FREE Help I've Got A New Puppy Survival Guide

Sign up to our mailing list and we will give you all you need to know on making your first 7 days count. Includes sleep, feeding, toilet training, chewing and much more!

Recent posts

Blog categories

Search the blog

Is the Five Minute Rule of Exercise for Puppies Really Necessary?

Posted on 12th March 2024

Golden Retriever puppy walking towards the camera in a field at dusk

There is lots of information for new puppy owners about exercise and how much your puppy should be doing. It can be very confusing so, let’s have a look at some facts and myths.

Puppy development 

Puppies do not possess the brain and muscle co-ordination to walk for hours. Myelination of the hind limbs only fully occurs at three weeks of age so the back of the puppy is often less co-ordinated than the front. 

When moving naturally, puppies lollop just like toddlers toddle. Everything appears clumsy as they don’t have much awareness of where their bodies are in time and space. 

Being able to walk for long periods of time requires muscle strength, not only in the limbs, but also in the core abdominals and neck muscles. Puppies simply do not have the mass of muscle needed so they cannot walk for hours. 

As they grow, puppies will grow their long bones at different rates. The rapid growth of the long bones in larger breeds can cause some growing pains (pan osteitis), the same as growing pains in human teenagers. This can make them appear clumsy. They don’t develop the ability to be able to stop their hind legs at the same time as their forelegs until over a year old. 

Joints and exercise

At the end of most of the growing bones, is a layer of cartilage and joint fluid. Pressure on these areas from twisting, jumping and running on uneven or hard surfaces can damage the cartilage. 

Just like a 4 year old child cannot lift heavy weights or do high intensity gymnastics, puppies cannot do lots of high impact exercise like rough and tumble play, ball throwing or jumping on and off heights. 


Mental stimulation

Many puppy owners feel their dogs need more exercise in order to tire them out. But think of a marathon runner in training. The more they do, the fitter they become but the more they risk injury. Puppies do not need more walks, they need different exercise. 


So, what do our puppies need? 


Suitable, positive socialisation.

Socialisation is about getting used to the world they live in without feeling overwhelmed and scared. 

This can be achieved by choosing suitable places to sit with your puppy and watch things. This can even be the back of the car. 

Puppies do not need to be walking or running to socialise. 


Suitable, calm meetings with other dogs

I really want my older dog to ignore the majority of dogs they see on a walk and to focus on me instead. 

This means only meeting a few select, calm dogs to interact with and ignoring most we see. 

Play is fine for short periods, but we need this to stay under control and for us to be able to call our puppies out of play when we need to. 

Keep play to a few select friends only. 


Environmental enrichment

The more interesting the environment, the more tired your puppy will be after a walk. The same walk every day is a killer for puppy stimulation. 

New places with new smells, new surfaces, new sounds and sights are what puppy exercise is all about. 

Dogs learn about the world through their sense of smell or olfaction. 

We can add to this exploration through hiding extra treats or your puppy’s favourite toy to find. As your puppy gets good, you can even get them finding your keys – super useful in a real emergency. 

Aim to go to three or four new places a week with your puppy. 


Puppies can spend a lot longer than 5 minutes per month of age outside. My puppies come with me everywhere when they are young, sometimes even being out all day. 

However, they will have long sleeps in the car, rest as we sit and chill and some training during this time. As long as you plan ahead and give your puppy the type of exercise they need, there is no need to stick to the five minute rule. 

No ball throwing, no jumping and no running for long distances. 

Enjoy your puppies, they grow up real fast.

Leave a comment