How much exercise does a puppy need?

Bernese Mountain Dog
German Boxer

How much exercise does a puppy need?

When a puppy moves in, the new owners naturally want to do everything right. The puppy should lack for nothing. But finding the right balance between exercise and rest is difficult with young dogs.

Veterinarian: It depends

Veterinarian Gabrielle Scheidegger-Brunner, who specializes in sport and service dogs in her practice, explains that the workload required for young dogs is very individual. Different factors influence how much the puppy should move:

1. Influence of the breed of dog

You have to be even more careful with fast-growing and large breeds such as the German Shepherd or Great Dane than with small dogs. Dwarf breeds mature much earlier in terms of their bone structure.

2. Rather frequent, but short sequences

Several sequences make the most sense in the first few weeks. The most important thing is not the total duration, but how much is stressed in a row. The outlet should be increased slowly, starting with ten minutes at a time, about six to eight times a day.

Only when you are six months old should you go for an hour walk every few days. At least three to four times as much rest should come on a unit of exercise. But this is only a rule of thumb, watch your dog. It will signal: I am fit and lively again!

Your puppy shows you when it can run around again. © Karoline Thalhofer

3. Keep physical stress low

The physical strain should be kept to a minimum. Veterinarian Gabrielle Scheidegger-Brunner recommends only very short concentration exercises and several coordination exercises. For example, you can put agility obstacle bars on the ground and let the dog run over them, but never let them jump over them.

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The dog expert recommends hiking only from one year. Then, of course, initially easy tours with many breaks, which you can gradually increase over the months. At first no more than half-day tours without extreme inclines. And basically: uphill is better than downhill. Of course, such tours should not be done daily, but rest days should be included.

Puppies always need a rest day. ©

These activities are especially fun for the puppy

If you observe your puppy closely, you can quickly assess how long the dog will be happy and focused. But less is usually more! The puppies should also first be well shaped and socialized. According to veterinarian Gabrielle Scheidegger-Brunner, a well-managed puppy play lesson is more important than physical activity alone.

On the one hand, it depends on what the breeder has already done with the young dogs. On the other hand, the duration is also decisive here. Ten or 15 minutes are no problem in puppy play lesson. But everything that goes over half an hour is, in the opinion of the vet, too much at first. Mentally this would overwhelm the puppy completely.

When attending a puppy lesson, you should therefore definitely get a suitable puppy bag in which the dog can retreat and rest. From a behavioral point of view, an overtired puppy game can quickly degenerate into aggression. The dogs no longer learn anything positive about socialization, but only learn negative things.

The dog can relax in a puppy bag. ©

Puppies of certain breeds

Temperament and resilience vary significantly with breed. However, this is only a guideline: The temperature of each dog is individual and can deviate from characteristics typical of the breed.

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1. Large breeds of dogs

You have to be particularly careful with fast-growing and large dogs, as these quickly develop joint damage. The muscles and ligaments are too weak, and so the still immature bones and joints have to bear the main burden. This quickly leads to damage and developmental disorders.

The joints of Great Dane puppies should be protected. ©

2. Spirited races

Of course, there are also breeds that, because of their temperament, would never notice that they are stressed enough, e.g. many terrier species, Malinois and Border Collie & Co. These dogs then have to be forced to rest. The nature of a dog is designed in such a way that it wants to keep up with the pack. The need for rest would be interpreted as weakness.

Some puppies have to be forced to rest. ©

Consequences of too much exercise

Whether stress has harmful consequences for the dog depends on the dose and duration. Most overextended puppies withdraw excessively, trying to find rest. Often they associate the excessive demands with the person, that is, they also withdraw from their caregivers. Other puppies, often from stress-prone breeds with thin nerves, tend to get aggressive because they don’t know what else to do.

If the dog owner realizes that he has overwhelmed the puppy, this is a good thing. If possible, he will not repeat it again. In the opinion of veterinarian Gabrielle Scheidegger-Brunner, individual cases of excessive demands are not tragic for a normal, healthy and so far well-developed dog. If you have the feeling that your dog is overwhelmed, you should give him enough space to retreat. Let the puppy back off, he’ll signal when he’s ready for action again!

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