Oh the joys of a new puppy! The clumsiness, the cuddliness, the cuteness overload! Everyone loves a puppy.
When you bring home that little bundle of fluff, there are lots of things to think about: food, training, socialization… and of course – exercise!
How much exercise does a puppy need? You don’t want to overdo it, but you still want them to get that physical stimulation! So, let’s break down just how important exercise is – and why – and how much your pup needs to stay healthy.
The Importance of Exercise
All dogs need exercise. It’s essential for physical stimulation but also mental, and it’s really important for overall health and wellness.
And, exercise isn’t just essential for mental and physical well-being. It also helps form a strong bond between the two of you that continues throughout their life. Just as regular exercise is important for your health and happiness, the same is true for your puppy.
- Prevents obesity and associated health risks
- Strengthens cardiovascular health and muscles
- Helps with housetraining
- Can help reduce separation anxiety
- Reduces behavioral problems through physical, intellectual, and social stimulation
- Promotes digestive health
- Relieves boredom
- Increases agility
- Builds confidence and trust, especially in timid puppies
- Increases socialization with people and other dogs
We should probably note here that when we talk about exercise, we’re not talking about romps in the backyard. While this is good for fun and to burn off energy, you want other types of exercise to get the full range of benefits.
But you don’t want to just bring home an 8 month old puppy and start taking 5 mile hikes…
How Much Exercise Does a Puppy Need?
How much exercise does a puppy need? Too little and you’ll start to see the impacts. Too much and you could easily overdo it, causing long term issues. And despite the fact that puppies are often far more energetic, they actually require much less exercise than an adult dog.
A good place to start is 5 minutes for each month of age, twice a day. So, if your puppy is 3 months old, two 15 minute walks a day is good. 4 months old? 20 minutes. You get the picture.
Of course, this is simply a starting point and doesn’t factor in things like the size, breed, and temperament of your puppy. And these are just as important.
For example, smaller breeds simply can’t handle long walks due to their small size. You don’t want to get them out there for too long. Larger breeds, on the other hand, can typically handle longer walks since it takes much less effort for them to cover more ground than a tiny breed.
However, be mindful that the larger the dog, the longer it takes for their bones and joints to fully mature. If you overdo it with a large breed puppy, you risk creating orthopaedic problems later in life if you push them too far in puppyhood.
You want to be very cautious and pay very close attention to what your pup can and can’t handle. Watch for cues that they’re tired. Take it easy and work at your puppy’s pace. If your puppy lies down during a walk, it’s probably because they need a rest. Stop for a little while until they’re ready to go again and use this as your guide and finish your walk. But beware that sometimes even a very careful watch won’t cut it – puppies (and older dogs too) won’t always alert you to discomfort on a walk, and will just keep going.
Other things to note alongside how much exercise does a puppy need? Walking on concrete can get sore after a while as your puppy’s soft paw pads won’t be used to it. Try mixing walking on pavements or roads with walking on softer surfaces like the grass. And watch the heat. Puppies have a lower tolerance for the heat than older dogs, so if it’s warm out, take frequent breaks and stay out of the sun.
So – aim for 2 walks based on the 5 minutes for month rule.
Puppy Safe Exercises
A structured walk is an easy exercise and you can easily control the length of time you’re out. But a walk isn’t the only way to exercise your new pup. There are plenty of puppy safe exercises that you can be doing to help boost mental and physical stimulation.
In between walks, try some training exercises to give that brain a workout. Sit, stay, come, leave it – those are all important commands that a puppy needs to know, so working on them a little each day will help improve that bond we mentioned earlier and tire them out.
Interactive toys are also a good option. There are plenty out there that you can find online or at your local pet store. Or just make up your own! Use what you have at home – things like plastic cups or towels – to create games your puppy can try to figure out. Roll up treats in the towel and let them sniff them out. Or, take 3 cups and place treats under one of them, then let your puppy find the tasty morsels. We’ve got some good brain games right here.
Tip: avoid forced, intense 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. Save these activities for when your puppy is grown.
How much exercise does a puppy need? That depends – both on the pup and the type of exercise you’re providing. Make sure you factor in the breed and age and watch for cues when enough is enough.
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