If you have a dog under the age of 18 months or know someone who does, I wanted to share some great information from www.puppyculture.com about exercising your puppy smartly.
First of all, it is important to know something about growth plates, the soft areas at the ends of long bones in puppies and young dogs. These plates allow bones to become longer until the end of puberty; hormonal changes during puberty signal the plates to close. In most puppies, these growth plates close around 18 months of age. Until that happens, the plates are soft and vulnerable to injury.
Puppy’s bones are also softer than adult dogs’ and much like humans, dogs don’t reach maximum bone density until after puberty. Exercise that puts torque on a bone can easily put a puppy at risk for fracture. Jumping off furniture is a major cause of fractures in young dogs so always supervise your pup or keep them off furniture completely until they can get themselves off safely.
Finally, puppies don’t have the cardiovascular system for endurance. Until they mature, they’re probably not able to build much endurance no matter how much they exercise (much like humans). Puppies are not always good at self-limiting so it’s your job to keep exercise and play sessions short.
While it is important to exercise your puppy, the key is moderation. Short walks are good. Gentle play with dogs that play appropriately is good. You can even begin exposing your pup to agility exercises but the experts recommend no jumping higher than wrist height until 6 months old and no higher than elbow height until 18 months old.
Knowing that a puppy’s body is not developmentally ready for long, grueling bouts of exercise, what can you do to tire your puppy out?
Exercise their mind!
Begin introducing your dog to problem solving activities, basic scent work and creative thinking activities. Fifteen minutes of mental work is more tiring than an hour of physical work for dogs! We know this for a fact after working with dozens of dogs at our school. Some dogs can run the agility course all day but have them do a tracking exercise and they are completely wiped out afterwards!
Need ideas on what to do with your pup? Check out our See Spot Think box: www.whatdogswant.org/shop to get started.
Provide your puppy with a well-balanced work out by providing gentle exercise and a lot of mental stimulation to build foundational skills leading to a happy, healthy adult dog! To read more, including exercise guidelines for dogs 8 weeks-2 years, visit www.puppyculture.com.