Simple Guide to Puppy Exercise! Both Physical and Mental

Simple Guide to Puppy Exercise! Both Physical and Mental

Puppies are naturally curious and full of life, often exploring their surroundings by sniffing, pawing, and chewing on anything interesting. When they're not exploring, they might suddenly nap in the middle of the room or chase around with a slipper. Given all this activity, how much additional exercise do they really need?

The right amount and type of exercise are crucial for a puppy's physical and mental well-being. This varies by breed, age, and daily routine. It's important to ensure that exercise is not only sufficient but also enjoyable, introducing puppies to new experiences in a positive way. Tailoring activities to your puppy's specific needs is key to their healthy development.

Start With The Basics

Before taking your puppy out, they need to get used to wearing a leash or harness. Teaching them to walk nicely without pulling is crucial, especially for strong-willed or large breeds, as it makes outings much easier.

Training might feel like enough exercise in itself, as many puppies find leashes or harnesses restrictive and might sit down or pull away. Instead of pulling back, stay still until they come to you. Rewarding them with treats can clarify your expectations.

Patience, humor, and treats will go a long way. Begin with short steps, using treats to encourage your puppy to follow. Initially, you might only manage a few steps together, but this builds confidence gradually.

Keep leash training sessions short and positive, lasting just five to ten minutes. While some puppies may learn quickly, others take time, but with consistent training, they'll get the hang of it.

Puppy Steps, Don't Run

Once your puppy can consistently walk a few steps in a straight line, you can start taking them for walks. Veterinary experts suggest that puppies should walk for about five minutes per month of their age, once or twice a day, ideally on soft surfaces like grass or packed sand. Walk your puppy at least an hour after eating to allow time for digestion.

Avoid jogging or running with your puppy until they are fully grown—6 to 8 months for small breeds, 12 months for medium breeds, and up to 24 months for giant breeds. Young puppies’ bones and ligaments are still developing, and too much strenuous exercise too soon can cause issues later, especially on hard surfaces.

Puppies tethered to a leash can't choose when to stop, so the best exercise is free running in a safe, enclosed space. If you don’t have a fenced yard, consider using a long leash (about 15 feet) in a safe area, allowing your puppy to move freely. Puppies naturally adjust their own activity levels, playing vigorously when they want and resting when tired.

Games To Play With Your Puppy

Laurie C. Williams, BA CCUI CDTI, of Training and Behavior at Pup ‘N Iron Canine Enrichment Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia,  encourages exploring activities beyond walking to enhance enrichment for puppies. Options include tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, chasing a flirt pole, or playing tag.

She also recommends a "sniffari," where puppies hunt for kibble scattered in the yard, offering more stimulation than repetitive walks. For mental exercise, Williams suggests interactive games that challenge puppies to complete tasks or learn new skills, such as solving food puzzles or learning tricks. A scavenger box filled with treats hidden in an egg carton, a rolled-up dish towel, or crumpled paper can also provide fun searching activities.

Investing time in both physical and mental activities early on will greatly benefit a puppy’s development into adulthood.

As you prepare for your new puppy, you may have lots of questions and want advice. We get you! Check out the Joyride Blog for lots of tips and tricks for taking care of a new puppy. And once your puppy is home, shop the Joyride Harness. Our harness fits any size of dog, even little pups.

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