How much exercise is too much for a puppy?

Posted by crazycrayonmom
Dec 8, 2009
We like to hike and I'm wondering how much is too much for Max (yellow lab/golden retreiver 11 weeks old)? I thought I would do a short hike in the morning with him and save the long hike without him for later. But I don't know how long I should go without risking injury to his growing joints. Should I keep it really short like a mile or less? My regular hikes are generally 2-4 hours through varying terrain depending on where we're staying at the time.
Posted by LetsPlay
Dec 10, 2009
Hi there,

my vet always says that puppies don't need any formal exercise until they are at least 6 months old. His view is that playing and training in the backyard (as well as socilaizing with other dogs) should be enough to make a puppy tired without damaging the growing joints.

A breeder I know always says that dogs shouldn't run on hard surfaces until they are 12 months old.

A dog trainer I know says that a puppy can go for 30 minute walks as soon as they have all their shots (around 12 weeks) and it's good to expose them to lots of different environments (parks, playgrounds, woods, busy streets, bus stops etc) from early on and the best way to do that is to go for a walk

Another trainer I know says that a dog needs to be trained before you take him or her out into the big wide world, so practice walking on a leash in your garden and make sure you are the Alpha Dog before you go for a walk.

Large breeds tend to have joint problems easier, so take it easy.

From my personal experience I would not take my 11 week old puppy for a 2-4 hour hike. I would play fetch in the garden and maybe walk them around the neighbor hood for 15-20 minutes depending on the energy levels that particular dog has.

Once they are 4-6 months old you could increase the lengths, but as you can see everyone has different ideas about it, so it's best to find the middle way.

I'd be interested what other members think.
Posted by kjd
Dec 11, 2009
I agree with LetsPlay that 11 weeks is much to young for a 2-4 hour hike. I would add that when it is time to increase the length of the walk, it should be done gradually just as for any athlete. Long-distance runners don't start out running 5 miles.

You can tell for yourself if LetsPlay's vet is correct. After a rousing game of chase with your puppy, does he take a nap? (You have to stop the game first. My vet warned me that a dog will keep up with you until his heart bursts. Your puppy won't want to stop playing -- if you have kids, you can see the same thing there. They'll want to play another game even as their eyelids sag closed!)

Remeber that the 11 month old puppy is still a puppy. Would you take a young child for a 2-4 hour hike?

OK, I've weighed in on the side of short walks.

Posted by crazycrayonmom
Dec 11, 2009
You've pretty much validated my plan. I think I'll continue to take him for short wandering walks in the early morning, short training in the early afternoon, short walk in late afternoon and another training session before supper. I never planned on taking him with (oops a I slipped a little Minnesota in my message on one of my 2 hour + jaunts. Unless he would ride in my all-terrain jogging stroller with my 3 year old.

I asked the vet I use when I'm in this area and he said the dog will let me know when he's tired, right . . . when I'm 3 miles away from the RV and have to carry him back?? Not!:eek:
Posted by richydehav
Oct 11, 2011
I'm glad I found this thread as I have a 4 month old springer spaniel/english cocker spaniel cross and she loves to run around and chase balls.
I have been taking her to our local woods every morning for about a 40 minute stroll with her off the leash (also have a 4 year old english cocker spaniel) and then for another walk in the park in the evening.
In between they have access to the garden.
I thought she would stop running when she got tired and this would be a good indication of exercise levels but opinion seems to vary. One vet said it was fine but another suggested shorter walks but more often.
Probably throwing a ball is wrong as that would encourage her to run more and also faster than if she is just off the leash while we walk.