You have just brought a new puppy home, and you want to make sure it gets enough exercise… but how much is enough? Well, that depends on how old they are and what breed they are. However, there are some general rules you can follow.
Below is a guide to help you craft your exercise program for your new puppy, which will need to be adjusted depending on what breed you have and where you live:
Depending on where you live and what laws there are, it will depend on when you can take your puppy on outside walks.
Usually, it would help if you did not take your puppy out on walks until they are fully vaccinated, usually around 12 weeks.
Before they are allowed out, then they will be confined to your home and garden/yard. It is still essential that you exercise them now, but you will have to base your exercise plan around activities you can do within your property.
The ideal situation will be if you have a nice-sized secure garden so that you can allow your puppy much supervised outside time. This will help teach them that they are meant to go to the toilet outside and experience different smells and noises. This will help them become comfortable outside not to get scared and anxious when you first start taking them out on walks.
It would help if you also played many games with them inside and outside the house, which will help tire them out and make sure they do not get bored. You can play fun physical games like fetching the ball, or you can play sniff games with them. Sniff games are where you hide treats in toilet rolls, ball pens, egg boxes, or under plastic cups. They must find the treats and work out how to get them out of where they are hidden.
Finally, when they are vaccinated, you can take them outside on walks. It is very easy to think puppies can do loads of long walks because you see them bounding around the house all day with bags of energy. However, a puppy running around the home of their own accord is very different from taking them on long walks.
A puppy is still growing, which means everything is growing, their limbs are growing, but their ligaments and cartilage are also increasing. A puppy might be able to walk 4 miles cardio-wise, but you might be putting too much strain on their bones and joints.
Therefore, it is wise to slowly build up how far you take them on walks and how often.
The general rule is that a puppy should be taken out on a walk twice a day. Then you should walk them for 5 minutes per month of age. For instance, a 3-month-old puppy should only get around 2 * 15 minutes of walks per day. You can play around with this a bit and make judgment calls, but that is an excellent general rule to build an exercise plan around.
Once they are allowed out on walks, don't just think that a puppy requires a dog leash walk twice a day, and do not just do the same walks all the time. Vary the exercise to keep them interested and to promote good physical and mental health. Take them to different locations like woodland walks and river walks. Take them on different tempo walks, like one day do a brisk walk to improve their cardio, but, on another day, take them on a sniff walk. A sniff walk is where you let them dictate where and how fast you go. They will do much sniffing and socializing, which can tire them our more than a brisk walk.
Then you can also consider taking them to dog parks, dog schools and sign them up for dog sports when they are old enough.
The more your dog experiences, the happier they will be, the better socialized they will be, and the healthier they will be.
Location will impact how far, how long, and how often you walk your puppy. For example, if you live in a mountainous area, you will not be able to walk them as far, and you will need to leave longer gaps between walks to allow them to recover. If you live next to a flat canal, you will walk them more often and further.
Where you live and what time of year will significantly impact how you devise your puppy's exercise plan. If it is summer and hot, you need to be very careful how far you take your puppy for a walk. They are more likely to overheat than adult dogs, and you should take water for them. You should also make sure that if you are walking on paths and roads, they are not hot to touch, damaging a puppy's paws. If, on the other hand, you live in a freezing, snowy area, then you will also need to be careful with how long you are outside with your puppy to protect your puppy's paws from things like snow. Depending on the breed, you may need to consider dog coats and snow boots.
Like I have said, this is a general guide. You will have to make your judgment calls as your puppy grows into an adolescent and then an adult. Some dogs, breeds, and personalities can handle more exercise earlier than others. Plus, some dogs need a lot more mental stimulation than others. For example, a greyhound will probably be very happy sleeping on the couch all day, but you will probably never watch a movie in peace again if you have a Collie, as they will be demanding you play a game with them.
Therefore, it is essential that you research your puppy's breed before you commit to it, as you should be looking to get a breed that suits your lifestyle and hobbies.