.
“Most medium- to large-breed puppies can walk for up to an hour at a time by 16 weeks,” she said. “But watch for signs of fatigue – slowing down, panting, refusing to walk.”
She said it’s best not to take your pup running or jogging until she is more mature in order to avoid stress on developing bones and joints.
“Should you choose to run with your dog when he is old enough, you will need to start gradually with a short jog, finishing with a walk, to build up their endurance,” Connell said.
Any concerns about this should be discussed with your pup’s vet. (See our post on running with a dog.)
2. Play games that involve running
Harrison suggested playing games that encourage the puppy to run such as fetch.
“What is important is that the puppy can stop at any moment as opposed to going out for a 10K training run on the sidewalk where the dog still has some distance before they are home,” she said.
Another great game for puppies is tug, according to Connell.
“You can even do this prior to walks in order to help reduce pulling on the leash. Just be sure to avoid leaping and jumping as much as possible as that puts a lot of stress on their developing joints,” she said.
If your puppy seems to really enjoy tug of war, they might like a tether tug toy for their yard.
3. Mental stimulation
Sometimes dog owners overlook mental stimulation, which is just as important as physical.
Harrison had the idea of creating a puzzle for your puppy by placing treats in an old muffin tin and then covering each treat with a tennis ball.
“From there, you can teach search games for a treat,” she said.
She also likes to toss a handful of dry dog food into the grass to let the puppy or dog search for the pieces.
4. Puppy play dates
Puppy play dates with friends and other puppies or dogs are another great way to wear your puppy out, Connell said.
To be safe, she said to interrupt play frequently in order to prevent playing too rough or over-arousal.
Finally, Connell recommended working on obedience or trick training with your puppy.
“Training your puppy may not provide a ton of physical exercise, but it will usually wear your puppy out far better than a walk!” she said.
She recommended training in short sessions of just a few minutes, but you can do multiple sessions per day.
Some basic commands to begin teaching your puppy could include come, sit, down and stay.
Do any of you have a puppy in your home? How do you get your puppy tired?
Want more puppy tips? Check out these blogs.
posted: May 28, 2020.
Congratulations on your new puppy! Getting a new furry family member is always exciting, whether you are a seasoned dog-parent or are brand new to puppyhood. Get ready for lots of snuggles and cute Instagram posts, as well as chewed-up belongings and potty outings in the middle of the night. As you know, puppies need to play, sleep, and explore their new world. Sometimes that energy is challenging for owners to channel, and we frequently get asked about appropriate exercise for puppies. This is a great time to introduce exercises and training that will help your puppy adjust to an active lifestyle as an adult, but it’s important to keep growing bones and joints healthy at this age.
Many owners who live active lifestyles such as mountain biking, long-distance running, and skiing are eager to bring their puppy along for the adventure. It’s important that they should not engage in these sorts of activities until they are at least 15-18 months old. Why do you ask? This is when the growth plates are closed and dogs are finished growing (larger dogs need more time then smaller dogs, as a general rule). Exercising too hard and too soon can damage growth plates and joints, predisposing your puppy to joint disease and injuries in the future. Avoid long activity and strenuous, repetitive activity (that means games like intense frisbee/fetch sessions should be avoided as well) until your puppy is fully grown.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t introduce them to the activities now. This is a great time for training, so that when your dog is old enough, he’s more ready mentally and physically for adventure. A good rule of thumb to follow is the 5 minute rule-for every month of age, your dog can do controlled, planned exercise for an additional 5 minutes. For example, a 2-month old puppy should have 10 minutes of exercise, and a 4-month old puppy can have 20 minutes of exercise, etc. This rule doesn’t apply to basic bouts of puppy play or to training/obedience sessions (such as learning basic leash manners, sit/stay/come, etc).
Puppy Exercise Guide:
2-4 months: Focus on play and training! Short spurts of sprinting and play are normal and ok. Focus on basic obedience, teaching basic concepts such as leash-walking and recall. This is a great time to introduce your puppy to new objects to play with and crawl over, which can help develop proprioception and balance.
4-6 months: Once vaccinated, start taking your pup for leash walks and shorter hikes-the focus still should be on learning new things/places and exploring. If you introduce games such as fetch, focus on rolling the ball short distances for retrieval over longer throws. If you want your dog to be a mountain bike or ski dog, getting him basic exposure to these objects is great-think tossing on your backcountry skis to tool around your yard, while working on basic obedience so your puppy learns good manners early-on. For dogs that are going into heavier work or sports such as agility, start exposing them to the equipment and get used to low jumping (wrist-height or lower) and groundwork (such as going through tunnels, standing on wobbly surfaces, etc).
6-12 months: You should be able to take your puppy on bigger adventures such as hikes (think 45 minutes to an hour) but avoid long, consistent hard running. Expose your pup to varied terrain such as hills, streams, and logs to scramble over. Retrieving/fetch games can be great exercise and stimulation at this age, but keep the amount and distance limited at this time (5-10min at a time, and softer terrain like grass is best). For sporting/agility dogs, keep activities like jumping to elbow-height or less, and avoid heavy repetition or high-speed turning (such as weave poles).
12-18 months: Now you can start introducing harder activities such as running and biking to get your pup comfortable and (gradually) more fit. The goal should be training and exposure over distance-we would still recommend building up slowly, starting with just short (think 20-30min) increments at first of more intense activity.
Once you do start taking your dog out on bigger adventures and activities, bear in mind that (even though they think that they’re invincible), it’s important to gradually build up your dog’s physical fitness. As you can imagine, if you suddenly ran a hard 10-15 miles on a rough trail after a bike, you might be rather sore afterwards. Allowing your dog to build up fitness over several weeks will help them gradually strengthen their muscles and cardiovascular fitness, and also help their paws adjust to the terrain and activity (I’ve seen a lot of torn/worn pads from “weekend warrior syndrome” in dogs).
It’s also very important to be cautious with where you take your puppy during the first several months until they are completely vaccinated. Parvo is a potentially fatal disease, and is very costly to treat (often requiring several days of intensive care at a specialty facility). It’s important that you don’t take your puppy to public places where there is potential exposure to the virus. This isn’t just the dog park or doggie day care-your popular hiking and running trails could also be risky locations. Talk to your veterinarian about getting a vaccine schedule set up so that your puppy is protected before going on adventures.
The most important thing to consider with puppies is that activity should be fun! Puppies love a game, but it’s important to keep things short and sweet, especially in the early stages. In the first few months, the priority should be exploration and positive experiences, which will help your puppy become more confident as an adult. Treats, verbal praise, and toys are all your friend in helping your puppy learn new things and associate exercise and training as a good thing. As they grow, they’ll more quickly adjust physically and mentally to more rigorous activity.
We hope this helps guide you in getting your puppy exercise and activity while setting him up for long-term physical and mental success! By being smart and safe while they’re young, you and your pup can have many years filled with adventures.
If you have questions or you’d like to further discuss an exercise program for your puppy, please feel free to contact us to set up a consultation.
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Puppies are little bundles of energy, so itвЂ™s important they get the right type of exercise at the right time for them to stay fit and healthy.
- 1. Be careful not to over-exercise your puppy
- 2. Check what your breed needs
- 3. Make sure your pup is vaccinated
- 4. Play and training is exercise too
- 5. Make exercise easy
- 6. Variety is important to puppy exercise
- 7. Exercise is good for your dog and good for you
- Additional tip: Have fun!
1. Be careful not to over-exercise your puppy
Puppies need exercise to help develop their growing bodies as well as stimulate their minds, but in my experience pups don’t need as much exercise as adult dogs. So it’s important to get the right balance of exercise and rest. Over-exercise can be harmful to a pup’s developing joints, bones and muscles.
As a general rule, most pups should have five minutes of exercise per each month of their age, twice a day. So if your puppy is four months old, two 20-minute walks a day should be about right.
This doesn’t have to be a fast walk – you’re pup will get a lot of mental stimulation from just exploring. Either way, it’s important to exercise at your puppy’s pace – have fun but watch out for signs of tiredness.
2. Check what your breed needs
The size and breed of your pet can relate to the level of exercise they’ll need. Some breeds of dog are more energetic than others. Generally speaking, larger breeds of dog such as German Shepherd or Labrador will need more exercise than smaller breeds such as terriers.
However, keep in mind that big breeds also take longer to reach maturity and for their bones to fully develop, so the amount of exercise will vary over a longer period of time. I’d recommend asking your vet for advice on exercise for specific breeds.
3. Make sure your pup is vaccinated
Before taking your dog outside for a walk it’s crucial that they’re fully vaccinated. Vaccinations ensure your pup is safe from common canine infections that can be picked up from contact with unvaccinated dogs.
Puppies usually have their first vaccination at around eight weeks old, followed by another vaccination 2-4 weeks later to make sure they’re fully protected. Until your pup is fully vaccinated they’ll need plenty of exercise in short bursts, playing in a garden or a safe area at home.
4. Play and training is exercise too
We all know that dogs love a walk, but for young dogs the simple act of playing is a hugely important part of their exercise regime too, particularly in very young pups.
Whether it’s chasing a ball or wrestling with a toy in the home, playing in the garden or interaction with their owner, I always recommend that playtime, training and brain games are included as important aspects of a puppy’s exercise and development.
5. Make exercise easy
I love taking dogs for a walk – it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of dog ownership and an essential part of any growing pup’s development. But walking a dog for the first time can also be stressful, particularly if your dog becomes distracted or scared.
I always recommend familiarising your pup with their lead at home and teaching them how to respond to commands such as ‘stay’ or ‘come’ before leaving the house. This can help avoid any issues when out walking. And, in my experience, it’s crucial to always remain calm if your pet meets other dogs that might be aggressive.
Here are some useful tips for a successful first walk with your pet.
6. Variety is important to puppy exercise
For me, having a mix of walking, playing, training and socialising with other dogs, will help your pup develop mentally as well as physically. But that variety should also extend to the environments that your puppy experiences during exercise.
I always recommend that playing in the home and garden is complemented with walks along local streets and through urban areas, visits to parks and woods as well as beaches. Not only will this help your dog’s cognitive development by familiarising them to the sights, smells and sounds of the wider world, pups can sometimes get sore paws from walking on concrete for too long, so walking on grass or sand can give them some relief.
Before you travel, remember to check and follow any current Covid-19 restrictions that may apply to your local area or the area you plan to travel to.
7. Exercise is good for your dog and good for you
As owners, we all know that the bond between dog and owner is often inseparable. And the benefits of exercise can work both ways too. Taking your pup for a walk isn’t just great for your dog’s health, it can help you stay fit and healthy both physically and mentally.
As well as providing a boost to wellbeing, exercising your dog could save you hundreds of pounds on gym memberships by helping you get fit for free. Once your pup is old enough, why not combine a new fitness regime with your dog’s daily exercise? It’s easy, and your dog will love it.
Additional tip: Have fun!
Exercise should always be fun. As new dog owners, our lives revolve around our four-legged companions and the bonds we build with our pets are incredibly strong, so it’s important to have fun together.
As your puppy grows into an adult dog, the range of exercise options available increase too. From swimming and paddle boarding, to dancing and canine cross country, there are lots of alternative ways to exercise your dog and get fit while having lots of fun at the same time.
Anyone who’s been around puppies knows that they’re little furballs of energy. Between work, family time, and rest, it might be difficult for you to set aside time to not only train and housebreak your puppy, but make sure he gets the exercise he needs. Remember: an active puppy is a healthy puppy. Keeping yours active is an important building block to his overall health and relationship with you.
Why Exercise is Important
Exercise is not just essential to your dog’s mental and physical well-being, it also helps you form a strong bond that continues throughout his life. Just as regular exercise is important for your health and happiness, the same is true for your puppy.
- Reduces risk of obesity and associated health risks
- Improved cardiovascular health and strengthens muscles
- Frequent, scheduled walks promote housetraining
- Increased ability for your puppy cope with your absences
- Reduced behavioral problems through physical, intellectual, and social stimulation
- Reduced digestive problems and constipation
- Increased agility
- Builds confidence and trust, especially in timid puppies
- Increased socialization with people and other dogs
A healthy amount of activity can steer your puppy away from problematic behaviors. our puppy will also crave a great deal of activity and chewing, playing and exploring are normal behaviors. Without providing an outlet for this desire to be active, this energy may manifest as destructive behaviors
- Hyperactivity and restlessness at night
- Chewing, digging, or scratching
- Raiding the garbage
- Knocking over furniture or jumping on people
- Predatory behavior
- Rough play and biting
- Excessive barking and whining
How much exercise does a puppy need?
The exact amount of exercise a puppy needs is dependent on a number of different factors but it is important to remember that too much exercise can be just as bad as not enough exercise. Although they are often far more energetic, puppies require shorter periods of exercise than adult dogs. Too much puppy exercise can result in exhaustion and joint damage, especially in larger breeds. Exercise needs vary among breeds, but most dogs can benefit from at least one to two walks per day. According to The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, a good good starting point is to aim for 5 minutes of exercise, twice a day, for each month of age. For example, 3-month-old puppies should have 15 minutes of exercise twice a day, then 20 minutes twice a day at 4 months, etc). Always pay attention to how your pet handles this amount of exercise and decrease the amount if needed.
How to exercise a puppy
Even if you have a big yard for your puppy to run around in, he needs more than that to burn excess energy. Short walks and jogs are healthy activities for both you and your puppy. Structured games like fetch and tug-of-war can also help strengthen the bond between you and your puppy, as well as teach him self-control. When your puppy is home alone, keep him occupied with chew toys and food-stuffed puzzle toys.
Avoid forced exercise, which can lead to injury and a lifetime of health problems for your puppy. Forced exercise can include excessive running, bicycling or skating with a leashed dog, excessive fetching, and fast-paced, long walks.
Why workout alone when you can workout with your dog?
Dogs make great workout buddies. They keep a positive attitude, they help you have fun, and you get cuddles at the end! What’s not to love about that? But if you’re looking for a few new ways to get active with your pup, check out our pup and people friendly workouts below.
1. Go For A Trail Run
Running on a trail is better for both people and dogs. It makes people train harder while running on an uneven terrain and it’s easier on your dog’s sensitive paws. This is also a great way to get some fresh air and take in some beautiful scenery.
2. Doggy Yoga
Yes, doggy yoga is definitely a thing, it’s actually called Doga and it’s just as good for your dog as it is for you. Check out the video below for a guide on getting your namaste on with your pup.
Playing tennis with your dog is totally possible. Need to work on your serve? Incorporate that into a game of fetch! This is a good workout and good skill practice for you, and adds a little fun to the typical game of fetch. Everyone wins!
4. Cardio Circuit
If you’re looking to spice up your usual morning walk with your dog, run for 30 seconds then do a strengthening exercise. For instance, run for 30 seconds then do squats. Every time you go down give your furry friend a scratch or a rub, that way they can be brought in on the strength training too.
5. Shake and Lunge
This one really only works if your dog is trained to shake hands, if not substitute the shake with a rub. Like the squats mentioned above, do a backwards stepping lunge and when you go down, ask for your pup to shake. Super easy. Super fun.
6. Puppy Push-Ups
Don’t try this at home if you have a large dog, or a bad back. But for a fun and challenging spin on push-ups, place your pup on your back and do 10 reps. It’s a way to get a workout and get some cuddles!
7. The Doggy Wall Sit
This exercise has 2 versions: small dog and big dog.
For a small dog, position your back against the wall and lower yourself so your knees are at a 90 degree angle from the floor and above your heels. Then hold your small dog for a little added weight.
For a large dog, position yourself the same, but have your dog sit across from you and place their paws on your legs for a little extra bonus weight.
8. Go for a Swim
Maybe not in the Elite pool, but if you have a pond or a lake near your house break out the bathing suit! Swimming is great for a dog’s joints and is easier on their paws than running. Swimming is also just as great for people too!
9. Ultimate Frisbee
Get the whole family involved with this fun workout! Grab the kids, the significant other, and the dog and head out for a fun game of ultimate Frisbee. This not only is a fabulous cardio workout, it challenges your hand-eye coordination and strategic skills.
We hope your dog is better at Frisbee than this one…
10. Build an Obstacle Course
This is another game the whole family can get involved in. Scatter things in your yard to run around, get a hula hoop to jump through. There are all kinds of things you can do for an obstacle course!
So don’t limit yourself to just going on a casual walk (while that is still amazing exercise!) try out some of these fun workouts too! Get the whole family involved for a fun day of fitness with your furry family member.
November 25, 2013
Here’s a guide to exercising your puppy – keep your puppy’s health and safety as the number one priority.
When we first bring our puppy home, we want to show them the great outdoors! But don’t forget that your puppy is growing and there’s a right way to exercise them at this stage.
Has your puppy been vaccinated?
First things first: if your puppy hasn’t completed their core round of vaccinations, they shouldn’t be leaving the house. Their immune systems aren’t equipped with the tools to fend off viruses and bacteria and you have no idea of other pets’ vaccination statuses. While it’s tempting to take them out, you’ll have to be patient while they acclimatise to their new world. Vaccinate your puppy at your local Greencross Vets and 1-2 weeks after their final vaccination booster, you can head outside and begin exercising in earnest!
How and where to start exercising a puppy
Once they’ve hit the milestone of their core vaccinations, your puppy can explore the park. Your focus should be on socialisation with other people and dogs of all different ages and sizes. Here, your puppy will learn the lessons they need to interact with other dogs. Keep a close eye on their level of exhaustion and take them home if they’re becoming too tired.
Your park play date should be less about the distance covered, and more about discovering new things and getting them used to being off the lead. We don’t advise going off leash in an unfenced park, but be sure to check park signage to make sure they are allowed to go off leash. It’s important to be aware of the roads near any park and if in doubt, keep some treats in your back pocket to entice them back if they wander too far.
When can I start running with my puppy?
If you’ve adopted a puppy with the hope of gaining a running partner, you’ll have to be patient. Puppies need exercise, but it’s crucial to remember that they are developing and growing, and their joints and bones are not the strength of an adult dog. Your puppy needs to hit some key milestones before pounding the pavement by your side. Check in with your vet to work out the best time for you and your puppy to hit the streets, but be aware that you’ll need to wait until they are quite well developed and at least over nine months old. Once the vet has given you the go-ahead, also be aware that you need to start slowly so you’re not putting too much pressure on your pet.
What else do I need to be aware of?
When the temperature rises, be mindful of your puppy’s water intake and exposure to hot pavements. Pups can be more susceptible to dehydration and hot footpaths can damage their paw pads. In the heat of summer, walk your pet in the morning and evening, avoiding the blaring sun of noon. When you’re at the park, seek out the shade on a hot day and hang out near the water bowl, reminding your pet to drink. It’s good to bring some water, just in case.
You’re definitely going to have fun together, but just be aware of your puppy’s exercise needs and limits. Focus on socialisation and get to know their energy levels so you can work out the best routine for everyone. If you’re unsure about the best way to exercise your puppy, your local Greencross Vets team will be happy to work with you to develop a personalised exercise routine.
Now your pup is a bit older, to help keep them, (and you!), fit, healthy and mentally stimulated, start taking part in some fun doggie groups or outdoor activities together. These types of activities will help strengthen the bond between you, keep your pup as fit as a fiddle and keep them mentally stimulated which can help prevent problem behaviours.
When choosing an activity for your pet, you must always consider:
What activities are right for your dog breed?
Short-nosed or flat-faced breeds
Shorter nosed or flat-faced breeds (also known as brachycephalic breeds), such as French Bulldogs, Pugs and Boxers, may struggle with higher levels of intense exercise due to common breathing difficulties and their ability to regulate their body temperature. Make sure that the exercise you choose is suitable for your pup, that they’re able to take regular breaks when showing signs of fatigue, and most importantly, that they’re having fun!
Larger breeds like Labradors and Collies have a lot of energy to burn and may require more training and mental stimulation. Looking at outdoor activities which include their favourite toy can help keep them focused and interested in the activity you chose. Trying new games can also help keep them mentally stimulated while staying active.
How much exercise is too much?
Some dogs may seem like they can’t get enough of running around, however, strenuous or long periods of exercise can cause problems with their bones and joints as they grow older. A pup should be walked until they are tired, but no further. The distance and length of time will depend on the breed of dog; some small breed puppies may get tired after only ten minutes of walking.
If your puppy lies down on a walk, becomes less coordinated, starts walking with their head drooped, or seems uninterested in their surroundings or training, stop, pick them up and return home. Make a note so that next time you can remember to do a shorter loop. It is also best to exercise your puppy on softer ground, such as grass and woodland rather than concrete pavements, avoid steep hills and stairs on your walks and avoid ball play and sprinting as these can all damage their developing joints.
Should i be sticking to a routine?
It is important to consider your exercise routine, as all pups deal better with routine. Regular exercise at consistent levels is the best for any pup and they are likely to be looking forward to spending quality time with you. While the routine is good, taking different routes on your walks helps to keep them alert and on their toes.
What activities can i try?
There truly is plenty to choose from when looking at outdoor activities for you and your pet and many are a great way for you to meet other people and different breeds, providing an excellent opportunity to socialise your puppy. Joii has put together a few activities which are suitable for all breeds and all experiences.
Flyball is a team sport for dog lovers and their competitive ball–loving companions. Pups can join a beginner’s team from 12 months old and can start competitions at 18 months.
The sport consists of four dogs on two teams, racing side-by-side, each dog will run through a course of jumps and trigger a Flyball box to release a ball they need to catch before returning over the jumps back to the start line. This is then repeated in a doggy relay with the first team to have all four dogs over the finish line winning the round. Any breed of dog can join, with the jump heights being lowered for the smaller breeds of dogs. Some pups may be quicker than others, but the most important rule of Flyball is that everyone is there to enjoy themselves and have a good time with their pet.
Agility is a great way to train your pup, spend time together, bond and have fun exercising. Dog agility is a recognised sport and is widely popular in the UK, it consists of a handler directing their dog through a course of 17-20 obstacles in an aim to be the quickest and neatest pair.
All obstacles should be performed in a set order and will include the dog walk, seesaw, weave poles and A-frame. Dogs can start competing in agility from 18 months of age, however, training can start at under a year old to help your puppy get comfortable with courses.
Agility clubs will usually cater for pups with lower jumps and simplified obstacles. Again, any dog breed can compete in agility and pups will be put in classes based on their height against similar sized dogs to give them a fair chance when competing.
Scent work has become an increasingly popular hobby for dogs and is not just used at airport security or in the police force. The hobby involves training your pup to recognise certain smells and locate specific objects with their trusty nose. Any breed can participate in this activity and it offers young dogs a way to manage their extensive energy levels without getting into trouble, keep their brains ticking, teach them how to focus on certain commands and build their confidence.
The basics of this can be taught at home with the ‘which hand game’, asking your pet which hand the treat is in and encouraging them to sniff out their treat as a reward. The pup can then move to more challenging tasks like seeking out treats in hidden places, and for those who really pick up the scent, there are beginners scent work groups which progress through to advanced classes and even competitions.
Swimming is not just for older dogs or for those recovering from injuries, swimming is a great low impact way to exercise your puppy! More and more canine swimming centres are popping up around the country and offer pups a safe way to have fun in the water.
Some breeds may be less likely to enjoy the water or struggle with shorter legs, but centres generally offer life vests for less confident swimmers to help them get used to the water while they’re young and to help keep their muscles strong. If you are planning on starting a dog fitness regime, need guidance on joint supplements, require suitable dog warm-ups or just want some advice about appropriate exercise to keep your breed mentally stimulated and happy, the Joii nurses are here to help for free as part of any Animal Friends dog policy.
If you are among the 63% of dog owners in America, you likely know how important exercise is for your pup. But when an unexpected tragedy like a pandemic or a snowstorm prevents you from venturing outdoors, you need to think outside the box about inside workouts for your pooch — especially if you live in an apartment community. Fortunately, great workouts can occur in small living spaces! Below are five simple ways to exercise your dog inside your apartment.
Five great ways to exercise your dog inside your apartment
“Dogs thrive on social engagement and exploring smells, sights, and sounds. They are used to getting those needs met outside, so we have to up our game and provide extra stimulation indoors with scent games, fetch, tug, etc.” – Robert Haussmann, Canine Behavior Consultant and Co-founder of Dogboy NYC
As a devoted dog owner, it is up to you to make use of the space and resources in your apartment. Petplan Veterinarian Dr. Kim Smyth recommends that you “find an activity you and your dog both enjoy and work it into your daily routine.” Here are five fun, simple, and cost-effective ways to ensure that your dog receives sufficient exercise inside your apartment.
1) Play hide and seek
“It can be fun for you and your dog to play Hide and Seek much like you would with a child. Find a hiding space where your dog cannot see you but can hear you such as behind a piece of furniture…When your dog finds you, you can give him some treats and some praise.” – SPCA of Texas
You may have to travel back in time to remember your last game of hide and seek. Deemed by many adults and kids to be the “Best game ever,” hide and seek can also provide hours of entertainment for your dog inside. In addition to getting your pup moving, a few games of hide and seek will sharpen your dog’s problem-solving abilities and listening skills. Training your dog to play hide and seek is as easy as one-two-three!
- One: Set up a “home base”. Tell your dog to “sit” and “stay” on the home base. Your dog’s bed is a great home base.
- Two: Go find a hiding spot. To boost your dog’s confidence, make sure your first hiding spot is a pretty easy one.
- Three: Call your dog. You can use a simple command like, “Come!” or “Ready!”. You may need to give a periodic whistle to help your dog find you.
- Bonus: Praise your dog upon finding you! And once your dog masters the game, you can begin to choose hiding spots that are a bit more difficult!
2) Try some indoor fetch
If dogs could talk or complete surveys, we would probably discover that “Fetch” is a crowd favorite among canine apartment residents! And once you introduce your dog to the concept of “Indoor Fetch,” you will likely find your dog bringing you their ball or fetch toy on a regular basis.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need a lot of space to play fetch. You can use your hallway, great room, or stairwell (if you live in a two-story apartment) as your “Fetching Ground.” Remember to keep your dog’s ball or other favorite fetch toy safely stored in a cupboard or closet between games.
3) Schedule some treadmill time
If you have a treadmill in your apartment, you can make the most of your exercise equipment by teaching your dog how to use your treadmill. This may seem like a bit of a challenge to some dog owners, but training your dog to use your treadmill is easier than you might think. Here are some training tips for you and your dog inside:
- Step One: Have your dog watch you while you walk on your treadmill for a few minutes. Talk to your dog as you walk to boost excitement.
- Step Two: Place your dog on the treadmill to allow them to get comfortable as they stand on it.
- Step Three: Start the treadmill using the lowest speed possible so your dog can get accustomed to the movement.
- Step Four: Gradually increase the speed as your dog becomes more comfortable on the treadmill.
There are a two important things to remember about this form of exercise: First, you should always be on hand to supervise your dog’s treadmill workout. And second, you may need to be patient, as some dogs can initially be a bit startled when the belt begins moving. Finally, remember to reward your dog with praise or a treat after completing a treadmill workout!
4) Challenge your dog to a game of tug of war
A good old-fashioned game of tug of war offers a great combination of fun and exercise for you and your dog inside! Whether you are apartment-bound during a thunderstorm or looking for some fund during COVID-19 quarantine, just pull out your dog’s favorite tug of war toy and let the games begin!
If you are running short on strong, durable tug of war toys, DogLab lists the four best tug of war toys for dogs. And if you are bound to your apartment, you can place your order online and look forward to your delivery!
5) End the day with a game of, “Hide the Treat”
“Hide the Treat” shares some similarities with hide and seek. However, the game has an extra sweet ending for your pooch! Instead of teaching your dog to track you down in your apartment, you can train your dog to use their nose to uncover treats that you hide throughout a designated space in your apartment.
In addition to exercising your dog’s legs, this game will keep your dog’s olfactory senses sharp and will even help them learn to count. You can start by showing your dog three small treats then telling your dog to “Sit” on their home base while you strategically hide the three treats. Be sure to remember your hiding spots so you can give your dog a “hint” if they struggle a bit.
Sometimes you just can’t walk your dog.
Like if she pulls on leash too hard, or freaks out at every animal, jogger, or wind-blown plastic bag that crosses her path. Outside of training-session walks designed to rid your pup of these issues, you might want to forget about walks for now.
And sometimes the weather just sucks. And sometimes you have one of those weeks where you hate everybody and vow never to leave your house ever again. (Or is that just me?)
(Update: And sometimes there’s a frickin’ PANDEMIC)
Fortunately there are other ways to provide your dog with the exercise and mental stimulation she needs.
How to wear your dog out without leaving the house
Walks are useful because they provide a lot of things: exercise, brain work (from all the new sights and smells), and bonding time with her human.
Here are some ideas that provide those same benefits:
A weird name for a cool toy. It’s basically a dog toy on a rope. You drag it around and get your dog to chase it, letting him catch the toy occasionally. This is a great way to exercise a dog without a lot of space, and dogs go crazy for it. Even some dogs who turn their noses up at fetch can’t resist this game. There’s something about the way a toy on a string moves that satisfies a dog’s chase-kill-destroy instincts.
Get a stick (a wooden dowel, narrow PVC pipe, whatever) and tie a string to it. The string should be two to five feet long, depending on how much space you have. On the other end of the string, attach a dog toy. Stuffed animals and rope tug toys work well.
Then clear the play area of things the dog could crash into, and let the games begin.
A quick and easy game for dogs who like to chase. Get a bottle of kids’ bubble solution and blow some bubbles for Fido to attack. You can also find bubble solution for dogs; it comes in delicious flavors like chicken or peanut butter. Yummy.
Pass the Puppy
Enlist a few volunteers. Give everybody a small handful of treats. Have them sit on the floor in a circle, with at least a few feet between each person (don’t crowd into a tiny circle, as this might intimidate the dog)
If Fido is a big dog, then everyone can stand instead of sit.
One at a time, each person calls the dog. Use his name or just make interesting noises (kissy sounds, for some reason, are the universal canine attention-attractor).
When Fido arrives at each lap, the person should praise, treat and pet him. Then someone else calls him. When the next person calls Fido, that’s the cue for the first person to stop interacting with the dog.
If you’re not currently buried under three feet of snow, take this outdoors to a fenced area and have the players spread out further.
Hide and Seek
Have someone hold on to Lola while you run off to hide. Call the dog’s name. When she finds you, praise her and give her treats or play with a toy.
When you first play this, don’t hide yourself too well or she might give up. As she gets better at the game you can go farther away and make it harder for her to find you.
Turn this into a variation on Pass the Puppy: get a bunch of volunteers to hide. Make a big fuss over your heroic search-and-rescue dog as she recovers everyone from their hiding places.
Treat-dispensing toys are God’s gift to caninekind. These toys are the easiest, fastest, most effective way to tire a dog out. Have you started your collection of Kongs, Barnacles, and Atomic Treat Balls yet?
(An additional benefit is getting to casually mention to your friends how much your dog loves Magic Mushrooms)
Find the Toy/Treat
Put that dog’s nose to work. Get a toy or treat that Lola really likes. Show it to her and get her excited. Have someone restrain her. Tell her to “get reeaaady!” While she watches, hide the object a few feet away, behind a wall or a sofa. Tell her to “find it!” and let her go. Praise her big when she gets to it.
Once she’s figured out what “get ready” and “find it” mean, and had a few successes at this easy level, you can increase the difficulty.
Forage for Food
Let Lola channel her inner wild beast by scavenging for dinner instead of eating another boring meal out of a bowl. Measure out a meal’s worth of kibble. Mix in some shredded cheese or bits of chicken to make things interesting, then scatter it around the yard or living room. Make it even more of a challenge by putting the food into puzzle toys, and then hiding the puzzle toys. This is a great way to keep Lola occupied when you have to leave her home alone, too.
Channel your inner MacGyver and construct an obstacle course in your living room. Make jumps out of broomsticks or pool noodles. Make a tunnel by draping blankets over a line of chairs. If Fido’s a little guy, buy a cheap kid’s play tunnel from Target. Make a tire jump by duct-taping a hula hoop between a pair of chairs. Make a weave obstacle by setting up buckets in a line.
Before testing Fido on the whole course, teach him how to perform each obstacle individually using lure/reward training: Stick a treat in front of his nose, lure him through/over the obstacle a few times. Then fade the lure out by getting the treat out of your hand, but making the same hand motion. Have him follow your treat-less hand through the obstacle, then reward him with a treat out of your other hand.
Got small children? Indoor agility courses are also great for wearing out stir-crazy human puppies.
By Jennifer Ruiz-Noguera
Action Petz Operations Manager
Your puppy is home: you’ve got the bed, the food, the treats, the adorable puppy toys, collar and lead to match. You’re ready!
And then it dawns on you: how much exercise does my puppy need?
PUPPIES NEED EXERCISE, JUST NOT AS MUCH AS YOU MIGHT THINK
We know you were dreaming about long walks in the countryside, or a funky stroll with your pup in the city. However (and as frustrating as this sounds), this may prove too much for a young pup. Too much exercise and you could end up permanently damaging your pup’s bones.
UNDERSTANDING GROWTH PLATES
Growth plates are soft areas located at the ends of the long bones in puppies and young dogs. Their job is to be filled with cells that allow your puppy’s bones to become longer and dense; the way these cells work is by dividing themselves until they fill the growth plate. Once your puppy fully matures (usually around 18 months or longer for giant dog breeds), growth plates close and become a stable part of the bone.
Too much exercise can be risky for a puppy’s growth plates, if an injury occurs these cells might slow down their growth or simply stop growing. So, while 3 of your dog’s legs a growing at a normal, healthy rate, the remaining leg might not fully do so causing future issues such as uneven pressure and a predisposition to arthritis.
THE FIVE-MINUTE RULE
Growth plates are soft areas located at the ends of the long bones in puppies and young dogs. Their job is to be filled with cells that allow your puppy’s bones to become longer and dense; the way these cells work is by dividing themselves until they fill the growth plate. Once your puppy fully matures (usually around 18 months or longer for giant dog breeds), growth plates close and become a stable part of the bone.
Too much exercise can be risky for a puppy’s growth plates, if an injury occurs these cells might slow down their growth or simply stop growing. So, while 3 of your dog’s legs a growing at a normal, healthy rate, the remaining leg might not fully do so causing future issues such as uneven pressure and a predisposition to arthritis.
The five-minute rule seeks to prevent damage a puppy’s growth plates while still providing your pup with an amount of exercise that is suitable for their age. As we said above, puppies need exercise, but not the way we think they do.
According to The Kennel Club , the five-minute rule works by assigning five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown. Once fully grown, your dog can exercise for a longer amount of time.
LARGE AND GIANT DOG BREEDS: TAKE IT VERY EASY!
Under the advice of Fields Vets (our partner vets). Large and giant breed puppies should follow a very gentle exercise routine. These are the guidelines:
- Gentle exercise only until they are mature (around 12 months in Labradors and up to 18 months old in giant breeds).
- Exercise should be consistent, only mild to moderate exertion, mostly lead walking.
- Avoid: ball chasing, active playing with other dogs (gentle and controlled play is allowed) and sharp turns. These all put added pressure on the joints.
THAT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE A LOT. MY PUPPY DOESN’T STOP!
For the owner of a lively pup, the five-minute rule might sound a bit… too little. However, we must remember that for a puppy to grow up into a happy, healthy and well-adjusted adult dog, we must provide more than physical exercise.
If your puppy seems to be a continuous bundle of energy, here’s a few tips that involve little to zero physical exercise whilst still providing your pup with learning experiences and really helping to tire them out. Hayley Rees , our dedicated puppy trainer at Action Petz Newport very accurately points that, dogs that use their minds more can often be calmer overall and get up to less mischief!
- Basic training: mental stimulation can be as tiring as a long walk. Puppy training classes (and then practising what you learn at home!) are a great way to keep your puppy busy without over exercising him.
- Let your puppy explore: pups are curious by nature, satisfy your pup’s curiosity by going into a supervised adventure around your house and the garden. The only thing to remember here is: no jumping! Stairs, jumping on and off beds/chairs/etc should not be allowed as it can affect your pup’s growth plates.
- Scent trails: place your pup’s food or favourite treats in a room and let him use his nose to find them. Always remember to supervise your pup and not let them into any potentially dangerous situation.
How Much Exercise Does My Puppy Need?
Exercise & Your Puppy
Regular exercise is really important for your puppy’s fitness mental health and overall well-being. Without it, your puppy can become bored which can lead to destructive or “naughty” behaviour, or gain excess weight. Walks for a puppy should be all about exploration-sights, sounds, and smells of the world. Once your puppy has had all his vaccinations, a walk should become part of his daily routine.
How much exercise is enough?
The amount of exercise your puppy needs will depend on his age, breed and size. It is recommended that when your puppy receives all his vaccinations, he can go out for 15 minutes of exercise twice a day. You can then add on 5 minutes for every month they get older. It is really important to listen to your puppy when exercising, and learn to read the signs that he needs to stop, or wants to keep going. His developing body is working hard on growing so lots of rest will be needed between work-outs! Be careful with large breed puppies-damage can be done to their joints if they are jumping or running down stairs a lot.
If he seems like his is struggling to keep up on your walks, slow down or reduce the distance until his fitness improves. Likewise, if your puppy is still full of energy after your walk, then it’s probably time to introduce more activity into his day!
Dawn Greer, Agility Trainer
Dawn has been competing in agility for 15 years. She has competed with 8 dogs of different heights and breeds and has competed at Grade 7 Green star/Championship level at both IKC and KC.
She has represented Ireland in agility at Crufts, World Agility Championships and the European Open.
Dawn is an avid dog lover, living with 9 four legged companions, 5 of which are retired, 3 competing and her new puppy, Wow. She loves training dogs and giving the best advice on taking care of a new pup.
Types of Exercise for Your Puppy
Your puppy is developing and is still only a baby, so his exercise and playtime should include lots of opportunity for him to explore and learn! What he learns in his first year will carry him through into adulthood, so getting your pup off on the right paw to start is a really good idea! Keep variety in his exercise too as you need to give him time to discover what he really loves!
- Free Play is a really important part of your puppy’s early adventures, and does count towards his daily exercise. Start by allowing your pup to explore a small space within your home, and gradually widen his limits of exploration into the garden. Using puppy toys during free play is a great way to encourage social interaction. As your puppy is learning during this free play exploration, remember, if you don’t want your adult dog to play in the flower beds, don’t allow your puppy in there today!
- Training Classes and puppy socialisation classes are a great way to keep your pup active, but also help him develop into a social, well behaved adult. They also count as part your pup’s daily exercise, so do allow him to rest afterwards.
- Walking On Lead once your puppy has had all his vaccinations, you can safely start to bring him out for some on-lead walks. Keep walks short as your puppy become accustomed to his the lead, and builds up his strength. Where possible choose grass or sand for walks as it will be softer on your pup’s young paws.
- Ball Play and Catch are great interactive games for older dogs, but as your puppy is still growing, high impact games of chase that can put pressure on your pup’s joints are best avoided. Try gently rolling the ball a short distance, rather than throwing it at speed to the bottom of the garden. Using softer balls is also recommended to protect your young pup’s teeth.
Use Play Time for Training Your Puppy
Exercise and play are so important to keep your puppy fit and healthy, but it is also the perfect time to help teach your puppy simple commands.
- Recall Training: leave your pup on one side of the garden and the run to the other – calling your puppy to join you will teach him to come when called.
- ‘Fetch’ and ‘Drop’ Commands: Using directive words like ‘fetch’ and ‘drop’ during play time will help your puppy to learn their meaning.
- Teach Your Pup to Stay: at rest time, use your ‘lay down’ and ‘stay’ commands to help teach your puppy to stop and stay where you need him to
Knowing When to Stop
Just as exercise is important for your puppy, knowing how to read your his signals is extremely important with any exercise. Your puppy will need to take lots of rest between play-times as his muscles need to build strength. If at any time your puppy is showing signs of distress, stop and rest. Slow down the pace and consult your veterinarian if symptoms continue.
Got a Question? If you have a question about find the right toy or lead for your puppy, speak with one of our Pet Care Advisors in-store today.
Activity is essential to prepare your puppy’s body for what it will do later in life, especially if it is a sports dog.
– There are many misunderstandings and myths when it comes to puppy training – one of them is that “puppies should not do any physical activity,” says Line Østerhagen at Nordisk heste- og hundeterapiskole.
She has worked with physical therapy for horses and dogs for 20 years. This summer, Line is releasing a book about physical training of dogs, where puppy training is one of the topics.
In this episode of our podcast “Unleashed,” she is sharing some tips about how to exercise puppies and younger dogs.
Stimulate the body
For young puppies, it is essential to experience a variety of surfaces and stimulation to the body. With military dogs in countries like the USA, stimulation of the puppies start already at ten weeks of age.
– This will gradually build up the body to manage what it will do later in life. If you do not “teach” the body anything, it is weak and prone to injury.
At the end of every bone in the body, there is cartilage. This cartilage will form as we are stimulating the body.
– If you don’t stimulate the body, this cartilage will not develop normally, so it’s important not to be afraid of letting the puppy be active and do what they want to do.
However, this does not mean that you should exaggerate the level of activity. Your puppy should not do anything that it does not manage to do by itself.
– Your puppy control the amount of exercise. If it gets tired, it is time to rest.
How do I know if my puppy is tired?
The most typical sign that a puppy is tired is that it starts walking slower or wants to sit down. It might also get more clumsy in its movement.
– Puppies can also get overtired, and get even more active than they usually are. It is important to get to know your puppy to be able to see these signs at an early stage. All dogs are different!
Can my puppy walk in the stairs?
Some carry their puppies up and down the stairs for several months, but what happens when the dog is older, and suddenly has to walk in the stairs itself? The body is not prepared for this kind of movement, and injuries might occur.
– As long as your puppy manages to walk in the stairs by itself, it should be allowed to do so.
This should also not be exaggerated, of course. If your puppy keeps running up and down the stairs all day long, you need to stop it.
How far can I walk my puppy?
The so-called “5-minute rule” says that the puppy should increase with 5 minutes of walking every month. For a six months old puppy, that means about 30 minutes of exercise.
– If I kept my puppy from walking or moving more than 30 minutes a day when she was six months old, she would go crazy. After a hike to the woods, she could run hours in the garden. I think that the puppy must decide itself. As long as it’s not human-driven exercise, they should be allowed to move as much as they want.
This also depends on how well-prepared their body is.
Can my puppy jump?
Line would not let a puppy jump as human-driven exercise.
– Running around in the garden or forest, jumping over trees or branches is fine, as long as they physically manage it by themselves.
When it comes to jumping up and down of sofas, it is important to be careful to avoid broken legs or other injuries.
– Don’t let the puppy jump down before it manages to jump up by itself.
When can my dog start to pull or carry weight?
Line recommends teaching the dog how to manage different tasks with their own bodyweight only, before gradually adding resistance or weight.
– They need to build up their muscles and learn how to move for the first year or two. This is also relative – the dog has to be prepared for the work. It doesn’t matter if the dog is two years old if it just laid on the sofa for that long. If the dog has been active and is well-prepared, it can start pulling or carrying weight at about two years of age.
If having a sports dog, Line recommends starting preparing the dog’s body for the sport it is going to do later in life from the beginning – gradually and progressively.
– Also, remember that all dogs are different. Some mature later than others.
Have a vet check your dog!
Before you start training your dog for pulling, carrying weight or dog sports in general, you should have it checked by a veterinarian.
– Make sure that your dog is fit and capable of doing the task. Read about physical training and get help in building a training program for your dog and your goals.
If your puppy is showing lameness or pain, you should also have it checked.
– If it is only for a minute or two and you never see it again, it is not necessary, but every puppy that shows lameness should go to the veterinarian. It can be a severe developmental disease. This is important to take seriously. Some puppies are struggling for too long. Then the prognosis will be bad, even though they could have had a good life if they had got the right help earlier.
If you want to learn more about how to prepare your puppy for an active and healthy life, listen to the podcast episode with Line!
Bringing home a new puppy is super exciting. However, it can be difficult to navigate pup parenthood, especially if this is your first dog. Unless you are some super genius, you probably have plenty of questions about your puppy. For instance, many dog owners do not know how much exercise their precious pooch needs.
Now, you’ve likely noticed that your furry friend is full of energy. For this reason, you may want to take Fido on super long walks. However, it is believed that puppies only need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day during their first few months. For an exact number, you can do this tricky little math problem — multiply your pup’s age by ten and take them out for that amount of time. This means a 5-month-old dog should have about 50 minutes of exercise each day.
Now, as a new pup parent, this can seem like a daunting task. That being said, it is actually better to split up your puppy’s exercise throughout the day, so they won’t exhaust themselves. You should also make sure that you are going at a relatively slow pace.
It is worth noting that you can over-exercise your pup. In a 2017 YouTube video, famed dog trainer Zak George explained that puppies have growth plates “that are soft parts of the end of long bones in young dogs which allow the bones to get longer.” Typically, the growth plates fuse between the ages of 18 months to 24 months.
“It’s really important to make sure that you’re being very conservative when you are exercising your dog, otherwise you risk injuring them,” noted George.
He then recommended that pup parents “should avoid long walks or repetitive exercise with puppies.” He also noted that “the best and safest type of play with young dogs is self-directed play or free play.” This means that dog-owners should refrain from giving their pups regimented walks and just let them do their own thing. For example, you can allow your furry friend to explore your backyard or train them to fetch at their own pace.
Also, there is no exact science to this. How long you should exercise your pup is dependent on its breed, size, and overall health. Please, consult your vet before starting a fitness routine for you and your furry friend.
Exercising your new puppy
Beginning to think about physical activity with your puppy is an excellent start to promoting a long and healthy life for your dog! Exercise has many advantages, similar to those in humans, such as helping control weight, and dogs love it! However, we must always be careful when exercising a puppy – they have not yet fully developed, and we can actually harm them with too much exercise and the wrong kinds of exercise.
What is ‘forced exercise’? Forced exercise is anything beyond what the puppy would do when playing with dogs of the same age. For example, a 4-month-old dog running for a mile (or less!) with adult dogs would be considered forced exercise. Similarly, running with people is forced exercise, as is excessive stick/ball-chasing. Puppies that are several months old have enough energy to keep up with a person that is jogging, but do not yet have the brains to know when to stop! They will often keep going until they drop. Let the puppy set the pace and the distance – avoid forced exercise in puppies.
Why do we avoid forced exercise in puppies? Puppy’s bones and joints are developing rapidly. Excessive force on these structures can result in damage, often irreversible with repercussions leading into their adult lives. For puppies that may already have underlying orthopedic problems (such as hip dysplasia), forced exercise as a puppy will make the conditions worse and the disease more severe. Large and giant breeds typically continue to develop past one year old, whereas smaller breed dogs are often skeletally mature by 8 months old. A good rule of thumb is to avoid forced exercise for the first 8 months, and perhaps the first 12 months in large breed dogs.
Swimming and walking are good low-impact exercises that are typically very good exercise for puppies.Remember to make sure your puppy has all of his or her recommended vaccines before taking it to the dog park, or for a walk around the neighbourhood, where it can potentially pick up viruses or bacteria from other dogs or the environment!
27/08/2019 – Puppy Training Tips
This is a question I get asked a lot by new puppy owners and it’s a good question but there is a lot of conflicting advice around. My view is that it’s not necessarily only about how long you exercise your puppy, although this is important, but it’s also about the type of exercise you do with your puppy.
Vigorous exercise, jumping and leaping about should be avoided. This is to do with your puppy’s growth plates. Growth Plates are soft areas of developing cartilage tissue found by the ends of the dog’s long bones. They are typically made of cartilage when the puppy is born, but gradually they calcify and transform into denser bone as the puppy matures.
The dog’s long bones do not develop from the centre outward; instead, growth occurs right by the growth plate at the end of the long bones. As the puppy grows, the growth plates close and harden into solid bone; however, prior to that, the growth plates are vulnerable to being injured and potentially fractured because they are the last portion of the bones to harden.
Growth plates usually start to harden around 8 months of age but some breeds can take much longer. If you are looking to embark on a new activity with your dog, always consult with your vet first.
Photo credit: www.PuppyCulture.com
The general rule of thumb for the length of exercise for puppies is 5 minutes for every month of their age. This means 20 mins for a 16-week-old puppy. However, if this 20 minutes consisted of 15 minutes chasing after a ball, this could be extremely harmful not just physically but also mentally. So I like to advise puppy owners what type of exercise to do with their puppies rather than focus on the length of time.
I know many owners, including myself, want to tire their dogs out because a tired dog is a happy dog, right? Well yes, it’s true but you don’t always have to tire them out physically and for puppies I would advise against it as an overtired puppy from physical excursion can cause overtiredness resulting in excessive biting and mouthing.
So here’s my advice for exercising and stimulating a puppy from 12-14 weeks of age.
Puppies love to use their nose for searching and working things out and the good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune on the latest interactive feeding toy. Use your imagination. Hide food under tennis balls in a muffin tray, a rolled-up towel, empty egg boxes or just a cardboard box filled with other safe bits of recycling.
Go on a sniff walk
Take your puppy to a new place and just let them sniff. This could be for 20-30 minutes providing they are not running around. Sniffing will wear your puppy out more than physical exercise.
Do a training walk
Drive your puppy to a quite location and practice all the things you’ve learnt in class: eye contact, sit, down, loose lead walking and a little bit of recall and then pop them in the car again and take them home. 20 – 30 mins again is fine with breaks in between your training sessions. Working your puppy’s brain is another sure fired way to having a relaxed and tired puppy when you get home.
Go for a short walk from home
It’s good to get your puppy used to walking from your house but just don’t go far. Let them sniff, stop and take in the world around them. Take your time, it doesn’t matter if you only get 100 metres down the road before you have to turn around and go back home.
Take your puppy on the road
Take your puppy out and about so they get to have lots of positive experiences in new places, just be careful not to overwhelm them. Take a toy, chew and some treats with you and just sit with your puppy somewhere and let them observe and watch new things from a distance, rewarding them for being calm. Sit outside a quiet café or pub and give them a chew. You could be out with your puppy for an hour as long as only 20mins of this hour was doing anything physical.
Play with your puppy
Play is a great way to bond with your new puppy and it will also give them an outlet for their high energy levels. Use a long tug toy and get your puppy interested in the toy by making it move along the ground. Keep the movement slow and low to the ground so your puppy doesn’t have to run and jump to get the toy. Once they have hold of it you can engage in a gentle game of tug. Again, keep your movements slow and not vigorous, you don’t want to get your puppy too excited, if this happens then stop play for a while, wait for puppy to calm down and then start again. Keep play sessions short and always swap toy for a treat when you want to end play.
Play ‘find it’
Hide some tasty treats around the house or in the garden and let your puppy go find them. You could use a toy instead. Make it easy for them at first and gradually increase the difficulty.
Hopefully that’s given you ideas on what activities you can do with your puppies. Remember every puppy is different and some may need more stimulation than others. Make sure your puppy gets plenty of rest during the day – puppies need at least 17 hours of sleep a day.
For more advice or information please get in touch:
Note: Before trying any of these exercise techniques, confirm with your vet that your dog is healthy enough. Also note that some breeds, for example those with short legs, may not be well-suited for activites that involve going up and down steps or obstacles.
Dogs need their daily exercise, and even things like it being too cold or hot outside or the days getting shorter shouldn’t get in the way. One of the most important parts of Cesar’s teachings is that you need to walk your dog every day, several times a day no matter what the weather is like.
However, if you absolutely cannot take your dog out because it’s unsafe, here are some tips on how to work out your dog’s body and mind indoors. Remember, though, that our dogs need limitations, meaning that you control when and for how long they engage in indoor play. Substituting other activities for the walk for too long and too often may lead to your dog developing unhealthy obsessions.
Ideas for Indoor Exercise
Run Your Dog Up and Down the Stairs
Using the stairs is a great way to tire out your dog. The steps add an additional challenge to a dog’s workout, as they engage different muscles than those used on a regular walk or run and add an extra level of difficulty with the change in elevation. Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down to your dog. When your dog grabs the toy, call his name and have him bring the toy to you. After several rounds of this, he’ll be winded.
Set Up Obstacle Courses
Whenever Cesar enters someone’s house on the show, he looks around for things in the environment that can be repurposed to help the dog. Like using that old hula hoop for him to leap through or using cushions to create a tunnel for him to navigate. Map everything out and lead your dog through the various obstacles. This game will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.
Make Your Dog Work For its Treats
Take a variety of your dog’s favorite treats and hide the around the house – behind doors, under tables, underneath rugs, etc. Your dog will be so busy tracking down his treats that he’ll physically tire out in the process. Treat dispensing toys are another great way to keep your dog busy and engage them physically as they push around their toys and try to get to the food inside.
Keep away and fetch
Engage your dog in a good old fashioned game of fetch and keep away. These games keep your dog engaged, active, and help to release pent up energy.
Take a socialized outing
Put your dog in the car (always remember to use a car restraint!) and head over to the nearest pet store. Walk your dog through the aisles, let him try out toys and sniff around.
Get Your Dog On the Treadmill
A treadmill is a great way to get your dog a dose of healthy indoor exercise. First, allow your dog to get comfortable with the sight and sound of a running treadmill. Next, place your dog on the treadmill and give him a treat. Turn the treadmill on the lowest speed. Give him treats to keep him on the treadmill. You may use the dog’s leash as an aid but never tie your dog to the treadmill. Also, standing in front of the treadmill and rewarding him with treats for walking might make your dog feel more comfortable. Once your dog is adjusted, you can gradually increase the speed to provide a more challenging workout.
Tug of War—But Be Aware of the Risks
With the amount of ropes and toys available that encourage tug of war, it’s not surprising that so many dog owners play this game with their dog. However, you need to be aware of the risk. It’s a game that brings out the predator in your dog and can be unhealthy for your relationship if you don’t have trust and respect to begin with. You need to have control over your dog’s power and instincts before you can engage in a healthy game of tug of war with them.
What’s your dog’s favorite indoor exercise? Tell us all about it in the comments.
If you think small dogs aren’t big on exercise, think again. Many small dogs are highly active and need plenty of exercise. In fact, exercise is essential to keep their little bodies and minds healthy! By encouraging each other to get out there and get in shape, you’ll both enjoy the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.
How Much Exercise Does Your Small Dog Need?
The amount of exercise a dog requires depends on its size and the breed. When choosing a small breed, it’s a good idea to take an honest look at your own activity level. If you are active and enjoy having fun outside, you may want to consider such breeds as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, poodles, dachshunds and Pomeranians.
However, even breeds that don’t exude high energy need a physical routine to maintain optimal health. Exercise can also help support joint health and reduce the risk of issues like joint sensitivity, cartilage problems, easily broken bones and subluxating patellas (degenerative disease of the kneecap).
How to Give Your Small Dog a Good Workout
The amount of exercise your small dog needs also depends on his life stage. Use these guidelines to give your small dog a proper workout.
Let’s face it; a small-breed puppy is busy, curious and in constant motion (except when he conks out and takes a well-deserved nap). Be careful when playing with him or walking him, since he still has soft and pliable bones. Avoid overdoing it at this point in his development. It’s best to hold off on long walks or intense exercise until your little friend is more developed.
Like you, your puppy needs some time to digest his food after a meal. Typically puppies like to have a nap after a meal, so don’t force your little friend to exercise when his belly is full.
Adult Exercise Needs
As your puppy begins to develop into an adult, going for regular walks should become the norm. Before your “little baby” enters the world of walks for the first time, make sure he’s had all necessary vaccinations and has been given the go-ahead by your veterinarian.
To avoid obesity, take adult small dogs for a daily walk or run. Going on regular walks provides an opportunity for both stimulation and socialization through meeting other dogs, which is vital to their social and mental development.
Mature or Senior Exercise Needs
Just like with humans, as your small dog moves into his senior years, he’ll start to slow down and develop all the stiffness, aches and pains associated with old age. It’s critical for senior dogs to continue with a moderate amount of exercise to keep their joints nimble and maintain good circulation. Try taking your senior small dog for shorter, more frequent walks that match his ability. Also, avoid taking him out in extreme weather conditions.
If your little friend develops vision or hearing problems, consider using a leash to avoid the worry of him wandering away. Older small dogs may also develop bladder and bowel weakness, so a little extra patience on walks will go a long way for your companion.
How to Walk Your Small Dog
With a bit of effort, you can help your small dog look and feel his best! Walks can be the most exciting part of his day. Just think of all the different sights, sounds and smells he enjoys during a walk! If your dog starts off overexcited, have a short romp with a ball in the yard to burn off some energy before putting paws to pavement.
Thinking of jogging with your small dog? Ask your vet first, to ensure your friend can handle the pace. When you do go for a jog together, bring plenty of fresh water for both of you — and remember to pace your stride for your small dog’s short legs.
It’s also helpful to walk your companion over a variety of terrains. A hard ground surface is particularly good for keeping your small dog’s nails short. Be sure to avoid hot asphalt, as it can scorch your buddy’s paw pads.
Walking is a fantastic way to socialize your small dog. After all, meeting other dogs can be very exciting. The best way to manage the excitement of these interactions is to ensure that both animals are on leashes. If you happen to be in an off-leash park, don’t let your little friend wander off for long periods without keeping an eye on him. And remember to bring plastic bags with you so you can pick up after your pooch.
Exercise plays a key role in helping you and your dog live a healthy and happy life. Going out together is not only a fun way to stay in shape; it’s also a great way to enhance a well-rounded relationship.
Don’t you just love it when your dog snuggles up and lounges with you on the couch? Or in bed? Or while you’re relaxing in the backyard? Wait – is your dog just lounging anywhere and any chance it gets? Yep, If your dog is only interested in lounging around, it sounds like you have yourself a canine couch potato. It’s important you get your lazy dog to exercise because if they become overweight or inactive, it can lead to serious health issues. No matter what kind of dog you have, all dogs are meant to run, play and jump. Paw Lofts has put together seven tips to get your lazy dog to exercise.
It doesn’t matter how lazy your dog is – every dog goes bananas when their owner says “you want to go for a walk?!” It doesn’t have to be a long walk, or crazy adventure, as long as your lazy dog is out there and moving, you’re on the right track. Start slow, and gradually work your way into running faster and longer with your pup.
What better way to get your lazy dog to exercise than with some treats?! To get your dog motivated to move around and exercise, try playing hide-and-go-seek with some toys or treats. Hide treats indoors or outdoors and let them run around, searching for their hidden prize.
If your dog plays well with other, bring them around other dogs more often. No matter if you’re setting up a playdate, taking them to doggie daycare, or to the dog park, it’s good to get your pup socializing with other dogs. Doggie daycare and dog boarding are great ways to satisfy your dog’s inherent pack nature and keep them active.
You can’t expect your lazy dog to get up and want to be active if you aren’t. Even if it’s just for 10 to 15 minutes a day, it’s important you play with your dog. Grab their favorite toy, and try playing a classic game of fetch or tug of war. The goal is to get your pup active, so even if you just chase each other around the house for a couple of minutes, it’s better than nothing!
If you’re interested in getting your lazy dog active and playing with other dogs, come take a tour of the new Paw Lofts in Dallas! Call to make your reservation for dog daycare today at (214) 463-2663. The Paw Lofts team looks forward to hearing from you.
Regular exercise is an important part of your puppy’s daily life. Learn how to structure their sessions in healthy moderate ways as your puppy continues to develop and grow!
Boundless energy and a love of play, puppies can be active and need physical exercise to help them expel some of that energy and stay healthy. But puppies are still developing so a lot of a good thing, in this case, exercise can be hard on their young bodies and may risk injury and deformation down the line.
Learn the dos and don’ts when it comes to moderating their activity so your puppy receives the best possible physical and mental stimulation they crave and need! We’ll help you understand when is a good time to start regular exercise, how to regulate the amount of exercise, and structure your puppy’s sessions!
At what age can your puppy start exercising?
If you have a new puppy at home, their age will really help you determine what is a good starting point for regular exercise. In general, your puppy can start as early as three months of age.
One common mistake new owners make, who have a high-energy working breed puppy like a German Shepherd or Husky, is thinking because they love to work or have a lot of energy, they need more exercise! The rule of thumb we’re about to go over for puppies and exercise can be used across all breeds!
The Dos and Don’ts of Puppy Exercise!
Don’t: Go for high-intensity exercise sessions right away! High-intensity activities like jogging, bike riding, agility, or hiking are great, once your puppy has fully physically matured. The impact your puppy’s body sustains during these types of activities can cause damage and in some cases tears or fractures that contribute to deformation later on.
Do: Take into account that the vast majority of puppy breeds aren’t finished developing until they are about eighteen months of age. Your puppy’s joints, tendons, and bones need time to strengthen and become intact before they can take on exercise that may involve impact actions like climbing or jumping.
Don’t: Go on long, continuous exercise sessions with no breaks! Along with the intensity, the amount of time you spend exercising your puppy can also be excessive and harmful. As a rule of thumb, start on the conservative low end when planning your puppy’s session. Ten or fifteen minutes, doing low-intensity exercise such as going for a walk in the neighborhood.
Do: Give your puppy regular breaks. Even if you only go out for shorter walks, it’s a good idea to give your puppy a few minutes in-between to stop and rest, especially depending on their age, breed, and the temperature outside! Warmer days equal more frequent shady breaks. This is also the perfect time to practice in some obedience drills like Down-Stays, which will help teach them to be more relaxed in the outdoors.
Don’t: Increase your puppy’s exercise sessions to “tire them out”. Again, too much of a good thing isn’t always good! Keep in mind that the more exercise you give your puppy, the more endurance they build! The misconception of “tiring your puppy out” is that more exercise is better. In reality, acclimating your puppy to one super long, or multiple long walks a day will only result in your puppy needing that same amount of activity when they are older, if not more.
Do: Remember that shorter, gradually increased sessions are better for your puppy physically and mentally. Give your puppy time to get accustomed to the regular short walks. Ideally, you will work them up to a level of activity that is both satisfying for their energy level but also manageable for you!
Don’t: Engage in super intense play sessions with a young puppy! Games like tug and fetch are great, but some of the motions involved, i.e. the tug and sweep motion, or jumping up to catch a toy, can be damaging to a young puppy’s developing teeth, jaw, bones, and joints if they’re done with too much force and if pushing your young pup’s limits too much, too soon.
Do: Moderate the intensity of playing. While your puppy is still young, remember to practice moderating physical play. Be gentle with tug games especially with younger and smaller breed pups with more delicate jaws, and instead of encouraging your puppy to jump up to catch a toy, try throwing it a few feet away lower to the ground. Learn how to play these games, while encouraging good behaviors such as letting go of a toy when asked, in our blog “Puppyhood Made Easy for New Owners: How to Play with Your Puppy Pt. 1!”
Calm Your Puppy Down with This Easy Routine!
After playtime or an exercise session, some puppies still want to go, go, go! Overstimulation after certain activities is something that you may encounter and we have an easy-to-follow routine that you can use to help your puppy settle down!
For this routine, you’ll need your puppy on their leash and their place cot or bed, and use minimal food as a reward. Start to walk around the place cot or bed with your puppy next to you in small figure-eights. Give your puppy the “Place” command in between walking, then ask them for a “Sit” or to go into “Down” and just hang out on their place for a few beats. Give them a little bit of food as a reward and continue the process. As your puppy starts to get into the rhythm, gradually start slowing down the speed so your pup starts to slow down with you.
By doing this simple yet effective routine for a few minutes and repetitions, you’ll help to calm your puppy, lower their heart rate, and get them to settle down. This is a great routine to add to your normal puppy training schedule, after playtime, or right before putting them into their crate.
Tell us, did these exercise tips help you understand how to manage your puppy’s energy in beneficial ways? Join us each Wednesday at 1 pm PT on @thepuppyacademy Instagram for a live q&a where we’ll address your puppy training questions and concerns!
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Check out these blogs related to puppy training and more!
Exercise and socialisation tips for your new puppy
Few moments are more exciting for new puppies and their owners than their first ‘walk’. Not only is this a chance to get outside and explore the big wide world, but it’s also a chance to finally interact with other dogs and children (and maybe chase the occasional squirrel!) However, all these new experiences can be quite overwhelming for both puppy and owner, so here are some tips to make these early adventures as safe and enriching as possible.
When can I take my puppy out for the first time?
You should not take your new puppy outside in public areas until they have completed their full vaccination course, and your vet has cleared you to take them outside. Normally they will be allowed outside one week after their final vaccination, but be sure to follow the specific advice provided by your vet, as different types of vaccination have different recommendations!
Before their first walk, you can prepare at home by getting your puppy used to wearing their collar and being on the lead. If you have a garden then you can take them for a practice walk, but don’t worry if not – you can still get them used to wearing the collar around the house. This will be one less thing to worry about when the time comes for their first walk in public.
Things to remember…
Any time you walk your dog, be sure to remember these essentials!
- Dog collar and tag – Even if they are microchipped, it is a legal requirement for any dog to wear a collar and tag with their owner’s name and address on it whenever they are out in a public place.
- Biodegradable Poo bags – Cleaning up after your dogs is not only a legal requirement, but it keeps the park free from mess for other dog walkers!
- Water bottle/bowl – Dehydration can be a big problem, especially in the summer months; so take a water bowl with you and offer your dog a drink at regular intervals throughout their walk.
- Healthy Treats – The park is an exciting place for dogs of all ages. Having some treats with you may help with recall, and will allow you to reward your dog for any good behaviour.
Where are the best places to walk your puppy?
Whilst we always recommend sticking to safe and secure areas for dog walks, this is particularly important for puppies. Start off in a place that you know well, and try to choose somewhere away from the road with well-maintained fences – just in case your puppy manages to slip their lead!
How long should you walk your puppy for?
It’s important to remember that young puppies don’t need as much exercise as adult dogs. Their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet, and over-exercise could cause them to get ‘run-down’ and even make them unwell. Moreover, too much exercise could put undue strain on their under-developed joints and can cause growth problems, and lead them to develop arthritis later in life.
For puppies, a good rule-of-thumb is a ratio of 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, twice a day. Once they are fully grown, they can start to go on much longer walks. (Note: different breeds of dog grow at different rates. In general, smaller breeds grow faster and reach adult-size at a younger age than larger breeds. Your vet will be able to advise you on when your dog is fully grown).
**Remember – don’t walk your dog on a full stomach as this can lead to bloating and various other issues**
Longer term – new places, new people, and other dogs
Once they start going out for walks, your dog will, of course, start exploring new places, meeting new people, and making friends with other dogs. Socialisation in the early months of a puppy’s life is absolutely critical. You can get specific advice on socialising and training your puppy from books and puppy classes, but here are some general tips.
- New places – As your puppy becomes more confident, start introducing them to new places. Vary the location of their walks to get them used to different types of environment – the woods or the beach can provide a great alternative to the park. Once you think they are ready, take them for a walk through town. Let them explore new objects like rubbish bins, traffic signs and benches. The new sights and sounds might be a bit intimidating at first (especially cars and crowds of people), but it’s better to get them used to the hustle and bustle now while they are young and curious.
Other dogs – Once your dog is fully vaccinated it is safe for them to start interacting with other dogs, and in fact, this is crucial for their socialisation and development. The park, puppy socialisation classes, and even the vets are great places for them to make friends. Many vet practices now run free ‘puppy parties’ for their clients, which is not only a great opportunity to meet new friends, but also a chance to get your puppy used to going to the vets without any nasty injections!
Try to introduce them to other dogs in a relaxed environment, and be sure to keep some treats to hand to distract them if they get over-excited or anxious. Keep a close eye on early interactions, and be prepared to intervene if there are any signs of aggression. Try to introduce them to dogs of all sizes and ages, so they can learn how to interact with younger energetic dogs, and older dogs who might be a little more relaxed. The more social interactions your puppy has in this early period, the better equipped they will be to deal with varied social situations in the future.
- New people – You want your puppy to meet lots of different people during the early months of their lives. Introduce them to people of all ages (including children), and make sure that they get used to both males and females. If possible, introduce them to people in wheelchairs, people riding bicycles or skateboards, and people pushing buggies or shopping trolleys. In much the same way as with other dogs, variety in these early interactions will prepare your puppy to feel confident around all sorts of people and in all sorts of situations in the future. Try to keep these interactions relaxed, and be sure to keep an eye on your puppy’s body language, so that you can intervene if they are becoming overwhelmed.
The first few months with your new puppy can be incredibly fun and exciting, but this time is also extremely important. Start out nice and slowly, and try to make sure that every new experience and interaction that your puppy has is a positive one. By ensuring that they are introduced to a wide range of different places, people, and dogs, you can help them to form positive associations and enable them to grow up into happy adult dogs, with good social skills!
Meet the Author
James graduated Cambridge University and went straight into general practice as a small animal vet. James always had a keen interest and passion for nutrition and its role in the treatment of disease in small animals.
In his spare time James enjoys travelling, playing rugby, reading and spending time with his cat.
We can all agree that puppies are a bundle of energy who love to move and explore the world around them, but every dog is different. Each breed requires a different level of daily exercise for their life stage. Over exercise can sometimes be just as damaging as under exercise, so it’s important for all dog owners to make sure their dog is getting the right amount.
Amount of exercise
As a rule of thumb, you can work out how much exercise your puppy needs by giving them 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. So for example, a 3-month-old puppy would require approximately 15 minutes of formal exercise (like walkies) per day.
Of course, your puppy will get plenty more exercise tearing around the house and playing with you. Just make sure they’re also getting plenty of time to rest.
Owners are often surprised when they find out how little exercise puppies need in those first few months of life and how easy it is to over-exercise them. The free PitPat app makes things easy by giving your dog a tailored exercise goal based on their age, weight and breed that gradually ramps up your pup’s activity goal as they grow.
Types of exercise
For the first few weeks of their lives puppies won’t have fully developed immune systems or have had their vaccinations, which means that traditional methods of exercise, such as taking them out for walks will not be possible.
To keep them physically active and mentally stimulated try hiding treats in puzzle balls, playing tug-of-war, or even start teaching them basic training commands like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’. Just remember that at this early stage training counts as exercise too, so be careful to keep sessions short.
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, it is time for them to discover the joy of walking with their best human! It’s a good idea to plan your route ahead of time and remember their legs are shorter than yours.
Walk at your puppy’s pace and leave time for a rest if they need it. At this point short walks are best, then as they start to get bigger you can increase how long you walk together. Just be aware that large breeds will take longer to get to this stage than small ones so don’t overdo it too quickly, even if they do give you those puppy dog eyes!
Even once walks have become part of their daily routine, remember that variation is key, so it is a good idea to have a mix of activities for them, including play. Play is super important for developing their physical and emotional skills which is why PitPat tracks play along with walking and running so you can make sure you are always getting the balance just right.
So whether your puppy is just about to be brought home or you are gearing up for your first walk, focus on having fun, spending time with your new best pal, and offsetting all the excitement with some well earned naps!
PitPat tracks, resting, calories and distance so you can build a comprehensive picture of your puppy’s health from the palm of your hand.
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Case study: PitPat and my puppy
Hi I’m Sophie and this is my dog Sunny, she’s a crazy Cockapoo with boundless energy and a genuine love for all creatures great and small. Sunny is probably one of the luckiest pups you’ll ever meet because she’s one of the PitPat office dogs.
Just like humans, dogs (and cats, too!) need stimulation and exercise to live long and happy lives. Not only does consistent stimulation and exercise help promote good behavior it also helps deter destructive behaviors. When you allot a set amount of time to work with your animal, you are aiding in their health by preventing obesity, strengthening of their cardiovascular health & muscles, reducing digestive problems, keeping joints mobile & supple, and keeping their brain active. In other avenues, when you provide outdoor stimulation for your puppy you are also promoting housetraining. When you go on frequent scheduled walks, it can promote your pet’s ability to cope with your absences, build confidence and trust for your pet, and increase socialization with people and other dogs.
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So we know why exercise and stimulation is important, but what are the best ways to provide this for your pet, especially in the coldest months of the year? Many ideas and suggestions are listed all over the internet but how can you find what is best for your pet that fits your lifestyle? Before you can begin to provide the right activities for your furry friend you’ll want to sit down and think about four topics.
The first topic: What is your dog’s breed? Most breeds were bred for
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a specific job (such as herding, retrieval, searching) and satisfying their natural inclinations will provide them with the most satisfaction.
The second topic: Age. Accounting for how old your pet is will help you determine how much exercise they should be receiving each day. Younger dogs & puppies may benefit more from frequent short bursts of exercise rather than long, sustained activities. Most dogs should have at least 20 minutes of active stimulation each day along with 1-2 walks. Higher energy breeds/dogs will require more activity, but this should be determined individually.
The third topic: Health. If your pet has a specific health issue, it may prevent them from doing certain activities without injuring themselves, causing pain, or more. Be mindful of their body structure as well: avoid stairs/jumping with long-backed dogs (e.g. Dachshunds, Corgis, Basset Hounds), avoid extended strenuous activities for brachycephalic dogs (e.g. Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Pekingeses, Shih Tzus), and any other specific health issues of your particular dog.
The fourth topic:
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Personality. You know your pet better than anyone and what they may enjoy doing. Some dogs find walks boring and would rather sniff out their food in a game, while others like exploring the great outdoors more than fetching a ball.
Once you have taken these four items into consideration you can start to put a plan together for your pet. Catering all activities and durations to your dog will help keep things safe and fun. If you ever have questions or concerns, remember to always consult your veterinarian.
So now you know about how to determine the type and duration of exercise your pet should be receiving but what are some proactive ways for them to receive it? Some ideas for these colder months that we are currently engulfed in, are the following:
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Obedience classes – Mental and physical stimulation can be accomplished together if you decide to invest in obedience classes. Something fun for you and your furry friend to work on together helps you form a bond together getting you both out of the house for a bit too!
Walking/Running – Those short potty breaks during the winter can be turned into a quick walk around the block with the right equipment. Make sure your pet has booties to protect those paws and a coat if necessary to keep them warm and protected while walking during the colder months. (And make sure you’re bundled up properly, too!)
Stairs – Do you live in a home with accessible stairs? This can be a great way to have a little fun and exercise too, all within the comfort of your warm home! Throw a toy up the stairs for them to retrieve or maybe try putting some lean treats or pieces of kibble scattered for them to find, either way those stairs can make great exercise for pets.
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Tug o’ war/Fetch – Best part about this, it’s an indoor and outdoor kind of play!
Doggie daycares – Most daycare facilities offer hours that fit almost every schedule whether you work early mornings or late afternoons. Depending on your dog’s personality will determine what kind of exercise they get during the day at the facility! (i.e. group play or individual play)
Exercise is important for your pet’s physical health but what about their mental health as well? This is where stimulation comes into what your pet’s daily routine should be like. Here are some fun ways to provide your dog with ways to keep their mind occupied:
Kong toys – Fill it with frozen peanut butter, or small treats; either way they’ll have to work a little for them!
Puzzle toys – Hide a treat or two and leave it for them. They’ll eventually figure it out and enjoy it too.
Slow feeders – Makes them work for their food and helps promote slow eating patterns!
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Learn a new trick/command – This can be as simple as introducing a word for a new toy, the perfect time to teach them to grab their own leash, shake with each paw, or maybe even roll over for a belly rub or two!
Overall, exercise and mental stimulation are different, but both are important to your pet’s daily routine. A balanced routine should have an increase in good behaviors you love to see and a decrease in destructive behaviors like barking, chewing, or inappropriate eliminating due to stress and anxiety. Don’t push your pets too far as it’s not about duration. Try breaking up their activities into segments extending throughout the day. A good example would be twenty minutes play time in the morning, mental stimulation throughout the day, short walk when you get home, and then a little brush up on some command training before bed. You can find things that fit within your schedule and your pet’s personality/lifestyle to provide enrichment.