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 he gets the exercise he needs. Remember: an active puppy is a healthy puppy. Keeping yours active is an important building block to his 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 his life. Just as regular exercise is important for your health and happiness, the same is true for your puppy.
- Prevents obesity and associated health risks
- Strengthens cardiovascular health and 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
- Controls weight
- Increased socialization with people and other dogs
A healthy amount of activity can steer your puppy away from problematic behaviors. Dogs are typically bred for specific tasks like herding, hunting, and protection. As a result, your puppy will also crave a great deal of activity. Without providing an outlet for his desire to be active, it may manifest in destructive behavior.
- 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?
Although they are often far more energetic, puppies require much less 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 all dogs should have at least one to two walks per day. Puppies should increase exercise by 5 minutes per month of age up to twice a day. For example, 3-month-old puppies should have 15 minutes of exercise each day, 20 minutes at 4 months, etc).
How to exercise a puppy
Even if you have a big yard for your puppy to run around in, he needs 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, as well as teach him self-control. When your puppy is home alone, keep him 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.
For more advice on exercising your dog, read these important tips and tools.