Bringing home a new puppy can be overwhelming at the best of times- especially if it’s your first one! There are so many do’s and don’ts, it may feel like you’re walking a landmine trying to keep your new family member happy and healthy. While many have the foresight to install puppy gates, pick out the best food, and make sure all small, chewable objects were safely stowed away, there’s something that often goes overlooked: appropriate play.
Just like baby humans, puppies have a lot of developing to go through before they can be considered adults. Just like you wouldn’t take your three year old to a crossfit class with you (although it IS a funny image) you shouldn’t take a 6 month old puppy jogging. The reason for this specifically is something called “growth plates”. These are soft, sensitive areas in between your puppy’s weight bearing bones. As your puppy grows, the growth plates gradually become harder and thinner, allowing your dog’s bones to hold firm if the joint experiences a lot of stress. However, if a puppy with soft growth plates experiences a lot of stress, the growth plate itself may be injured and result in a misshapen and malformed bone over time. Growth plates normally close around 18 months of age, though it can be slightly faster in small dogs, and longer in large dogs.
So, what kind of exercise IS safe for a puppy? The answer is actually pretty simple. Puppy play should be self regulated- that’s all! It’s not necessary (or safe) for you to take your puppy jogging, jumping over agility hurdles, or any other kind of intense exercise. The best kind of play for your pup will be simply exploring and goofing off, preferably on soft ground. If you want to socialize your puppy with other dogs, it’s best to find a playmate that’s gentle and patient, as rough play can be dangerous for a developing dog.
Even though you may be excited to start activities with your new dog, we recommend that you take things slow for a while! To ensure that your best friend’s joints are in excellent condition from the getgo, add PetFaves Hip & Joint supplement to their diet while they’re still young. Try not to worry too much about something going wrong with your new puppy, and just enjoy this time! It won’t be long before you’ll wonder how they grew up so fast!