I've read a lot of threads on here about excercise and jogging hurting a puppy's joints and I'm still a little unsure of what is safe. Jake is around 6 months old. He loves to play fetch. He runs hard for the ball and hard back to me. We play in our yard. Usually our heavy play sessions last anywhere from 10-30 minutes at a time. When he stops running/trotting back to us quite as vigorously then we stop the play and let him rest. Is this ok?
What exactly is the best exercise for a VERY energetic pup? We don't go on leash walks - we live in the country and we have a large yard that we walk around in and our yard is bordered by woods that we go for walks in. Jake is a homebody and does not let us out of his sight so we never feel the need to have him on a leash during these walks (while at home). He loves the walks around the yard or woods!
Another question, our front yard is quite sloped. When we play fetch there instead of the back yard he runs up hill to bring the ball back. He seems to love it but is running up hill bad for him? Should we just stick to the back yard which is more flat?
Thanks in advance. I'm new to dog ownership and this site has been extremely helpful!
By all means, I am not an expert on this, but when Coco was puppy, I didn't know
any better ( I wish I knew about this lab forum back then) so I let Coco play
fetch in the big school yard. She loved it, ran really really hard. One day she was trying to
get a tennis ball, and slipped on the wet grass, torn her knee ligament. So she now has
a titanium (sp?) in her back leg, and she is not allowed to play fetch at all. (because her other
back leg is not doing well.) I feel really bad for let this happen since playing fetch was her
"purpose in life"
I will not allowing my new puppy to run hard to fetch things. Now that I know that no hard
running until 18 month old.
Hope someone with more experience can give you a better input.
The rule of thumb that I learned here is 5 mins. per age up to an hour. This is at one time, not necessarily in the whole day. Every dog is different so you will need to see what is best for your dog. The jogging isn't good because it is pounding on the joints which isn't good until they are fully grown - about 2 yrs old. My male does great with a good 45min. walk and then just doggie play in the evenings. My female requires more - she enjoys the walk but really needs another 1-2 rounds of retrieving before she really settles well in the evenings. You just have to know your dog because some will become so obsessed with retrieving they just won't stop.
Sharon, loved by Moose & Sky
Tal is 5 months and I play retrieve with him. It usually lasts about 20 - 30 a session. He will run to get the object, sometimes hard sometimes not, but he will always just kind of trot back....with this look what I found expression on his face.
I never let his play session go for longer that that. I also never throw the object high enough where he will need to jump to catch it either. When it is raining or really wet I just take him for walks and play tug o war with him.
I am not a runner but I do like to bike. I have resigned myself that I cannot take him with me on rides until he is about 2, like another poster said.
In order to burn some of that energy and also keep his retrieve and search and find skills good, you can play hide and seek in the house (hide his food in a kong or something like that) and let him find it. It builds self confidence in him and channels that puppy energy constructively. I do that with Tal esp on rainy days.
I also throw his ball away from the direction he runs in...partly because that prevents him from sliding to get the ball and it also makes him have to find the ball...and I can tell he is proud of himself when he does!
Hope this helps and good luck!
Its sounds as though you are doing everything right. Personally, I think off leash walks where the dog is free to explore at his or her own kind of pace is one of the best types of exercises.What exactly is the best exercise for a VERY energetic pup? We don't go on leash walks - we live in the country and we have a large yard that we walk around in and our yard is bordered by woods that we go for walks in. Jake is a homebody and does not let us out of his sight so we never feel the need to have him on a leash during these walks (while at home). He loves the walks around the yard or woods!
Retrieving is also great exercise, but I would not do it for 30 minutes every day with a 6 month old pup. The reason behind this is because when the pup is running towards the ball he must come to an erupt stop to catch it which stresses the joints. Also, depending on how you throw the ball, it probably involves some leaping in the air. If you want to have a good session of fetch make sure you are throwing the ball along the floor and not in the air (I use a Chuck-It turned upside down to achieve this).
Running up the hill in your yard should be fine. It is a good way of building muscle and strengthening the joints.
Back to the retrieves, Labs are hunting dogs, so 'proper' retrieves where the dog DOES get to hunt are much more exciting AND mentally stimulating/satisfying than standard retrieves with a ball. To stimulate your dogs natural hunting instincts, tie him up to something in your yard. Purchase some training dummies if you don't have any already. Walk a fair distance away and toss the dummy high up in the air. The dog should 'mark' the fall of the dummy with his eyes. Go back to the dog, make him wait for 30 seconds and realease him. He will love the anticipation of this game.
Thanks for the advice everyone! It makes me feel better. Occasionally he does slide in and sometimes even tumbles around when he gets to the ball which worries me (it's not that often, mostly just when he is super excited). I'm going to try to throw the ball easier and lower to the ground to avoid jumping as much as possible.
Jake is a jumpy dog and I'm trying to teach him "No Jump" (any advice there will be helpful).
Trickster - that is a great idea about tying him up and then letting him hunt. I think he'll really enjoy that! We'll try it out this weekend! (Although I worry that when he is tied up he'll jump around the whole time while he wait?)
Me and my fiance are hikers - would it be ok for us to take him with us on these excursions? Sometimes the terrain is rocky and steep or uneven or sometimes even slick rocks or gravel. Maybe we could start off on a simple trail and see how he does? Should we wait until he's older to try this?
My understanding of the exercise is that it shouldn't be forced exercise. I take Oakley on hikes at the local park. We are gone about an hour. But she chooses when she runs, when she rests and when she walks. When a person is running with a dog, the dog can't stop and walk.
So as long as we don't worry about keeping any kind of steady pace we should be ok? We would take our leash but probably won't use it unless there is a specific need to. We don't want to have to leash him - he doesnt like it and neither to we! He always stays pretty close and won't let us out of his site when we are in the woods around our house.
Edit. PS - We never run on our hikes - just walk.
I would work on leash manners... he may not like it, but there will be times where he must be leashed (the vet's office, for example), and good behaviour is always less stressful for both of you.
At 6 months he is too young for serious hikes. How long are your hikes? a one hour hike now and then won't hurt but at his young age it should not be a regular thing. Shorter off leash walks and play sessions are far better for a pup. I would avoid really rocky surfaces with all dogs because it can hurt their paws.