Hillcrest Animal Hospital, Chorley

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Enrichment for Puppies

February 12, 2019

If you have a dog or puppy, or plan to get one, it’s important that they have the correct environmental and exercise enrichment. Providing the correct enrichment is essential for their physical and mental health. Exercise enrichment allows puppies to socialise with other dogs and people, which is crucial to their behavioural development. What’s more, exercising with your dog or puppy is a great way for the two of you to strengthen your bond and be active together!

Prior to exercising with your puppy, here are some things to consider:

  • Assess the exercise needs and fitness level of your puppy. Dogs have different exercise requirements depending on their individual needs. Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. Although, it can be tempting with a bouncy puppy, over-exercising your growing puppy can overtire it and damage its developing joints.
  • A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age, up to twice a day, until your puppy is fully grown. Puppies and dogs should go out for exercise every day in a safe and a secure area. It is also important to let your puppy explore new environments and socialise with other dogs.
  • Some dogs with short snouts can find it hard to breathe and exercise can exacerbate their breathing difficulties.
  • You can also get advice from our vets and veterinary nurses about when puppies can safely go to the park according to their vaccination status. We can also give advice on how to protect your dog from flea and ticks which can be picked up when exercising.
  • Don’t exercise your pet immediately before or after they’ve eaten, as this can cause problems such as bloating, especially in deep-chested dogs.

You can also provide enrichment in the house to keep your puppy mentally stimulated and help reduce stress during the house-breaking period. Here are some helpful enrichment tips:

  • Try problem-solving activities and interactive puzzle toys; these are a great way to provided mental stimulation to your dog. These toys hide treats and encourage your puppy to use their natural instinct to retrieve the prize.
  • Try ‘Hide & Seek’ games. Some dogs are naturally bred to find scent and follow it; you can use this natural instinct to keep your puppy entertained by setting up a hide & seek game with various treats or even toys!
  • Try canine music. We’ve all heard of leaving the TV or the radio on to help house-break a puppy, canine acoustic music has been specially designed to promote particular physiological responses. Puppies often feel less stressed and are sometimes able to learn more efficiently.