.... but please .... not too much .... too soon.
Never more than five minutes per day - for each month of your puppy’s age.
A 4 month old puppy should be limited to 20mins daily free running
To understand why we say this, we need to have a very quick look at bone and joint growth and development in puppies - particularly those of larger dogs like Labradors.
- A puppy bones / joints don’t fully set until they’re at least 12 months old.
- Until the bones have fully hardened - the hip and elbow joints will not fully set.
- Until this “setting” takes place - any “rattling” or over exercise of these joints, will result in a loose and irregular final fit.
- Even though both parents may have excellent hip / elbow scores, it’s still very possible for a puppy to develop hip / elbow dysplasia - caused by over exercise.
- There’s no real cure for this - and at best - will result in painful arthritis.
Read that again - please - it’s important!
Let’s have a look at how you can help prevent this tragedy happening to your puppy.
- For the first couple of months, an 4ft x4ft “solid concrete” based outside pen is “more than enough” - providing plenty of room for sun-bathing / playing and
free exercise. The arrangement on the right is made from a disused guinea pig run - nicely protected from the weather and ideal for those first few months.
- Alternatively - and during the summer months - a pen made up of “exterior” quality panels - plugging into a “flat” lawn is fine.
To try to save your lawn, you’ll need to pick a new site each day.
- Having said all that, by far the best arrangement that I’ve found is the Crufts puppy pen.
It’s “self contained” - and can easily be moved around the outside of the house - or inside - as the seasons vary and winds change.
It comes with a removable and washable floor - very
If you’ve ever tried cleaning puppy ”poo” off a lawn or a concrete floor or patio, you’ll fully appreciate the advantage of that.
- At 3 months, start daily walks on a “non-extending”lead .... and on a good “firm” surface like a road - for about 100 yards, gradually building up the
distance to, at 6 months, about 300 yards.
This provides an opportunity to introduce your dog the outside world of traffic, people and the general noises of everyday life. If a car’s approaches - then
kneel and gently “re-assure” your puppy. Try to look at it from its level There’s this enormous and noisy “animal - type - thing” rushing towards it!
Apart from being loving, it helps to establish you as a caring “Pack Leader”.
- If - when out walking - your puppy stops and sits down, you’ve almost certainly overdone it and will need to be carried home.
- Never allow your puppy free running with an older dog - it will try to keep up!
By all means let them meet and play for 4 or 5 minutes, but keep it within the
pen or a small confined area - under your ever watchful eye - see
- Avoid stairs - there’s nothing worse for a puppy’s hips and elbows than allowing it to run up and down stairs. If you want it upstairs, carry it up - and down again.
Speaking frankly - I would avoid them altogether - until it’s at least 2 years old
- At 6 months, ... free running should be moderate at first - say 20 minutes per day, on that “ firm” surface. Swimming is excellent exercise - just be careful
about how it gets in and out of the water. Steep, muddy banks are definitely “not good”.
- At 9 months, ....remembering all that we’ve said so far, the combination of walks on the lead and free running can build up to 30 minutes / 1 mile ...on a good “ firm” surface.
- If you can do all these things - then at 12-15 months your young dog should be healthy, fully developed, and, with proper training, will happily travel much
further than you’d dream of - love it - and come back for more.
We can’t over-stress the importance of being very careful for that first year!
Just in passing .......
- Never allow your dog to remain cold and wet after a swim or walk in the rain.
- Towel dry as best you can - not forgetting the ears (be gentle with the insides) and the tail - not forgetting the root.
- Never allow your dog to have vigorous exercise - just before or after a meal.
You or I would get indigestion - it could be fatal for your dog.
- Up until it’s at least 15 months old - don’t allow it to jump up or down from the back of the car - it’s bad for its hips and elbows.