Bringing home a new puppy can be great motivation for wanting to get outside and exercise, but there are two big reasons why it is IMPORTANT TO WAIT until your dog is FULLY MATURED before taking them on an expedition:

Reason one:
Did you know that dogs under six months of age are not developed enough to begin a running regimen? Unfortunately, it could actually injure a dog to run with them prior to full bone-growth development—usually around six to eight months, though it varies greatly from breed to breed.

Large dogs such as Great Danes and Scottish Deerhounds are advised to wait until the age of 1-1/2 to 2 years before they begin a rigorous routine. Lighter-boned dogs such as Whippets are ready to go in about eight months. Check with your vet to find out what limitations your puppy may have before taking them on a run.

If your dog is younger than eight months and you want to ensure they are getting the right amount of exercise, free play with other dogs and humans is the safest way to exercise them.

Reason two:
Puppy bones need time to develop, grow, and strengthen before they are ready to begin a structured running routine, but dogs also need to be mentally ready to handle exercise outside the home. It is necessary that your dog understands and responds to cues, and is able to walk on-leash before starting an exercise program.

Because running may include hazards such as cars, narrow trails, uneven ground, or drop-offs, it is important that a dog be under voice command and able to ignore distractions such as squirrels and other dogs before you take them out on a run.

9 thoughts

  1. Hi I need a little advice please…we live on a small tropical island and recently took in 2 abandoned pups aged approx 7 weeks (sisters from the same litter).

    I didn’t know that I shouldn’t run with them and was going to the beach a couple of times a week and running 1-2 km with the pups, they loved it and happily came with me even while my husband and kids played on the beach.

    Tragically one of them was killed by a truck last week. There are so many stray pups we took in another to keep the first pup company, a young dog (again about 6 weeks) and the first pup would now be 12-13 weeks I think. The older pup is clearly missing her sister and jumps up to me to take her running (I have been to the beach with the 2 dogs and my kids but can’t take her for a run until my husband is about to look after the kids and other pup) I think the elder pup is a bit depressed by her sister dying, and wants to run, but I was googling stuff on dogs tonight and see I should never have been running with her and may damage her joints etc. She is an athletic looking dog (mongrel short haired about the size of a lab or a bit bigger) and she wants to run with me, it would do her sadness good to exercise…what should I do?? And if I can run with her on sand can I let the new pup (also athletic looking, both dogs similar to lab size I would say) join in if she wants to? We are talking running on sand without a leash. Thanks heaps for your help.

    1. Thanks for writing to us and asking. At 6 weeks old, we would recommend against taking the new puppy running. It is great to take them to the beach to play freely and run around with the older dog – and maybe even swim (much less impact on the joints and great for muscle development). The same goes for the 12 week old. Depending on the breed, you want to wait until they are 8-16 months old. Check with your vet to makes sure that their joints have fully developed prior to starting them on the regimented running program.

      We hope that helps!

      Once they are fully developed, see our blog post on getting dogs into shape at: http://dogblog.ruffwear.net/2013/04/11/how-to-get-your-dog-in-shape-for-summer-adventure/

  2. True for high performance running, but I would like to see my puppies out there moving and scenting early on. Healthy basset hound puppies are able to go out and investigate new things very early on. I want them running to a recall and out independently exploring within reason.

    What I would not want is someone to read this article and decide to stay sitting in the living room instead of getting a puppy out and moving.

    So in addition to checking with your vet, check with your responsible breeder, shelter staff or trainer.

    And get those puppies moving!

    Sara

    1. Well said. While it is not recommended to rigorously run your puppy, exercise, exploration, and play are all a part of a healthy puppy routine!

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