Kahlua is almost 6 months old now, and I've been rollerblading and biking with her regularly for weeks now. We usually go for about a half hour or so. We also go for very long walks, sometimes an hour or two, up to 10 km.
I've always believed that the best thing you can do for your dog is to give her lots and lots of exercise (obviously without pushing her past exhaustion), but tonight at obedience class the trainer told me that what I'm doing is too much at her age, and that she shouldn't be subjected to "forced running" until the age of 18 months, or even walks over a half hour. Her reasoning is that it's hard on her growing bones and joints. She recommends instead "free running", such as playing fetch, running free, etc... But this is nothing like travelling with your dog.
I love running Kahlua and until now I thought I was doing it for her benefit. It is also very relaxing and I find it's a great way to connect with her. I don't want to harm her, but I don't want to deprive her of this great activity if it's not actually hurting her. I should add that she makes it very clear when she doesn't feel like running anymore, and I slow down to accommodate her pace. Any advice? Thanks a lot!
That's the advice I was given by Jes's ortho vet - no forced running before 18 months even for otherwise healthy pups. The repetitive motion that occurs with leashed running can be really hard on the joints. Although I didn't really understand it, I took his word for it...there is a difference between playing fetch and leashed running. What you're describing does sound like a lot for a 6 month old pup.
I have heard that (no leashed running before 18 months) from a few reputable sources as well (vet, breeder)
The way it was explained to me was that labs will go through just about anything to be with their owners, they won't stop running if they get sore, get tired, etc., because being with you is the most important thing in their mind! So I guess even if it seems like they're having fun, it could be stressing them out at the same time!
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Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Our vet told us the same. It's killing me, because I can't wait to take Brees with me on my runs. I walk her about 20-30 mins at a time, usually as long as my kids can walk without getting too adventurous.
She is definitely too young for strenuous activities. You want to hold off all forced exercise (running, roller blading and very long walks) until she is at least 18 months. Ideally, you should wait until she is 2. Your trainer is absolutely right about the joints forming.
Many people follow the '5 minute' rule -- 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. So at 6 months she needs about 30 minutes. Providing it is not forced exercise it won't kill her to do a bit more than that. Off leash free running and swimming are great low impact exercises.
You can do long term joint damage by doing forced on leash running at that age. Your trainer is right. Wait until 18 months at the minimum.
Call your vet if you want to doublecheck.
I throw my "yes, stop the forced exercise" in as well. Many breeders I know actually will put in their contracts, no jogging or strenuous running until 18 months.
I was told no forced running (roller blading/jogging even at a "slowish" pace/biking) with labs until they are fully grown (18mts minimum, but more often than not i've heard it's best to wait until they are two years old).
Reasons I was given are the same as above. This is why I adopted an older dog (just under 2) from a rescue, I was already jogging and did not want to wait two years to bring my dog jogging.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky