By Dr. Victoria Bennett, Veterinarian, CNIB Guide Dogs
When providing exercise to a puppy, you need to consider both the type and the amount (how long and how frequent) for his/her age. It is easy and tempting to over exercise in order to tire the pup out to give everyone a break!
Forced exercise is defined as "exercise beyond what the dog would engage in with dogs of the same age". Puppies of the same age stop playing when they get tired. If there is only one puppy in the home, it may be receiving "forced exercise" inadvertently. Whether it's playing with adult dogs, going for a walk/jog or fetching games, it's important to consider what is reasonable and to monitor how tired your pup is.
Puppies have delicate growth plates at the end of their bones that allow for bone growth, which generally stop growth and "close" at 12 months of age (breed dependent). Forced exercise can damage the growth plates, which may require surgery and/or cause lifelong lameness disorders.
Always stop the exercise before or as soon as they appear tired. Remember: Mental exercises, such as training, are just as important as physical exercise, which will also tire out your puppy, providing the break that you both need!