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Exercising a very bouncy JRT puppy


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Our little JRT puppy is 18 weeks old and we are really struggling to get any advice about exercise that makes any sense.

Everything I can see online says a maximum of two sessions of 20 minutes exercise each day. However, 20 minutes doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of his energy levels and if we have a walk that short, he's bouncing off the walls all day long at home and when I say bouncing off the walls, I mean that literally. He charges around the house like an absolute nutter.

We have taken him on longer walks and he very rarely shows any sign of tiredness. I had to carry him the last bit of a short walk about a month ago. Since then he's been absolutely fine on all the walks we've taken him on. He sleeps well at night but doesn't sleep that much during the day (2 or 3 hours at the most).

He shows no signs of stiffness or discomfort and no matter how much we walk him, he still wants to play when we get home. He never just flakes out after a walk.

We play with him a lot at home (easily a couple of hours a day) and do training as well.

The disparity between the guidance I quoted above and how much exercise he actually seems to want is massive. We never have to persuade him to go out, he absolutely loves going for a walk. Every time he hears me pick up my keys, he's there scratching at the door.

We obviously don't want to overdo it and risk damaging his joints but he starts getting frantic if we don't walk him a lot more than 2x20 minutes a day so I want some advice from people who have had a very very energetic little terrier puppy on how much you exercised your little dog when he/she was 4 or 5 months old.
I believe that the guidance refers more to in effect frog marching your dog - walks where you allow them to sniff, look at the sky, go at their own pace are fine. And it really doesn't make sense to limit 'outdoor' exercise when they'd only be bombing round the house anyway.

So I would give him the walks he needs to stop his brain frying, but make sure they're full of enrichment - sniffing, a little bit of training, parking yourself on a park bench for a few minutes and encouraging him to settle, and so on. Just avoid sustained walking/running.
The exercise guidance was about repetitive exercise on hard surfaces, like pavement pounding walks - and it was about protecting skeletal development before the growth plates closed. But things like running around in your garden don't need to be included in that exercise window.

It's also been the subject of debate recently -

What I would be careful about though, is exercise that involves jumping (technically, landing I suppose) or sudden twists and turns, for example playing with a ball. Roll it rather than throw it, and don't use one of those ball launchers. Ever. They cause so many injuries because dogs have to run faster and stop harder.
Cross posted with Judy again!
Puppies need freedom of movement and loads of puppy play, they will rest and sleep when they are ready, please do not restrict natural movement and activity. These timed exercise instructions are, as already mentioned for regimental hard surface/pavement walks when a puppy is on a lead.
Loose fun and games are perfectly fine for a puppy. If we have a puppy it comes everywhere we go with the adult dogs and for the same long or short walks, always loose and off lead. If the puppy gets tired we will pick it up and carry it, but this very seldom happens. :)
Thank you. That's very helpful.

We love walking but we aren't runners so when we've taken him on longer walks they tend to be up on the moors where he runs and walks and splashes and sniffs and plays with other dogs so he isn't doing the same thing all the time.

The way he behaves when we walk him less (ie running backwards and forwards in the house and jumping a lot) looks much more stressful on his body, which was why I was confused about the guidance I've seen.

We have been very careful to walk him only as far as he seemed to want to go but that's a lot more than 20 minutes which is what prompted my question.

Once again, thank you.
That article was very interesting and absolutely made sense. The choice seemed to us to be between normal gentle exercise (longer walks off the lead) or intense indoor play which looked much more high stress like playing squash than normal walking.

We shall be careful to listen to our puppy and not push him but to carry on giving him plenty of walking, which he loves and which gives him the opportunity to socialise with other dogs. One of the big benefits of walking compared to indoor play is that he gets to meet other dogs and play with them. He absolutely loves doing that, which has been a delight to see.
Can I just add a few words of caution regarding other dogs?

First, there will come a time when he will lose his ”puppy license” and other dogs will become less tolerant.

Second, you run a risk that he finds other dogs more interesting than you, and you become that owner yelling ”Fido! Fido! Come back Fido!” while he hares across the park because there's a dog over there. A few known, well matched play mates are fine but you really don't want him to think he can play with every dog he meets. One day he might pick one that's elderly, grumpy, unwell or recovering from injury and that won't go well.

I like my dog to be dog neutral - neither nervous of other dogs, or magnetised to them. I want him to see me as the centre of his universe and the source of all good things, whether that's play or anything else.

When he hits adolescence and starts to feel more independent, and possibly starts blowing his recall a bit, you will really see what I mean. So by you becoming his Best Person In The World (as opposed to that dog ¼ of a mile away) you are laying a firmer foundation for that tricky period.
I agree - a dog focused on other dogs is not what you want. And as he's a terrier with an ancestral desire to go down holes in the ground - keep right away from holes in the ground. (experienced terrier owner here!)
Thank you both for your additional advice.

I have had terriers before although it's a long time but he's already shown a real interest in holes. We are trying to keep him fairly close.

As regards other dogs, I absolutely take your point that he should not assume all dogs are friendly. He does still seem to have his puppy licence as dogs have been very tolerant but we always try to keep an eye on the way the owner reacts and if they put their dog on the lead or change direction I try to restrain him and keep him away. That isn't always easy as he's very quick but we know the area well and know most of the dogs around here. Reactive dogs seem to be very rare around here or at least their owners walk them away from where we have always walked our dog.

So far he has been good off the lead. He will only go so far away from us but I'm sure he will become more confident so we'll need to make sure we focus on recall. He has come to the whistle every time so far, even when he's playing with another dog.
Make sure you really really reward that recall! If you aren't doing this already, vary the value of the treats. If puppy thinks "this time it MIGHT be a piece of liver" it's much more of an incentive then the same reward each time.
Make sure you really really reward that recall! If you aren't doing this already, vary the value of the treats. If puppy thinks "this time it MIGHT be a piece of liver" it's much more of an incentive then the same reward each time.

That's a good idea, thank you. We do use the same treats all the time at the moment (tiny liver and yeast training treats) but we do have some other treats so we'll mix it up a bit.

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