Puppy Growth and Development

April 2018//Exercise and Training

When adopters of pups fail to follow proper guidelines, (resulting in some sort of health issue) the breeder is always to blame. Puppy adopters, must realize that after that pup leaves the breeders home, it’s the sole responsibility of the adopter to become educated on proper care protocols, that if not followed, can lead to future health issues.

The following information, from the Institute of Canine Biology is very important information on the development of your puppy.


Genetic and Environmental Influences: Although there is a genetic influence on hip dysplasia, and other tissue related damage(s), the heritability of the trait is rather low. Many studies have shown that genetic variation accounts for only a modest fraction of hip scores, usually 15-40%. Over feeding and inappropriate exercise/play are vital to reduce the incidence of structural damage. (The Institute of Canine Biology).


Butter Ball Pups — Not so good: Over feeding puppies is likely the biggest and most important mistake most puppy owners make. Understand, the heavier the dog, the greater the forces will be on the skeletal structure, therefore, the higher the risk of hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. Keep your puppies weight controlled by not over feeding. You should be able to feel their ribs but not see them. If you can see them, they are too skinny. For “the fluffy breeds” you need to feel their ribs, while others are more visually noticeable. They should have a nice taper to their waist, between the abdomen and hips. Think of it this way… they should have an hourglass type figure.

Even though “butter ball pups are cute”, beware of the too-rapidly growing pup. A balanced diet and keeping your puppy on the thin side, means better and safer development of the joints. Often people ask me how much to feed — my answer is always based on what type of diet your puppy is on and the exercise they get. Always refer to the specific feeding directions provided by the type of food you choose to feed. Do not forget when feeding treats to add this into the total of the daily rations.


Age Appropriate Exercise: The first consideration with puppy exercise is “growth plates”. These plates are soft areas that are seated in the ends of the long bones in pups and young dogs. They allow bones to become longer until the end of puberty. Typically, the closure is normally completed by 8 to 12 months old (for a medium sized dog). So, you need to make smart exercise decisions prior to closure of growth plates. Some rules include; No rough housing, tugging, jumping, chasing balls, fast turns, jumping on and off beds, couches or long flights of stairs.

Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy you can damage its developing joints, causing early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes, up to twice a day, when three months old. Once they are fully grown, they can exercise for much longer.

Smarter exercise options include Mental Stimulation exercises that don’t put your pup’s structural growth at risk. Consider trick training, nose work and other non-high impact fun. Below are some simple rules of thumb to follow:

Noodling Around: The majority of exercise should be free play such as exploring and noodling around.

Gentle Playmates: Only let your puppy play with a “well-matched” and gentle playmate. Too much rough-housing can result in spiral fractures.

Digging Pits: Consider a portion of your yard for a digging pit… It’s a great and natural exercise for your puppy.

Sniff and Stroll: Long walks and exercise periods can lead to injury.

Mental Stimulation: Such as obedience, tricks and nose-work games are safe and sound activities.

Playing Fetch: Gently roll the ball, don’t toss it. Too much torque chasing the ball back and forth can be damaging.

Soft Landings: Jumping on and off beds and furniture are major causes of spiral fractures in puppies.

Stairs Not Hip: Long flights of stairs can strain a young pups joints. Consider ramps or carrying your puppy up and down.

Avoid Overfeeding: The heavier the puppy, the greaterthe forces will be on the skeletal structure.




Puppy Fitness Book: Free to all our puppy buyers

The Puppy Culture Exercise Booklet is an important guide to raising a puppy in a healthy and safe way. If every puppy owner would read and follow these guidelines, a huge number of behavioral issues and fractures could be avoided!

Booklet includes: The article “Puppy Fitness That Fits The Puppy” which outlines the whys and hows of appropriate puppy exercise and explains growth plates and “toddler fractures” in puppies. Age Appropriate Exercise Guidelines Charts with  individual exercise guideline charts – from 8 months old to 18+ years old.


This book features step-by-step instructions with easy to follow color photos of each step. Each trick is rated with a difficulty rating and prerequisites to get you started quickly. Tips and trouble-shooting boxes cover common problems, while “build-on” ideas suggest more complicated tricks which build on each new skill.

Tricks range from simple ones like Sit, Shake Hands, Roll Over, to extraordinary ones like Tidy Up Your Toys into the Toybox, and Get a Soda from the Fridge. Millions of people have found success with Kyra Sundance’s step-by-step techniques and you can too. Trick training will help you bond with your dog and integrate him into your family. Tricks keep him mentally and physically challenged and help to establish paths of communication between you. Many tricks build skills used in dog sports, dog dancing, and dog therapy work. 101 Dog Tricks will inspire you to do more with your dog! Order Here