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Exercising your puppy

  • Read time: 10 mins

Congratulations on your new puppy, you’re about to embark on an exciting journey together. Maybe you’ve got a couple of weeks to wait until they can come home or perhaps, they’re home with you as you’re reading this guide. Either way, here is some valuable information all about puppy exercise.

Understanding the guidelines of physical exercise for your pup, getting to know the ins and outs of puppy walking, and the benefits of mental stimulation for them will guide your puppy through those important early stages of their life.

Dog running with a ball.

When can I take my puppy out for the first time?

You’ve made it through weeks at home entertaining your bundle of energy and it is now time for them to experience the outside world.

But before you take them out on an adventure, remember:

Their first walk is a great milestone in your journey together, enjoy it.

How much exercise does my puppy need?

A good rule of thumb for walking a puppy is 5 minutes per month of age. For example, a 3-month-old puppy should have a maximum of 15 minutes’ walk up to twice a day. Not all puppies will be able to walk for that long, while other breeds of puppies might come home and still be in a playful mood.

The amount of exercise your puppy needs can vary depending on their age, breed, growth rate, and body shape:

  • Large and giant breeds: keep their exercise sessions fairly short with plenty of rest in between, as they take much longer to grow fully and you don’t want to put too much strain on their growing joints. This covers breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds.
  • Medium breeds: while they do need plenty of exercises, keep the sessions brief to avoid the risk of over-exercising. Remember that working breeds, such as Collies and Spaniels, will need more mental exercise too.
  • Small breeds: Keep exercise sessions fairly short and while walks are still a good exercise for small dogs, their little legs can’t walk as fast as you, so stop when they need to. This covers breeds like Terriers and Beagles.
  • Flat-faced breeds: puppies with flat-faces, like Pugs and Bulldogs, won’t be able to do as much exercise as they can sometimes struggle to breathe. Keep sessions very short with plenty of rest between. Our vets advise that you also avoid the hottest parts of the day during warmer months, as flat-faced breeds can be more prone to heatstroke.

If your puppy still has boundless energy after their walk, fear not, we’ve got some great tips with other ways to exercise your puppy later in this guide. Walking is only one of many effective ways you can exercise your puppy.

Make sure you don’t over-exercise your puppy

While it might feel as though your puppy has endless energy to play and exercise, be mindful about how much you’re exercising them.

Over-exercising can damage their bone development and cause issues later in their lives. Large puppy breeds are more prone to joint disorders which can be made worse if they are over-exercised at a young age. Just like children, puppies need plenty of rest as well as playtime.

Don’t worry, once they are fully grown, they will be safe to walk much further.

Things to take with you on your walks

Now that you know how long to walk your puppy and you’re aware of the dangers of over-exercising, it’s time to get ready for your w-a-l-k.

Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to take with you:

  • Their collar with a name tag – it’s advised to include your telephone number on their name tag, so when they get found after wandering off, you can be contacted.
  • A lead – it’s essential to keep your puppy on a lead until you have worked on your recall in different places for their safety.
  • Poo bags – in case you haven’t seen the signs, there, unfortunately, isn’t a fairy that will come and pick it up for you.
  • Water – even if the weather isn’t warm, it’s important that your puppy has frequent access to clean drinking water.
  • Treats – keep a pouch of your pup’s favourite treats to reward them and make the experience positive.

Where are the best places to walk to begin with?

It’s such an exciting time when your puppy can finally join you for a walk, so it’s understandable that you want to show them your favourite walks all at once. In the beginning, though, try to stick with small, safe, and local walks.

This will help your pup get used to their immediate surroundings, before going further afield. Your walks won’t be boring by any means.

Discover some local walks and adventures:

What should I do if I lose my puppy on a walk?

Try not to panic. There are some proactive steps you can take to help you find your puppy:

  • Report your dog as missing to your local dog warden
  • Notify your microchip database
  • Contact missing dog websites, such as Dog Lost
  • Share on social media with a recent picture and contact local Facebook groups asking them to spread the word
  • Contact local vets, dog shelters, re-homing centres and dog groomers as they often receive lost dogs.

    If you’re worried your puppy might get too confident on a walk and start to wander off, try using a long lead at first and have a reward ready for when they come back.

    With MORE THAN puppy insurance, you can add Lost and Found cover. If your pet goes missing, you can claim the costs of advertising and a reward for their safe return. This is included as standard with our classic and premier pet insurance.

    What is the Countryside Code?

    The Countryside Code is a set of rules given by the government to encourage everyone visiting the countryside to respect other people, protect the environment and enjoy the outdoors.

    The code covers a range of guidelines for dog walkers from keeping your dog under effective control, when special dog rules may apply in certain areas and what to do when you come across farm animals.

    It also includes helpful tips such as what signpost symbols mean and where you can find maps online for walks.

    Playing and training are exercise too

    Don’t neglect the importance of mental exercise during the early stages of your puppy’s life. Mental exercise, through play, safe socialisation, and training, are just as important as physical exercise for young puppies.

    Play

    • An enclosed garden or larger indoor space are great places for your puppy to run about and burn off their energy
    • Games such as tug of war and fetch are fun for your pup and a great way to strengthen your bond
    • Feed your pup their dinner using a food-dispensing toy to help them focus and can make their mealtimes fun.

    Safe socialisation

    • Take them for a short journey in the car
    • Carry them around your local area so they can experience different sights, smells, and sounds, such as traffic and other people
    • Introducing them slowly to their collar, harness (if you need to use one) and lead will help familiarise them with everyday items and make your first walk a little easier.

    Training

    Get a head start on your puppy’s basic training, such as sit, lie down, and stay. This will mentally stimulate your puppy and build up your communication with them. Make it fun and interesting for your puppy, it doesn’t need to be a strict school lesson for them.

    How can I keep exercise interesting for my puppy?

    Physical exercise, playtime, socialising, and training will keep your puppy engaged, rather than looking for mischief. Puppy brains are like sponges, they are taking everything in, so try to do a mixture of physical and mental exercise that will have a positive impact on their development.

    If you get the feeling that your puppy isn’t physically or mentally stimulated enough, don’t be afraid to try something new.

    Take a walk somewhere different so their paws and noses are exposed to new textures and smells. Go for a short drive in the car so they can see and hear new things. Roll some treats in a tea-towel or purchase a snuffle mat to make them work for their reward. Begin small and work your way up when your puppy is ready.

    Develop a routine

    Mixing up the type of physical and mental exercise your puppy does in a day is great but try to set up a routine for them. Dogs are creatures of habit, if you keep when and how long you spend on each activity you will build their confidence and help them settle in with you.

    A routine that works for one pup and their owner may not work for you. Base your routine on your puppy, how happy they are and what they enjoy doing.

    And remember, have fun!

    Although there are a few guidelines and rules to follow to ensure the safety of your puppy, ultimately, have fun with them! Going for walks, playing a game of tug, and the first time your puppy sits when told are all experiences to enjoy and cherish. Exercise doesn’t only benefit your pup, it will have positive benefits on you and your family too.

    Covering your puppy

    Dog and puppy insurance are there for you and your furry family when you need it most. Have added peace of mind knowing that they are covered if they fall unwell with our Basic, Classic, and Premier pet insurance cover.

    Take a look at our dog and puppy insurance to get a quote today

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