How to Exercise Your Puppy
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
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.
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!
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?
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.