Providing puppies with the opportunity to exercise is a very important aspect of their care. Apart from providing various health benefits, exercising may also provide a good opportunity for your puppy to socialise with other puppies and dogs which is vital for their behavioural development. Check with your vet when your puppy can safely go to the park in relation to their vaccination status.
On the lead:
- Before taking your pup for their first walk, ensure they are comfortable with their collar or harness as this may take a few days. When placing any new equipment on your pup, do this for five minutes or so and gradually increase the time span, making sure that each time they are calm and relaxed and always reward with treats and praise so that they make a good association with these new things.
- The next step is to encourage your pup to walk beside you without the lead (do this in an enclosed area or backyard) by offering treats whenever they are in the right position. Once things are going well, then you can try using the lead, for short periods initially with continuous encouragement for your pup to walk beside you tp achieve' loose lead' walking. The main thing to remember is that your pup will naturally want to pull to explore their environment but do not jerk the lead or yell ‘No’ – just simply keep offering a reward for them to be beside you and they will learn that this is a good place to be.
- Whilst on the lead you should walk your puppy at a walking pace. It is also advisable to take your puppy for short walks only. If your puppy sits down or lies down during their walk it is important to allow them some time to rest and to wait until they choose to start walking again. If they appear too tired to continue on, it is advisable to stop the walk and head home. As your puppy gets older, always permit some time for sniffing plants, posts and other things as this is a very important activity that they really enjoy.
- Avoiding over-exercising and over-exertion is especially important whilst your puppy is growing. Over-exercising puppies can affect bone and muscle development and this is of particular concern in large and giant breed puppies, e.g. Great Danes, Mastiffs etc.
- Whenever your pup is meeting new dogs, be sure to watch their body language as they may be fearful and anxious, which may be displayed as growling or lunging. If this happens, remove them from the situation by picking them up. Do not punish your dog for this behaviour but seek advice from a trainer who only uses reward based methods. Attending a puppy pre-school that only uses reward based methods will help you to help your puppy overcome their fears. It is very important to do this as early as possible to avoid behaviour problems later. Try to avoid contact with large boisterous dogs as this may be threatening to your pup.
Off the lead (running freely):
- When a puppy is off-lead in a safe environment such as your backyard or a designated dog park they may be allowed to run freely. In this situation they are generally able to regulate their own pace and the amount of exercise they receive because when they get tired, they can choose to sit down or lie down and rest before getting up again. When off the lead, it is important to avoid excessive ball throwing and catching which may over-exercise your pup. It is advisable to avoid encouraging your dog to leap into the air (e.g. Frisbee or high ball throwing) as they can land awkwardly risking damage to their spine and legs.
You should avoid forced exercise such as:
- jogging or running with puppies
- frisbee throwing
- excessive ball throwing and catching
- running a puppy alongside a bicycle (In some states such as NSW and South Australia, the RTA road rules state that a bicycle rider must not lead an animal, including by tethering, while the vehicle is moving)
- fast paced walks
- very long walks
- walking on hot days
Dogs should not be exercised immediately before or after eating as it can cause problems such as bloat, particularly in deep-chested dogs such as .Boxers, Labradors, shepherd breeds, hounds, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Weimeranars and Standard poodles.
Please note that some of the large and giant dog breeds may continue to grow up until 18-24 months of age.
This website provides general information which must not be relied upon or regarded as a substitute for specific professional advice, including veterinary advice. We make no warranties that the website is accurate or suitable for a person’s unique circumstances and provide the website on the basis that all persons accessing the website responsibly assess the relevance and accuracy of its content.