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Exercise in puppies and young dogs – how much is healthy and what is right?

Bewegung beim Welpen und Junghund - so viel ist richtig!

When a puppy moves in, it’s an exciting time. You want to show him the world and experience everything together. The exploratory urge of the puppy or young dog is also almost inexhaustible. Nevertheless, you should also exercise a little common sense at this point. It is not healthy for a puppy to go on long walks for hours at a time.
This overstrains the dog and his bones and joints are not yet up to this load. As a result, joint problems may occur.

In our dogs, bone development takes place from the inside out. This means that the bones are created from birth, but not yet fully formed. The growth plates are not completely closed until growth is complete.

How much exercise can my puppy get?

You can not make a blanket statement about this, because this depends on the age and breed of the dog. A small dog like a Dachshund will be full grown sooner than a large dog like a Bernese Mountain Dog. For example, the growth plates close at 10-12 months in a small dog, and at about 16-18 months in very large breeds. For a medium sized dog, this is at about 12-14 months of age.

Basically, however, each dog must be considered individually, as they develop at different rates. Until the growth plates are completely closed, you should keep an eye on the intensity of movement in any case and adjust it.
Puppy stress: what about the 5 minute rule?

There is a “rule” circulating on the internet that says puppies should only walk 5 minutes per month of life.

I do not consider this to be very advisable. This would mean that a 3-month-old puppy is allowed 15 minutes of exercise per day. In my opinion, this would even disturb the dog in its natural development, both physically and mentally. Because in addition to the restricted movement, restlessness and an unbalanced behavior are also added.

Too little exercise of puppies is also harmful!

So increasing the movement by minutes makes little sense. The reason for this: bones and joints need stress and movement to develop healthily!

If movement is drastically restricted and the musculoskeletal system is not sufficiently loaded, soft joint structures will form. This favors the formation of joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. A healthy amount of movement therefore gives the bones and joints the opportunity to adapt to stress. The joint structures are strengthened and the alignment according to developing tensile and compressive forces is promoted.

Sufficient exercise therefore promotes healthy development of the musculoskeletal system. At the same time, healthy exercise also promotes body awareness, coordination and balance of the puppy from an early age.

What happens when a puppy and young dog are overworked?

In young dogs, ligaments and muscles are still weakly developed, the bones are not yet fully “grown”. However, it is the “immature” bones that bear the brunt of the body’s load during this phase. Incorrect loading can deform the skeleton and cause permanent joint damage. So if you give in to your young dog’s tireless love of exercise and your own great joy in extensive walking, you risk lifelong joint damage, such as osteoarthritis in dogs.

The healthy middle ground

In my opinion, it is important not to direct the movement of the puppy and young dog by minutes, but to find a healthy balance. Most importantly, this is not just about exercise during a walk, but from a sensible combination of walks and other forms, of active exercise. This includes the play with humans and conspecifics, but also already the targeted playful movement training through light active exercises that promote body awareness, balance and coordination.

And especially important: you should always give the dog sufficient rest! Here the dog can sleep, rest and process the experiences and what he has learned. A dog does not need to be wrapped in absorbent cotton, but common sense should tell us quite clearly that it is not healthy for a 4 month old dog to be walked for 1 hour at a time.

In the next blog article, you’ll learn how to specifically train your young dog’s movements and which movements are harmful!

Movement Puppies Movement Puppies Movement Puppies Movement Puppies

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