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I have a GSD puppy on the way. I'll be picking him up in a little over a month. I understand running, playing fetch/frisbie with puppies under 1 year is pretty taboo and many people seem to even recommend carrying your puppy up and down stairs. I'm wondering at what age it would be acceptable to start hiking with my puppy. I do a lot of climbing and would love to start acclimating him to the climbing routine when he's young so it's second nature to him when he's older. Hikes in are normally 0.5-3 miles and then he'd get a 3-6 hours rest before the hike out. Normally a trail is pretty well established and I wouldn't take him into areas with cliffs.

First off, is hiking at all OK with a puppy? Is off leash OK in safe areas?

Are shorter hikes (0.5-1 miles each way) acceptable when he's still pretty young (10-12 weeks)? When can I expect to take hike on climbs with longer approaches?
 

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Some people don't like to take puppies out before they have all their vaccines. The physical concern for young dogs, from what I understand, is repetitive motion or repetitive jumping. There is no way I could keep Liesl from jumping and running around. The way I think about it is to avoid overuse injury in the pup.

With my pup, I would use a harness and a flexi-lead, and we would walk at a leisurely pace. I would allow her to frequently stop and investigate smells and we would stop and play in several different places.

I would avoid jogging, or trying to get them to walk beside you at a regular pace until they are older. I've heard 18mo to 2yrs is when the "growth plates close" and it is safe to jog, or do long steady walks.

I play frisbee with my dog, but I try to avoid high throws, vaults, or flips. A lady I train with said her last shepherd loved frisbee, but ended up having bad elbows and hips from all the impact. She felt it was from frisbee play and recommends no frisbee ever... probably not bad advice.

I also hiked/hike a lot with my dog. When she was really young, we would take more breaks. Don't be in a hurry, and don't push distance too soon. I believe hiking (short distances) is a great way to bond with the pup, too!

Good luck!
 
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