There are many great questions surrounding how to exercise an Australian Shepherd puppy correctly.
From knowing when they can safely exercise outside to how much exercise is appropriate in the first place… This article has everything owners need to know.
How Much Exercise Do Australian Shepherd Puppies Need?
Aussie pups certainly don’t need as much exercise as their mom and pop. In fact, overexercising a puppy can be really detrimental to their growing joints and bones. This could cause issues in both the short and long term.
- The 5-minute per month method. This is a well-known exercise routine designed for puppies. This is the safest and easiest routine to follow to ensure you don’t overexercise your pup.
Your Australian shepherd puppy should receive 5 minutes of dedicated exercise per day for every month of age he has. So at 3 months old, he should receive 15 minutes per day, at 4 months old, 20 minutes per day, and so on.
Exercise regime for Australian shepherd puppies:
● 2 months old = 10 minutes per day
● 3 months old = 15 minutes per day
● 4 months old = 20 minutes per day
● 5 months old = 25 minutes per day
● 6 months old = 30 minutes per day
● 7 months old = 35 minutes per day
● 8 months old = 40 minutes per day
● 9 months old = 45 minutes per day
● 10 months old = 50 minutes per day
After 10 months, most physical growth will have slowed down to the point where you can more or less exercise your Aussie as you would an adult.
⭐ When should you start following this?
This routine should be followed from the moment you get your puppy. Most breeders should not be selling puppies before 8 weeks old anyway, so from the moment you get your pup, he should be at least 2 months old, which means 10 minutes per day.
⭐ How long should you follow this routine?
It’s best to follow this routine until your Aussie has more or less reached his full adult height. This is usually around the 10-12 months mark. At this point, your Aussie will be strong enough and his bones and joints will be ready for more exercise.
⭐ Should your puppy be just walking or running?
As long as your puppy is not constantly running, sprinting, and jumping, no harm will be done. Walking is more than sufficient for the beginning stages, but no doubt your Aussie will want to run at some point, and that’s okay too.
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So I guess by now many of you are wondering why on earth do you need to follow such a strict plan…
The 5-minute method helps to avoid putting too much stress on the bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, which are all growing at a rapid pace. And it’s during this growth stage, Aussie puppies are very vulnerable to strains and other physical injuries.
Australian shepherds grow to be fast, strong, and agile dogs, but while they are still puppies, their rest and recovery periods should take priority. After all, that’s why puppies sleep so much!
By using the method as your guideline, you’ll always know how much exercise your Aussie puppy should be receiving without a moment of doubt.
Related article: Why is my Australian shepherd so small?
What’s dedicated exercise?
So far I have been using the term “dedicated exercise”. So what do I really mean by that?
Dedicated exercise is when you practice putting on the harness, the leash, and actually walking with your Aussie pup like you would when he’s an adult.
The opposite of dedicated exercise would be indirect exercise he receives by simply jumping up and down at you throughout the day, or when he runs to you from across the room. Pretty much, his day-to-day movements and general activity.
Why dedicated exercise is still necessary
If your pup receives adequate playtime and indirect exercise, why does he still need to receive “dedicated exercise?”
At a young age, it’s easy to establish good habits and behavior while on the leash. It’s much harder to try and rectify bad habits (like pulling and chewing the leash) once they are already developed.
So by routinely exposing your puppy to the act of putting on the harness and using the leash, you are paving the way for good leash behavior down the line.
I’ll give additional tips on leash training below.
When Can Australian Shepherd Puppies Exercise Outside?
One of the most common questions I receive is “how can I exercise my puppy when he isn’t allowed outside before his vaccinations?” This is an excellent question so let’s cover this in detail.
When can you exercise your puppy in public areas?
It’s strongly recommended that your Australian shepherd puppy does not go outside in public areas until 2 weeks after his final set of vaccinations.
For most this brings them up to the 16-18 week mark, but for your puppy, it depends on when he started. After this point, he can safely exercise in public areas like your local dog park.
Where to exercise your puppy before 16 weeks?
If your puppy has at least started his vaccinations, and you are confident that your own private yard is hazard-free and doesn’t have other animals or wildlife using it, this can be used as your pup’s daily exercise area.
You can put the harness and leash on, and walk around your private yard with your pup properly supervised.
Why shouldn’t your puppy go out in public areas before 16 weeks?
Your puppy is at an increased risk of catching certain diseases and viruses which have been left by other dogs and animals.
There are hundreds of germs and bacterias that can easily make a young puppy sick before receiving their vaccinations. This is why it’s best to either stay inside or use your private yard.
Teaching Your Australian Shepherd Puppy To Walk On The Leash
Establishing good leash behavior early on will save you from going gray! Trust me…
Getting your Aussie pup familiar with his harness and leash before he really even needs to use it, is a very good idea. This is the whole point of practicing “dedicated exercise”.
Many bad, yet common habits are pulling and chewing on the leash. These two problems are mostly caused by being introduced to the harness and leash incorrectly.
Tips to prevent harness and leash BITING
- Introduce the harness and leash to him slowly
- Leave it on the ground and let him figure it out before you actually put it on him
- Constantly distract his attention away from harness and leash by using his toys and treats
- The goal here is to get him familiar with the harness and leash without overwhelming him
- Only put the harness on after your puppy no longer cares or takes much notice of it
- If he tries biting his harness or leash, redirect him to a toy, and reward him for his change of focus. Always do this whenever it happens
- Go slowly and don’t make him wear the harness for hours on end
- Keep the harness in visible sight so it’s not something he learns to fear or react to when you finally come to use it
Tips to prevent PULLING
Puppies are not born knowing how to walk on a leash and they all have what’s known as “opposition-reflex”. This means that your puppy will instinctively pull in the opposite direction of any tension. Go figure!
Most owners aren’t aware of this, and pulling your puppy back when he’s pulling, only encourages him to pull even more!
This is the worst thing to do because this is actually reinforcing to your puppy that pulling is the correct response… I can feel the gray hairs coming through as I write this. lol
A simple training exercise to practice at home:
- Clip-on the harness and leash in a room with good space to walk around
- Walk back from your puppy. Call him and encourage him to come to you
- When he comes reward him with a treat and your approval
- At this point, there should be no pulling. It’s just a training routine
- The leash isn’t used to control or guide your puppy
- Walk back a few steps and reward your puppy for following you by himself
- As he improves, practice walking around for further intervals before rewarding him
- Sometimes incorporate a little jog or skip to keep it fun and exciting for your puppy
- The goal of this simple exercise is to teach your puppy that wearing the leash doesn’t mean he needs to pull
- It also teaches your puppy to remain focused on where you are and to walk by your side
- Repeat this training on a daily basis for at least 10-15 minutes.
This training exercise is incredibly simple, but it teaches your puppy some excellent habits. If you reinforce this and continuously improve upon it on a daily basis, your Aussie puppy will only learn how to walk sensibly and calmly on the leash.
Links are to Amazon.
Socializing Your Puppy Before 16 Weeks
Before your Aussie pup has finished his vaccinations, he shouldn’t be out in public areas. But this doesn’t mean that a healthy, vaccinated, and friendly dog can’t interact with your puppy at home.
It’s recommended by breeders and veterinarians that puppies start socialization as early as 7 weeks old. Which is before you should even have your puppy at home!
7-18 weeks is the crucial time frame when socialization has the biggest impact on their future behavior and temperament towards strangers and other dogs.
If you want your Aussie to be friendly and approachable, then being exposed to new dogs and people throughout this time frame is absolutely essential.
Socialization teaches your Aussie pup how to interact nicely with other dogs, and most importantly, teaches him to not fear other dogs, and it’s fear that drives the vast majority of aggression.
So if your family or friends have dogs, invite them over as soon as possible!
Additional Reading: How To Help Australian Shepherd Lose Weight
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