Promoting structure, health, and temperament in performance dogs.

I often get questions about how much exercise puppies should do at various stages of development, and I thought I’d share with everyone since the answers aren’t always easy to find. I think it’s fine for pups to do the occasional longer walk on leash once they reach 4 or 5 months old, especially if it helps in socialization and it’s broken up by stops at a coffee shop or other frequent rest periods. Also, they don’t need to be limited much in puppy play and free exercise in the yard by themselves or with other pups of the same age as long as they can opt out when they seem tired (play with older dogs should be limited though). Directed play, like fetching a static ball should also be limited to very short intervals until older. In general here are the guidelines I’ve gleaned from research I’ve done over the years:

Age

Skills, e.g., Jumping, Weaving, Contacts

Strength, e.g., Retrieving up hill, Core Muscle Exercises like”begging”

Body Awareness, e.g., Backing Up, Walking thru ladder, pivoting

Endurance, e.g., walking briskly/trotting 20 + minutes daily, jogging, etc.

Under 6 Months

None, I would avoid too much bending; wings, cones or speed bumps can be used instead of jumps

None, keep walking mostly on the flat

Keep the duration short and make it fun

Limit leash walking or directed hiking for pups under 6 months – a reasonable rule of thumb is 5 minutes per month of age daily

6 – 12 months

Contact training can begin; jumps can be increased gradually from wrist to elbow height; bend work can begin gradually at low heights

 Can gradually  start up to 3 x  weekly

 Unlimited

More regular walking for longer periods is okay at this stage but no jogging

12 – 18 months

Weaves can be started around 12 months; full height jumping can begin once growth plates have closed (usually around 14 months)

 Can be increased to daily

  Unlimited

After growth plates have closed around 14 months dogs can gradually work up to their adult endurance activity level; continuous swimming and water retrieve could be started now

Beyond 18 months

Can be daily with limited repetitions

 Can be daily

Unlimited

Limit intense endurance training, e.g., running several miles, to every other day.

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