Exercise. We all have to do it. Consider yourself lucky – with a puppy at home, you finally have the perfect motivation to get yourself off the couch and up and moving a little. But how much exercise does a puppy need and can you over exercise a puppy?

Well, come rain or shine, our dogs love their walkies, and they’ll happily remind us. Regardless of their breed type, age or size, all dogs and puppies need to get out and about for both their physical and mental health and so do you. How’s that for a win-win situation?

We’re going to tell you all about puppy exercise in this article. Keep reading as we’ll be covering:

  • The benefits of puppy exercise
  • How much exercise does puppy need?
  • Different exercise tips for various breeds
  • Can you over exercise a puppy?

Oh, and we’ve even included a handy puppy exercise chart for you to check out.

If you’re not sure how much you should be exercising your puppy, you can always get expert advice from our team of Zigzag puppy coaches inside the Zigzag puppy training app.  Download a trial today, and you’re just a hop, skip and jump away from a puppy coach in your pocket. Don’t believe us? Check out what the top dog training and behaviour organisations say about us.

Puppy running and exercising
Photo by Andrew Schultz on Unsplash

The Benefits of Puppy Exercise

Exercise has loads of benefits. Loads. Without exaggerating. Here are all the perks that exercise brings to your puppy’s life, and you can do these without overexercising your puppy, we promise.

1.   Puppy exercise is important for physical health

Bit of an obvious one, but it’s true. Whether for humans or puppies, keeping our bodies moving helps us keep fit, our joints supple and muscles toned. Exercise also helps with digestive problems and constipation and helps us manage our (and our puppy’s) weight. A porky pup isn’t a good look. So anyway, as you can probably see already, the physical benefits of exercise really are endless.

2.   Exercise is great for your puppy’s mental health

Yes! Exercise is essential for our puppy’s’ mental health too. Since it helps maintain energy levels, it releases loads of endorphins that help keep our pups balanced and calm.

3.   Exercising your puppy has behavioural benefits

Going on walks regularly has a huge impact on your pup’s general behaviour. A well-stimulated and exercised puppy will be much less destructive at home, which we bet is something you’re happy to hear. It also helps reduce all sorts of unwanted behaviours such as excessive barking, hyperactivity, rough play and biting or just generally looking for mischief. If your pup is showing signs of any of these, it can be a good indication that extra exercise is needed. However, make sure to know when you might be over-exercising your pup since this can also lead to unwanted behaviours. In other words, somewhere in the middle is a good place to be. Keep reading and check out our puppy exercise chart!

4.   Regular exercise helps with socialisation

Exercise and being outside gives puppies the chance to socialise with a variety of people and other dogs. Since we want our puppy to feel confident and navigate the world in the best way possible, exercise outside is vital – especially in less confident pups. They just need some time to shine.

5.   Puppy exercise works wonders for bonding

There really is no better way to bond with your pup than enjoying a pleasing stroll. It’s a great time to spend quality time together and do a bit of training while you’re out and about. Get a head start and read our Lead Training a Puppy guide – you’ll find everything you need there.

Two puppies running and exercising
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

How much exercise does a puppy need?

So how much exercise does a puppy need? And can you over exercise a puppy?

When it comes to pounding the pavements, there’s a very simple rule of thumb to follow that tells you exactly how much exercise a puppy needs and will protect your puppy’s joints as they fuse and develop:

5 MINUTES OF WALKING FOR EVERY MONTH OF YOUR PUPS AGE. MAXIMUM OF TWICE PER DAY.

Okay, so here it is in simpler terms. For example, a 4 month old pup can walk 4 x 5 minutes which is 20 mins. In the end, this sums up to 2 x 20 minute walks per day.

A 5 month old puppy can walk 5 x 5 minutes which is 25 mins, so 2 x 25 minute walks per day should do the trick. Simple! Here’s our puppy exercise chart to help you.

Puppy Exercise chart

Puppy age in monthsWalk Duration (maximum twice per day)
210 minutes
420 minutes
630 minutes
835 minutes
1050 minutes
1255 minutes

As your puppy grows older, you will be able to enjoy much longer walks together, or even have a running companion.

Don’t forget that exercise isn’t limited to a good walk for puppies. It also includes anything that gets their heart pumping, such as ball games, tug games, and chase games.

Puppy exercise tips for different dog breeds

Different breeds of dogs have different needs in terms of exercise amounts and activity types. These needs can vary due to genetic differences in energy levels, shape and size. For example, some dog breeds can be more prone to developing arthritis, such as:

  • Rottweilers (hips and elbows)
  • German Shepherds (spine, hips, elbows)
  • Bernese Mountain dogs (hips and elbows)
  • Labradors and the crosses such as Labradoodles (hips and elbows)
  • Springer Spaniels  (hips and elbows)
  • Golden Retrievers (hips)

As you can see, it’s essential with these breeds to stick to the recommended walking times whilst their joints are developing. This will reduce the risk of arthritis from affecting them in the future.

Some small breeds are also prone to joint damage – it isn’t only the large breeds with all the trouble. Here are some breeds you should have a particular lookout for:

With these dog breeds, keep walks short and more frequent. Try to stay on softer ground like grassy areas or beaches, and keep the hard concrete pavements to a minimum. Oh, and remember to leave long distances or jumping out of your daily walk itinerary.

Breathing problems in some breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boxers and British Bulldogs also have some special requirements when it comes to exercise. These breeds often have very flat faces and can struggle to take in oxygen, so make sure to never push your puppy to exercise for longer than they are capable. Take it slow and steady with them to build up their stamina. Refer back to our puppy exercise chart if you need to. This will tell you exactly how much exercise a puppy needs.

puppy running and exercising on grass
Photo by Chris Andrawes on Unsplash

Can you over exercise a puppy?

So, can you over exercise a puppy? The short answer is yes. We all know everything in moderation, right? Aside from the impact on their joints that we’ve already talked about, over-exercising your puppy can have a pretty terrible impact on their behaviour, making them over-stimulated, tired and irritable. Talk about the worst combination. When it comes down to it, this can result in your puppy becoming destructive, bitey, forgetful when it comes to house training and unable to engage in any new training properly.

But you’ll be fine, simply stick to the exercise rule and provide plenty of enrichment and mental exercises. Your puppy will stay cool as a cucumber, and so will you.

There you have it, a nice and simple article on puppy exercise. You now have the complete lowdown on how much exercise a puppy needs and a handy puppy exercise chart to refer back to as the months pass by. Remember, you can over exercise a puppy!

In the Zigzag puppy training app, you’ll find loads more articles like this one, as well as step-by-step guides to training all aspects of your puppy; from sleeping schedules, toilet training, to alone training. Oh, and if you have any specific questions about your training journey, our expert puppy trainers will be thrilled if you reach out to them via a Whatsapp message, call or email. They’ll be happy to help.