How Much Exercise Does a Puppy Need?
A puppy needs enough exercise to burn off that energy they have, but not so much that they injure their developing joints. They also need to relieve themselves every few hours while avoiding other dogs.
To avoid injuries and other dogs, do 2-3 short walks per day and many quick pee breaks. Try the following: walks of 15 minutes for puppies up to 3 months old, 30 minute for 3 to 6 months old, and 45 minutes maximum until they are about a year old. Twice a day, every day.
That’s a nice guideline that builds up to longer walks while strengthening their legs.
In time you will learn your puppy’s limits and can deviate from the guideline, just don’t overdo it. A puppy can suffer bone and joint injuries if you give them too much exercise at a young age. Here are some general puppy exercise tips:
Tip #1: Don’t exercise large dog breeds too much when they are a puppy. Keep their walks and exercise sessions short until at least 6 months old.
Tip #2: To prevent potential bloat, don’t exercise a puppy an hour before or after feedings.
Tip #3: Stick to the “5-minute rule”. For every month of age, you can add 5 minutes to their walk time.
Tip #4: Stay focused on your puppy’s well-being. Try to resist that temptation to show off your puppy and keep the exercise time and distance to a minimum.
But there are more things to consider when knowing the exercise needs of your puppy. We have the number of minutes of exercise figured out. Let’s take a look at some other topics involving exercising your puppy.
When Can I Start to Walk my Puppy?
Short Answer: You can start walking your puppy right away in my opinion. But only if you do short walks (quick pee breaks) and avoid other dogs. Let’s cover some facts first.
Puppies have lots of energy and weak bladders. As a result, they need to go out to pee a lot which is a good way to burn off their extra energy.
But there are some conflicting issues with exercising puppies. They need to go outside for a few reasons: to relieve themselves, for socialization and for exercise.
The problem is they also have to be careful of coming in contact with viruses. Until their final round of vaccination shots, their immune systems are weak, The easiest way for them to come into contact with viruses is from sniffing other dogs or the areas where other dogs have relieved themselves.
Socializing with dogs is not an option, And long walks are not recommended.. That’s more time to come in contact with viruses and remember their joints and bones are fragile.
To be totally safe, you have to wait until a week or two after their final vaccination shot. So try and get the earliest possible appointment for the shots. That’s usually when they are 4 months old. At that point though, you can let them meet as many dogs as they want (which is every dog you pass).
So how can you give them pee breaks, exercise, and socialization with these constraints?
For socialization, try taking your dog to puppy classes. Another option is to find another puppy in your area and schedule puppy play dates. That won’t be as easy but it’s something to think about.
As for the exercise needs, try exercising your puppy at home.
Puppy Exercise Indoors
So only doing short walks means you may have to exercise your dog inside. Here are some indoor puppy exercise tips:
- Walk your puppy around your place to get them used to a leash.
- Training time. Try some basic rewards based training in your home. Work on the big three commands: sit, stay and come.
- Fetching a ball or toy. I know you are not supposed to play ball in the house, but maybe you can just roll a ball across the floor.
- Also, try using a laser pointer. My dog and cats love trying to catch that fast-moving red light. I also find it enjoyable watching them.
- Try hiding treats or dry food kibble for them to find with their nose.
- Stuff a food dispensing balls with kibble and treats.
- Puppy classes and puppy play dates. As mentioned above, this is great for socialization and is a lot of fun for the puppies.
Get creative. It’s not hard to entertain a puppy. Just avoid chew toys until you have fully trained him or her. You don’t want them to think that chewing on anything, like shoes, is okay.
How Often and How Far to Walk a Puppy?
Do many short distance walks. Just take them outside your front door to pee, sniff a while then go back inside.
There is a formula that most use to know how many “pee-breaks” a puppy needs. That is the age in months plus 1 equals the number of hours that a puppy can hold it. For example, you have to walk your 8-week old puppy every 3 hours (2 months + 1 = 3 hours). So that is up to 8 times a day (ouch).
No one wants to wake up every few hours to walk their puppy. That’s why puppy pee-pads are useful. You can place them in the crate or on the floor of the room where you are keeping him.
Hiring a Dog Walker
You will have to hire a dog walker if there isn’t someone who can walk him while you are at work. I’ve had a number of puppies as a dog walker. The standard is to walk them two times while the owner is at work. Let’s do some math on that.
Let’s assume a half hour commute to and from your job. And your word day is 9 hours long – 8 hours plus an hour for lunch. That’s 10 hours total: 1/2 + 8 + 1 + 1/2. The midpoint of that 10 hours is 5 hours after you leave. Your puppy can hold it that long if he is 4 months old (4+1=5 hours). Your puppy can’t hold it if he is less than 4 months old.
That is why most people do two walks until their dog can hold it for 5 hours.
So let’s summarize the most important points of a puppy exercise program:
- For every month of age, you can add 5 minutes to their walk time.
- Age in months plus 1 equals the number of hours between pee breaks..
- Avoid dogs and doing long walks until their final vaccination shots.
- Also, avoid strenuous or rough exercise and play.
These 4 points mean doing many short & brief walks with indoor exercise until the final shots. After shots, you can start getting exercise outside. That’s when you can show off your puppy.
Good luck and take it easy on your puppy until they older and stronger. And when your puppy is a dog, check out my article How much exercise does a dog need every day.