How to Exercise Your Puppy

A Sleeping Puppy is a GOOD PUPPY! Look at all those TOYS!!

Sometimes I think my puppy is a dragon, although I am glad he doesn't breathe fire, he certainly bites like I imagine a dragon to bite!

Puppy exercise can be tricky.  We already discussed how too much strenuous exercise early in life can almost cause dysplasia, growth problems and pain later in life for more on Giving Your Dog Arthritis click here .

But puppies NEED exercise!  Especially middle aged puppies!

When pups are young, they seem to have a homing device and listen to us and stick by our sides and they seem to run their "zoomies" out on their own.  They play HARD and they seem to sleep HARDER!!

But as they age and grow, they seem to just get into more trouble and they are sleeping much, much less!

I remember when my puppy was 7 weeks old, after I fed him he would take a nap… Let’s just say I had one FAT puppy!

But, he is almost 7 months old now and that propensity to sleep after snacks or to even sleep at all during the day is mostly gone.

AND, add to that the fact that he is maturing emotionally (he acts like a teenager) and he is much less apt to listen to me and we have quite a problem most days.

This is when I see a lot of puppies hit the shelters because people just don’t understand and can’t figure out how to put up with them while they go through their growth stages.

Between 4-8 months puppies go through a developmental stage called the Flight Instinct Periodwhich is characterized by independence and

Retrieving is Great Exercise!


That puppy that used to follow you around the yard and listen to your commands is now running in the other direction and scoffing at you!

And although these behaviors will diminish and almost disappear, if you are a good owner and work through your puppies training the right way, it can still be a very difficult stage.

Add to that the fact that your puppy needs exercise, but you can’t push his joints to the point of injury and it can all be very stressful.

So How Do You Both Survive?

How do successful dog owners do it?

They find a recipe for success for them and their puppies and they know that this too will pass and your obedient dog will soon appear.

Puppies Need Exercise So How Do You Do it Safely?


Games are one of my favorite routes of puppy management.

Games get puppy minds involved and their bodies!

I teach all my puppies to play and retrieve, that way I can play games with my puppies for a long period of time!

Puppies can run and play on grass and soft surfaces just watch that you are not playing with him on hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete or other hard grounds.

And, in order to engage their minds I have my puppies perform a command a trick or a task before I will throw their ball.  This adds to my control and helps to tire them out faster.

Most Puppies LOVE Swimming if you Start Young!


Puppies can also Swim

Swimming is great for puppies to wear them out and is easy on the joints!

I love taking my puppies out with my adult dogs and letting them swim till they drop!

Walking and Some Running

Puppies can Walk or Run with You

If you are a fast marathon runner or intend on running more than a few miles, don’t take your puppy because it can hurt his joints and affect his growth.

But, if you are like me; I couldn’t run fast enough or far enough to really hurt my puppy and I put him in the grass when we walk or run.

What I do is run a little, walk a little, run a little, walk a little and I add obedience to my regimen more on Dog Obedience help click here.

When running all my dogs have to be in strict heel position, but when I walk I work on heeling and let my dogs go out and sniff, then come back into heel position (More on Find Heel and other Leash Manners click here)  , give me eye contact (for more on Eye Contact and Focus and how to get it click here) , play with toys, work on “leave it” (more on Leave It click here) and even work on in motion downs, sits, and stays.

Puppies Need Toys and Chewies

If it is a rainy day or you can’t exercise him physically or aren’t in the mind set to do training, give your puppy something to chew on!

Chewing on a safe rawhide chew or a Nylabone or a toy is mentally stimulating to some degree for your puppy and it helps with his teething!!

I use bones and chewies when the weather is bad, when I don’t feel good, or when exercise or training just isn’t going to be able to happen.

If my puppy is driving me nuts, a bone can help give me sanity!

Puppy with a Flirt Pole

Chasing; Puppies LOVE Chasing

Now, I never chase my puppy, or allow my puppy to chase me; both of these circumstances can backfire and teach my puppy bad behavior.

But I often teach my puppies to chase things on command and under my control.  This helps later in life, or currently when my puppy has a desire to chase my cats and other undesirable or unacceptable chasing behaviors rear their ugly heads.

This is one of my favorite games!

I tie an old T-shirt or an old towel to a string and then attach it to a pole (often called a flirt pole) and I dangle and dance the toy in front of my puppy and allow him to give chase.

With this toy, I can make it move super-fast and keep it just out of his reach.  Occasionally you have to let him win and catch the toy, or he will get bored and find something else to do; but this is one of my favorite ways to exercise my dragon… oops I mean puppy!

Puppies are Difficult

Puppies are constantly growing behaviorally, emotionally and physically and it can be difficult to learn to live and grow with them.

But if you can stimulate them appropriately physically and mentally, you will sail through puppyhood and make it to the other side of dog ownership much stronger!

And, for those of you struggling, I suggest you check out our Puppy Programming  video training program where we go over these problems and give you much more on training and helping to raise a great dog!  For more on Puppy Programming, click here.

What do you do to entertain your puppy in a positive way?


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  1. Christal says:

    Hi there

    I have a question. Sorry if I am posting on the wrong place. I dont know of any other way of asking my question. I recently got your program and have started using it. I am seeing good results with my doggies. I was just wondering tho. I got two puppies at the same time. They are both around 6 months old.Should I be training them seperately or together? I am getting results but I have a sneaking suspicion that I would get better results if I trained them apart. Please let me know. Thank you for all your great work.

    All the Best


    Minette Reply:

    Train them separate then they can “learn” then put them together so they can learn that they can do it together.

    Puppies are too competitive to learn with another dog right there, they need your individual attention!


  2. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Minnette

    I love reading your posts they are so useful. I am looking at getting my first dog next year, having spent the last year training everyone else’s dogs for them. I have been really fortunate to learn off our local dog trainer’s dogs before getting my own.
    Something I have always found difficult is knowing the right amount of exercise for a puppy and I really want to do it right as I plan on buying an Australian Kelpie a cousin of the Border Collie. Do you or Chet have any DVD’s covering this topic?

    Thanks heaps and keep the great posts coming.

    Western Australia


    Minette Reply:

    We have our Puppy Programming which goes over all things puppy and is even great for adult dogs!

    As far as individual exercise… my rule of thumb… if they are driving you crazy… they need exercise 😉


  3. Lisa says:


    Hi! Thank you for the article on mouthing your arm. My puppy LuLu gets super excited when I get home and mouths my arm. It isn’t painful. Just annoying. I never thought to give her a chew toy. I would just hug her (not letting her at my arm) until she calmed down. I think she looks like a Dutch Shepherd mix. She is extremely smart. She loves to dig, run, and pull the stuffing out of her toys – not eat it – just pull it out. I tried to attach her picture but it would not let me. At the age of 2 months she could already sit, lay down, roll over, high five, shake, give kisses and was potty trained. I sure do love that girl!


    Minette Reply:

    Those Dutchies are “fun” trouble 🙂

    I have a very love/love/frustrate relationship with mine!


  4. Diana says:

    Hi There,

    Reading your article you mention that chasing can lead to bad behaviours. My dog loves to be chased and so far she has been pretty food of leash, she is 6 months old. Can you please explain how chasing can lead to bad behaviours in the future?

    Thank you,



    Minette Reply:

    Dogs learn instead of “coming” to you they will come about 1-2 feet away and then dash.

    If she is ever out by the road and gets off leash and you need her to come to save her life, you don’t want her to think this could be a game of chase.

    I don’t chase my dogs because its too fun and they want to do it all the time, but I want them to come when called and listen.

    With that being said, I did let one dog play this game with me, but only inside and it was because he listened to my every command 🙂


  5. Marlene says:

    Hi Minete, I really enjoy and use your advise and training tips. I have recently rescued a little Havanese that is year old. I am an animal lover and have had one or two since I started walking (many moons ago). Having a Havanese is like having your first Dog. This little guy has a mind of his own for sure. Loving and cute as a bugs ear. He also play bites and I am having a very difficult time breaking him of this habit. Sometimes he gets carried away and i wind up bleeding a little. Do all Havanese do this or is he in a league of his own. Sometimes when I return home after being gone for a while he nips. Not in a mean way but I suppose you would say “happy nipping” and this is very annoying. I have never had a more loving Pup than this little guy. Tis is a wonderful Breed.

    Thank you so much, Marlene


    Minette Reply:

    Read this 😉

    and if you are looking for training check out our puppy programming

    if you do obedience with him daily he will stop the naughty behaviors and the biting I bet!!


  6. I have a (almost ) 7 month puppy, a Shi-tzu..She has been going to a puppy class for 4 months now, and has been learning a lot..but, there is still one major problem.When ever I go away, sometimes for 5, 15 or 30 minutes, she is so happy to see me she keeps jumping up and won’t stop for quite some time. I am bruised and scratched up everywhere. I have a spray bottle of water when I come in, but that doesn’t always work. She is uncontrollable. Any advise?


    Minette Reply:


    read this article, it will help


  7. ola .after losing my lovely big german sheperd ,, found a little border terrier , he was 5months .lovely ugly gorgeous at the same time ??? Rusty now 2 yrs hardest of my life ,when doe this little b …… realise i will never leave him .Were joined at HIP ,,ANY ADVISE


  8. Gloria Hopf says:

    Hi there – my husband and I are both in our late 60’s. We lost our beloved Shar-Pei x Rottweiler in Feruary this year and resolved not to get another baby, but we came across a litter of Boerbull x Alsation puppies that were being given away to anyone who wanted them without any screening. I wish we could have taken all 8 puppies, but sanity prevailed and we took Lola at 8 weeks old. She is now 8 months old and our love affair is mutual. Exercising her is paramount to keeping her happy and our energy levels are not up to running, so we have devised ways and means. She has a Kong which she loves to play fetch with and is gradually learning to “leave it” when we ask her. The other game she loves to play is hide and seek in the garden and she keeps us both in stitches because she leaps for joy when she finds us and dashes about the front lawn in figure of eight style to celebrate her wins. My husband also places her Kong in the swimming pool scoop net. The pole is almost 3 meters long so he can stand in one spot and swing it around and up and down. She chases it until she is ready to drop. As you say it is important to allow her to catch it every now and then. Lastly her favourite game is to chase the water spray from the garden hose. She leaps into the air to catch the droplets and snaps at the spray as my husbang swings it from side to side. After these sessions she is drenched and enjoys a good towel rub and then thankfully a peaceful sleep. Our walks are casual strolls, but soon we are going to take her to a local park with several dams on it where she can be safely off leash.
    She dropped her Kong in the swimming pool and promtly dived in to retreive it – so we discovered she is a good swimmer too. Thanks for all your tips and clips and videos. Our children and grandchildren and their dogs also interact with Lola so that if we become ill, or should any other circumstance prevent us from keeping her, she will easily integrate into their home. Hopefully that will never happen.


  9. Hi We are both retired and live in country our drive runs down to the main road which is fast !! we have no gate on We got a rescued Jack Russell girl 3 year old from kennels our last dog Finn had died in the Spring of that year 2011
    We she is named Skippy I wondered why !! well if she gets out she is off like a whippet and will not come back at all to you A few times she has slipped her lead /harness Can you help how to train her to listen to my commands and start to obey We have to take her out on a long lead otherwise we would lose her If anyone calls at the house we have to shut her in an other room before we can open the door or she would be off Now she is a lovely friendly dog in the home but anyones outside she was found by the side of the road I was told when they brought her to us We have had JR’s all our married life and never had a dog like her!is she too hold to train now Please advise if you can cheers Brenda


    Minette Reply:

    They are never too old!

    Check out this article and video

    and then check out our video vault for more videos on training!


  10. Helene says:

    Instead of nylabone (my puppy go thru them in 2 days ) a deer anthler works great..doesn’t stain carpets, does not smell and last longer.
    I also use a ball with a hole where I can put small treats..he has to work very hard to get them out by bouncing and rolling the ball in fifferent ways….keeps him busy for a long time!
    I also joined an agility class and a rally class which is great for training and giving us things to work on.


  11. Siobhan says:

    Hi. It’s so good to hear that pup’s go thought stage’s
    as my 5 & 1/2 ess is going though that stage
    of not listening , where he did so well before !

    Thank’s you
    Siobhan x


  12. Stella Richardson says:

    Well we have a now 7 month old Border Collie on an 80 acre Tree Farm, she runs like the wind and jumps like a gazelle, she is fast and full of energy, loves to chase the ball and retrieves well, we can beckon and she will bring the ball closer. We walk on woodland trails a lot and if I say Misty wait, she will wait for us, she is very smart. A lot of our roads are gravel but we try to throw the ball on the grassy sides, evenings we go for long walks or play in the meadow. Yes she is like a teenager, she is very sweet and loving and probably spoiled. Stella


  13. Laura Buchanan says:

    I have an Italian Greyhound pup that we got when she was 8 weeks old. She has learned the sit command, is a polite “beggar” and has learned the “leave it ” command, but ONLY if there is a treat involved. If I tell her to sit, she will momentarily but then do her own thing unless I have treats. Also the same with the leave it command. She grabs shoes and anything else she can find and runs through house with them, does not listen to leave it command unless we are training and use the food as her incentive. She will sit and look at the treat and leave it until we tell her to take it. But not with items. She is now biting more and barking when excited. She is now 4 months old and Im glad I read the bit about them going through this growth period and stop listening. I thought I was doing something wrong. I still need help getting her to listen without always using food as her incentive. She loves to play ball, but wont drop it, makes us grab it and she will growl and then release after a “fight” then she will retrieve it again. Help.. Ellie is a cute dog and can be so sweet. We want her to be an awesome member of our family and not one that people repel from because of her excitable behaviors. I have subscribed to the training videos, etc.. Thanks.


    Minette Reply:

    Our Puppy Programming will help you most!

    And, you are misusing treats, you have to learn to use them to your advantage so you don’t always need them. Read this


  14. Peggy Hinkle says:

    We are active retired couple after losing a 14 yr. old Sheltie we found another female who is now 2 1/2. Very active, we go on 2 mile daily walks which she loves. The problem is our neighbors grandaughters who have moved in and caused a barking problem in the dog which we cannot control. Previous to this, her barking was when someone came to the door. However, it is becoming incessant when she is outdoors which we and the neibors don’t care for. Is there a way to curtail this habit? Your help and/or direction would be so appreciated.


    Minette Reply:

    Read this


  15. Barbara says:

    I accidentally found a great way to exercise my energetic 6 month Australian Cattle Dog in our fairly large enclosed back yard. He saw my 55 cm Body Ball in the basement and started rolling it around. Because it’s too large for him to get his teeth into and because it sturdy enough to hold the weight of a person for exercise, it’s working out well for him to chase around our yard. He gets much more hard running exercise in than he ever could outside of the yard and he can stop for a rest when he gets tired. He’s hilarious to watch, so it’s good entertainment for both of us.


    Minette Reply:

    My dog can pop those, but I did get her a hard plastic “Jolly Egg” that she does the same thing with!!! It is great exercise!!


  16. Jen says:

    Hello Minette,
    We adopted a 2 year old male and female (brother and sister) collie two weekends ago. We have very busy twin 5 year old girls and were looking for the perfect “family” pets; like Lassie, I guess.

    They have been kenneled outside their whole life and not socialized. Both dogs have responded to the clicker method well in training basic commands and even “no bark” the neighbors when they drive by and “heel”. They are very smart and pick up new commands or words in minutes. However, I have a few questions I hope you can answer:
    1) The first couple of days we had them, they went potty in the spot in the yard we took them to with no indoor accidents (they were not “house trained”). Then the male didn’t like that we didn’t allow him to roam the kitchen and sniff the counters during meal prep and he went on a “potty strike”. He has refused to potty outside for most of the two weeks now and only goes in undesirable places… so we banished him to the garage. Interestingly, he chose to potty on all 4 sides of the puppy pad we put down for him, but not on the pad. For days he never went on the pad, yet the day I finally remove it, he went in that spot. That’s a smart dog for you. I believe he dominated his sister into striking also. My question is: now I’m try to use the clicker method to “go potty” when we are outside. I’ve rewarded them for smelling their past jobs and when they look like they are actually sniffing around like they did before going. Today, I stopped rewarding these because it was obvious that they were only repeating those behaviors and then coming to me for a reward. I told them to “go potty” like they had responded to before and they stopped sniffing and turned thi. What do I do next?


    Minette Reply:

    The first thing to realize is that dogs don’t do things our of spite, this is only a human behavior. Dog’s don’t have the though process to get angry and then plot revenge. If they act out immediately then they are showing you they are upset, but dogs are like toddlers it just isn’t in their thinking process.

    Read this

    I am sad that he has been banished to the garage, this is about as bad, if not worse for him than living outside (which is also sad).

    He potties in the house because he has lived outside all his life and never learned that he needed to do anything but relieve him self whenever and wherever he was. This makes it a hard behavior to change.

    Keep him with you on a leash or baby gate him in the room with you so you can notice when he seems antsy and starts sniffing so you can get him outside.

    Realize that you essentially have 2 8 week old puppies when it comes to potty training, they are not trying to displease you they are simply doing what they have always done!

    So now you have to teach them, and go outside with them and if they don’t potty crate them and take them out 15 minutes later until they figure it out.


  17. Steven says:

    Hi –
    The pole and the old t shirt just may save my Samoyed puppy and me. It is awful all the things he can eat. He just finished my wallet with $125. in it and ripped all my credit cards and licence to shred. The wallet is gone I assume eaten. I took out my monopod I use for photography and tied a tshirt and he ran around in a big circle for 15 minutes. I used to use the laser but he has tired of it. This pole idea is great. Ggggrreeeat. If there are other ideas I would love to hear about them. He is 7 months old and 55 lbs. I on the other hand have so pretty challenging health issues and can use all the help I can get.

    thank you sooo much


    Minette Reply:

    I love a good flirt pole. I also teach mine a retrieve so that they are doing 4X the exercise


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