Puppies are little (and not so little) balls of energy wrapped up in excitement. What are the best ways to keep them active and out of trouble? How much puppy exercise is appropriate? Are some types of exercise better than others? You have questions, and we have some answers.
What is a good puppy exercise?
A good puppy exercise is usually short (think 10 minutes for younger pups to 20 minutes at four months of age). Puppies over four months may be able to exercise for longer periods of time if their breed allows. The key is to keep the exercise session short enough to match their attention span. Young puppies don’t have much endurance yet, because their bodies are immature.
A good puppy exercise is not overly strenuous. Use low-impact activities. Running is generally ok in short bursts, but endurance training should be left until your puppy is mature. Jumping and prolonged running can injure growth plates, and dogs are not generally trained for jumping sports until they are mature. Large and giant breeds mature more slowly, so be sure to ask your veterinarian when is the appropriate time to begin high-impact sports. Many sport clubs will start training dogs at two years of age.
The AKC has good information on age-appropriate exercise for puppies.
A good puppy exercise is fun. Puppies will do anything as long as it is fun!
Some play ideas to get you started
- Play hide and seek. Hide treats around the house, or hide yourself and encourage your puppy to find you.
- Go swimming: Water play is low impact and dogs love it. Until your puppy can swim strongly, use a dog swim vest for safety.
- Play with puzzles. Dog treat puzzles keep your puppy’s mind active and help her learn good problem solving skills. Some treat puzzles encourage movement as well. Your puppy might not retrieve yet, but she will probably enjoy chasing anything you feel like throwing.
- Learn tricks and skills. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but young dogs learn faster. Your puppy is soaking up knowledge at an incredible rate. Now is the time to teach him obedience and party tricks. Work on the recall frequently throughout the day. Move around the house and call your puppy to you frequently. Practice leash skills on walks.
- Socialize. Dog parks and doggie day care are great places to socialize your puppy. He’ll get a lot of exercise while he’s there, too. Use common sense and keep your puppy out of park areas where reactive or overly boisterous and physical older dogs are playing. Some facilities offer sessions for puppies only. For example, Bar K Dog Bar in Kansas City has a weekly puppy socialization play date on Wednesday evenings. Puppy classes with your local pet store or trainer are great places to socialize, train, and exercise your puppy.
Join the Fit2BPawsome challenge to stay motivated. The challenge is designed to be appropriate for all breeds and life stages.
A busy puppy is a happy puppy. Keeping her busy with safe and healthy exercise will help her grow into a strong and confident dog.
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