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Are You Over-Exercising Your Puppy?
It doesn’t matter where you got your fur baby. Chances are, it’s supercharged. Puppies naturally have more energy and thus require more stimulation than adult dogs. But how do you know when to draw the line? How can you recognize when your excitable new bundle of fur is overdoing it?
Today, we’ll explore this together to determine just how much exercise your puppy needs, and where the danger line lies.
Can Puppies Get Too Much Exercise?
Yes. Yes, they can. While young dogs might appear to be pulling from an endless reservoir of energy, their abilities don’t always match their eagerness. As with kids, it takes experience and time for your puppy to understand what constitutes too much.
Furthermore, the consequences of overexerting your puppy could be far more dire and long-lasting than you might realize.
Why? Because as developing creatures, excess stress on a puppy’s musculoskeletal structure can wreak havoc on their natural growth progress and can even result in debilitating conditions down the road, such as hip dysplasia.
How Much Exercise Does Your Puppy Need?
As nice as it would be to have a uniform checklist of criteria that we could cross off to ensure we’re doing right by our fur babies, you’d be hard pressed to find two dogs with the same needs.
However, there does exist some common ground when it comes to exercise. Just remember that the best indicator for your puppy’s wellbeing is a change in their general demeanor and your own intuition.
With that disclaimer out of the way, here are three factors that can help you determine how much exercise a puppy needs:
Not all dogs are hunters by nature, despite what some canine-centric literature on the internet would have you believe.
Through centuries of breeding, we’ve helped dogs evolve into a multitude of shapes, sizes, and temperaments that dictate their capabilities.
For example, pugs were bred over time to have short, stunted faces. While this might look cute to some, it also restricts their airflow and can cause respiratory issues. For this breed and those like it, you wouldn’t want to exert your puppy too much, too often.
The breed is important, but the size might be even more of a factor in how much to exercise your puppy.
While bigger puppies such as Great Danes and Great Pyrenees can seem more capable than their short and mid-size counterparts, excess physical activity is actually more likely to harm their fragile frames.
Remember that those big, strong builds take time to form. Stressing their bodies too early on in life could jeopardize this development.
Your puppy’s age is a huge consideration when it comes to exercise.
Young dogs like to romp and wrestle, whereas older dogs prefer to give chase. There’s a reason for that. Young dogs don’t have the muscle or bone mass to produce sustained or even short bursts of intense movement yet.
The older your puppy gets, the more capable it becomes.
Just make sure you introduce them to new activities gradually to avoid injury.
Why Should I Limit Exercise?
As mentioned earlier, too much puppy exercise can have devastating consequences. The most concerning is the adverse effects of excessive exertion on growing bones, joints, and muscles.
You wouldn’t ask your toddler to keep up with you on a 10-mile hike, and you really can’t ask your dog to do so, either. Not for at least a few months, anyway.
Another thing to consider is your dog’s pads.
As a puppy grows, its pads gradually callous and increase in durability. But in the beginning, pad skin is soft and prone to injury. Stay away from rough, rocky, or other unforgiving terrains for the first few months.
A final reason to limit exercise is simply that your puppy tires out fast.
Young dogs are the kings and queens of periodic snoozing, so it’s important to give their developing bodies the opportunity to rest and restore themselves in between bursts of activity.
What Can I Do to Keep My Puppy Safe During Play?
There are plenty of precautions you can take to protect your fur baby from harm during their more ambitious jaunts.
Keep An Eye On Your Puppy
First and foremost, always keep an eye on your dog. If their behavior changes suddenly, end play immediately and call your vet.
If you live in a warmer climate, it’s also important to monitor the heat.
All dogs need plenty of water and shade to keep them cool, and puppies are no exception. Make sure your favorite set of paws always has breaks to cool down in the summer months.
Another consideration for keeping your puppy safe during play is to make sure that exercise is consistent, but that the intensity builds gradually.
For example, if you set a routine of fetch each afternoon, start with only a few throws. Then increase the number and time spent playing each week. Before long, it’s likely your arm will grow tired long before your eager retriever.
Type of Surface
Lastly, when it comes to keeping your puppy safe during exercise, it’s vital to make sure they only play on softer surfaces in the beginning. Like previously stated, a puppy’s pads are fragile and prone to damage early on, so do your best to help your dog mind its steps!
What Sorts of Safe, Healthy Exercise Can My Puppy Handle?
Matching physical exercises and play types with the breed, age, and size of your puppy is the best place to start. For most young dogs, consider the following activities:
If you’re in a home with stairs, doing a few runs up and down can help your puppy improve their coordination and build up their confidence. Not to mention, it’s an easy way to tucker them out!
Teaching your puppy to recognize smells is a valuable skill all dogs should know. And there’s hardly a more perfect place to start than in your own backyard!
Introduce your puppy to new scents as often as possible or consider hiding a treat inside of some blankets. Your dog will safely expend a decent amount of energy trying to find the juicy treat you’re concealing.
If your dog is like most, it’ll enjoy a good game of tug. Pick up a toy from your favorite pet store and show them the ropes! It shouldn’t take more than a few tries before your puppy gets the hang of it.
What if I Have More Questions?
If you’re still not sure about how much to exercise your puppy, always trust the advice of your local vet.
They can help you craft a play regiment that is perfect for you and your dog, ensuring they get the optimal amount of activity while protecting their growing bodies.
Puppies are fun, adorable, and a lot of work. But given the proper amount of time and attention, you’ll form one of life’s most important bonds between man and canine.
Looking for more doggy dos and don’ts? Check out some of our other posts here! We’ve got a ton of good information to help you and your doggo thrive!