Giving your puppy the right amount of exercise

How much exercise does your puppy need? What are the age-appropriate workouts for growing dogs? In their first year, puppies grow from tiny, hapless creatures to full-grown dogs — that’s quite a developmental journey to make in such a short period of time! Your puppy exercise plan will need to keep up with this rapid growth.

According to some studies, the first year of a dog’s life is equivalent to the first 21 years of a human being’s life (with their following years each equal to 5 human years). And as your puppy goes from just-born to adulthood in 12 months, his energy level and need for exercise will vary, peaking in the middle.

It is also very important not to over-exercise your puppy. Avoid puppy exercises on hard surfaces and don’t start jogging or running until he is a proper adult (and no forced running!) Puppy bones are not fully formed yet and repetitive strain on the rear end can cause or contribute to hip dysplasia, especially in large breeds.

Amount and Type of Exercise to Give your Puppy

Some breeds are more active than others and even within the same breed, dispositions vary. However, all growing puppies need a certain type and amount of exercising every day depending on their behavioural stage:

4 to 12 weeks old: At this age, your puppy will sleep a lot, have short periods of energy and then quickly get tired. Play kiddie games with him, let him chase string, give him safe objects to explore and climb over. You can also play with him outside or take him for short walks.

12 weeks to 4 months old: Puppy will begin playing for longer and more earnestly. He will get into games like fetch, tug-of-war, and chasing small moving things. Make sure puppy gets 4-5 blocks of light exercise during the day, each a few minutes long. Increase this gradually depending on his needs, but as always be careful not to overdo it.

5 to 8 months old: Now puppy is an adolescent just bursting with energy and curiosity. For you this will be a challenging time as you ensure that he gets several hours of low-impact exercise every day – more than any other period in his life. He will also be easily distracted, so creativity and variety in games will become more important. At this stage, provide a fenced play area if possible, and start emphasising exercises which build his strength, such as fetching and chasing.

8 to 10 months old: Puppy will start slowing down a little, phew! His training will be showing results and he’ll have better understanding of how games work. He still requires 2-3 hours of light exercise, which can be a combination of training games, playing with other puppies or running around the garden on his own!

10 to 12 months old: Now that he is stronger and nearly adult-sized, you can lessen puppy’s exercising time to 1-2 hours a day of more concentrated, intellectually challenging activities. But remember that even though he looks full-grown, his bones are still developing and his stamina has not reached adult level. So don’t overdo it and don’t start endurance-building exercises yet.

By the end of his first year, your puppy will have become a happy, well-adjusted adult dog and all that time spent playing together will have helped you form a lasting bond with your pet.

Image supplied by imagesbywestfall, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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About the author

Proud owner of two Miniature Schnauzers (Archie and Lola), and a Giant Schnauzer (Milo). Favourite Dog Trick: Turn. Enjoys Southern Comfort.

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