Puppies bones are growing and the shape of joints are forming until skeletally mature at approx 12 months (giant breeds 20 months). Muscles, ligaments and tendons continue developing until 2 – 3 yrs old.
To help the body grow correctly you should think about the type of exercise your young dog does. This includes but is not limited to on lead and off lead exercise, playing at home, playing with other dogs, getting on and off furniture, the type of surface running on, etc.
Short doses of play & exercise are good (around 20minute doses) while a dog is growing to limit excessive strain which can in turn lead to damage. A dog does not know its limits and will keep playing/running if it is fun or exciting or to please you.
Below are some helpful tips:
- No playing or running on slippy floors. Rubber matting covering all slippy floors is more ideal.
- Limit the puppy playing exuberantly.
- Do not take jogging or cycling until fully mature.
- No jumping on/off furniture - lift them
- No charging up/ down the stairs.
- Do not play ball or tug or Frisbee over and over – just a couple of times.
Exercise your puppy’s mind as well as body. This will use up some of their energy and stand you and them in good stead for future good behaviour.
Slow controlled exercise, training and play is best as it will help form correctly shaped joints and help strengthen the muscles that support the joints.
Top exercises to practise with your pup:
- Lead walk without pulling
- Sits on a specific place like a small mat or their bed
- Walking slowly up and down steps if they need to use steps/stairs
- Running in straight lines – sit stay recall
- Walking on different surfaces slowly
- When they over 6 months old - joining a body toning/ conditioning class for young dogs
What to look out for - issues that may arise...
Hip/elbow dysplasia –It is the malformation of the hip/elbow joint. Genetics, diet and exercise contribute to this. The correct shape of joints develops as dogs grows and needs controlled movement do help create the correct shape. Look for early signs of the swaying hips – like a hula girl or flicking wrist or swinging elbow out. Can be both sides so may not look ‘lame’. See your vet. Then the Physio for specific exercises to strengthen muscles to support joints and reduce damage and discomfort. Dysplasia can lead to early arthritis – from 4 years old – and may need physio management too.
Patella luxation – common in small breeds – they skip with one back leg. Different grades, not all need operating – depends on pain levels associated. Small amounts of slow up and down hills for puppies helps prevent. Physio helps build the relevant muscles to support joint and can cure the luxation in some cases.
Spinal disc disease (IVDD) – long backed dogs such as daxis and basset hounds – prevent by not allowing running up/down stairs, not allowed to jump on or off furniture, reduce access to slippy floors and control rough play forever. Other breeds can have a acute disc issues caused by rough play/ falling, slipping . Spinal disc issues can be treated with an operation followed by physio but some can be treated by physio alone.
Cruciate ligament strain/rupture – a build up of little tears to the ligament in the knee resulting finally in rupture. Chasing a ball is a big culprit – flat out run with sharp stopping turns to get ball. Only play ball in small doses (~5 times in a row). If slight lameness then could be small tear to ligament – seek vet & physio advice . Don’t just rest and once look fine after 2 or 3 days continue as before. Physio will promote healing and direct strengthening of the muscles that support the ligament and joint. It’s a big operation once ruptured with long recuperation and they will have arthritis in the joint that gradually gets worse.
Prevention is better than cure. Puppies need controlled short bouts of physical exercise combined with mental exercises and training.
Contact us today for more information on our NEW classes coming up in the New Year: