Free Ideas for Dog Exercise
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You just got a new puppy. You know the basics of dog ownership: someplace to sleep, food, training, and exercise and play. But a puppy is not an adult dog, he is still growing physically and still learning mentally. You need to approach each of these areas differently than you would an older dog.
When I see an enthusiastic new dog owner walking a puppy, I mean a little puppy not an almost-year-old-dog, I want to applaud the owner’s commitment but tell hi–scale it back just a notch for a minute. How much exercise and what kind to puppies really need? All dogs need some movement, but for a puppy, just some playtime with you in the living room will suffice. (Not only is this enough exercise, this is crucial bonding activity to create a connection with the dog, make him feel secure, and establish your dominance.)
Good puppy play can be anything unstructured and not too strenuous: chasing, running, playing with dog toys, tugging. For training purposes, you don’t want to encourage biting or gnawing and maybe even start using a command for when playtime is over so he will start to know the difference. Playing with other dogs that are in the house is good for him too, but just watch if you have older dogs. A puppy playing with an adult dog can tend to play hard to keep up, and will be more prone to injuries.
Overdoing it with your puppy can lead to problems later. Things like rough play and jumping is a bad idea for a young pup. A puppy’s bones are soft and spongy. They don’t completely harden until the puppy is 18 months to 2 year depending on your dog’s breed. High jumps, jumping over large objects and jumping out of things like porches or trucks should be discouraged. The stress soft bones, underdeveloped muscles and immature ligaments can create damage–maybe life-long issues. More than a casual walk is not good for a young puppy either. Besides the issue of her still-developing bones, a puppy’s body is not good at controlling its body temperature, making her more prone to heat stroke. Running, jogging, rollerblading, and biking with you dog should be saved for later. As your puppy grows, more intensive or longer workouts are fine.
Here are some guidelines on appropriate physical activity for your puppy:
6 Weeks to 4 Months
4 to 8 Months
8 to 12 Months
12 Months and Up
Remember, generally, you know any exercise is enough for your dog when he or she is laid out at the end of the day. A tired dog is a happy dog.