How Much Exercise Should a Puppy Get: Part 2

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Last week, I wrote about the reasons why a puppy should be exercised differently from an adult dog.  Due to the fact that their bone growth plates have not fully formed (closed), a puppy’s body cannot safely withstand long duration or high intensity exercise. Thus, a puppy who is over exercised can be at risk of injury, both acute and chronic.

 

What Types of Exercises are Safe for a Puppy

In simple terms, puppies should avoid any type of “extreme” exercise.  Of course, extreme is a relative term but if a pet parent has any doubt if they are nearing an extreme level, they have gone too far already.  With that said, there are some general parameters that can be used to construct a program that provides a puppy with sufficient but safe amount of exercise during their development into adulthood.   Zink and Van Dyke, in “Canine Sports and Rehabilitation”, provide a reasonable list of allowable exercises for a puppy at two ages, 6 months and under, and 6 months to growth plate closure.  The suggestions below are primarily derived from their recommendations.  Remember that it is prudent to check with your vet before determining when a puppy’s growth plates have fully closed—although most dogs will have their growth plates close in 12-18 months.
 
Puppy Exercise
 

Allowable Exercises for Puppies 6 months Old and Younger

Most of the exercises below should be performed for 20 minutes or less.

  • Short duration walks.  Keep a slow and steady pace.
  • Short duration swims.
  • Light tug of war with a pull toy, keeping the tension and intensity very light.  I recommend keeping the tug games at 5-10 minutes maximum as this exercise/game can easily get intense.
  • Chase the toy. Use a toy that lets you control the movement of the toy at eyelevel or lower (so the puppy won’t be inclined to jump high).  5-10 minute sessions maximum.
  • Balance work on a cushion or board.
  • Circles using a toy to lead the puppy in a circle in both directions.  Keep the pace slow and steady.

 

Allowable Exercises for Puppies 6 months Old and Older

Besides the exercises listed above, a 6 month or older puppy should be able to perform the below listed exercises.

  • Crawling.
  • High Five/Waves.
  • Short runs up inclines (becomes more of a strength exercise than endurance exercise).
  • Rollovers.
  • Begging.
  • Jumping over low obstacles (less than elbow height).

 

Once your puppy has reached young adulthood and is cleared by your vet, they can then safely begin more endurance training including jogs/runs of 20 minutes (and building up time and distance as the dog gains stamina), agility work, and other longer duration or more intense exercises.
 

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17 Comments

  1. the tug of war can be a challenge… I always feared for Easy’s puppy teeth, but they are stronger than we thought… and like needles on the skin lol
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog FREAKY FURRIDAYMy Profile

  2. Mom always took us along on the long walks, but she would carry us a lot of the time, and then put us down again to walk a little bit. If you pup is small enough to carry, it works. Jumping is something we never are supposed to do, even now because of our long backs, but we know many dogs jump and do fine. Mom usually lifts us on and off things if we can’t step on and off.
    Emma recently posted…What Is The Best Poop Bag In The WinterMy Profile

  3. Thank you for these age ranges and lists!
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Puppy Culture PlaygroundMy Profile

  4. Great tips! I also steered clear of steps… especially going down when Rocco was young. I think we may have trained wave a little too young, oops! Good to know!
    Diane recently posted…Teach a Dog to Bring You a Tissue #dogtricksMy Profile

  5. Plenty of fun activities to choose from. I’d recommend keeping a pot of coffee brewing as well. Keeping up with a pup is not for the faint of heart.

    • HA! I love the coffee suggestion! I definitely had plenty of that when I raised my pups.

  6. Great post, wish my humans knew some of this when I was a pup! I pinned it for future reference! Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂
    Spencer the Goldendoodle recently posted…5 Easy Steps for Playing in the SnowMy Profile

  7. Your tips are so important. A family member took her GSD for extremely long walks as a puppy and it had to have hip surgery when he was only one-year-old.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Outward Hound’s Kibble Drop Puzzle #Chewy.comMy Profile

  8. Honey’s breeders gave us lots of instructions when we adopted her. And one was not to do any high jumping until she was at least a year old.

    I’m so glad she said something. I would never have thought of it on my own.

    Of course, it’s quite a trick to keep a puppy from jumping. 🙂
    Pamela recently posted…Nothing Like A Good Stick – Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  9. I love your series of puppy exercise.

  10. Great post Slim!!
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Flashy Friday Blog Hop!My Profile

  11. These guidelines are really helpful. It’s hard to know judging by a puppy’s energy level whether they might be overdoing it. Like Pamela mentioned, we were especially careful about the jumping when Haley was young.
    Elaine recently posted…The Psychology of Giving Your Dog a PillMy Profile

  12. I remember when we took the pups for our first walks around our apartment complex..they’d be done and ready to be carried after 15 minutes. Boy oh boy, sometimes it seems like ages ago when I remember how small they were and fit into our jackets no problem. Then again it just seems like yesterday.
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Comment on 10 Ways To Entertain Your Dog Inside On Crappy Days by K9sOverCoffeeMy Profile

  13. I remember sweet Cocoa when she was a little puppy. She was as crazy as she is now!!
    Julie recently posted…Crazy CocoaMy Profile

  14. Excellent information. I do know people who, in my opinion, have over exercised their young dogs and sometimes it led to injury. We try not to push our young dogs with their training. Injury is not worth it.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Chasing Snowballs!My Profile

  15. It’s easy to think that puppies have endless energy and can do anything, so this is great information, and something I don’t think I was clear on when Luke was a pup; though we always erred on the side of caution.
    Jan K recently posted…Black & White Sunday – Sun KissedMy Profile

  16. Great list! I’ve never thought of a balance board before, but now that you brought it up, this could be a great exercise to try! thank you!

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