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Your puppy needs daily exercise to maintain good health. Exercise is good
for your puppy's physical being as well as his mental health - but how much
and how often should you exercise him? What kinds of exercise are okay
for a puppy?

Your puppy should experience leash walks every day of his life (barring
injury) - rain, snow or shine. These leash walks should be incorporated into
your daily routine and are best if they occur at roughly the same time each
day. An 8 week old puppy needs only very short leash walks - 10-15
minutes at a time is sufficient. Of course, this is not the only exercise your
puppy will get - plenty of off-leash play time is required so that your puppy
can run, sniff and frolic at their own pace. Your back yard is a good place
for off-leash play for a very young puppy, and it's surprising how tiring a bit
of play in your living room can be.

As your puppy grows, you can increase the length of the leash walks. Take
full advantage of these walks by insisting on good leash manners (loose
leash walking) and keep your puppy under control. Daily leash walks use a
different type of energy than free-play - your dog or puppy will be tired by
the mental energy it takes to walk slowly and keep a loose leash, and
simply smelling the world around them and seeing new sights will help tire
them mentally. These leash walks mimic the migration a wild animal makes
each day in search of food and not only does it have mental and physical
benefits for the puppy, but will also play a key role in helping you to form a
long-lasting bond.

When can I start jogging with my puppy?

It is best to wait until your puppy has done most of his growing before you
take your puppy jogging. We strongly recommend that you do not jog or
run with your puppy on hard surfaces (cement sidewalks or pavement) until
he has completely finished growing - so around 14-18 months old. Running
your puppy on these hard surfaces will damage his joints and may cause
problems such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.

Start your puppy off as your jogging buddy by taking him along on short
jaunts on soft surfaces (dirt path or grass) at 6 months or later. Running at
your speed is very different for a dog than what they are used to doing
during off-leash play - they must be coordinated, pay attention to the leash,
and will not be able to stop to smell the roses or rest as they normally
would. Therefore, it is up to you to take every precaution to make sure your
puppy is not over-stressed, builds up his fitness level slowly, and does not
overheat on hot summer days.

What about off-leash play time?

It is very beneficial for your puppy to experience running and playing off-
leash from an early age. Some considerations:
  • Do not take your puppy to an off-leash park until he has been fully
    vaccinated
  • Protect your puppy from rough-housing with older dogs or 'bully'
    puppies
  • Ensure that the area your puppy plays in is free of hazards such as
    gopher holes, slippery/icy surfaces and sharp objects, and is
    securely fenced to prevent escape

Puppies learn a lot about their bodies and how to become coordinated
athletes by running around at their own speed. Climbing and descending
hills,  jumping over small obstacles, and running through different types of
terrain are all good for the puppy - provided that he is able to choose his
path of his own free will.

Note: Any time that you ask or encourage your puppy to do something
(such as leash walking, jogging, or playing fetch) you must be careful to
ensure your young pup does not stress his body in an effort to keep up with
you. Labs do not have a good sense of self-preservation and can easily
injure themselves by going beyond their age and fitness limitations in order
to please you.


Don't forget the importance of mental exercise! A fit dog is hard to
tire out using only physical exercise. Even if your dog is very well
behaved, it pays to schedule a formal training session every day to
tire him out mentally. Teach a new trick, practice old ones, or
engage in a game such as 'hide and seek' to get your dog's brain
going.


If you are in doubt about how much exercise your dog or puppy requires,
consult with us or your veterinarian for a specific recommendation.
Exercising Your Puppy
CAUTION:
Puppies should not be
encouraged to jump
obstacles higher than
their wrist joints until
they are completely
finished growing.
Trauma from landing
(or from jumping out of
pickup trucks or off
the sofa) can lead to
permanent damage to
the growing leg bones.
Sample Exercise
Routine for Adult Dog:

Before Breakfast:
1/2 hour -1 hour leash
walk (slow pace)

Early Evening 10-15
minutes of formal
training followed by
20-30 minutes of
vigorous exercise (ie.
fetch, agility practice,
off-leash run, swim)

Late Evening- leash
walk, trick training or
play time 10-15
minutes.

It is good to incorporate
unstructured exercise
such as play time with
other dogs, adventures
to the off-leash park,
etc, at least 2-3 times
per week. Also note that
this schedule assumes
that your dog is only
crated at night and is
free to move around
during the day (in the
house, a kennel, or
backyard).