Exercising your puppy

We’re sure you have plenty of epic adventures planned for you and your new puppy! However, it is important to be careful not to just let your puppy “run wild” for long periods of time – too much exercise at this young age can do more harm than good.

The following “rules” should be followed until your puppy is fully grown, as follows:

Small breed puppies – until 12 months of age

Medium breed puppies – until 12 months of age

Large breed puppies – until 18 months of age

Giant breed puppies – until 18-24 months of age

Golden rules

Exercise your puppy each day for five minutes per month of age, i.e. five months old = 25 minutes exercise per day. Light exercise only – until physically matured.

You should avoid:

  • Jogging or running with your puppy
  • Excessive Frisbee or ball throwing and catching
  • Running a puppy alongside a bicycle or car
  • Fast paced walks
  • Very long walks

Do not exercise a dog immediately before or after eating, especially for deep-chested dogs.

Large breed puppies, in addition to the above:

  • These puppies should not be encouraged to do any exercise that taxes bones, muscles or ligaments until they are FINISHED GROWING.
  • They should play on surfaces such as grass or rubber mats rather than asphalt or concrete, which is more jarring.
  • Over-exercising before being fully developed or running around too much on hard surfaces can lead to a variety of physical problems such as hip dysplasia or osteochondritis disecans (OCD) – these are both heavily dependent on diet, exercise and genetics.
  • Try to do a few short walks each day, as opposed to one big long one.
  • Avoid playing games like fetch for a long period of time as the sudden acceleration and deceleration forces that are placed across the joints can cause harm.


Other important points

  • Do not force exercise on growing puppies, let them exercise at their own pace.
  • Do not let them jump in and out of vehicles, over obstacles more than a foot high or have excessive use of stairs.
  • For working dogs – do not introduce draft work before 12 months of age.
  • For sledding dogs – do not introduce work until after 12months of age, and until 24 months the pulling weight should not exceed ¼ of the puppy’s body weight.


But above all, make sure you have fun! Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise, and there are endless ways to keep your puppy entertained. Make sure they have a variety of chew toys to keep them interested; fill toys with dry food for them to puzzle over. We have a range of toys and boredom busters in the clinic and online, so make sure you check them out.