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Exercising a puppy

We are getting a German Shepherd Dog puppy soon. The breeder has said that we mustn’t over-exercise him, and can’t walk him far until he is fully grown. But I’ve read that it’s important to make sure dogs get plenty of exercise to tire them out so that they are well behaved. I don’t want to have a highly-strung dog who is desperate to run around all the time. What do you think?

Sue Williams advises...

Good behaviour isn’t down to being tired; it’s a result of good consistent training and a good upbringing. Although exercise can have an effect on a pup’s behaviour, it only contributes. I do understand where your breeder is coming from. German Shepherd Dogs grow an incredible amount from birth to adulthood, and it is vital during this growth period that nothing causes a problem. Over-exercise can put extra strain on developing joints, causing long-term damage.

However, on the flip side, exercise is good for dogs (and us!), both physically and mentally. It really is a case of finding a healthy balance, and also considering the type of exercise the pup is doing. For example, chasing a ball demands sprinting and quick-turning movements that are more likely to cause an injury, whereas lead walking on the flat is a low impact, relatively low-risk form of exercise.

Mental exercise is often overlooked, yet this can be more tiring to a pup than physical exercise. I recommend people use enrichment activities, training and socialisation to exercise their pup’s brain. I would suggest you discuss your individual pup’s needs with your vet, who will be able to advise you after examining the pup.