If you are wondering how much exercise does my puppy need? this very much depends on what age your Puppy is. If the new addition to your family has joined you at 8 weeks of age, he will still spend a lot of time sleeping and will only have short bursts of energy.
You will also need to consider puppy’s vaccination schedule.
Puppy will not be safe to bring out on walks in public places until after his final vaccination, which is usually around 12 weeks old. This will ensure he does not pick up any disease that he would not be fully protected against at that stage.
So, as your puppy gets more energetic between the 8 weeks and 12 weeks stage, what can you do to satisfy his increasing thirst for exercise?
Socialising Your Puppy
“Socialisation” refers to introducing your puppy to new experiences in ways that help him respond in an appropriate way and without fear. Exercising through play with other animals is a very important part of socialization.
It is a crucial part of how your puppy will learn how to communicate with his own kind. 8 to 12 weeks is a particularly crucial time in a puppy’s psychological development and the more new things he encounters in his environment, in a positive way, the better. This includes people, places, and objects (like moving trucks or bikes), as well as other animals. This will help prevent behavioral issues such as nervousness or aggression in his adulthood.
When To Introduce Your Puppy To New Things?
But there is the dilemma, how do you expose him to some of those new things, without risking his health, before he is fully vaccinated?
The answer is to carefully select what he is exposed to and where. You can, for example, introduce him to other dogs you know are fully vaccinated in the comfort of your own home.
You can also introduce him to new people in your home and encourage them to play with him, so he learns to accept people you have welcomed into your home. This will be very useful for the times when you are at work, or away from home and need someone to come and look after puppy in your absence.
You can take a puppy out before their vaccinations are complete if you carry him and don’t allow him onto the ground, or in areas where other dogs may have been.
You should avoid public areas until your puppy is fully vaccinated, as diseases such as the parvo virus are highly contagious and potentially deadly, so confine socialisation to either your own home, or Puppy Socialisation classes that are thoroughly vetted.
Check that you are happy with the size of the group and the puppy age range within the class. The IKC (Irish Kennel Club) for example run Puppy classes on a weekly basis. Puppy Socialisation classes provide a fantastic outlet for exercise and mental stimulation, so carry out your local research and your pup will thank you for it.
Enriching Your Puppies Life
“Enrichment” refers to providing activities that satisfy animals natural drives and allow them to act on their instincts. This mentally challenges them and is very satisfying and tiring for them. A satisfied, tired out puppy makes for a happy family too! Most of the puppy toys you will find in your local pet stores were designed with enrichment in mind.
Again, these examples are a way to help exercise your puppy, before he is fully vaccinated, when you can then bring him out for walks.
Please note enrichment and socialisation are things you should aim to do throughout your dog’s life, as like us, they have a continuous capacity and desire to learn new tricks!
What Are The Best Puppy Toys?
• Using a treat dispensing ball, which satisfies your puppy’s scent and search drive, or hide a healthy treat like carrots around the kitchen, or under empty pot plants in the garden.
• You can give him his breakfast in a durable rubber dog toy, like a Puppy Kong. Simply soak your puppy’s dry food in water and use it to fill the toy, then freeze it, or use mashed banana as a once a week treat. This works particularly well on warm days, as it works like a doggy ice-pop and keeps him cool. Your puppy’s meal takes longer to eat and is more challenging and will also be soothing on gums when he’s teething.
• Paddling water (if Puppy is a water dog breed): Put a small amount of water in a basin or in the bath and satisfy his water dog instincts – Supervision is very important!
• Dental sticks – Satisfy their teething cravings and avoid chewing on your furniture or shoes. Ask your vet for advice on the best dental treats for your puppy.
All, of the above, provide both physical and mental exercise and the interesting thing is mental stimulation can tire out your puppy much quicker than physical.
This will keep you all sane until Puppy can leave the house and start his walking adventures.
How Often Should I Walk My Puppy?
Once your Puppy reaches the 3 months stage and your vet has given the all clear on vaccinations, it is time to start going on walks together. This will be the most exciting thing your puppy has encountered in his short life to date and the important thing is to take your time and let your puppy inhale this new world at his leisure. The walk is very much about quality at this stage and not quantity.
Puppy will only physically be able for about 15 to 20 minutes’ walk at any one time. Over-exercising can damage developing muscles and cause joint issues at this stage. Instead keep walks short and sweet, indulging his sense of smell, which is estimated by the experts to be 100,000 times more acute than ours.
These walks should ideally happen twice per day, so maybe a walk in the morning for 15 minutes and then another one in the evening for 15 minutes before bedtime.
Also, important to remember is never walk your puppy or your adult dog on a full stomach, as this can cause bloat where his stomach fills up with air and can twist or flip, which is extremely dangerous. Ideally walk your puppy first and then wait about 30 minutes after a walk to feed them. This is particularly important in puppies that are large breed dogs.
Do not run with a young puppy as this can damage growing joints and muscles.
Be particularly careful exercising with short-nosed breeds such as an English bulldog, Pug or even Boxers. Their nasal structure can make breathing more difficult and put too much pressure on them if exercised too vigorously, so short relaxed walks are best.
Micro-chipping Your Puppy
Your puppy will have been micro-chipped by his breeder or the rescue centre you got him from (with their contact details).
It is very important to ensure you have this updated before you bring puppy out for his first walk with YOUR CONTACT DETAILS.
The key thing to remember with exercise is that all Puppies for their wellbeing, once fully vaccinated, must have daily walks. The back garden is not enough even for small dogs!
A puppies brain needs the mental stimulation of the new sights and sounds encountered on a walk and your puppy will grow up to be a well-balanced dog if you provide this outlet for him. It is also one of the most bonding experiences you and the family can have with your pet, so go out there and enjoy!