Exercise and Play
An important part of a dog’s life is exercise or play, not only for fitness, but also for mental stimulation. Exercise, play and feeding times are often the most exciting parts of a dog’s day, and your puppy will grow to keenly anticipate them. Please ensure that you clean up after your dog when you go out for walks, so as not to cause offence to anyone.
Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. A very young puppy will get all the exercise it needs from play - treat a young puppy as you would a human baby and ensure that it gets plenty of undisturbed rest. Keep walks short but regular.
If you over-exercise a growing puppy, you can quickly overtire it, and more importantly, damage its developing bones and joints, which may cause problems such as 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 when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Below you will find specific daily exercise information relating to an English Springer Spaniel puppy:
Age of Puppy
0 - 3 months
3 - 4 months
4 - 6 months
6 - 9 months
9 - 12 months
1 year +
50 - 60
No. of Sessions
2½ - 3 hours
Until a puppy has completed its course of vaccinations, there is a risk of infection. Therefore, it is usually better that exercise is restricted to within the confines of your garden. Exercise in the garden also provides an excellent opportunity to start early training, and to get your puppy used to wearing a collar. Make sure your puppy has a number of safe toys, and always accompany them in the garden. This way, you can engage your puppy in suitable levels of activity, and start to reward good toileting behaviour, which can usually provide all the puppy’s exercise needs during this time. If the opportunity arises, take your puppy to other safe environments where there is no risk, and it is able to mix with other animals and people, such as private gardens where only vaccinated dogs have access. Socialising at an early age is a vital part of your dog’s development.
It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated. Time spent in the garden (however large) is no substitute for exploring new environments, and socialising with other dogs. When you go out, make sure your puppy is trained to recall, so that you are confident the puppy will return to you when called.
You should never exercise your puppy on a full stomach as this may contribute to bloat or stomach dilation which can sometimes prove fatal.
All dogs require regular exercise to remain fit and prevent them from becoming overweight, which may also lead to health problems. You should remember however, that exercise needs to be introduced gradually, and that a young puppy will not have the same exercise requirement as an adult dog. The duration and frequency of exercise should remain consistent and any increases should be gradual. For the majority of dogs,
exercise is an important part of their life so they will take as much as you can give.
A dog will also enjoy play, whether with you or on its own, so toys play an important part in a dog's life. Springer Spaniels, both puppy and adult, like plenty of toys and, with their soft mouths, tend to prefer soft toys made out of fabric or latex rather than harder rubber or plastic toys. Toys can also be used to provide encouragement when training a puppy, or to distract a misbehaving puppy.
Adult Springer Spaniels have lots of energy and will normally be capable of walking (or running) at least as far as their owner, however as a dog becomes older, exercise should be reduced and your dog should be allowed to walk at its own pace.
A dog will enjoy play, whether with you or on its own, so toys play an important part in a dog's life. Springer Spaniels, both puppy and adult, like plenty of toys and, with their soft mouths, tend to prefer soft toys made out of fabric or latex rather than harder rubber or plastic toys. Make sure they are non toxic and durable and never leave your puppy alone with anything that could choke them, splinter in their mouth, or electrocute them.
Toys can also be useful to provide encouragement when training a puppy, or to distract a misbehaving puppy.
Dogs love playing tug of war with many of their toys. While your puppy is still growing (until ~12-18 months of age), take care not to allow your puppy to pull too hard as this can cause distortion of the jaw, or misalignment of the teeth. But do make sure that you win most of the time, to discourage dominance in your dog.
© 2016 Ian Thomas.