How Much Exercise Does My Puppy Need?
As puppy parents, you’ve probably wondered “how much exercise does my puppy need”? on a few occasions. Many of my clients feel a little bit like Goldilocks… could this too much?, is this too little? What is the right amount of exercise for my puppy? It’s an important question to consider. A Google search will give you a variety of answers and charts that provide different options. There’s a myriad of information out there and if you have been following me, you know I don’t subscribe to the theory “a tired dog is a good dog”. I’m going to share my perspective on puppy exercise, emphasizing the importance of striking a balance between physical and mental exercise.
Puppy Exercise: How Much is Too Much?
While a daily dose of puppy play is good for puppies, we want to be careful to not overdo it. There are pitfalls to over-exercising your puppy. Too much physical exercise during your puppy’s development stages can put undue stress on their growing joints and bones. This can cause long-term health issues.
Fetch is a big one. It’s so easy to go outside and toss balls and toys for your puppy. Repetitive movements, like playing fetch over long distances, may exacerbate things. It’s important to be aware of the intensity and duration of physical exercise.
As a side note, it’s often thought that you have to run your puppy around a lot to tire them out in order to put an end to “bad” behaviors. Here’s why a tired dog isn’t necessarily a good dog.
Is 2 Walks a Day Enough for a Puppy?
Rather than obsession over strict exercise routines, we should focus on providing our puppies with a wide range of mental enrichment activities. These games tap into their natural instincts, promoting foraging, scavenging, chewing, shredding, dissecting, and digging.
Many puppy parents are shocked to learn mental exercise is just as effective as physical activities, providing a sense of fulfillment (and tiring out their puppy) without straining their growing bodies.
Benefits of Mental Enrichment Games for Puppies
To begin with, mental enrichment not only keeps your puppy engaged, but it also plays a crucial role in their socialization and confidence-building process. Additionally, these types of activities encourage problem-solving and effectively stimulate their minds. As a result, you can expect to foster happier, well-adjusted puppies.
Now, let’s delve into specific types of mental enrichment activities.
Firstly, nose games that promote sniffing can make your puppy feel empowered—what a confidence booster! Moreover, these sniffing games offer benefits for every puppy. However, if you have a shy puppy, these games can be a complete game changer.
Moving on to food puzzles, they not only tap into your puppy’s natural desire to forage but also come with an extra benefit. Aside from the enjoyment of watching your adorable puppy play with these puzzles, they provide an opportunity for your puppy to learn that weird, wobbly, moving, novel stimuli are positive and not scary.
Furthermore, a wide array of games can be set up to encourage sniffing, foraging, scavenging, digging, chewing, dissecting, and shredding. These activities offer an excellent outlet to burn off puppy energy, all while promoting confidence and enhancing puppy socialization.
Addressing the question, “how much exercise does my puppy need,” the answer might surprise you—not much! Interestingly, all of these activities yield the same benefits as a 30-minute walk or engaging in spirited play in your yard.
In conclusion, by providing these mental challenges, we can effectively prevent behavioral issues caused by overstimulation and hyperactivity. In the following section, we will outline key techniques to help you get started with these enriching activities.
7 Ways to Exercise Your Puppy
1. Short Walks:
Short walks on soft surfaces are ideal for exercising without putting too much strain on growing joints. A several mile walk, even at this slow pace is still tough on a growing puppy’s body.
2. Fetch with Caution:
Play fetch with your puppy, but keep the sessions short and throw the ball only a short distance to avoid your puppy from running long distances, having to put on the brakes, and dive down, towards the ball. This fast pace and repetitive action is where the problems come in for growing puppies.
3. Hide and Seek:
Engage your puppy in a game of hide and seek, which can help reinforce the “come when called” skill while providing mental stimulation.
4. Food Scatter Foraging Game:
Hide treats around the yard or house to allow your puppy to engage their foraging and scavenging instincts. This is a go-to game in our house.
5. Tug o’ War:
A playful game of tug not only provides physical exercise but also strengthens the bond between you and your puppy while teaching valuable commands like “drop it” and “take it.” Will playing tug make my puppy aggressive?
6. Puppy Parkour:
Puppy parkour, as I like to call it, involves luring and encouraging your puppy to engage in activities such as placing two paws up on a curb, standing on a short stump or sturdy box, and walking through ladder rungs, among other enjoyable obstacles. While puppy parkour offers simple physical exercise, its true advantages emerge from nurturing confidence and enhancing body awareness.
7. The “Chase Me” Game:
Allow your puppy to chase you around the yard, guiding them to run without repetitive motions or excessive excitement. This activity mirrors your puppy’s innate style of running—unrestrained, relaxed, and devoid of a fixed pattern. Notably, this game also contributes to honing your puppy’s ‘coming when called’ ability.
Final Words on Puppy Exercise
As puppy parents, it’s important to be mindful of the way we provide exercise to our precious puppies. Rather than adhering charts, strict guidelines, or the perpetuated thought of “a tired dog is a good dog” mantra, consider your puppy’s natural needs, breed, and developmental stage. Incorporating mental enrichment games into your puppy’s routine is just as beneficial as physical exercise. So, let’s focus on engaging your puppy’s minds in a way that promotes overall well-being and creates a lifelong bond of love and trust. Remember… an enriched puppy is a better behaved and more confident puppy.
Looking for help with your puppy journey? Yes, I’m ready for personalized help to shapely puppy into the perfect companion.