Puppy Exercise and Play

Basics of Puppy Play

Exercise and play with your puppy can lead to a happy, healthy life together. Whether your puppy is a big Great Dane or a teeny-tiny Yorkshire Terrier, he needs exercise every day.

The Basics

Here are some ways to get started on making exercise and play a part of your regular schedule:

  • Walking outside knocks out a few things your puppy needs: exercise, exploration, practice with commands, and knowing when and where to potty.
  • Sign up for an agility or obedience class together. Besides learning something new, your puppy will enjoy playing with other puppies.
  • Play a game! Games like fetch, flying disc and tug of war are not just fun. They also provide your puppy with mental stimulation, too!
  • Have a treadmill? Use it! Treadmills are great for exercising your puppy when you can’t get him outside. Make sure to start slow and train him to walk calmly on the treadmill in a fun, positive manner. Puppies on treadmills should be monitored at all times.

Exercise Do’s and Don’ts

DO consider your puppy's needs and present physical condition. Puppies should not be stressing their growing bones, joints and muscles through excessive jumping or strenuous exercise. (Click here to learn how much exercise your puppy needs.)

DO go slow! If you have not exercised your puppy regularly don't jump into a rigorous exercise program. Begin with short periods of activity and gradually increase the time, speed and distance.

DO begin walking or running with your puppy on soft surfaces such as dirt, sand or grass until his pads toughen. Keep your puppy's nails trimmed so they won't tear as he runs.

DO place a reflective collar on your puppy, use a bright leash and wear white or light-colored clothing so the two of you can be seen if exercising at night. (Learn how to leash train your puppy.)

DON’T exercise your puppy immediately before or after he has eaten; a full stomach may cause digestive upsets.

DO check your puppy's feet for burrs, grass, thorns, rocks or ice and snow. All of which should be removed immediately. Important: check carefully for ticks after exercising outdoors.

DO obey local laws about using a leash and always promptly clean up after your puppy. Your local police department or animal control department can tell you more about laws in your area.

DO give your puppy small amounts of water before and after exercise.

IMPORTANT: DON’T go out in extreme weather conditions. Running in the heat or cold is dangerous for puppies. Just because your puppy may be willing to jog with you in 90-degree heat doesn't mean it is safe for him to do so.


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