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How to Exercise Your Portuguese Water Dog

Your Portuguese Water Dog needs to play and needs daily exercise. But too much exercise — or the wrong kind of play — can injure a growing puppy.

Generally, the smaller the dog, the faster it reaches adulthood; and the larger the dog, the longer it takes to mature. Portuguese Water Dogs, or PWDs, are a medium-sized dog, but they mature more like a large dog. Your PWD make look full-grown after a few months, but her muscles won’t catch up to her frame until she is about 18 months old. That's also about when her growth plates close.

Portuguese Water Dogs need (and want) exercise, but it’s up to the people in their lives to control what kind of exercise. Walking is good for both your PWD and you. Just walk less than a mile at a time and try to walk on grass rather than pavement. Ideally, you should walk your PWD three or four times a day. If your Portuguese Water Dog has a doggy playmate, supervise their play and stop it if the dogs get too rough. PWDs love to roughhouse and may not know when to stop on their own.

Playing fetch is good exercise, but you want to protect your dog's ligaments and joints. Throw in a straight line so your dog isn’t making sudden, sharp turns. Avoid playing with a flying disc that may cause your PWD to leap too high, or to twist his body.

It’s okay to start training your PWD to jump for obedience or agility, but try to keep her from jumping longer than her length or higher than your shoulders.

Mental challenges and games are also good for your Portuguese Water Dog. Here are some favorites:

  • Hide his favorite toy or a special treat and tell him to find it.

  • Have someone else hold your PWD while you go hide, then let her find you.

  • Place three paper cups upside down in a row with a treat hidden under one of them, and ask your dog to find it.

  • Take a muffin tin and put a treat in three or four of the cups. Cover every cup with a ball. Time your PWD and see how long it takes him to remove the balls and find the treats.

Monitor all play and training sessions, and call a time out if your Portuguese Water Dog is showing signs of fatigue. This breed's "working dog" mentality won’t let him quit, even when he should; you’ll have to do it for him.

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