My husband and I just completed the Chevron Houston Marathon and have really enjoyed our training runs leading up to the big race. We also just got a puppy and we’d love to take our new addition along with us on our runs. Is this advisable?
Ready to Run in Garden Oaks
Dear Ready to Run,
Congratulations on your marathon and your new canine addition! I’m sure, with all of that manic puppy energy in your home, you’re eager to find ways to help your puppy exercise. Since you’re both runners, taking the puppy along on your runs seems like a logical way to spend time with your pup and fit in your runs. Well, hold your horses a bit: Vets agree that dogs shouldn’t go jogging until their growth plates have closed.
Dogs grow a lot in their first year, especially large breeds. Their bones and joints are remodeling as they continue to grow. (Certain breeds like Shih Tzus, Corgis, and Basset Hounds are predisposed to premature growth plate closure.) To accommodate the growth of your growing puppy the cartilage and bones are soft and contain many extra blood vessels.
Since the growth plates are softer than other parts of the bones they’re more prone to injury. Trauma to a puppy’s growth plate can lead to severe bone deformities. Being dropped, hit by a car, or vigorous activity injuries in puppies should be diagnosed and treated quickly.
The age at which the growth plates completely mature is different depending on the breed. Most of your dog’s growth will happen between 4 and 8 months of age. Large and giant breeds mature much slower–they might not be fully developed until 18 months of age. But, it’s best to check with your veterinarian to find out when your puppy has reached maturity. An x ray can be performed if you want to know for sure that their growth plates have closed.
As for alternative ways to exercise your puppy, many breeders suggest a “five minute rule.” The five minute rule states that puppies should have 5 minutes of organized exercise per day for every month of his age. So a 8 week old puppy should be getting 10 minutes a day. Organized exercises are activities that you control, such as brief walks and training sessions. With a little creativity, you should be able to come up with fun ways to exercise your pup and slowly incorporate running into your plans.
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