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The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA), Aviation House, 125 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6NH


Exercise advice for all ages

Exercise and activity in pups.

You should always find the space and time, both in and outdoors, in which to engage and interact with your puppy, starting from day one, by teaching him or her the simple basics of good and acceptable behaviour– sit, stay, come, leave, seek, fetch and carry/hold. This will building to a special, lifelong unbreakable bond of companionship, trust, loyalty and shared enjoyment.

In exercise, a puppy’s endurance levels build up slowly and steadily, as it grows. So the duration and intensity of physical activity can be extended gradually over a period lasting months to years. If dogs are exercised heavily too early in life, this can lead to joint damage, and this is particularly likely in large breeds with rapidly growing and heavily loaded joints. As a rule of thumb, small dogs of up to 25 lb. can exercise fully at 8 months of age; medium breeds of 35- 90 lb. at 12 months of age and large/giant breeds at least 18 months - 2 years of age.

A reputable breeder, or for juvenile or adult dogs a rehoming organisation should always provide purchasers with guidance as to an applicable exercise programme, appropriate to the breed or type, age and size of dog they are selling.

Exercise in old or infirm dogs.

Older dogs or dogs that are temporarily or permanently health compromised still require the mental stimulation of play and activity. They should not be excluded from exercise, although this will be it at a lower intensity or for shorter periods than previously.

Regardless of the age of your dog, following and during exercise, you should always look out for signs of stress such as exhaustion or overheating (excessive panting or collapse), particularly when it is warmer, or dehydration (lack of fluids) .The activity should, if required, be stopped immediately and the dog given water to drink and allowed to rest and recover.

It is not usual for a dog to refuse or be unwilling to play or go for a walk. So for old or infirm dogs this is a pretty sure sign that they have had enough. If a healthy dog refuses to exercise, you need to make sure that nothing is physically wrong that could be preventing it from wanting to take exercise.

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