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Anyone who’s been around puppies knows that they’re little furballs of energy. Between work, family time, and rest, it might be difficult for you to set aside time to not only train and housebreak your puppy, but make sure they get the exercise they need. Remember: an active puppy is a healthy puppy. Keeping yours active is an important building block to their overall health and relationship with you.
Why Exercise is Important
Exercise is not just essential to your dog’s mental and physical well-being, it also helps you form a strong bond that continues throughout your dog’s life. Just as regular exercise is important for your health and happiness, the same is true for your puppy.
- Reduces risk of obesity and associated health risks
- Improved cardiovascular health and strengthens muscles
- Frequent, scheduled walks promote housetraining
- Increased ability for your puppy cope with your absences
- Reduced behavioral problems through physical, intellectual, and social stimulation
- Reduced digestive problems and constipation
- Increased agility
- Builds confidence and trust, especially in timid puppies
- Increased socialization with people and other dogs
A healthy amount of activity can steer your puppy away from problematic behaviors. Your puppy will also crave a great deal of activity and chewing, playing and exploring, which are normal behaviors. Without providing an outlet for this desire to be active, this energy may manifest as destructive behaviors.
- Hyperactivity and restlessness at night
- Chewing, digging, or scratching
- Raiding the garbage
- Knocking over furniture or jumping on people
- Predatory behavior
- Rough play and biting
- Excessive barking and whining
How much exercise does a puppy need?
The exact amount of exercise a puppy needs is dependent on a number of different factors but it is important to remember that too much exercise can be just as bad as not enough exercise. Although they are often far more energetic, puppies require shorter periods of exercise than adult dogs. Too much puppy exercise can result in exhaustion and joint damage, especially in larger breeds. Exercise needs vary among breeds, but most dogs can benefit from at least one to two walks per day. According to The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, a good good starting point is to aim for 5 minutes of exercise, twice a day, for each month of age. For example, 3-month-old puppies should have 15 minutes of exercise twice a day, then 20 minutes twice a day at 4 months, etc). Always pay attention to how your pet handles this amount of exercise and decrease the amount if needed.
How to exercise a puppy
Even if you have a big yard for your puppy to run around in, they will need more than that to burn excess energy. Short walks and jogs are healthy activities for both you and your puppy. Structured games like fetch and tug-of-war can also help strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.When your puppy is home alone, keep them occupied with chew toys and food-stuffed puzzle toys.
Avoid forced exercise, which can lead to injury and a lifetime of health problems for your puppy. Forced exercise can include excessive running, bicycling or skating with a leashed dog, excessive fetching, and fast-paced, long walks.