How much exercise should I do with my puppy?
It’s a common mistake to think that puppies need a lot of exercise or constant attention and entertainment.
As a matter of fact puppies not only don’t need a lot of exercise, but they need a lot of sleep: 15 – 20 hours a day on average.
When you exercise or play too long with a puppy, they tend to get more cranky, aggressive and frustrated. Why? Because they are puppies. Their attention spin is very low and they get overtired very fast.
Keep your play time and training sessions short and sweet. Start teaching patience and self control by adding structure and little rules to every game. Puppies get more tired when you make them wait for things than when you rile them up and play endlessly.
If you want to play crazy with your puppy because it’s fun, that’s fine, just make sure that when you are done with the play you know how to take the time to slow your puppy down and to finish the craze/game with calmness. Warning: most people have no idea how to do this. They just stop playing “Cold turkey” and they expect their puppy to do the same. This is usually the case when I get the 911 calls. There are two very important reasons to do this:
- For you to develop a way to communicate to your puppy to calm down
- For your puppy to start learning self control and self soothing.
Generally speaking is better to do more short paly/training sessions throughout the day than fewer and longer.
Does my puppy need constant attention and supervision?
You should teach your puppy to be left alone and also to be around you without seeking for constant attention.
Every puppy should have a specific area where they spend time alone, This could be a crate, an ex-pen or a confined area that is puppy proofed. If your puppy is not in a confined area you should be supervising all the time unless he/she is sleeping.
You should also teach your puppy to be with you without having your constant attention. Being present does not mean to cater to their needs or cravings all the time.
3 Mistakes you must NOT do with your puppy that will get you into a lot of trouble:
1. Don’t give eye contact or engage when your puppy is in the crate or ex-pen.
2. Don’t let your puppy invade your space without invitation. You’ll regret it later.
3. Don’t do long periods of exercise, play or long walks.
The “Zoomies” is when a puppy hits a time during the day or night and starts running around back and forth like a possessed maniac.
This is a common puppy behavior. It usually starts as an expression of play and joy. Most often than not, it turns out to be an outlet of pent-up energy that ends up in a completely out of control behavior.
So why do they have the “out of control” “Zoomies”? Should you exercise more your puppy?
Restless and “out of control” behavior is caused because of the lack of sleep and structure, not because of the lack of exercise.
It’s a very common mistake to think that unruly behavior, restlessness or the “Zoomies” is because your puppy needs more exercise. As a matter of fact puppies do not need a lot of exercise, but they do need a lot of sleep and structure, just like babies.
Have in mind that puppies, like babies, are growing and developing. This takes a lot of energy out of them and that’s why they need a lot of sleep and rest.
Should I let him have the Zoomies? – “He really turns into a little devil.”
Leaving your puppy have the zoomies unchecked can lead into injuries for both humans and puppies. It can also start unwanted behaviors that will carry on as an adult dogs. Examples of these are overexcitement, unruly behavior, excessive barking, anxiety, not listening and sometimes even aggression.
There are two key elements to manage the “zoomies”
- Having a consistent schedule and making sure your puppy gets all the sleep he needs. Having a “safe area” such as a crate, an ex-pen, or some kind of confined area where they can sleep with no interruptions, is key in order for them to get the rest they need.
- Providing structure to a puppy with clarity.
But what does structure mean?
Structure means to provide guidance, boundaries and limits during their play time or activities. Just like their mothers do.
Whats important to understand is that It’s not the endless play or exercise that’s going to tire your puppy out. Quite the opposite, this will make your puppy restless, feisty and cranky. Puppies when they play the reach a point where they start getting feisty and frustrated. They stop listening and they become relentless. This is a red flag. The more you continue this activity, play or exercise the more restless and unruly your puppy will become.
On the other hand, providing structure by asking your puppy to play-stop- play; teaching your puppy to calm down in the middle of the play; and setting up clear boundaries in a calm and gentle manner will put your puppy at ease. This is precisely the meaning of structure. It’s usually the lack of clarity and consistency that creates anxiety and restlessness in your puppy.
Try and put a bunch of kids that weren’t tought any boundaries and have no self-control in a basketball court with no rules. Then see what happens. It will not end up well.
If there’s no rules, there’s no game. If there’s no game, there’s no fun.
Providing plenty of sleep/down time and providing structure to your puppy, not only will diminish the amount of “Zoomies”, but it will also keep the “Zoomies” at an intensity level where it’s just a healthy outlet of play and joy, instead of an unhealthy outlet for craziness and chaos.
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