Advice on Puppy Exercise For New Owners

At some point, most new GSD puppy owners ask the question:

“How much exercise should I be giving our puppy?”

This comes comes up quite frequently from new GSD puppy owners and the advice we give is always the same – and based around a fairly simple formula that comes from the UK Kennel Club:

“Puppies need much less exercise than fully grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy you can overtire it and damage its developing joints, causing early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown e.g. 15 minutes (up to twice a day) when 3 months old, 20 minutes when 4 months old and so on. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer.

It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated. Time spent in your garden, however large it may be, is no substitute for exploring new environments and socialising with other dogs. Make sure your puppy is trained to return to you when you call their name. 

You should never exercise your puppy on a full stomach as this can contribute to bloat.”

Below is an image from a 2 week old puppy, that shows just how much development of the joints is required (image courtesy of Dog Solutions).

X-ray of 2 week old puppy

Inbetween each joint at this age is a lot of cartilage. At the end of each joint is a growth plate, and any damage due to over-exercise can cause uneven growth of the plate, causing long term issues.

So take it easy and please follow the recommendations.

Kennel Club Breed Guide for German Shepherd Dogs: here

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