Here’s a guide to exercising your puppy – keep your puppy’s health and safety as the number one priority.

Woman running in summer park

When we first bring our puppy home, we want to show them the great outdoors! But don’t forget that your puppy is growing and there’s a right way to exercise them at this stage.

Has your puppy been vaccinated?

First things first: if your puppy hasn’t completed their core round of vaccinations, they shouldn’t be leaving the house. Their immune systems aren’t equipped with the tools to fend off viruses and bacteria and you have no idea of other pets’ vaccination statuses. While it’s tempting to take them out, you’ll have to be patient while they acclimatise to their new world. Vaccinate your puppy at your local Greencross Vets and 1-2 weeks after their final vaccination booster, you can head outside and begin exercising in earnest!

How and where to start exercising a puppy

Once they’ve hit the milestone of their core vaccinations, your puppy can explore the park. Your focus at this time should be on socialisation with other people and dogs of all different ages and sizes. Here, your puppy will learn the lessons they need to interact with other dogs. Keep a close eye on their level of exhaustion and take them home if they’re becoming too tired.

Your park play date should be less about the distance covered, and more about discovering new things and getting them used to being off the lead. We don’t advise going off leash in an unfenced park, but be sure to check park signage to make sure they are allowed to go off leash. It’s important to be aware of the roads near any park and if in doubt, keep some treats in your back pocket to entice them back if they wander too far.

When can I start running with my puppy?

If you’ve adopted a puppy with the hope of gaining a running partner, you’ll have to be patient. Puppies need exercise, but it’s crucial to remember that they are developing and growing, and their joints and bones are not the strength of an adult dog. Your puppy needs to hit some key milestones before pounding the pavement by your side. Check in with your vet to work out the best time for you and your puppy to hit the streets, but be aware that you’ll need to wait until they are quite well developed and at least over nine months old. Once the vet has given you the go-ahead, also be aware that you need to start slowly so you’re not putting too much pressure on your pet.

What else do I need to be aware of?

When the temperature rises, be mindful of your puppy’s water intake and exposure to hot pavements. Pups can be more susceptible to dehydration and hot footpaths can damage their paw pads. In the heat of summer, walk your pet in the morning and evening, avoiding the blaring sun of noon. When you’re at the park, seek out the shade on a hot day and hang out near the water bowl, reminding your pet to drink. It’s good to bring some water, just in case.

You’re definitely going to have fun together, but just be aware of your puppy’s exercise needs and limits. Focus on socialisation and get to know their energy levels so you can work out the best routine for everyone. If you’re unsure about the best way to exercise your puppy, your local Greencross Vets team will be happy to work with you to develop a personalised exercise routine.