How long can I walk my puppy?
Walking with your puppy and watching your puppy discover the world are things you have probably been looking forward to for months. Walking is important for so many reasons, but how long and how often can you walk your puppy?
We've created a puppy walking guide that's perfect for every month, from their first walk through to 9 months of age. How long and how often you can walk your puppy depends on the age of your puppy.
TIP: Sometimes you want to take a longer walk with a friend, or to give your older dog enough exercise. During longer walks you can use a carrying case from 4LazyLegs to use. For larger pups, a bicycle trailer or a folding wagon, such as these from TecTake , are a godsend.
Walking with a puppy from 8 to 12 weeks old
Usually you will see your puppy around 9 weeks old when he comes to live in your home. At this age, your puppy is still nice and clumsy and small, and walks should therefore be kept short.
With a 2-month-old puppy, it is best to walk for up to 10 minutes. The puppy will have to pee often, so you will have to take him outside more often. As the puppy gets older, you can go for a little longer walk. Keep a close eye on the puppy and carry your puppy if you notice that he is getting tired.
If you carry your puppy with you, you can still go for a longer walk with, for example, older dogs. Some puppies show virtually no fatigue, so you will have to protect them from themselves. Don't be tempted to walk with them for too long.
You can start walking loose at this age, where you can let your puppy loose for short distances. Only do this in safe places, of course, and practice the come back command at home so your puppy knows what it means when he hears his name or the command.
Make sure other dogs play quietly with your puppy, and only allow your puppy to play with healthy, fully vaccinated dogs if they are not yet fully vaccinated.
Walking with a 4 month old puppy
The general rule of thumb for puppy walks is to stick to a length of 5 minutes per month. So a 4-month-old puppy can walk for 20 minutes a day.
Large breed dogs or dogs with high energy levels can be walked twice a day, in addition to short urination rounds of course. Try to avoid wild games of fetch and rough play with these dogs. Controlled walking is good for the joints, while playing clumsily, turning quickly and running can damage the joints.
Breeds that may be prone to joint disease include:
- Great Danes
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Border Collies
- Golden Retrievers
- Australian Shepherds
Walking with a 5 month old puppy
When your puppy is 5 months old, you can add 5 more minutes to his walks so that he can now be outside for 25 minutes. Your puppy can now run loose on his walks, provided he listens carefully and doesn't bother other people and dogs. His bones, joints and muscles are still growing, so playing or running for too long can cause injuries and even permanent deformities.
If your puppy is a small breed, you may want to break this up into two daily walks instead of one so that he has more exposure to new stimuli.
Walking with a 6 month old puppy
Your puppy is now 6 months old and will be experiencing a significant growth spurt and increase in energy levels. He can now walk for 30 minutes, where he can also just go. Be sure to keep introducing him to new dogs who are calm and gentle to keep his experiences fun.
For small breeds, you can continue with either one 30-minute walk or two shorter walks per day. This is in addition to the shorter pee rounds of course.
With small breeds, pay even more attention that they are not played too wildly. Some big dogs see small dogs more as prey than playmates, so you sometimes have to step in to make sure your little dog doesn't have bad experiences and develop a fear of other dogs.
Walking with a 7 month old puppy
Another month older and probably bigger too! Your puppy can now walk for 35 minutes and run a little longer so that he can exercise a lot. Try taking him to a few new places so he can continue to experience new people, dogs, and environments. This will prevent him from becoming nervous about new situations as an adult dog.
Your puppy can walk for 35 minutes at this age, regardless of size. Although his joints are still growing, they are much stronger and the movement will help strengthen the muscles and tendons.
Always keep a close eye on your own puppy. If you notice that he gets tired quickly, you can shorten the walk. If you notice that your pup can handle the walks well, you can make them a little longer. Don't go too crazy though, and protect your pup from himself. Some pups know no boundaries, and literally play or run until they are broken.
Walking with an 8 month old puppy
Your puppy is now 8 months old, so he should be able to walk for 40 minutes daily. Continue to use the walks to introduce your adolescent pup to new things and try to train new things to work on his memory. The distractions are a great way to test his focus!
If you prefer to walk for 20 to 30 minutes twice a day, for example, that's fine. As long as your dog gets enough exercise during the day, this will not affect his development.
Walking with a 9 month old puppy
Now your puppy is 9 months old, and his joints and muscles are getting stronger. You can extend his daily walking time to 45 minutes. As he ages, your puppy will continue to experience growth spurts and his energy levels will increase.
When your puppy is 9 months old, he may benefit from one daily walk instead of 2 shorter walks. This depends on your own preference. Some people prefer to take their dog for a longer walk 3 or 4 times a day, while others take the dog for a long walk once, in addition to short urination rounds.
You can start playing dog sports, but wait with jumping, short turns and catching until your dog is fully grown. Usually this is around 18 months of age, but it can vary by breed.
|the age of the puppy||walking time|
|8 to 12 weeks old||up to 10-15 minutes|
|4 months old||up to 20 minutes|
|5 months old||up to 25 minutes|
|6 months old||up to 30 minutes|
|7 months old||up to 35 minutes|
|8 months old||up to 40 minutes|
|9 months old||up to 45 minutes|
Prepare for your walk
Before taking your puppy for a walk for the first time, it's a good idea to get him used to his leash. Many breeders pay attention to this, but it does not have to be. You can also choose to use a harness for your puppy in case he pulls, which will not put pressure on his neck.
Put the leash on a few times a day and walk your pup around the house. Get them used to walking quietly next to you. Try to get your pup's attention with a toy or snack. You want your puppy to have positive experiences with walking on a leash.
Before you start your first walk, you should have a route mapped out so you don't walk too far. You also need to decide how you handle meeting people and other dogs. If you see a dog approaching that you don't want to greet, simply turn around and walk in the opposite direction or cross the road.
Have a few tasty treats ready for your walk so you can get some exercise. Think of things like sitting at the curb before crossing the road, walking quietly next to you or not responding to passing cyclists or other dogs. It's never too early to start exercising!
Can you walk too much with a puppy?
Yes, you can over exercise your puppy, but what is too much for a puppy depends on the puppy's breed, size, age and physical condition. Sometimes it can be tricky to determine when your pup is starting to get tired. It is therefore better to protect him from himself and set a maximum walking time. Limit playing wildly with other dogs as well.
Excessive exercise at a young age can adversely affect a puppy's physical development, including the growth of bones, joints and muscles. Activities such as running, fetch and jumping put a lot of stress on a puppy's body, so it's best to take it easy and build up the walks and activities gradually.
Taking a 4- or 5-month-old puppy on a 10-kilometer forest trail is definitely too much exercise. They may be able to keep it up, but the pressure placed on their bones and muscles during that time can cause long-term health problems, such as bone deformities and spinal disorders.
Don't be tempted to go for a long walk with a puppy that seems to have endless energy. You see this a lot in Shepherds, Labradors, Collies and Poodles. You can tire these dogs better by keeping their brains active.
For example, there are endless brain games that you can purchase for your hyperactive pup. Such a game does not tire your puppy physically, but mentally, so that he can be calmer in the house. View for example this nice sniffing mat from Woef-It . Sniffing mats are useful for keeping your pup busy for a while and slowing down his food intake.
Can you walk too little with a puppy?
It's just as important to make sure you don't cut your puppy's walks too short. A puppy that does not have the opportunity to play, exercise and burn its food can quickly become overweight and bored, and its physical and mental development will suffer.
Decreased mobility leads to malformed joints and muscles and prevents your puppy from going through its normal growth period. An overweight puppy can suffer from a variety of conditions, including joint pain, breathing difficulties, diabetes and heart problems.
In addition, your puppy can develop behavioral problems if he is bored and cannot lose enough energy. If your pup can walk less due to health problems, for example, you can use brain training games to combat boredom.
The weather and walking with your pup
Always adjust your puppy's daily walks to suit the weather. In the hot summer months, it is best to walk early in the morning or late at night when the weather is cooler. This reduces the risk of heat stroke and burnt legs from hot asphalt.
In the winter months it is best to wait until lunchtime, which is the hottest part of the day. However, if you have a breed that is adapted to cold temperatures, then you don't need to make any changes to your winter walks. These varieties include:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Saint Bernard
Breeds with very minimal body fat, such as greyhounds and whippets, should wear a dog coat during the colder months to retain their body heat. You also need to be careful in cold weather with small breed puppies. Because they are so small, they lose heat very quickly.
Exercise your pup on the walk
Training on the walk is important for all dogs, as the stimulation of a walk really helps to reinforce the training you have already started at home.
Working breeds or animals with a high drive will especially benefit from a mentally stimulating walk with short training sessions, rather than a short walk around the block and sniffing the neighbors bushes.
Breeds that require a lot of attention to training include:
- German Shepherds
- Malinois Shepherds
- Border Collies
Of course any breed will benefit, you will find that your puppy is less likely to engage in destructive behaviors at home if his walks are both mentally and physically stimulating.
Your pup's body language during walks
Pay close attention to your puppy during walks. If your pup starts to get tired, he'll show it through his body language. He may lower his head to the ground, drag his paws, or even stop to sit or lie down. These are all clear signs that your puppy is tired and needs rest.
If you get to this point on a walk, it's fine to carry your puppy the rest of the way home. If you're close to home, you can wait 5 minutes if your puppy wants to take a little break, but judge it carefully. You don't want your puppy to get hurt by walking too far or too fast.
As we mentioned earlier, not all puppies clearly indicate that they are tired. Dogs of active working breeds are sometimes so enthusiastic and playful that they easily push their own physical limits. So always keep a limit with these breeds, which you slowly increase as the dog gets older. Protect your pup from his own enthusiasm.
Author: Tom Marr viahondenblog.nl
Illustrations: Antonia Oana
This BLOG has been posted on our website as a guest blog with the author's approval.