It can seem like Labrador puppies have an endless supply of energy, and this can lead new dog owners to think that a puppy needs a lot of exercises to tire him out.
In this article, we will take a look at how your puppy is developing, and work out exactly how much exercise does a Lab puppy need.
We will also look at some alternative healthy ways to help you tire your bouncy pup out so that he doesn’t drive you and your family crazy by bouncing around at home or being destructive because he’s bored.
In this article, we will discuss:
- How much is a puppy supposed to sleep?
- Why do puppies need regular exercise?
- How can over-exercising harm your lab puppy?
- What are the different types of exercise for your lab puppy?
- Alternative ways to tire your puppy out
How Much Is A Puppy Supposed To Sleep?
When you first bring your Labrador puppy home at 10-weeks-old, he will be so small and want to spend a lot of his time sleeping.
It is often surprising for new puppy owners to discover just how much sleep a new puppy needs throughout the day.
Families with children have to be extra disciplined to make sure that the puppy is given enough time and space to rest at intervals throughout the day.
It can be tempting to let children play with the puppy for a long time because it helps to keep both the puppy and the kids occupied, but this is not a good idea.
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It is common for a 10-week-old puppy to be sleeping between 18 and 20 hours a day!
It is advised to encourage this amount of sleep by making the most of the time when your puppy is awake, as these are the perfect windows of opportunity for playtime, training, and socialization so that they settle down quickly for their essential naps.
When your puppy sleeps, their brain works hard to process all of the information that is being taken in during the day, and there is a lot of things your puppy is discovering and learning about his new world and everything in it.
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As a puppy gets older, they will need less time to process all of this further information, but sleep is still essential for healthy growth and development.
Why Do Puppies Need Regular Exercise?
Regular exercise is essential. It helps to burn extra calories so that your puppy doesn’t become overweight.
It also helps to build up strength and stamina, and ensure that joints remain healthy and the body functions as it is supposed to.
Without regular exercise, the body is more prone to injury. This is true for humans, dogs, and animals of all kinds.
Puppyhood is a delicate time; however, as your puppy’s body is still growing and can be vulnerable.
This means that it is vital to choose the right kinds of exercise and be sure not to over-exercise your pup and cause damage.
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Damage caused by over-exercising or not choosing the right kinds of exercise for a puppy may not be visible while they are young. Still, the adverse effects may be seen later on in life, and they are often irreversible.
How Can Over Exercising Harm Your Lab Puppy?
When you decided to bring a Labrador puppy into your life, you probably did so with it in mind that you would be able to go on long walks and enjoy getting out in the fresh air more with the family.
When your puppy is still young and full of beans, it is common for new puppy owners to want to spend a lot of time with them in the park or going for walks.
Puppies seem to be full of energy after all, and they would dearly love to chase a ball for hours and run in the grass.
But that doesn’t mean that you should let them. Doing so can be very harmful.
If your puppy has just had their vaccinations, you are probably eager to take them on their first walk, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what “over-exercising” looks like from the start so that you don’t make any mistakes and end up hurting your dog or creating any long-term damage.
There is a useful rule that most reputable dog breeders and trainers go by, and if you attend puppy classes with your new lab pub, you are sure to hear it many times over.
How Much Exercise Does A Lab Puppy Need
The rule is that a puppy should be walked for no more than 5 minutes per month of age.
This means that if you have a three-month-old puppy, you should not be walking him for more than 15 minutes a day.
Many new puppy owners will completely ignore this advice because it doesn’t sound like 15 or even 20 minutes would be enough.
You can barely walk around the block in that short amount of time!
But if you want to look after your new puppy’s developing bones and joints, you should take this seriously. It is especially essential to advise for larger dog breeds like Labradors.
Exercise could be a factor in the development of some severe joint disorders. Breeders are aware that hip dysplasia can be influenced by genetics, and so lab puppies may be more susceptible to these conditions as they get older.
This is why it is so important to look after their health and early development.
You might not be able to stick religiously to the 5-minute-rule, but it acts as an excellent guide, helping you to stay on the safe side with your pup’s future health.
What Are The Different Types Of Exercise For Your Lab Puppy?
It is essential to consider the different types of exercise your pup is getting to make sure that they stay safe and don’t overdo it, even when they are inside the house.
One thing to remember is that free-running exercise at home or in the garden doesn’t count towards your pup’s 5-minute-rule walk.
The 5-minute-rule applies to walks because of the continuous and repetitive strain it puts on the joints. Free running exercise, on the other hand, is a much more natural form of exercise for your puppy.
In the litter, they would generally be playing with their littermates in bursts, and this playtime would rarely be monitored to avoid over-exercising.
Instead, the puppies follow themselves, taking regular breaks to rejuvenate themselves when they need too.
If you have young children at home who want to play with the puppy, by all means, encourage this, as your puppy will get plenty of safe exercises this way.
But make sure that the puppy is also allowed to slink off by itself for a power nap or a roll around in his bed when he gets tired. Your children should also be educated in playing safely with the puppy.
If you want to take your puppy out with you, but you know that you will be walking for longer than their allocated walking time.
It is fine to pick your puppy up and carry them so that they can have regular breaks, and then let them down for free-play in the park when you want to sit on a bench for a little while.
If you’re going to take your puppy into town with you, why not make use of puppy slings, pet carriers, or even a pet stroller?
Stair climbing is best avoided if you have a developing puppy as there is too much pressure applied to the joints at awkward angles.
Most puppies will charge up and downstairs, and they can sometimes trip or miss a stair or two. Falls like this all put extra strain on their developing joints and bones.
If you can, you should erect stair gates to prevent your puppy from using the stairs, and then carry them up and down them.
Studies have shown that puppies that climb stairs regularly are at increased risk of hip dysplasia.
Strenuous exercise is also not advised. For example, climbing up steep hills, walking at an unnaturally fast pace while on the leash, and hard running.
In general, if your puppy runs about at its speed, this should be fine, but anything more for extended periods will put the puppy at risk.
Alternative Ways To Tire Your Puppy Out
If you are following the 5-minute-rule, you may be worried that your dog won’t get enough physical exercise to tire him out so that he sleeps at home rather than causes trouble.
The good news is that there are plenty of different ways to tire your puppy out, some of which are far more effective than physical exercise like a walk.
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Mental stimulation is far more effective, not to mention a productive way to spend your puppy’s energy.
When your puppy uses its brain to work things out, he uses up lots of energy, and this is gentle on his growing body.
There are many different ways that you can provide your curious puppy with mental stimulation to use up all of that excess energy.
Here are some ideas:
- Training – The most obvious way to encourage a puppy to use its brain is to engage him in short training sessions. There are so many things that you will want your new puppy to learn. There are all the basic commands like sit, down, stay, and recall. There are also impulse control behaviors like wait or stay, and leave-it. You can also teach fun tricks like twirl and hi-5. The secret is to keep sessions short, simple, and fun because puppies have short attention spans, and practice regularly to give your pup plenty of opportunities to get good at all his new skills. Positive rewards like praise, petting, and yummy treats are a must!
- Slow feeders – Instead of feeding your puppy their meals in a healthy dog bowl, you can provide them with some great mental stimulation by putting the kibble into a food dispenser. These are often in the form of a ball with small openings so that the puppy has to move the ball around for the kibble to fall out. You can also get mats to encourage foraging, or Kongs, which can be stuffed with kibble or soft food, making your pup work harder for his lunch!
- Toys & Games – There are plenty of fun toys on the market that will provide your pup with mental stimulation, like chew toys that are great for teething, and treats toys where your puppy has to figure out how to get the treats out. You can also make simple games like fetch or hide and seek into more mentally stimulating activities by being consistent with your rules. For example, making sure that when your puppy retrieves a toy for you, he also learns how to drop the toy, and sit and wait before you throw it again.