How Much Exercise Should a Puppy Get: Part 2
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.
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.
- High Five/Waves.
- Short runs up inclines (becomes more of a strength exercise than endurance exercise).
- 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.
Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!
— SlimDoggy (@MySlimDoggy) January 22, 2016