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How Much Time Should I Spend With My Puppy + How Much Playtime Is Needed? | Pupford

September 26th, 2023

Filed under Pet Parenting

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New year, new puppy? We love to see families starting out 2023 by adding a fur baby to their home.

We just can’t get enough of those super cute, super fun, sometimes crazy little pups.

Most people feel the same and probably wish they could spend every single moment soaking in all that new pup goodness. Unfortunately, that’s not feasible.

But it’s still important to spend a decent amount of time with your puppy for development, bonding, training, and overall acclimating to their new environment.

So that leads us to a common question we get from new puppy parents: how much time should I spend with my new puppy & how much playtime does a puppy need?

We’ll be answering that question soon, as well as providing tips for the best way to spend that time – besides ogling over how cute they are, of course!

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course to ensure your puppy starts off on the right paw. Sign up for free here! 🐶


you should spend 2 to 3 hours actively engaging with your new puppy

Just like any new family member, your puppy is going to need a lot of your time and attention. But just how much is needed for your dog to thrive?

Many experts agree that a minimum of 2-3 hours of active interaction and engagement is appropriate for puppies.

That may not really sound like a lot given it’s only 8-12% of the total hours in a day.

But keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Puppies need between 18-20 hours of sleep which accounts for majority of the day
  • It’s beneficial for your puppy to learn how to have downtime (such as crate time) to avoid developing separation anxiety
  • Puppies have shorter attention spans than adult dogs
  • Puppies tend to do better with short bursts of activity throughout the day rather than long interactions (lookin' at you zoomies)

When you think about it that way, you really are spending the majority of your puppy’s day with them – so how you spend that time matters!

Related Reading: How Long Does it Take to Train a Puppy?


Spending time with your new puppy isn’t about running out the clock. It’s about choosing meaningful interactions that positively impact their health and development during this impressionable time in their lives.

You’ll want to create a nice balance between physical, mental, and emotional activities. Here are some ways you should be focusing your time with your new puppy:

  1. Setting a routine
  2. Training
  3. Playing
  4. Exercising
  5. Bonding

Let's look at each below!

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course to ensure your puppy starts off on the right paw. Sign up for free here! 🐶


how to set a routine with your new puppy

Dogs are literally creatures of habit. Setting a daily routine for your dog can:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Make potty training easier
  • Keep your dog healthier
  • Improve engagement with training sessions

Not to mention they make your life easier too!

During key parts of the day (morning, dinner time, before bed, etc.) try to do the same steps in the same order to build predictability. For example, if your dog knows that a potty break always comes next after a meal, they will be more likely to succeed in their potty training because they know an opportunity is coming.

Not sure where to start when it comes to your pup's schedule? Check out our puppy feeding and potty schedule here!


train your dog in 5 minute increments

Consistency is key when it comes to training, so you’ll want to dedicate a good chunk of time to it.

Puppies do best with short 3-5 minute frequent training sessions until they can build up more stamina and attention span. And while you want to focus on one behavior per training session, you’ll want to make sure you’re rotating through the key training areas:

Psst – everything you need to know about training your puppy can be found in the Pupford Academy.


games to play with your dog

Playing with your puppy isn’t just fun for you. It’s fun for them too! It also provides both physical and mental stimulation, so it’s a win-win all around.

Depending on your dog’s breed and personality, they may like fetch, tug-of-war, obstacle courses, treat hide and seek, or a number of other activities.

If they don’t seem interested, switch up the type of toy or activity you do to keep them engaged.

We love a game of hide and seek.

First, show your dog the item that you want them to find, put them in a sit-stay (or a crate if their stay isn't very strong), hide the toy, then let them get it!

Aim to give your dog at least 20-30 minutes of meaningful playtime each day.

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course to ensure your puppy starts off on the right paw. Sign up for free here! 🐶


give your puppy exercise every day

All that puppy energy has to go somewhere! Establishing exercise habits early can help ward off problem behaviors and set your dog up for better health into adulthood.

Remember that not all exercise needs to be walks – although those are fantastic. Your dog’s size, breed, and personality will impact what they enjoy.

For example, some dogs will enjoy long, leisurely strolls around the neighborhood, while others will need to run, jump, and chase to meet their exercise needs. As long as they’re moving their bodies happily and safely, follow their interests!

It's also important to NOT start running consistently with your puppy when they are too young, as that can be rough on their joints. For a smaller puppy, around 12 months is a good place to start, and for larger breed dogs, waiting until around 18 months is recommended.

Just be sure to discuss with your vet what vaccinations are necessary before your puppy begins certain activities that would bring them into different environments.


dog owner trying to bond with new puppy

Establishing a bond with your new puppy is more important than you might think. Once your dog trusts you, they can gain confidence in their environment and become more engaged with everything around them.

Plus, don’t we want our dogs to know they are loved and to love us in return?

Spend some time each day to give your dog some attention. This could look like belly rubs, watching TV together, talking to them, or having their “place” be near you for part of the day.

This, in addition to the other time you’re spending with your puppy each day, will help your bond tremendously!


All of this probably sounds a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

We put together a FREE resource just for this reason – the New Dog Starter Course. 

This course gives unlimited access to in-depth video modules and PDF printouts to help you get off to the best possible start with your new pup.

In addition to content geared towards preparing for your dog’s arrival, it provides a breakdown of the first 24 hours of your pup being home + an outline for the first five days.

If you’re not 100% sure how to spend that crucial timeframe with your dog, this is the course for you! Or, if you just want to double-check your game plan – after all, it’s free!

Take the free course here!


a puppy being played with as a fun way to spend time | Pupford

Our dogs and puppies rely on us for exercise, playtime, and of course, their food and treats!

As a recap, you should aim to provide your puppy with 2-3 hours of engaged interaction with you. That can come in the form of play, exercise, training, and general bonding.

And as a reminder, puppies have short attention spans! You can break up that 2-3 hours of interaction into bite-size chunks of 10-15 minutes throughout the day.

How much time do you spend with your puppy? Tell us in the comments!

And don't forget to sign up for the New Dog Starter Course here!

🐶 Don't miss out, sign up for the 100% free New Dog Starter Course to ensure your puppy starts off on the right paw. Sign up for free here! 🐶


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