Puppies are little bundles of energy, so it’s important they get the right type of exercise at the right time for them to stay fit and healthy.
1. Be careful not to over-exercise your puppy
Puppies need exercise to help develop their growing bodies as well as stimulate their minds, but in my experience pups don’t need as much exercise as adult dogs. So it’s important to get the right balance of exercise and rest. Over-exercise can be harmful to a pup’s developing joints, bones and muscles.
As a general rule, most pups should have five minutes of exercise per each month of their age, twice a day. So if your puppy is four months old, two 20-minute walks a day should be about right.
This doesn’t have to be a fast walk – you’re pup will get a lot of mental stimulation from just exploring. Either way, it’s important to exercise at your puppy’s pace – have fun but watch out for signs of tiredness.
2. Check what your breed needs
The size and breed of your pet can relate to the level of exercise they’ll need. Some breeds of dog are more energetic than others. Generally speaking, larger breeds of dog such as German Shepherd or Labrador will need more exercise than smaller breeds such as terriers.
However, keep in mind that big breeds also take longer to reach maturity and for their bones to fully develop, so the amount of exercise will vary over a longer period of time. I’d recommend asking your vet for advice on exercise for specific breeds.
3. Make sure your pup is vaccinated
Before taking your dog outside for a walk it’s crucial that they’re fully vaccinated. Vaccinations ensure your pup is safe from common canine infections that can be picked up from contact with unvaccinated dogs.
Puppies usually have their first vaccination at around eight weeks old, followed by another vaccination 2-4 weeks later to make sure they’re fully protected. Until your pup is fully vaccinated they’ll need plenty of exercise in short bursts, playing in a garden or a safe area at home.
4. Play and training is exercise too
We all know that dogs love a walk, but for young dogs the simple act of playing is a hugely important part of their exercise regime too, particularly in very young pups.
Whether it’s chasing a ball or wrestling with a toy in the home, playing in the garden or interaction with their owner, I always recommend that playtime, training and brain games are included as important aspects of a puppy’s exercise and development.
5. Make exercise easy
I love taking dogs for a walk – it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of dog ownership and an essential part of any growing pup’s development. But walking a dog for the first time can also be stressful, particularly if your dog becomes distracted or scared.
I always recommend familiarising your pup with their lead at home and teaching them how to respond to commands such as ‘stay’ or ‘come’ before leaving the house. This can help avoid any issues when out walking. And, in my experience, it’s crucial to always remain calm if your pet meets other dogs that might be aggressive.
Here are some useful tips for a successful first walk with your pet.
6. Variety is important to puppy exercise
For me, having a mix of walking, playing, training and socialising with other dogs, will help your pup develop mentally as well as physically. But that variety should also extend to the environments that your puppy experiences during exercise.
I always recommend that playing in the home and garden is complemented with walks along local streets and through urban areas, visits to parks and woods as well as beaches. Not only will this help your dog’s cognitive development by familiarising them to the sights, smells and sounds of the wider world, pups can sometimes get sore paws from walking on concrete for too long, so walking on grass or sand can give them some relief.
7. Exercise is good for your dog and good for you
As owners, we all know that the bond between dog and owner is often inseparable. And the benefits of exercise can work both ways too. Taking your pup for a walk isn’t just great for your dog’s health, it can help you stay fit and healthy both physically and mentally.
As well as providing a boost to wellbeing, exercising your dog could save you hundreds of pounds on gym memberships by helping you get fit for free. Once your pup is old enough, why not combine a new fitness regime with your dog’s daily exercise? It’s easy, and your dog will love it.
Additional tip: Have fun!
Exercise should always be fun. As new dog owners, our lives revolve around our four-legged companions and the bonds we build with our pets are incredibly strong, so it’s important to have fun together.
As your puppy grows into an adult dog, the range of exercise options available increase too. From swimming and paddle boarding, to dancing and canine cross country, there are lots of alternative ways to exercise your dog and get fit while having lots of fun at the same time.