When you get a new puppy or juvenile dog, it is important to get them out there in the world as soon as they have had their vaccinations, and begin introducing them to other dogs and people and the whole world at large. The first year of your pup’s life is an incredibly critical stage in their development, and the stimulus and exposure that they are exposed to during this time will lay down the foundations for the rest of their lives as adult dogs.
Lots of play, socialisation and training is needed to raise a well-rounded young dog, and of course, the first year is vital to their training too, and teaching them to be responsive, obedient and well behaved. Puppies also tend to be full of life and mischief, and will generally be very excited to meet other dogs and learn to play with them, and also enjoy going out on varied, interesting walks to explore the world around them.
Puppies tire faster than adult dogs, and this usually provides a clear cue for when your pup has had enough and needs to recharge their batteries, and you should never push a tired puppy to carry on past their comfortable limits. However, your pup’s fatigue is not the only reason to monitor their exercise levels and keep a check on how much exercise they are getting, and just as it is vital to walk and socialise your puppy, it is also important to make sure that you do not over-exercise them, and know how to tell when it is time to stop.
In this article, we will cover the main reasons why it is important not to over-exercise puppies, and how to tell when enough is enough. Read on to learn more.
First of all, too much exercise can affect the development of the pup’s growth plates, something that is covered in more detail here. Growth plates are areas of cartilage at the ends of the leg’s long bones, which calcify and become hard over time as the pup gets older and develops muscle memory.
Until the growth plates have hardened off properly, which can take up to two years for larger breeds of dog, they should be considered as vulnerable to overexertion and damage, and an injury or damage to the growth plates before they are mature can cause deformities and problems with healing, which may affect the pup’s movement for the rest of their life.
Puppies are excitable little souls, who tend to put everything they have into new encounters, including meeting new dogs and people, and running around in play. Working off excess energy is good, but exercise and excitement should not be prolonged until the point that the pup is hyperactive or overly excited, as they run the risk of exerting themselves too far and overstepping the bounds of acceptable play, and failing to learn from their experience.
As well as the larger, more serious problem of potentially damaging the developing growth plates with too much exercise, a pup that is still growing into their body and is gangly and ungainly can also be a rather clumsy animal, which runs the risk of potentially hurting themselves in exercise by pushing themselves too far, trying to play a game that is too much for them, or trying to keep up with adult dogs.
Minor strains and sprains can put your pup out of action for some time, as well as causing them pain and discomfort, so try to limit exuberant play to short bursts with plenty of rest in between.
As your pup gets used to walking on a variety of different surfaces including gravel and concrete, the pads of their paws will harden off to provide a tough surface that is strong enough to walk for miles across hard ground. However, this process takes time, and while your pup’s paws are young and soft, they will be at greater risk of damaging their paws, either by grazing them or by rubbing sore patches onto them from too much time on hard ground, particularly if they are running around on it.
When your pup comes in from exercise, they should be pleasantly tired and ready to have a nap, but they should not be at the point of dropping from sheer exhaustion! If your pup overdoes it in the dog park and then has to walk home afterwards, they are apt to become tired and grumpy and possibly act out or even become aggressive as you try to push them that little bit further when they have already had enough. Avoid this by leaving the dog park when your pup still has some energy reserves left to manage the walk home!