The Importance of Proper Exercise for Your Puppy - dummies

The Importance of Proper Exercise for Your Puppy

By Sarah Hodgson

In order to keep your puppy healthy and injury free, prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Proper exercise is important for your puppy’s health and well-being, and you’re in charge. Taking a proactive role in your puppy’s health can prevent a lot of disease and heartache. One way to accomplish this task is to keep your dog active, clean, and groomed.

Your puppy’s activity level and the need to move and play are as important as his need to eat and potty — but he needs some limits, too. Excessive force movement (think leash walking or treadmill) can wreak havoc on his developing bones and muscles.

Attention to your puppy’s outer appearance not only makes your puppy look and feel good but also helps you discover any ailments before they become serious. Grooming helps to keep your puppy in tip-top shape. Of course, another way to stay on top of your pup’s good health is to make sure you join forces with a caring vet who can help your puppy grow into a healthy adult dog.

Keeping your puppy fit with exercise

Puppies don’t like to exercise alone. They need a companion to frolic and play with. Unless you have a couple of dogs, you need to exercise your puppy two to three times a day for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on his age and breed. Although this amount may sound like a lot, after you get into a groove, the exercise will be fun and a good bonding time for you and your puppy.

Exercise outside does lead to a calmer dog, but proper exercise is the key phrase. Proper exercise involves planning age- and size-appropriate activities and setting aside time to join in the fun.

One common misconception about dogs is that leaving a dog outside all day is good for him. “He needs fresh air” is not a valid argument. If you leave your puppy out all day, you end up with a neurotic creature who digs in the yard and barks until the neighbors complain. Why? Puppies need time with you, inside or outside — basically wherever you are!

Making your puppy’s activity age-appropriate

Sure, you want to keep your puppy in shape — an obese puppy is an unhealthy puppy — but puppies aren’t born ready to run endless miles. You have to let him develop first. Tailoring the exercise you do with your puppy based on his age is important. As puppies grow and develop, they’re able to do more and more activities.

A puppy’s tissues are soft, and his bones are growing. He’s as awkward as an infant trying to take his first step. Even though taking your brand-new companion with you on your 5-mile jog would be nice, it wouldn’t be safe. Too much exercise stresses your puppy’s growing body. Your puppy would get distracted and quit or demand to be carried.

Until a puppy is 4 months old, you should play with him (preferably on a long line) instead of walking him. Walking directly away from your home confuses his perception of your territory, and extended walks can stress his growing muscles. Note: Short walks in town or at a park in order to socialize him are encouraged!