You’ve added a puppy to your family!! It’s exciting and fun, and puppy kisses are the best. But along with a new puppy comes a ton of questions like how much exercise does a puppy need? How much is enough, too little, and what kind of exercise is the best? Here are some helpful tips to help you with your new furry baby!
The most common rule of thumb recommended for exercising a puppy is 5 minutes per month of age per day. However, all puppies are different and it’s not one size fits all. Just like humans, puppies have different requirements.
Puppies aren’t grown dogs. They have different needs in every aspect (except love I suppose). They eat differently, sleep patterns are different, behaviors are still being learned, and they are just beginning to experience the big world around them.
And puppies are funny creatures in that one minute they have boundless energy and often at odd times of the day, and then the next minute they’re crashed out sound asleep. So what do you do when that boundless energy needs taming?
How much exercise does a puppy really need?
The good news is that you won’t be required to walk five miles a day with a new puppy. You’ll both ease into it. Nor should you. Puppies are still forming – they are babies and need proper time to grow.
- 2 months old = 10 minutes per day of exercising
- 3 months old = 15 minutes
- 4 months old = 20 minutes
- And so on
But – here’s the big takeaway from this. You’ll likely be able to tell by your puppy’s signals if they need more or less. More active breeds will tend to need a little longer.
I can assure you that the rule of 5 minutes per month of age did not work for our Charlie when he was a puppy. He needed far more exercise than 15 minutes when he was 3 months old.
How Much is Too Much Exercise for a Puppy?
If your puppy is struggling to keep up and refuses to walk anymore or play – it’s too much. It’s often less than we realize that they actually need. And don’t forget, exercise can come in the form of mental stimulation as well as physical stimulation.
Remember, especially when you’re training them to walk on a leash and not just for pure exercise to keep it short.
If you’re exercising your puppy with training, it may be good to start in 5-minute increments. You’ll pick up on their cues when they’ve had enough. If they mastered sit when training and all of a sudden they have no interest or just lay down, it’s enough for the day.
Take the cues from your puppy to know how much exercise your puppy actually needs.
Why Does My Puppy Need Exercise?
There are so many benefits to exercise for puppies, just like humans.
Exercise is necessary for physical health:
This may seem silly to even write, but it’s so true. Physical well-being often depends on exercise. It’s good for joints, muscles, the heart, and other organs.
Physical exercise can improve the lifespan of your pup. Humans aren’t the only ones affected by joint problems and issues like diabetes and obesity. By giving them daily exercise starting at an early age, you can help prevent these problems.
Exercise Builds Stamina
If you are an active adult and you’re looking for a companion for running, hiking, or whatever other activity you enjoy, you need to build your puppy’s stamina first.
You can’t expect a new puppy to run five miles a day with you. But by gradually building up their exercise time at appropriate rates, you’ll get there in no time.
Mental Exercise Has Benefits Also
It’s not only the physical activity that is good for your puppy, but mental activity is extremely important.
Puppies that are bored and have no structured mental stimulation often get into trouble. Bored puppies chew, dig, and destroy more than those that are being mentally stimulated.
Training your puppy’s mind for 10 minutes a day is an effective way to exercise them. Teaching sit, stay, walking on a leash, wait – basic commands can wear them out. Which leads to restful sleep to help them build their best brains and bodies.
Not only are you exercising their minds, but you are teaching them skills that lead to a better relationship between you and your puppy for a lifetime.
Exercising Your Puppy Is Good For Bonding
You and your new puppy are learning to live with each other. Especially for them, everything is brand new. Smells, sights, sounds, other dogs, kids, people – it’s all new and can be overwhelming.
Your puppy might suffer from separation anxiety when you leave. Regularly exercising your puppy teaches them that you are there for them, you love them and you are their safe keeper.
You might be surprised how quickly they learn the term “walk” or “run”. They will associate that with good times, treats, and your affection which all helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
How Do I Start Exercising My Puppy?
In simple terms, just start. Exercise isn’t restricted to walking them, although that is great as well. There are so many ways to exercise your puppy that can be done indoors or outdoors.
Walking Your Puppy
This is naturally everyone’s first thought on exercising your puppy. Get an appropriate leash and collar or harness. Have some patience the first time you try leash walking.
It can be difficult to get the hang of it and you certainly don’t want a puppy that is dragging you around your neighborhood.
If your puppy is terrified of the leash or harness at first, try putting it on them inside and just let them wear the harness or drag the leash around without doing anything else. Get them used to it.
When they are accustomed to the leash, start with the recommended 5 minutes per month of age and see how they respond. You may only get down your driveway or to the next house. That’s ok.
Remember it’s better to have a positive short experience than a longer miserable one.
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Training Exercise for Your Puppy
Maybe you find your puppy is bored and starting with destructive behaviors like chewing or digging. Training exercises that give your pup mental stimulation and a job to do might be the answer.
Start with simple commands. Sit, stay, and come. Use their favorite treats, but careful not to give too many treats.
For most dogs, you can help build their confidence by training them. Find a small stool or something they can climb onto. Teach them to get on the stool when you request it. You can increase the size of the object relative to the size of the dog.
Use a specific bed and make that their “place”. Call it what you want, but teach them that they need to learn to go and sit on their “place” when requested. When your puppy is full grown, you will appreciate they know this skill when people come over.
They can go to their “place” instead of rushing at your company or the delivery person.
Mental training and stimulation is a highly effective form of exercise for your puppy. Again, start with five or ten minutes. You’ll quickly be able to recognize when they’ve had enough.
If you can play outside without fear of them running away, try teaching them to come to you when called. Use another person to help call them back and forth with a specific word or phrase and a treat reward. Not only does this mentally exercise them, but physically as well from running back and forth when called.
Hopefully this helps with deciding how much exercise your puppy needs and how to start. Our puppies are family and we want them to live a long and healthy life. Just like us, they need regular exercise to stay healthy.