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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
EDIT: Sorry about the duplicated thread. Her is an Existing thread on puppy exercise levels

I am trying to figure out actively a 4-month-old GSD puppy should play.

The dog is a 45 lbs male 17 weeks old. Dam was 60 lbs. Sire was 120 lbs. He

One of his main forms of exercise a gentle game of fetch. I give him a couple of seconds to take a breath between throws and keep my tosses between 10 and 15 feet. We are using a 20-foot lead. We currently go out and play every two hours for about 20-30 throws to reinforce and reward good potty training.

However, our trainer suggested that we not play fetch until he is older and his bones fully strengthened. She has provided a ton of good advice. But I thought I would ask for a second opinion on this.

As a side effect, he loves his squeaky toys. If he sees something the might cause him to get too excited. (I am starting to recognize the difference between attentive ears and stresses/angry ears. I just loudly squeak the toy and toss it behind me.
 

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It's the twisting and turning that can cause problems with joints and tear tendons and muscles.Many owners avoid those hazards by not releasing the dog until the toy has been tossed and comes to a stop.
 

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I think opinions can vary on this. I've also heard ball throwing at a young age ( less than 1 year old) can be hard on their joints as they are very driven to get the ball. However, our 15 week old pup gets loads of exercise running around the house with her mom. The main thing to watch out for is the puppy sitting down because it's too tired.

Also I think the intensity of the exercise is important ie: not making your puppy follow you at a full sprint while you are on your bike or walking up large amounts of stairs.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok thanks, that makes good sense. We will continue to play fetch while taking easy on the starts and stops with no jumps or leaps. We will try to keep it calm yet fun of another 8 months or so.

I guess I am going to have to work on stay and release.

His toy drive is about 5X greater than his food drive so we will need to be careful not to overtax those growing bones and tendons.
 
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I am trying to figure out actively a 4-month-old GSD puppy should play.

The dog is a 45 lbs male 17 weeks old. Dam was 60 lbs. Sire was 120 lbs. He

One of his main forms of exercise a gentle game of fetch. I give him a couple of seconds to take a breath between throws and keep my tosses between 10 and 15 feet. We are using a 20-foot lead. We currently go out and play every two hours for about 20-30 throws to reinforce and reward good potty training.

However, our trainer suggested that we not play fetch until he is older and his bones fully strengthened. She has provided a ton of good advice. But I thought I would ask for a second opinion on this.

As a side effect, he loves his squeaky toys. If he sees something the might cause him to get too excited. (I am starting to recognize the difference between attentive ears and stresses/angry ears. I just loudly squeak the toy and toss it behind me.
I believe she is right. I've heard dogs shouldn't be introduced to heavy exercise until older than four months for sure. 20-30 throws seems a lot for a 4 month old.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I believe she is right. I've heard dogs shouldn't be introduced to heavy exercise
Yes, this is exactly what I am trying to figure out. There must be a bunch of serious breeders and trainers that spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out the optimal activities and exertion levels for the dogs they are raising.

I am not doubting the truthfulness of the statement. Just trying to figure out who said it in the first place and understand what 'heavy' mean in the context of 'heavy exercise' for different age puppies.
 

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Yes, this is exactly what I am trying to figure out. There must be a bunch of serious breeders and trainers that spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out the optimal activities and exertion levels for the dogs they are raising.

I am not doubting the truthfulness of the statement. Just trying to figure out who said it in the first place and understand what 'heavy' mean in the context of 'heavy exercise' for different age puppies.
Well then this will be a good thread for me too!
Okay, here's some help from a couple of reputable websites:
hope these help some...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you. It is helpful to know the even the experts are not sure how much and how hard.

We have been practicing low impact fetch.
1. I sit kneel or sit down with Ole. Needed to get some snow pants for that :)
2. I manipulate the ball until I get Ole pointed in the same direction as I will throw the ball and then give it a gentle 5-15 foot roll or toss.
3. Repeat slow 5-10 times or until Ole comes over and lays by my side to take a break. He loves laying in the snow and getting belly rubs. Weirdo.
4. The do it again.
 

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The sudden stopping to get the ball could create problems if your pup is flying after the ball and makes a sudden stop. If that is not the case, it should be okay. Slick floors can be another thing that can contribute to hip problems.
 

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I think it is a function of intensity and duration. Recently, I posted an article about this on here, that shows that there is basically no harm from, and some benefits from long slow exercise like jogging (even in gigantic distances). It does point out that retrieving, jumping and stairs can cause joint injuries. So you need to find what works for you and your dog.
I do ball retrieving with my 8 month old, but I limit the amount of throws. It helps with draining energy better than just walking. I try not to do it on uneven ground or in poor conditions to avoid twisting injuries.

Here is a link to the article: Post | MyLameDog.com
 

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Discussion Starter #11
thanks,
I edited the first post on this thread to include a link to point to the thread you started. Good stuff
 

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I always make sure that the ball is out of sight in tall grass e.g. before I release the dog to prevent a sliding stop. Even with the adults I don't give them more than 4 or 5 showing runs after a toy.
 

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Hello Davewis, lone Ranger from Australia,
I am on my 5th GSD at my age 68 yo... So here is my experience and hip and elbow testing:


I too am worried about the same thing, so here is what I do: First of all my Boy is about the same age, 4 1/2 mo and 55 lbs. He is hugely big boned, big feet, biggest of the litter, Sire is full import Czech line of Working Dogs with Titles in Police and so on. His front leg bones look out of proportion, so large. He will be a big boned 100 lb'er... It seems to be a bit of a trend in the CZ GSDs they are big leg boned..

Now, I am concerned about the hard stops as well. My rules are them not fat, and no jumping like in and out of truck beds until 12-15 months old, no jumping for anything, and only about 5 minutes exercise per month of Life so far. No long walks or jogs or bicycle riding running, nothing like that as a puppy. My last two black GSD had very low hip and elbow scores (very very good)... My boy gets 20-30 minutes at the beach. I only play fetch once a day, half dozen long runs for it, and jog with him on the soft sand so he gets me fit the rest of the time. What I do is fetch is only at the beach where he does slide stops on the sand. There is no hard stop, a pair of furrows in the sand sliding. I try and keep him in the soft sand, and do not let him go repeatedly long distance, make him wait a bit before going again, sort of like a 30 sec to minute gap to get his heart rate and breathing down. But it is going into summer here and about 90 degrees, sort of 80 in the mornings when we go...

I suggest, gap in the fetch to get his breath, loose and not on concrete, tall grass where he has to slow down and search for it, or best is on the soft sand where he can do slide stops like a Reining Horse in the NRHA. :)

Kind regards from Australia, and God Bless America....
 

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The 5 minutes per month is not a maximum. It is a suggested amount of exercise for puppies of all breeds. A generalization released by the UKC. I have no idea how this turned into GSD puppies only getting 20 minutes of exercise when they are 4 months old.
 
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Here are the latest puppy videos from a very successful and experienced trainer. They literally break all your rules. Stonnie trains about 30 dogs a month at his kennels and runs an online training course as well.

Uncle Stonnie playlist:
 

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I was going to just let this go. I respect David, but this may be a matter of semantics, language barriers, as we are on a little island in the South Pacific.. :LOL::giggle: Australia..

But for the sake of others, that might search this, here goes: My Black and Tan, 3" over sized, suffered badly with hip dysplasia because I ran him too hard as a puppy, thinking I was building muscle... Before I knew better, I ruined him. He spent the last two years of his life from about 8-10 on Steroids and Pain killers to stay mobile.. I ran him too hard before I knew better... The GSD Society and most Breeders here seem to believe and live by my following advice..

The 5 minutes of EXERCISE per month of Life, means a 4 month old gets 20 minutes of hard exercise like running after the ball in soft sand, HARD WORKOUT twice a day. That is not counting, walking him, off leash play, loose in the yard, more than that but the HARD EXERCISE is 20 minutes TWICE A DAY... Up to a year then it is an HOUR... I hurt Dakota, and I suffered as much as him even to this day, so the next two I stuck to my new found rules and they had beyond excellent hip and elbow scores on X-ray Judged by the GSD Society..

Second of all, This Dog Trainer, the problems do not show up for many years later. I don't care if he trains 50 dogs a month, the Dysplasia seems to show up later in life like arthritis for an athlete, that sort of thing..

Kind regards from Australia, and God Bless America
 

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You have a sample size of 1, and it was admittedly an oversize dog which is a huge factor in HD. Genetics is another huge factor. Was the dog evaluated at 2 for hip scores? You say you ran him too hard. What did that entail?

This is your original post: Now, I am concerned about the hard stops as well. My rules are them not fat, and no jumping like in and out of truck beds until 12-15 months old, no jumping for anything, and only about 5 minutes exercise per month of Life so far. No long walks or jogs or bicycle riding running, nothing like that as a puppy.

Your second post:The 5 minutes of EXERCISE per month of Life, means a 4 month old gets 20 minutes of hard exercise like running after the ball in soft sand, HARD WORKOUT twice a day. That is not counting, walking him, off leash play, loose in the yard, more than that but the HARD EXERCISE is 20 minutes TWICE A DAY.

There is some conflicting information between the two recommendations. First says no long walks. Second says walks don't count etc.

I agree that that forced exercise, including fetch with a high drive dog, should be limited. I understand and appreciate that a beloved dog suffered with arthritis and you are trying to help others avoid that terrible condition.

There is evidence that under exercising a puppy can cause problems as well. Cartilage doesn't thicken. A dogs body, just like ours, becomes resilient through exercise. I suggest that owners speak with their breeder and do their own research. Don't take my word for it. I'm just a dumb grunt.

I'll post a link to this article again. It is written by a DVM. Thanks @Jorski


From the article.


"So, jarring, high impact activity may be risk factors for some joint conditions. But keep in mind that none of these studies fully considered the genetic component of the dogs. Further, there is very good evidence that being overweight as a puppy in more likely to contribute to joint disease. "

"Exercise places demands on joint cartilage, which becomes conditioned to transmit the stresses to which it is subjected. Mild to moderate levels of running in dogs may stimulate adaptation. Most studies of moderate running indicate no injury to articular cartilage, assuming there are no abnormal biomechanical stresses acting on the joints, such as hip or elbow dysplasia or rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (exercise certainly accelerates the development of arthritis in abnormal joints)."

"Young beagle dogs jogging 4 km/d (2.5 miles), at a speed of 4 km/h (2.5 mph) at a 15-degree incline on a treadmill for 15 weeks had no damage to cartilage and a 6% increase in cartilage stiffness and an 11% increase in cartilage thickness, all positive changes. Jogging 20 km/d (12 miles) on a treadmill for 15 weeks did not result in further changes. Skeletally immature dogs subjected to 15 weeks of jogging at a rate of 40 km/d (24 miles per day!!!) had no change in cartilage content. However, running 20 km/d for nearly 1 yearresulted in a 6% reduction in cartilage thickness of the medial femoral condyle, with an 11% reduction in proteoglycan content (the part of the cartilage that gives it stiffness and wear resistance). In similar studies of running 40 km/d, the effects of training for 1 year on young canine articular cartilage found that there was no visible cartilage damage, but there was some softening of the cartilage. But these are all huge distances. Think about running a marathon or half marathon 5 days a week for a year! Like Forrest Gump, just keep on running for no particular reason."
 
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