Goldendoodles are active dogs that thrive when they receive regular exercise, but have you ever considered that a puppy has different physical needs and limits than an adult dog? It’s true, proper and age-appropriate exercise for your Goldendoodle is vital to their development, and can help to prevent injuries and fractures that can affect your Goldendoodle their entire life. Furthermore, proper exercise can improve bone density and minimize the risk of hip and bone disorders.
Understanding Growth Plates and Bone Density
Growth plates are soft, cartilaginous areas at the ends of long bones which contain cells that multiply until your Goldendoodle reaches adulthood. During this time they are referred to as open. Once your dog reaches the end of puberty at 18 months, the growth plates slowly thin, become hardened, and close altogether, resulting in a fully ossified bone. Injuring a growth plate varies in seriousness, but can adversely affect your Goldendoodle’s bone density and cause malformation.
When an adult dog suffers an injury that affects the joint, maybe from turning too quickly or rotating in the wrong direction, he or she will experience a sprain that can heal over time. On the other hand, when a puppy sustains that same injury, it can result in a growth plate injury due to the soft and spongy nature of their bones. A puppy’s muscles and subsequent supporting soft tissues are stronger than their bones during development years and your Goldendoodle can injure its own growth plate through rigorous play, arduous walks, or high jumps from cars or furniture.
Your Goldendoodle puppy still has very soft bones that will not harden until about 18 months of age. They are highly vulnerable to fractures at this age, with 50% of fractures in dogs happening before the age of one. The most common type is a spiral fracture that occurs when the bone is twisted in two different directions, or torqued. Goldendoodles are adventurous and curious. They’ll want to test their limits as all puppies tend to do, but their developing bones are not ready for any daredevil stunts.
The Dos and Don’ts of Puppy Exercise
First things first: don’t stress yourself out! Goldendoodles still need play time and regular exercise throughout the day to release all that Goldendoodle energy, as long as you let them set the pace. For a Goldendoodle under three months of age, playtime and walks should be limited to 15 minutes or less. This will increase as your Goldendoodle grows into their adolescent and adult years. In fact, your Goldendoodle will need this exercise to strengthen their bone density and prevent injuries later on. Puppies who are exercised regularly tend to have increased bone density, much like humans, and are less likely to sustain a fracture as an adult.
DO let your Goldendoodle socialize with other dogs. A laid-back adult dog or a puppy similar in age is a perfect playmate, but wrestling and rough play should be discouraged with dogs and people alike. Try rolling a ball across the yard or enticing your Goldendoodle to follow you with a toy along the ground, rather than playing long games of fetch or vigorous tug of war.
DO spend time walking and playing outside! Hiking in the wilderness is a fantastic way to socialize your puppy and the soft terrain is ideal for exploring without risking injury due to the hard, sometimes hot, pavement. Just be sure to let your Goldendoodle set the pace, allow them to stop and sniff anything that interests them, and when they’re tuckered out, it’s time for some well-deserved rest.
DO let your Goldendoodle set the pace. Puppy-led play should be encouraged and their endurance will grow as they do. Get in the grass with them, roll around, implement training, or let your Doodle doodle around until they’re tired. Rest is just as important as exercise as it gives their minds and bodies a chance to decompress after a tiring walk or play session.
DO talk to your veterinarian about appropriate exercise throughout your Goldendoodle’s first year. While exercise is extremely important to a puppy’s mental and physical development, too much or too little can be detrimental to their health and growth. Puppy injuries can be more severe than those experienced by adults and you won’t regret taking precautions to ensure your Goldendoodle lives a long, healthy, and fulfilling life!