Colin Spence runs dog training classes in Snaresbrook and has been working with man’s best friend – and their owners – for 23 years. Here, he explains how much exercise a puppy needs
This is a much-talked-about topic and a conversation I have with new puppy owners on a daily basis, as many are not sure how much exercise their very young puppy should get.
Well, let’s take a look at this and what we trainers and behaviour practitioners believe in how much is too much and how much is just right and why.
Once we get our eight-week-old puppy home, for the first few hours or first few days, they will be getting used to their new environment, moving around the home, investigating everything. As the hours and days go by, puppies get more energetic, and roughly around the 16-week mark, will have had their last injection and be ready to exercise and explore the outside environment.
Many owners then take their puppy out for a walk; some even allow the puppy to start running and jumping obstacles. Allowing puppies to exercise outside is important, but it is also important that the common sense factor comes into play. Puppies are very vulnerable creatures, and if we allow them to be over-exercised from a very young age, we are very likely setting them up to fail. Why? Because they are still growing and their growth plates are at the very early stages of developing and coming together and strengthening. If we allow puppies to have too much exercise while they are young, they will put too much pressure on their joints and can have problems, such as arthritis, in the future.
As a rule of thumb, we should only give puppies five minutes of exercise for each month of their life; for example, a four-month-old puppy can have 20 minutes of gentle exercise, nothing strenuous, and please take into consideration the exercise your puppy already has in the home each day, moving around on those incomplete growth plates. So, I would take three minuets off the five-minute rule, and as they grow, you can then add more minutes accordingly and appropriately.
I am also asked if owners can take their puppy out jogging with them. The answer here is we should not allow puppies to jog with us until they are fully grown and have good, strong, healthy growth plates. We also need to take into consideration the breed. A border collie, for example, may fare well on an hour’s jogging, but the dachshund, with its very short legs, could find this very uncomfortable.
So please, let’s take our puppies wellbeing seriously and let them grow into healthy, strong dogs with good healthy ligaments.