Your puppy will have bouts of activity, but will also take a lot of naps. It’s important to let your growing pup get plenty of sleep as it’s imperative to their growth and maturation. However, regular activity is also important to keep your pup healthy. When your puppy is awake and ready to play, here are a few activities perfect for puppies to keep them occupied:
1. Go for a Walk
Taking your puppy for a short walk is a simple activity that will help them get some exercise. A walk allows your puppy to experience all the new sights, sounds, and smells for intellectual stimulation. Additionally, a walk around the block is a great bonding time with your puppy and an opportunity for ongoing training.
Plus, meeting other people and animals is a great opportunity for socialization. It may be tempting to go for a run or jog with your puppy, but this should only be done on your puppy’s terms. Their joints need to be fully mature before you take them jogging or running on your terms.
2. Hide and Seek
Hide and Seek is a great game to play with your puppy. Your pup will get some exercise while trying to find you and they’ll get some mental stimulation from it too. You can also use this as an opportunity to reinforce training for the basic “come” command.
You can put a twist on this game by hiding a favorite toy or treat around the house, or the yard, and having your puppy find it. They’ll get exercise and mental stimulation with this mental stimulation too.
Fetch is a great game to play with your puppy. Depending on where they are in their training, you may have to make some variations and adjustments to the standard game. Until your puppy is an expert at being off-leash and commands like “leave it/drop it/give” and “come”, it’s best to play this game inside or in a fenced-in area.
Start with a toy or object that is appropriate for the age of your puppy. A lightweight, soft toy is usually a great start. If you’re outside, you want to avoid sticks as they can be rough on a young pup’s developing mouth. Plus, you don’t want to risk him swallowing or choking on any wood bits from the stick.
Once you have the right toy, toss it and have your puppy retrieve it. They will love chasing after the toy; you just might have to work on training them to bring it back to you! Puppies will tend to get tired easily, so you want to be careful not to overwork your precious pooch.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and play to your heart’s content. If your puppy isn’t tired when the timer goes off, calm them down for some snuggle time so they can rest a little. You might find them drifting off to dreamland before the 10 minutes is up or shortly into your cuddle session!
Going swimming with your dog can be a great exercise for you both, as long as your puppy likes the water. Some pups will jump right in, others will be suspicious, but warm up eventually, and others won’t like it at all. If your puppy doesn’t like the water, it’s okay! Don’t force it. You can try to introduce it again another time, but you don’t want it to become a source of anxiety for your growing pup.
If they’re fans of the water, water play and swimming offer a low-impact workout that won’t put stress on your puppy’s developing joints. Plus, it’s a lot of fun! Get them in the appropriate life vest and jump in! Your puppy will get tired quickly while swimming though, so make sure you keep the swimming session short with plenty of breaks for rest.
Using toys to play with your puppy is a fantastic bonding experience for you both. Plus, it teaches them to play with toys and not your hands! Tug-of-War can be a fun game to play with your puppy while helping them build focus. It’s generally best to use a toy specifically for this purpose so your puppy doesn’t associate playtime with household objects.
You’ll also want to be careful when pulling on the tugger rope or another toy as pulling too hard can damage your puppy’s teeth. When you encourage your puppy to grab the toy and tug, you can start teaching, or reinforcing, the “take it” and “drop it/leave it” commands. Doing this helps your puppy exercise and burn off some energy while also using the game to reinforce training.
6. Teach Them Tricks
You can also have short sessions where you teach your puppy how to do tricks. This may not give them much physical exercise, but it’s a great activity to exercise their mind. When introducing a new trick, spend about 10 minutes showing your puppy what to do and rewarding correct behavior before naming the new trick. Then, introduce the command and continue rewarding the correct behavior.
Once they have a good handle on it, just revisit the trick every now and then as you continue to teach them new tricks and commands. As long as you don’t overwork a trick and end sessions on a positive note, these “trick training sessions” will teach focus and become another great bonding experience for you and your pup. Plus, they are a great way to introduce ongoing training once your puppy has the basic commands mastered.
There are tons of activities you can do with your puppy. Whether playing or cuddling after a play session, your puppy will love spending time with you!