Their bones do not even touch yet. They plod around so cutely with big floppy paws and wobbly movement because their joints are entirely made up of muscle, tendons, ligaments with skin covering. Nothing is fitting tightly together or has a true socket yet.
When you run them excessively or don’t restrict their exercise to stop them from overdoing it during this period you don’t give them a chance to grow properly. Every big jump or excited, bouncing run causes impacts between the bones. In reasonable amounts this is not problematic and is the normal wear and tear that every animal will engage in. This is a baby puppy who had a knock to his elbow and wasn’t using it properly. There is nothing wrong in these x-rays, thankfully it is a soft tissue injury and he is expected to be fine.
But when you’re letting puppy jump up and down off the lounge or bed, take them for long walks/hikes, you are damaging that forming joint. When you let the puppy scramble on tile with no traction you are damaging the joint.
You only get the change to grow them once. A well built body is something that comes from excellent breeding and a great upbringing-BOTH, not just one.
Once grown you will have the rest of their life to spend playing and engaging in higher impact exercise. So keep it calm while they’re still little baby puppies and give the gift that can only be given once.
Here’s another, this time it’s is an X-ray of a 2 week old puppy, it really shows how far the bones have to grow before they become a proper joint!
Puppy exercise is so important as young dogs undergo significant physical changes.
Most growth takes place between the ages of 4 to 8 months however, in some large/giant dog breeds the growth plates may remain open up to 18-20 months!
There is no question that puppies LOVE to exercise & we want nothing more than to make them happy BUT puppy exercise limits MUST be applied to prevent damage to the puppy’s developing skeletal system.
So here’s our SuPaw guide to help:
Over-training, such as long-distance running, is unhealthy for young dogs and the benefits are minimal. Some dogs are driven to exercise and, as owners, we feel we are doing them a service by giving them what they want…..so, what is enough?
Appropriate Puppy Exercise 0-6mths:
Walking – slow, short walks up to 30 mins, with plenty of opportunities for your puppy to stop & sniff sniff sniff
Formal skills training – sit, stay, down, touch – no more than 2 mins per session.
Free play – no more than 10 mins; discourage rough play, such as body slamming.
Chasing objects – roll balls and drag toys along the ground. Avoid repetitive ball throwing & chasing.
Tugging – do not pull against the dog – hold the toy and let the puppy pull against you; keep the toy low, to maintain the puppy’s neck in a straight line with its back.
Avoid – direct running, jumping, indoor/outdoor stairs, fast turns, sudden stops like chasing a ball!
Young puppies, up to six months, should not be exercised with the intent to increase strength or endurance. These puppies should be allowed to play naturally, i.e. self-directed play.
Jumping is often encouraged, with little understanding of the damage it can cause a young pup. Do not allow your puppy up on high objects without good supervision and assist them when getting down.
Hope this insight is useful! We hope you’ll share this with all your friends and fellow puppy owners – let’s spread the word and make positive changes!