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Daily exercise is more than a perk of puppy life; it’s a canine necessity that you as the pet parent must provide. The trick is to balance a puppy’s boundless short-term energy with stable long-term growth and development. Take it easy and slowly to build lifelong habits, and be prepared to cut short your own walk if your pup can’t keep up.
Exercise during the early months of a dog’s life is essential for healthy muscle and bone development, as well as socialization and stimulation for mental wellbeing. Providing daily exercise for your puppy or dog consolidates the exercise habit and helps the two of you form a healthy bond as well. Bear in mind, though, that until your puppy has been fully vaccinated (usually at around six to nine weeks), outdoor exercise carries a risk. You should avoid exposing a puppy to contact with other dogs until at least two weeks after their final vaccination.
Exercise needs vary according to breed, and the difference is considerable. We might treat any dog in its first year as a puppy, but it can actually take up to two years for some larger breeds to reach adult size, while many smaller breeds are full-size in just six months. For adult dogs, smaller “toy” breeds such as Dachshunds and Pekingese need only 30 minutes or so of exercise per day, but game and working dogs, like retrievers, Labradors and huskies, need at least two hours a day.
To cover the puppy months, the Kennel Club recommends five minutes of exercise per day for each month of age, with the following caveats:
● Never exercise a puppy on a full stomach.
● Balance exercise time with plenty of naps.
● Keep walks short.
Tips for Full-Grown Dogs
Once puppies reach six months, they are typically robust enough to accompany you on a moderate hike or short run. You should wait until they are fully grown before you start working on their agility through activities such as jumping or stretching.
With any breed, start slow and build up the exercise regimen within recommended guidelines from your vet. For working breeds, such as collies, Australian Shepherds and German shepherds, mental stimulation is also important so make sure any exercise has a challenging interactive element.
Best Ways to Safely Tire out an Energetic Dog
An excited puppy often seems to have no “off” switch, so you’ll have to use your wisdom and influence to ease them gently toward a more-relaxed state. Mental stimulation and interaction aren’t just good for your dog’s wellbeing — they will also tire a puppy out faster. Try hiding objects, tossing sticks and balls for short distances, and varying your route when you take short walks. You may also find that our pet-formulated CBD drops promote relaxation after an exercise session.
For larger–breed dogs in particular, over-exercising can cause joint problems, leading to arthritis in later years. These dogs grow fast in the early months, but their muscles and bones mature slowly. How can you tell if a dog has reached an unsafe level of fatigue? If you see your puppy sitting or lying down during a walk, it’s the signal to call a timeout and return home. Likewise, if your dog shows any of the common signs of distress or anxiety, it may be an indication that it is mentally overwhelmed by the activity or environment.
In the early months of your puppy’s life, focus on quality rather than quantity of exercise. That means getting your puppy accustomed to your instructions and familiar with your surroundings. Once the two of you learn to exercise in harmony, you can look forward to years of walking, running and chasing sticks together.
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