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How much exercise does a puppy need?

Three puppies playing together advice © Pixabay

Your new puppy is the most precious thing in your life. It’s not surprising if you’re worried that you might break him. It’s quite difficult to over-exercise most adult dogs, but a puppy is more delicate. So you find yourself wondering: How much exercise for a puppy?

By G. John Cole

Every puppy is different. So you need to check with your vet, and to make your own observations, too. Go overboard with exercise, and you can cause your puppy long-term damage and increase the chances of arthritis. But under-exercising him is very serious. His muscles won’t develop, and his general and mental health may suffer. And he’s still at risk of arthritis, since he won’t get the strength he needs to support his frame as a grown-up.

How much to exercise your puppy

First thing’s first: don’t trust your puppy! With the exception of toy dogs and a few other breeds, most dogs won’t let you know when enough is enough. In the case of a puppy, even more so. He will keep going until he collapses if you let him. In general, you can calculate how much walkies-time your puppy needs using a simple formula: number of months old he is x 5 minutes. So a two-month old can handle 10 minutes of walkies at a time. You can do two of these sessions a day, every day.

Different walking times for puppy breeds

Smaller breeds might need a bit less than this. Longer-legged dogs a bit more. But be careful if you have a giant breed, since they are more likely to develop joint problems in later life. Err on the side of caution, but ensure that he gets two decent walks a day.

Short-nosed dogs such as Pekingeses, boxers, and pugs should also be watched with particular care. They are more prone to breathing problems, so too much exercise can make them very unwell.

You can make up for shorter exercise periods with your short-nosed dog by playing with him indoors. If you see that your dog is having real trouble breathing, take him to a vet as soon as possible.

Other forms of exercise for dogs

So walkies and park time are particularly useful but strenuous sources of exercise for a puppy. But he can get more exercise around the home if you avoid leaving him to be too sedate.

We’ve mentioned that playing with your puppy is a good exercise. This can be done indoors or in the garden. Just be aware, once more, that he will play until he drops if you let him!

Watch out, for example, if you’re encouraging him to run up and down stairs. It can be nice exercise for an adult dog, but for a puppy those steps are giant. And he does not yet have much self-control so he could end up falling. Also his teeth are kind of fragile. If you’re playing fetch or tug, don’t pull too hard – even if he shows surprising strength.

Training sessions in the home are a more structured way to get a workout. Your puppy needs lead-training and to be taught to return from a distance. Stuff like this can be done in the garden or even the front room. You tend to move in short bursts, so it is less intensive on his little legs.

Making a dog-walking routine

You’ll need to make sure your dog gets out of the house to use the toilet 6-8 times a day, too. Part of toilet training is teaching your puppy a routine. So pair his toilet trips with walkies to get him acquainted to the rhythm of life in your home. If you’ve worked out that your dog needs forty minutes exercise a day, you can of course divide this over five or six walkies.

A puppy should be taken for his toilet session first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and around 10-20 minutes after meals. You can then fit in other walkies at regular times between this – or when he does ‘the dance’ that indicates he needs to go.

As he gets older, your puppy will benefit from a nice longer run in the park, too. And like all this exercise, it’s also exercise for you. So get used to the idea that your growing dog will need regular walkies come rain or shine, and learn to keep it exciting for both of you.

Keep your head out of your phone and enjoy the smells and sounds around you. You have a lovely new exercise regime!

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