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How Much Exercise Does A Puppy Need

From the Basset Hound to the Greyhound every puppy needs exercise. How much exercise your puppy needs depends on its age and breed. Fortunately this guide has everything you need to determine when and how often you should exercise your puppy? Your puppy's exercise needs will change as it grows. When your puppy is very young veterinarians recommend limiting exercise to short walks and multiple play sessions throughout the day with plenty of time for naps.

Why Exercise is Important?

Regular exercise is not only essential to your puppy's mental and physical well-being it helps to prevent obesity and the associated health risks; strengthen cardiovascular health and muscles and reduce digestive problems and constipation but also:

  • promote housetraining
  • increase your puppy’s ability to cope with your absence
  • reduce behavioral problems
  • increase agility
  • build confidence and trust
  • control weight
  • increase socialization with people and other dogs

The right amount of exercise can also guide your puppy away from destructive behaviors that may become problematic later on such as:

  • chewing 
  • digging 
  • scratching 
  • hyperactivity 
  • restlessness 
  • rough play 
  • biting 
  • raiding the garbage 
  • jumping on people 
  • predatory behavior 
  • excessive barking
  • whining

Ultimately the goal of exercise is to provide your puppy with an outlet for their desire to be active and receive the mental and physical stimulation they need to grow into a healthy adult dog.

When and How Often You Should Exercise Your Puppy? 

The answer to how much exercise a puppy needs depends on its breed and age. Dogs bred for high-energy tasks like hunting sled pulling and protection generally need more exercise than lapdogs bred for cuddling. Don’t be fooled by your puppy’s seemingly endless energy. They Do Not require as much exercise as adult dogs. In fact too much puppy exercise can be detrimental to you puppy’s health especially in larger breeds.

A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown e.g. 15 minutes when 3 months old 20 minutes when 4 months old and so on. Your puppy can go on longer walks once they are older.

High Energy Dogs (Need Lots Of Rigorous Exercise 2-3 Times Per Day) 

These puppies have no short supply of energy and are a perfect fit for an owner looking for a running buddy or an agility partner.

  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi - These strong athletic little dogs love physical activity and enjoy having a job to do.
  • Shetland Sheepdog - Agile and naturally athletic Shetland Sheepdogs have strong herding instincts and enjoying a good run in an enclosed area.
  • Dalmatian - Known for their endurance speed and intelligence Dalmatians were used as guardians and followers of horse-drawn carriages. They would trot next to the horse for its entire journey making it a great companion for any long-distance runner!
  • Jack Russel Terrier - Russell Terriers are eager and tireless. They seem to have an inexhaustible supply of energy and do best with active outdoorsy people.
  • Siberian Husky - The Siberian Husky  originated in the cold climate of Northeast Asia and is the best cold-weather long-distance running companion in the world.
  • Golden Retriever - Golden Retrievers are intelligent active and energetic requiring daily exercise. They are great companions to runners and anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
  • Labrador Retriever - Extremely high energy the Labrador Retriever makes a great addition to an active person’s life. They are friendly and easily trained and love to run around.
  • Border Collie - The Border Collie possesses a highly active drive and is extremely energetic. They need very long runs to deplete them of such liveliness. The breed makes a great running partner.
  • Australian Shepherd - Aussies are energetic and have strong herding and guarding instincts. They need daily vigorous exercise to be happy.
  • English Springer Spaniel - English Springer Spaniels are eager to please and require daily exercise. They are known for their ability to keep going and going under adverse hunting conditions.

Medium Active Dogs (Need Regular Exercise 1-2 Times Per Day) 

Unlike high-energy dog breeds that can require up to 3+ hours of physical and mental stimulation each day these medium-energy dog breeds fall somewhere in between and require a mix of regular moderate physical and mental exercise each day to maintain optimum health.

  • Dachshund - Small in stature but big on personality Dachshunds are a smart and social breed that require daily moderate exercise to maintain peak physical fitness muscle tone and back strength.
  • Yorkshire Terrier - Though small this breed is smart and feisty! They also gain tremendous benefit from daily walks at a steady pace as well as the occasional game of fetch or other small bursts of energy.
  • Miniature Schnauzer - Bright friendly and trainable Miniature Schnauzers make great family pets. Like other breeds on this list Miniature Schnauzers require regular moderate daily exercise to maintain peak physical and mental fitness.
  • Boston Terrier - Compact and lively Boston Terriers are outgoing and eager-to-please. They love to play and frolic making canine sports like agility and obedience great energy-expending outlets for them.
  • Whippet - Sprinters by nature Whippets resemble “mini” Greyhounds and love the thrill of the chase. They need regular short burst of exercise and all the love you can give them.
  • Cocker Spaniel - A member of the sporting dog group Cockers were originally bred as gun dogs to work alongside their bird-hunting masters. These days Cockers love nothing more than a good game of fetch and following their people just about everywhere.
  • West Highland Terrier - One of the most popular small terrier breeds the West Highland White Terrier (or Westie for short) is sturdy and smart. Westies love to “romp and play” and benefit greatly from regular moderate exercise.
  • Springer Spaniel - English Springer Spaniels were originally bred to accompany their bird-hunting masters out in the field. Daily exercise and enrichment activities like obedience tracking and agility exercises are perfect for keeping this breed in tip-top condition.
  • Keeshond - Known for their full fluffy voluminous coats Keeshonds are fun quirky little dogs that are very popular with active families. They need regular moderate exercise and lots of attention.
  • Shiba Inu - One of Japan’s most popular companion dogs the Shiba Inu is an energetic breed (but not too much!) that absolutely loves to go on walks and explore.

Low Energy Dogs (Need Mild Exercise Once Per Day) 

Playing fetch is great and all but so is a good snooze in the sun. These laidback pups love to relax to the max which makes them perfectly content with a one or two short walks per day.

  • Bulldog - These family-friendly cuties fit the snoozing stereotype alright. Bulldogs love nothing more than a good nap but don't let their sleepiness rub off on you. They still need regular exercise (one or two walks per day) to stay healthy.
  • Saint Bernard - They're best known for their alpine rescues but these days you're a lot more likely to find Saint Bernards in the suburbs snoozing away the day. These big dogs are pretty chill but you still need to walk them twice per day.
  • Basset Hound - Between their stubby legs droopy ears and wrinkled brows Basset Hounds have plenty of distinguishing characteristics. When they're not hunting the skilled scent hounds still love to cuddle up with the family and go on short slow meandering walks.
  • French Bulldog - Apartment dwellers love French Bulldogs for a reason. They rarely bark hardly shed and enjoy a brisk walk around the block for exercise.
  • Pekingese - Underneath all of that fur is a charming companion who is perfectly happy without a yard. The little lap dogs did originally live in the Chinese palaces but their modern counterparts will settle for a walk around the block.
  • Bernese Mountain Dog - While they technically belong in the Working Group Bernese Mountain Dogs are surprisingly low-key.  The big fluff-balls like relaxing indoors as much as they like being outside. They only need one or two walks a day to stay fit and healthy.
  • Chow Chow - While somewhat stubborn and suspicious of strangers Chow Chows are devoted and bonded to their families. Their reserved and quiet nature actually means they only need one or two walks per day.
  • Pug - Pug owners know that there's a lot of personality packed into those 15-odd pounds. The less-active pups may actually share some ancestral history with the Pekingese. They too only need a walk around the block to stay happy and healthy.
  • Havanese  - Smart and social Havanese love spending time with their owners. Put their upbeat personality and small stature together and you have an energetic breed that doesn't need a lot of physical activity.
  • Great Dane - You will certainly look forward to regular walks when you have a statuesque canine on the other end of the leash. Unlike some of the other big breeds Great Danes make friends easily and don’t need as much exercise as might think.

At What Age Can You Walk A Puppy? 

Due to the dangers of potentially fatal viruses ( canine parvovirus canine distemper etc.) lurking anywhere an infected dog may have been puppies should be kept at home until they are fully vaccinated.

Most veterinarians recommend waiting until 10-14 days after your puppy's last vaccination booster (typically around 14–16 weeks of age) before introducing them to the wonders of local parks beaches and walking trails. 

How Often Should You Walk Your Puppy?

A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown e.g. 15 minutes when 3 months old 20 minutes when 4 months old and so on. Your puppy can go on longer walks once they are older.

How Often Should You Walk Your Puppy? 

A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown e.g. 15 minutes when 3 months old 20 minutes when 4 months old and so on. Your puppy can go on longer walks once they are older.

How Far Should You Walk A Puppy? 

Your puppy will be able to handle a short 30-45 min walk once they are 12 weeks old. Each puppy is different. So be sure to check with your vet about what vaccinations are a good idea in your area before taking your puppy on a new walk.

How To Walk A Puppy On A Leash 

Many new dog owners assume that their puppy innately knows how to walk politely on a leash but walking on a leash is an important skill that you need to teach to your dog. It’s also a skill that you will value every time you take your dog out for a walk.

  • Introduce your puppy to the collar and leash
  • Teach them a a sound cue that means “food is coming”
  • Put the leash and collar on your puppy
  • Make the puppy come to you using the sound cue
  • Practice walking a few steps in a room with little distraction
  • Once your puppy responds to the sound cue test your their skills outside 

Remember that your puppy has a short attention span. It’s best to keep your sessions short and end them when your puppy is still eager to do more not when they are mentally exhausted. For more on how to leash train your puppy check out this Step by Step Tutorial to Leash Training

How To Stop A Puppy Pulling On A Leash 

Dogs pull on their leash because it’ gets them where they want to go at their own pace. They don’t pull because they’re trying to be dominant they do it because it works. If you allow your dog to pull you behind them on walks then you’re actually reinforcing that behavior. Luckily there are several ways to prevent your dog from pulling on the leash:

  • Pick One Walking Method and Stick With It - Consistency is the key to dog training so choose a walking method that works best for you and your dog then stick with it.
  • Start in a Non Exciting Area - Pick a quiet time of the day to practice walking down the street when most people are indoors or go to a park during non peak hours.
  • Use Treats to Encourage Your Dog to Follow You - Use treats and toys as rewards for walking next to you. This will show your puppy that good things happen when they don’t pull on the leash. 

Is It Bad To Walk A Puppy Too Much?

Yes. Too much exercise may affect impeded the development of you puppy's growth plates the areas of cartilage at the ends of the leg bones. Injury to the growth plates before they are mature can cause deformities and problems with healing which can affect your puppy's movement for the rest of their life.

How Do You Tell If A Dog Is Over Exercised 

It is possible to over-exercise you puppy which is bad for the health and development. Signs of over-exercise in puppies include:

  • trouble breathing
  • excessive panting
  • drooling
  • decreased energy or stamina
  • trouble walking
  • difficulty standing

There are more serious symptoms but keeping an eye out for early signs can help you know when it's time to get your puppy to a cool area or in extreme cases to the vet's office. 

Does A Puppy’s Breed Affect Their Exercise Needs 

Yes. Your puppy’s breed determines the level of physical activity they need. High-energy breeds such as Border Collies and Belgian Malinois require a lot more exercise than low-energy breeds like the Bulldog or Basset Hound. These exercise requirements are important to keep in mind when choosing the right puppy for your family. 

Puppy Exercise Safety Tips 

There’s a lot that can happen while out on a walk with your dog. To ensure you have the safest walk possible follow these dog walking safety tips:

  • Check with the Vet - Have your veterinarian clear your dog for any new physical activity. This is especially important for older dogs that may have joint issues like arthritis but it is also important for growing puppies that have immature joints.
  • Train Your Dog to Respond to Voice Commands - Though you should have leash control of your dog it is a good idea to have a back-up control mechanism in the form of voice commands.
  • Bring the Right Dog Walking Gear - To have tangible control over your dog it is important to have a sturdy leash that is 4-6 feet long attached to a properly fitting collar or harness. Retractable leashes are made to give dogs a little extra freedom and privacy when on potty walks but are NOT the best restraint for exercising.
  • Inspect Your Dog’s Feet for Injury - After a walk it is a good idea to look at your dog’s paws. Check for cuts bruises and foreign bodies like cockleburs or splinters. If you walked on the beach or in the snow wipe your dog’s feet with a warm wet towel. Clean between the toes and around the foot pads well.
  • Inspect Your Dog’s Skin and Coat for Ticks - Look for ticks between the toes and around ears. Look for fleas over the tail and under the belly. If you live in a flea or tick infested area ask your veterinarian about the best preventive for your dog.
  • Check Your Path for Danger - If you are walking in the neighborhood be mindful of traffic patterns and be respectful of cars bike riders and other pedestrians. If your dog becomes too excited have them sit until the approaching person passes.
  • Be Prepared for Clean-Up -  A nice long walk is a great time for your dog to go to the bathroom. Be a conscientious dog owner and steer your dog away from your neighbor’s lawn. Bring along plastic bags to clean up after the event no matter where he goes.
  • Always Bring Water - Hydration is important for both you and your dog. For long walks bring along a collapsible dog bowl or water bottle fitted with a special spout that allows your dog to sip easily. Never give your dog a sports drink. Only water.

Now Go For a Walk With Your Puppy 

Did you find this guide on how to train a puppy useful? Let us know in the comments below then contact us today to connect with your very own Puppy Concierge who will help you find your new best friend or search by breed and take our Breed Match Quiz to find the perfect furry companion. Don’t forget to share your Wet Nose Moments on social media using #PuppySpot.

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