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How Much Exercise Should a Puppy Get? + Do's and Don’ts of Puppy Exercise | Pupford

January 31st, 2024

Filed under Health + Wellness

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We all know how much energy puppies have. These little bundles of joy seem to never have an off switch, and you may wonder when your puppy will calm down. So the obvious answer to help relieve some of this energy is exercise, right? Not necessarily.

An often overlooked aspect of raising a puppy is providing them with appropriate exercise based on their age.

Over-exercise or high-impact activities can have long-term health risks for young puppies.

In this blog post, we will go over the potential risks of too much exercise, as well as the do’s and don’ts of puppy exercise to help you find the right balance between safeguarding their long-term health and providing adequate exercise and outlets for a growing puppy.

Table of Contents:

  • How Much Exercise Should Puppies Have?
  • Risks of Too Much Exercise for Puppies
  • Do’s of Puppy Exercise
  • Don’ts of Puppy Exercise

How Much Exercise Should Puppies Have?

Unfortunately, there is not a specific magic number of how much exercise a puppy should have.

It all depends on the individual puppy. Things like breed, age, size, health conditions, and energy levels all play a role in how much exercise your puppy needs.

A good rule of thumb is that for every month old your puppy is, they should have 5 minutes of exercise, twice a day.

For example, if your puppy is five months of age they should have 25 minutes of exercise a day, twice a day.

Related Reading: When Do Puppies Mature Mentally?

Risks of Too Much Exercise for Puppies

guide to exercising puppy

We all know how important a puppy’s first year of life is, they are going through their critical socialization period, acclimating to their new home, and learning about and experiencing the world for the first time.

Another important aspect of their first year of life is that they are growing! Puppies go through their largest growth spurt between 4-8 months of age.

On average, a puppy is fully grown by 1 year, but large breed dogs like Great Danes or Mastiffs may be finished growing once they reach 18 months to 2 years of age.

During this time their growth plates have not fully developed yet. Growth plates are areas of cartilage found at the end of a puppy's long bones, specifically their leg bones. These cartilage cells eventually fuse and become bone cells.

Until the growth plates completely fuse, they are more delicate and flexible than bone, making them more prone to injury - especially from excessive or high-impact exercise.

As we mentioned previously, larger breed dogs will need more time to fully grow, meaning more time with growth plates than a small breed dog.

Damage to the growth plates can lead to long-term health problems such as bone deformities, stunted growth, joint damage, arthritis, and hip dysplasia.

Do’s of Puppy Exercise

how to exercise a puppy

Here are some ways to provide safe, age-appropriate exercise for your growing puppy:

  1. Mental Enrichment: Believe it or not, mental exercise can be more tiring than physical exercise. Mental enrichment provides puppies with outlets for natural behaviors like chewing, shredding, digging, etc. This can reduce problem behaviors, improve problem-solving skills, and boost confidence. You can find lots of ideas to provide your puppy with mental enrichment in our A-Z Mental Enrichment Guide!
  2. Walking: Walking is a low-impact exercise that puts much less stress on developing bones than running.
  3. Playing with Other Dogs: Playing with other dogs can be a great form of exercise for puppies, as long as the play does not become too rough and is limited to short increments. Appropriate play also helps puppies learn body language, social skills, and bite inhibition. Note: When playing with other dogs, you will want to take vaccinations into account, to keep your pup and others safe
  4. Self-Directed Play: Things like playing with their toys, romping around, exploring the backyard, chasing and wrestling are all natural forms of play for young puppies.
  5. Swimming: Swimming is a great low-impact exercise because it puts no pressure on the joints. Getting them used to water early is also a great skill for your puppy to have as they grow into adulthood. Note: Be careful where you take your dog to swim, as certain bodies of water can contain bacteria, parasites, or algae harmful to dogs.
  6. Training: Training sessions are a great form of exercise because they engage their brain and get them moving. We have plenty of resources for all sorts of training exercises in our app! From covering the basics, impulse control games, and trick training - there is something for every pup and pup parent.

Don’ts of Puppy Exercise

how not to exercise a puppy

Here are some things to avoid when exercising your puppy to ensure their long-term health and prevent injuries.

  1. Avoid High Impact Exercises: Activities like going on a run, jogging beside you while you ride your bike or skateboard, jumping and twisting, and even exercises that encourage quickly stopping and turning like fetch can cause excessive damage to their joints and growth plates.
  2. Inclines or Rough Terrain: Even if you are going for a walk, walking on rough terrain and going on an incline hike can put too much strain on a puppy's growing body.
  3. Stairs: Excessive use of stairs can lead to joint and hip problems. If possible, puppies should be carried up and down long staircases during their first months of life.
  4. Avoid Extreme Temperatures: Make sure it is not too hot or too cold when outside with your puppy. Extreme temperatures can lead to difficulty breathing, heat exhaustion, paw pad injury, hypothermia, and more.
  5. Dog Sports: It is not recommended for puppies to engage in competitive dog sports or agility until they are 18 months to 2 years old to prevent injury and long-term health concerns.
  6. Prolonged Exercise: Keep all physical activity short. Even if you are just going on a walk on flat terrain, walking for too many miles can be too exhausting for a young puppy.

How Much Exercise Should Puppies Get Recap

At the end of the day, we all want to do right by our puppies. It can be hard to find the right balance between providing exercise for a healthy lifestyle and accidentally over-exerting your puppy. If needed, we always recommend consulting your veterinarian for advice regarding any health-related issues.


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