How Much Play Time Does a Puppy Need? [Avoid This 1 Mistake]

Puppies are so irresistible that we constantly cuddle and play with them all the time. However, too much play may be bad for them.

Over-exercising your tiny puppy can affect their growth and development, so limit energetic playtime to start with.

Start your puppy with 5 minutes of play per month of age, twice a day.

Find out how this 5-minute rule works, how to customize it to suit your puppy’s needs, and the one thing you shouldn’t do.

Learn how to play with your puppy, some tips to keep your playtime safe and some toys that are best for puppies.

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How to Determine Your Puppy’s Playtime Needs 

Your dog’s age is a huge factor to consider in how much playtime they need. 

The exercise needs of a puppy change with age and size. For example, young puppies require more sleep, only short walks, and short play sessions.

At about six months, they can start taking longer walks and increased playtime.

Your puppy’s bones are still growing, and this continues until they reach sexual maturity. 

The growth plates in the bones stay soft for such a long time. This softness is to allow them to lengthen as the dog gets larger.

Remember that bones are also held together with muscles, tendons, and ligaments. So, all of these parts are still in a critical growth stage.

These parts are working and growing to support your pup’s joints, and they are still vulnerable to injury.

Lastly, puppies of this age still do not have optimal cardiovascular function for endurance. Short bursts of energy is all they can offer as they continue building their stamina.

Aside from age, the following are other factors to consider for your pup’s playtime needs:

  • breed
  • size
  • health
  • energy levels.

A great way to learn about these things is by researching your dog’s breed first. 

For instance, small breeds mature quickly so their playtime needs will also change often. 

Meanwhile, larger breeds mature more slowly, so you need to wait longer until you try more strenuous exercise. 

Larger breeds are also more prone to joint damages, so be gentle with them to avoid long-term ailments.

Your vet will be able to guide you with the right advice tailored for your puppy.

How Long Should I Play with My Puppy Each Day?

Exercising your puppy is essential to keep them fit, healthy, and free from diseases. It’s also good for you and your bond with your pup.

Exercising your dog means you are also getting some exercise and improving your cardiovascular health.

And spending quality time with your dog will improve your relationship with them.

But how long should these exercise sessions be for your puppy?

Start with the 5-minute rule – 5 minutes of play per month of age, twice a day.

For example, if your puppy is 2 months old, stick to 2 separate 10 minute sessions of play or exercise each day.

A 4 month old puppy can play for 20 minutes twice a day. At 6 months old this can be increased to 30 minutes twice a day.

But remember each puppy is different. And this may be too much for yours. Monitor your pup during and after exercise for signs of over-exercise.

The one thing you should never do is over-exercise your puppy.

Although they say a tired dog is a good dog, you must not over-exercise a puppy. They can be injured or become stressed from too much activity.

Physiotherapist Laurie Edge-Hughes states that the puppy’s growth plates close at 14 months old. Until then, they cannot engage in activities that may cause bone deformations.

Especially with large-breed dogs, playtime should be shorter. This is because they are more prone to damage to the joints.

Always stop them from running too fast, jumping off the couch, and running up and down the stairs. 

The 5-minute rule takes a lot of practice. And remember that this isn’t the only thing to consider.

Depending on their breed and health, some puppies require more or less exercise. If they have any health issues, you should be gentler and limit their playtime.

Long play sessions are not only dangerous but also too demanding for a young dog that is not yet used to structured walks.

In the meantime, you can start to leash-train your puppy to prepare them.

When leash-training, make sure to use a leash that is fit for training. It should be as soft and durable as PetSafe Nylon Dog Leash, which is just the right size for a puppy.

How Often Should I Play with My Puppy?

You should split a puppy’s play time into multiple short sessions a day. 3 to 6 times a day is a good start.

For example, a three-month-old puppy who needs 15 minutes of playtime twice a day could have six 5-minute play-times, or three 10 minute sessions. 

Aside from keeping them excited and well-behaved, splitting play-times into multiple sessions will help your pup recover physically from each play session.

It will also place less stress on their growth plates.

The best way to do this is by splitting playtime into at least three sessions a day. 

Two of these could be short walks in the yard for leash-training, while the third could be a fun game.

Remember that the 5-minute rule is simply a starting point. Get to know your puppy more and you’ll be able to determine how much playtime they need.

Learn about their breed, check their genetic history, consult your vet, and watch how they react to longer play-times.

Keep it safe by starting with the 5-minute rule then increasing the time of each session to see if your puppy is handling it well.

Talk it out with your vet if you are still unsure about how long to play with your puppy. But experts always say not getting enough exercise is far more dangerous than too much. 

What Time Should You Play with Your Puppy?

There is no exact right time for puppy play-times. When they can have their short multiple sessions is completely up to you.

The best time for training and play is when they are full of energy. This will give them an outlet to expend their energy, instead of letting it out with destructive behavior.

The only rule to follow here is to not let them play and run around within one hour of eating. Otherwise, it can lead to stomach pain or canine bloat.

Feel free to play with your puppy in short bursts as long as they haven’t eaten within the hour. 

Once you have established the right times to play with them, keep it consistent so they get used to the routine. 

How to Play with a Puppy

Playing with your puppy can be as simple as letting them roll around the floor. However, you can step up your game by stimulating both mental and physical aspects.

Having a variety of options for play is ideal because it provides multiple positive experiences for your furry friend.

Again, you can even use playtime to leash-train them or teach them basic commands as long as you keep agility play to a minimum.

Here are some ideas for play with your puppy:

  • walking
  • tug of war
  • fetch
  • hide and seek.

You may also try having your puppy play with another puppy, but only if both have received all their vaccines.

Playtime helps puppies build social skills with fellow dogs and human beings. They need to socialize during their early months to avoid behavioral and social problems.

The most important thing to consider when playing with your puppy is consistency. Vary the type of your puppy’s activities but keep it to the same amount of time each day.

Safety Tips for Playing with Your Puppy

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, here are some ways to keep your puppy safe while playing:

  • Leash-train your pup.
  • Avoid outdoor playtime when it is too hot or cold.
  • Avoid slippery and sharp surfaces.
  • Begin with short playtime and increase the length gradually.
  • Don’t forget to take breaks.

Can Your Puppy Play with Toys?

Yes. Get some puppy toys in a variety of textures, shapes, and sizes, such as Pacific Pups 18-Piece Dog Toy Set. This will surely satisfy your pup’s cravings to bite and chew.

Toys should be soft enough for your puppy to bite, but not so small that it fits fully into their mouth.

If you have old stuffed toys, remove the eyes or noses so your puppy can safely chew on them without swallowing these tiny items.

Playing with toys is safe and great for their mind and body. It also prevents their tendency to chew on shoes, furniture, and other things in the house. 

Rotate the selection of your pup’s toys to keep their playtime more interesting. But if they are attached to one particular item, let them keep it all the time.

Just because you have to limit your dog’s physical exercise doesn’t mean you have to do the same with brain exercises. 

Puppies’ brains are just like sponges that can absorb a lot of information.

Games and gentle handling are also other ways to help them enjoy their new surroundings and build a relationship with you.

How Much Attention Do Puppies Need?

Too little attention to your puppy will result in behavioral issues like separation anxiety and hyperactivity.

But too much attention can also lead to over-reliance for your dog, and they can become too attached to you.

Find out how much attention to give your puppy so they grow into disciplined, friendly, and healthy dogs.

What is the Best Way to Exercise a Dog?

The best way to exercise your dog will depend on their age, breed, and energy levels. 

For example, a senior dog requires gentler activities than a young adult dog does. And a dog with lower energy may need to exercise with shorter walks compared to a more energetic one.

Some ways you can exercise your dog include walking, swimming, obstacle courses, playing fetch, and hiking.

Find out the best way to exercise your dog now.

Is it Okay for My Puppy to Play with Other Dogs?

Yes, but only if both puppies have already had their vaccines. 

Show your puppy from an early age that other dogs are their friends and not enemies. 

Expose them to each other at a young age so they will be less aggressive with one another in the long run.

Make sure to introduce dogs to one another the right way. Stay calm, keep your distance, and start with both dogs on leashes. 

What Are Some Fun Games to Play with My Dog?

Believe it or not, there are many fun ways to play with your dog even if you have to stay inside. 

Some indoor games include tug of war, catch, soccer, wrestling, command training, mini obstacle course, and even dress up.

The weather is no excuse to mentally stimulate and physically exercise your dog. It’s especially helpful for puppies who are not yet fully vaccinated.

Check out some other fun games to play with your dog inside.

Make Playtime Part of Your Pup’s Routine.

Playtime sessions are fun and important as they help with your pup’s growth and development.

But make sure to keep it light and simple to avoid bone deformation and other developmental issues.

The 5-minute rule is a great help in determining how long you should play with your puppy. Make sure to consider their health, energy level, and breed too.

Make sure to leash-train your puppy to prepare them for more strenuous outdoor activities in the future.