Puppies and Exercise Part 1 – There are no Rules.

July 1, 2012 in Canine Exercise by

We all want to do what is best for our dogs. It seems that whatever choices you make, from feeding and exercise to inoculations and neutering, someone is hell bent on convincing you that you are doing serious harm. When our Beagles were little the question of exercise was the cause of most concern for us. The scaremongering and myths that are prevalent in internet communities, dog sports and the general dog walking fraternity caused us many moments of self-doubt, prompting endless research. On occasion we were frightened out of doing what, deep down, we felt was best for our puppies. The subject came up recently in an internet discussion. This has prompted me to share my research findings and experiences.

There are no Rules

I’ll start with this quote from skepvet.com as I think it makes the most important point:

Skeptvet.com wrote in 2009…

The research evidence, then, really does not provide anything like a definitive answer to questions about the effects of exercise in growing puppies. Common sense suggests that forcing a dog to exercise heavily when it does not wish to is not a good idea. Likewise, puppies sometimes have more enthusiasm than sense and can exercise to the point of heat exhaustion, blistered footpads, and other damage that may be less obvious. Therefore, a general principle of avoiding forced or voluntary extreme exercise is reasonable, but specific and absolute statements about what kind of exercise is allowed, what surfaces puppies should or should not exercise on, and so forth is merely opinion not supported by objective data. Such opinions may very well be informed by personal experience, and they may be reliable, but any opinion not founded on objective data must always be taken with a grain of salt and accepted provisionally until such data is available.

You can read the full article here: Exercise in Puppies-Are there rules?

In short, the experts don’t know what’s best for our puppies. When asked for advice, people (especially those seen to be in knowledgeable and responsible positions) will feel pressure to come up with a definitive answer. If you’re lucky they’ll present a well thought out, informed opinion (and make sure that you’re aware that it’s just an opinion). If you’re unlucky they’ll parrot something they read on the internet. Because they are respected sources, this gets taken as gospel, spreads like wildfire and before you know it an embellished and distorted version is carved in stone and dissenters are burnt at the stake by an angry mob!

Our research didn’t uncover a single best approach. It did however dispel many of the scare stories and myths that are bandied about as ‘fact’. It should help give you the confidence to trust your own instincts and judgement. It may also arm you with relevant questions to ask your vet, breeder, canine physio and knowledgeable friend when trying to figure out which of the conflicting pieces of advise you should listen to!

8 week old Biggles counting on us to figure out how to give him the best possible chance of a long and active life.

Coming soon: Part 2 – The History of “The 5 Minute Rule” and the Science Behind it.