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Take Care in Jogging with Your Puppy

We know a number of people who have recently gotten puppies and they want to be able to jog with their pups. That’s great, but you have to be careful with young dogs whose growth plates are not yet closed.

What does this mean?

Growth plates are the soft areas on the ends of the long bones in a young dog’s body. They contain cells that allow the bones to continue to grow longer. As a dog reaches the end of puberty and physical maturity (assuming they are not spayed or neutered) hormonal changes signal the growth plates to close. In most “in-tact” dogs, this happens between 8 and 18 months. In larger or giant breeds, it can be closer to 24 months. It may take even longer for the growth plates to close in dogs who are spayed or neutered early. The best way to tell if the growth plates are closed is for your veterinarian to do an x-ray.

Until the growth plates close, those areas on the bones are soft and vulnerable to injury.

This is because his muscles, tendons and ligaments are stronger than the growth plate areas, giving a greater chance of serious injury. And because the pup’s bones are continuing to grow, an injury may not heal properly or may not heal in time for the bone to grow straight.

Puppies also don’t have their cardiovascular systems built to a point where they can sustain a prolonged jog.

Until they fully mature, it’s best to keep sessions very short. Some breeders recommend 5 minutes for each month of age.

You can also do short interval sessions with your pup, where you jog for perhaps 30 seconds and walk for 2 minutes, then repeat. This will also give you opportunities to work on your pup’s leash manners so that when he is grown and ready to jog with you, he’ll be a good running partner.Woman running with her dog

Meanwhile, let your puppy engage in age appropriate exercise, such as playtime with other puppies who are similar in age. Hydrotherapy is also a great exercise for puppies because it doesn’t put pressure on joints.

Once your dog’s growth plates are closed, it’s time to start training. Many veterinarians recommend starting with a mile a week, and while monitoring how long it takes your dog’s heart rate and breathing to return to normal afterward.

The more fit your dog becomes the quicker these will return to normal. Others recommend interval training similar to what I mentioned above, except gradually increasing the amount of time where you are running.

You also should monitor the pads on your dog’s paws to make sure there’s no excessive wear or injury. Pad wear is a common injury for dogs who regularly run on hard surfaces.

Initially you should run for no more than 20 minutes, 3 times a week. After about 6 weeks, you can start to increase the distance you are running. But don’t increase it by more than 10% per week.

The distance you eventually work up to will depend on a number of factors specific to your dog, including primary breed, size, coat, and temperament. Some dogs are much more suited to jogging with you than others. So to jog with you if he shows you he doesn’t enjoy it or can’t do the mileage you want.

But if your dog enjoys it, running with you is a great way for both of you to exercise and to increase your special bond.


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