If you have read many of my blogs you know how critical I think exercise is for their physical and mental health.Â Letâ€™s put it this way, I believe it is more critical that all other training, without exercise everything else falls apart.
We run our dogs 3 â€“ 4 miles every day and see worlds of difference from a well exercised, well rounded companion vs. a coiled spring without controls. When it comes to puppies, exercise is still critical, but you have to think differently. Give them lots of exercise, but let the puppy set the intensity and the duration. They seem to know best. When they get tired theyâ€™ll lay down. Think low impact, low duration. Weâ€™ll take a puppy for a good stiff walk rather than running or roading with the big dogs. Too much intensity can be hard on their fast growing joints and bones.Â I like to keep puppies exercise sessions frequent, but short in duration (about like their attention span).
Donâ€™t be afraid to take them for long walks, for instance when our puppies were just four months old, we took them on a five mile hike. They did great; when they got tired and flopped down on their bellies, we stopped and took a break. We judged it was time to go again when they were up wrestling and playing tug-o-war with sticks. Some people have suggested a limit of five minutes of exercise per month of age for structured leash exercise; which may not be a bad rule of thumb. Think about when you are out on a long walk and they get tired, will you have the time or be in a location where you can stop and let the pup rest (or pick up the pup and carry her)? If not, make sure your walk is short enough to make it back to the house before the pup needs a rest.
The key for a puppy is frequent, low-intensity, short-duration exercise. This will not over-tax their growing joints, and will benefit both their social, mental and physical development.