If you’ve just got a new puppy, you may be wondering how much exercise does a 10-week-old puppy need? The answer is much less than you probably think. As a general rule, puppies require 5 minutes of exercise for every month of their lives.
When we first get a puppy, most dog owners picture long rambling walks in the countryside with their new best friend; indeed, this is one of the great joys of owning a dog.
However, it’s easy to forget that your new best friend is just a baby. Like human babies, they expend a lot of their energy just growing, so their physical ability is limited in the first few weeks and too much exercise can do more harm than good.
Plus, puppies are not allowed out and about until they are fully vaccinated, which is usually when they are around 12 weeks old, so puppy walking outdoors will need to wait a while
Keep reading to find out how to exercise puppies safely in the early weeks, how long to walk a puppy, larger breeds’ exercise needs and the risks of over-exercise.
What New Dog Owners Need to Know About Exercising Puppies
Puppy exercise at 8 weeks old
A puppy of this age doesn’t need much-structured exercise at all; they get all they need from investigating the world and playing.
There is no need to walk a puppy at this age and they are too young to go outside, so a few play sessions and some basic training are all that is needed to tire pups of this age out.
How much exercise does a 10-week-old puppy need?
The good news is as your new furry pal gets older, they will be awake longer, but at this age, they still haven’t been fully inoculated, so a few minutes of walking a day in the garden is enough, and you can use this time to get them used to their harness and leash.
How far can a 12-week-old puppy walk?
This is the age proper pup walks usually begin; you can walk a puppy of 12 weeks old, not a long walk, about 15 minutes is ideal, take it slow and let Fido sniff. As we mentioned earlier, this tires them out more than just walking.
Large Breeds Vs Smaller Dogs
Giant and larger breed dogs grow quickly and mature slower than small dogs, so their puppy exercise guidelines differ slightly. There is much more chance of over-exercising a large dog and damaging its joints, so short walks are a must until they are fully grown.
Toy breeds mature more quickly; they require small, frequent daily feedings as puppies and will need to relieve themselves more.
Older puppies may go for longer walks than a large breed of a similar age, but remember they have little legs and will tire quickly.
The Risks of Too Much Exercise
It’s hard to believe, but even though puppies are often more energetic than adult dogs, they need less exercise. Long walks, jogging, cycling or endless games of fetch can damage the growth plates in your pup’s joints and cause health issues like hip dysplasia and arthritis later in life.
Dog ownership is a series of choices and keeping puppy walking to a minimum when your new companion is still a baby is one of the best you can make!
If you are worried or unsure about how much exercise a puppy needs, your vet will be happy to advise you.
Other Activities to Exercise Your Puppy
Chew toys – Puppies love to chew, so protect your furniture and best shoes by getting them some toys to sink their teeth into.
There are thousands to choose from online, or you can make your own with a small plastic bottle encased in a sock. Either way, these are great if you are going to leave your pup alone for a little while
Basic training – A healthy puppy is like a sponge soaking up new experiences, so this is the best time to get them started on some basic training. You could start using a clicker or use simple commands such as sit and come.
You could even try some leash training in the garden. Not only is obedience training a valuable part of your puppy’s exercise it will help prevent behavioural problems later on.
Obstacle courses – Puppies can’t do agility until they are fully grown, but you can still set up an obstacle course in your living room that they’ll enjoy.
Of course, they won’t be jumping and tackling the course at full speed, but an upturned cardboard box, maybe some cones to weave through and a pause box will help your pup improve coordination and flexibility.
Puppies can be wary of new experiences, so use different surfaces, perhaps a cushion, or attach a carrier bag to one of the obstacles. Hence, they get used to different noises etc.
Puzzle toys – If you have a working breed like a Labrador, Border Collie or Springer Spaniel, who are naturally high energy, puzzle toys are an excellent way to keep them from becoming bored whilst giving their brain a workout.
Dogs can run for hours, but 5 to 10 minutes of concentration is exhausting, and they’ll definitely be ready for a nice nap.
Tug of war – This is an exercise puppies love; surprisingly, it’s one of the most intensively physical activities you can do with your dog.
Obviously, your new puppy only has baby teeth, so don’t go yanking too hard and you can also do some training while you play. Teach them the leave command and to sit in between tugs.
Fetch – Some puppies love tug of war; others love a game of fetch, and it’s a great way to exercise your puppy in the garden or indoors.
You don’t need to be throwing the ball or toy at great distances. Just roll it along the floor for them to retrieve with lots of praise and rewards when they bring it back.
Retrieving – If you have a breed of dogs like a Golden Retriever, Beagle, Lab, or Spaniel, chances are they will love seeking out and retrieving things.
This is a great game to play with a puppy and will hone their natural instincts without the risk of over-exercising or damaging their growing bones and joints.
Nose work – Dogs explore with their noses and sniffing gives them a great mental workout. In fact, some say that 10-20 minutes of nose work is equivalent to a 90-minute dog walk.
Hide some low-fat treats under plastic cups and watch your puppy work out how to get to them or scatter their kibble around so they have to work to find their food.
Some essential tips when exercising your puppy indoors
- Remember to select an activity that’s a good fit for your puppy’s age and breed.
- Supervise your puppy, don’t leave them alone with items that may be dangerous. You’d be surprised how quickly a pup can have something in bits where it becomes a choking hazard.
- Know your pup’s limits; exercise should be limited to a few short daily sessions.
The importance of mental stimulation
All breeds require mental stimulation, so incorporating challenging problem-solving activities and training into your exercise sessions is a great idea.
Working breeds, such as Border Collies, Belgian Malinois, Labs and German Shepherds, require more mental stimulation than other dogs.
Can I take my 12-week-old puppy for a walk?
If your pup has had all its vaccinations, it can start walking outdoors.
A good rule is to allow 5 minutes of walking for every month, so a 3-month-old puppy should have short walks of around 15 minutes. Let them go at their own pace and make it a positive experience.
Can puppies walk on pavements?
In theory, yes. However, walking long distances on hard surfaces may result in joint problems later in life, so try to find softer surfaces like grass in the early months.
Is it bad for puppies to run?
Puppies love to run, but doing too much at an early age can be detrimental to their overall health.
Keep running to a minimum and slowly build up the strength in your puppy’s joints before letting them run amok. This is an excellent time to practice leash training!
How long should a 10-week-old puppy be awake?
Like human babies, puppies spend a lot of time sleeping; a 10-week-old pup will probably sleep around 18-19 hours a day and be awake for about an hour at a time, 5 or 6 times over 24 hours.
We hope you’ve found our puppy exercise guide helpful. We’ve answered a few common questions, such as how far should I walk my puppy? Can you over-exercise a puppy and how many times a day should I walk my puppy?
If you are still unsure, see our tips on dog exercising in general or ring your vet, who will happily give you some advice.
There is quite a debate in the dog world about exercising dogs; the thing to remember is that a puppy doesn’t have the physical capabilities of an adult dog, even if they think they do.
Their growth plates in their joints are not fully developed and puppies walking too far could end up with serious future health problems, especially larger breeds.