Exercising your pet is as important as exercising yourself because it benefits the health of every living being. However, you need to be very careful when exercising your puppy because at this age, dogs can suffer some serious injuries. Skipping exercise is not an option because it’s necessary to help your furry friend strengthen their bones and reach their full physical potential. So, be sure to study the information on safe puppy exercise listed below.
Why Is Puppy Exercise Risky but Necessary?
There are many studies that prove how exercise can strengthen human bones. It’s the same for dogs, so every walk and play session with your puppy is not only a way for you to help them burn their energy. It’s practice they need to develop stronger bones and ligaments and prevent diseases like osteoarthritis.
However, in the case of puppies, exercise carries some serious risks. At this age, they are extremely prone to growth plate injury. Those are injuries to the growing parts of the bones, which are very fragile and therefore vulnerable.
Growth plate injuries in puppies heal fast, but they might affect the rate of the bone’s growth. This means that one limb or other part of the skeleton might not develop properly. This might never become an issue, but it might also lead to severe disability.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to risk your puppy’s health this way. That’s why many people advocate not exercising your puppies until they are at least a year old.
However, even something as simple as jumping off the couch or going down the stairs might cause this kind of injury in a puppy. Exercising a little actually helps reduce this risk because it strengthens the dog’s bones. The important thing here is to make sure you don’t overdo it with “puppy workouts”.
How to Exercise Your Puppy Right
If you want your puppy to develop to their full potential with minimal risk of growth plate injury, you should follow age-appropriate exercise guidelines. Moreover, you should study the table of growth plate closure in dogs. It will allow you to understand when your animal should be out of the “risk zone” completely.
Young puppies need very little exercise and much watching to ensure they don’t hurt themselves exploring the house. Your walks for the first 12 weeks should be limited to 15 minutes max. You can walk twice a day, but be sure to keep in mind the time that the little one spends running around your home and playing as well. You want to prevent your puppy from overworking.
Extend walking time by 5-10 minutes every two months after that. You shouldn’t take a pup on hikes exceeding 30 minutes for at least the first 18 months. And even then, you need to let your pet get used to the increased exercise slowly.
Remember, your puppy shouldn’t be swimming at all until they are at least 12 weeks old. Then, start with 5 minutes max and increase the time slowly. At 6-12 months old puppies should be swimming or wading for about 15 minutes maximum.
Bear in mind that you should keep your puppy off of jumping and running up and down the stairs for a bit longer, compared to walks. You can put them on the stairs starting with 12 weeks, but only to teach. For the first 12-18 months a pup should be supervised while walking up and down the stairs.
Jumping should be safe around 4 months. This means that before that time, it’s imperative that you watch your pup carefully and help the little one to get on and off sofa or any other furniture. Also, make sure there are no obstacles that the pupper will have to go over.
Exercising your puppy is important for healthy development, but you should remember to not overexert your pet. Go slow and enjoy your time playing and exploring the world together.