What is appropriate exercise for a puppy? What KIND of exercise should you give your puppy?
How much is too much? How much is not enough?
This is one of those Catch-22 situations. Puppies in general have a LOT of energy. And we need to make sure we are finding ways to help them burn it off or they can drive us crazy!
But we also have to be very careful about overdoing it and potentially causing injury or lifetime problems. What to do?!
I am sure you have all heard the mantra “a tired dog is a good dog.” As we have discussed with many of our students, that is not necessarily true. We need to be very careful about HOW they are burning their energy. We also need to be careful not to overdo it.
This is especially true with puppies as well as adolescent dogs who have not finished maturing physically yet.
Walks are a popular way to tire out a puppy or dog. But it's not always the best way to burn off your pup's energy.
In fact, we see lots of people – with good intentions! – who are overdoing it with their pups. Long walks through the neighborhood or long hikes on trails is NOT appropriate exercise for a puppy.
We are all for getting puppies out and getting exposure and some exercise. But long walks are not the healthiest option for youngsters just yet.
Short walks are great though. Walks that allow your pup to meander and check things out and investigate smells are good. Long serious walks with no stops are not.
As joints are still developing, it's much easier to cause injury that can have lifetime effects.
Jumping on and off furniture, climbing stairs, jumping in and out of vehicles, and such, are also potentially dangerous for your young pup or adolescent dog and is not appropriate exercise for a puppy.
There is no one specific rule that you can apply to each and every puppy. It depends in part on the breed and the age. And the individual.
A good place to start for reference is the Puppy Culture website. There is a detailed article and chart that lays out some good guidelines to start. Speaking with your veterinarian is also a good idea for adjusting guidelines to your dog. And if you obtained your pup from a reputable breeder who understands your breed well, they should be able to help you with advice as well.
Be sure to also exercise your puppy mentally, which is just as important as physical exercise. Read more here.