In the world of canine fitness there’s nothing more polarizing than the query: how much exercise should my puppy get? Its not a question of over exercising or under exercising, everyone agree’s both are bad, but what’s the right amount?
Here is where the debate heats up and is shrouded in mystery. There’s a lack of solid scientific evidence to say with any certainty. Without a definitive answer people make up their own minds and the debate rages in the contentious arena of social media.
As an owner of a dog walking company I take a keen interest in keeping my pups safe. And, with an absence of absolutes I take a precautionary approach. For instance, since we walk our dogs exclusively on woodland trails, we limit agility activities like excessive jumping over logs and rocks until puppies are full grown.
But, some are taking it to an extreme and advocating very little exercise for growing puppies.
Right now, there’s a fear trending that walking a puppy too far will damage his/her developing joints. Again, without a rule book, caution is understandable and advisable. But, some are taking it to an extreme and advocating very little exercise for growing puppies.
Case in point, a popular guide found on the internet is the “5 minute rule”. Which states that puppies should be held to a limit of 5 minutes of exercise per month of life. Unfortunately, there’s just no scientific research to back that up. On the contrary, there’s evidence that the “5 minute rule” for many dogs may be harmfully inadequate.
What about breeds prone hip dysplasia? Again “popular internet wisdom” advises owners to restrict exercise or risk damaging a pups joints. Again, leading experts in the field say there is no research to support this view. In truth, recent research indicates that doing more exercise when the pup is young might be the best way to protect the joints of affected dogs.
Yes, lots of conflicting advice and very little data which makes answering our initial question herculean. At this point, its best to consult your vet, as he/she will likely suggest caution as further research is conducted.
The mystery of the “5 minute rule”.
John W. of South Bucks, UK, claims to have coined the term but not the idea. The idea he wrote, came from an on line-forum he saw many years ago. Another on-line user swears its origin came from a breeder, who grew tired of being asked by new lab owners how much exercise to give. Apparently, the “5 minute rule” is long on opinions yet short on details. For example, people have different interpretation on whether play is included in exercise time or whether on-lead or off-lead “counts”. Overall, The “5 minute rule” is only an arbitrary guideline and should be treated as such.
While research evidence, does not support a definitive answer to our question - a little common sense goes a long way. For instance, don’t force a dog to exercise heavily when it does not wish to. Likewise, I’ve known puppies that have more enthusiasm than sense and will exercise to the point of heat exhaustion. So be careful!
Here at Dogs ‘N Motion my rule for puppies is this: plenty of exercise, lots of breaks and avoid extremes. You may have a different idea. I’m not advocating one way or another only that the info out there is merely opinion, personal experiences and not objective data and should be taken with a grain of salt.
That being said trust your pup - not an arbitrary rule! It’s a personal choice, like everything else. So go and enjoy that new puppy! Of course, if you need help give Dogs N Motion a call. We exist to make your life with your dog a little easier.