The Best Exercise for a Poodle!
While quick bouts of energy filled activity like playing fetch does have its place, for daily exercise, walking your Poodle is the way to go. This holds true for tiny toy Poodles, medium sized Minis and large Standards.
It is the best type of exercise for this breed for several reasons:
1) It is low impact. When your Poodle will be performing an action daily and essentially forever, you want that activity to offer all of the benefits without putting undue stress on the body. Repeated strenuous exercise puts stress on the joints, overtaxes muscles and can cause injury.
2) It can be adjusted as needed. Once you fall into a routine of walking your Poodle often enough and for long enough periods of time, his cardiovascular health, stamina and muscle strength will gradually improve… as this happens, walking speed can be incrementally increased so that your Poodle receives the same amount of body conditioning.
3) It is easy to do. The only things that you will need is a leash and harness (more ahead) and some patience if your Poodle needs some practice to keep his behavior in line (more ahead). Also, with few exceptions, you can walk a dog during any season (we will discuss winter, rain, heat, etc. in just a bit).
Rule of Thumb:
A good rule of thumb is: 5 minutes per day, for each month of age. Here is a quick reference of recommended exercise times:
3 months old = One 15 minute walk each day
4 months old = Total of 20 minutes; this can be two 10 minute walks
5 months old = Total of 25 minutes; split into two walks
6 months old = Total of 30 minutes; split into three 10 or two 15 minute walks
7 months old = Total of 35 minutes; divided into two sessions
8 months old = Total of 40 minutes; best if done in three sessions (15, 15 and 10 minutes)
9 months old = Total of 45 minutes; best if done in three sessions (15, 15, 15)
10 months old = Total of 50 minutes; best if done in three sessions (20, 15, 15)
11 months old = Total of 55 minutes; best if done in three sessions (20, 15, 20)
For standards only, 12 months through 23 months = Continuation of 55 minutes (20, 15, 20). Toys and minis will at this point, move ahead to adult exercise requirements.
Puppies - For toys and miniatures under 1 year old and standards under 18 months old, owners must carefully schedule exercise times. Offering quick bouts of outdoor walking is a great way to for the puppy to discharge their abundant energy. That being said, greatly exceeding exercise limits for puppies can be detrimental to their growth.
Why? During the first year for toys and miniature Poodles (and until about 18 months old for standard Poodles), the bones are still forming and growing. At the end of all major bones are growth plates; these are soft areas that contain rapidly dividing cells that are instrumental in allowing the bones to develop and grow longer as the Poodle pup matures from puppy to adult.
Once a Poodle is done with puberty and is officially an adult dog that is done growing, the plates harden and calcify. Until that time, over-exercise can cause injury to this soft bone tissue and interfere with normal bone growth.
So, you'll want to find a balance of enough walks, for the proper duration, to allow the pup to release energy and start becoming socialized to the world, yet be careful to not exercise your Poodle puppy to such an extent that it could possibly harm those growth plates.
An adult Poodle in his prime, 1 year old (toys) or 2 years old (standards) to 7 years old, should have 60 minutes of exercise per day. Do keep in mind that no matter how active a dog appears while inside the home, this does not decrease the amount of time that the dog should be walked. There will be days that your schedule simply does not allow this or days when weather is so severe that you'll need to offer alternatives; however those should be the exceptions.
Most Poodles do best with those 60 minutes split up into two 30 minute or three 20 minute sessions. We recommend:
Morning - If you will be leaving for the day, it's a good idea to exercise your Poodle before you leave.
Early evening - When you arrive back home, the two most important things to do will be to bring your Poodle to the bathroom area outside and then take him for a walk to release the built up tension that developed while the dog was home alone.
Two hours later - Once dinner has been served, some household chores have been done and you are thinking about possibly relaxing for the night, this can be a great time to go for the 3rd and last walk of the day, should you decide to do 3 walks per day instead of 2. While you won't want to exercise your Poodle right before bedtime, heading out for a quick jaunt about 2 hours before the expected sleep time can help your dog calm down and relax as the family settles in for the night.
Seniors - Do not make the mistake of assuming that an older dog doesn't need exercise. Unless a senior Poodle has health conditions that prohibit him from exercising, you'll want to continue with daily walks. Some owners feel that a senior Poodle is more than content resting around the house. And while seniors are often complacent…they've seen it all and have done it all… and not much may excite them… Being out in the fresh air and stretching their legs can put a little pep in another wise ho-hum step.
Regular light exercise can relieve joint discomfort that is common with older dogs, helps the senior dog maintain muscle mass and offers all of the benefits that it does with a senior dog's younger counterparts.
Osteoarthritis is not uncommon for senior Poodle; though light exercise can often help alleviate symptoms and this will be something that you'll want to speak with the vet about. You'll want to monitor the older dog to see how he deals with duration, cutting back as needed or slowing down the pace.
There are some health conditions, of course, that will necessitate a cease in exercise and others that require certain exercise as part of the treatment program. A good example of this is luxating patella (slipped kneecap). During recovery, strict bed rest is often prescribed along with medications to reduce swelling and help with pain. However, afterward many vets will suggest strengthening exercises, most notably walking the dog uphill, to help build muscles that surround the knees. Always check with your Poodle's vet during and after any health issue for exercise restrictions and instructions.
Pregnancy - In general, healthy pregnant Poodles should be taken for walks and exercised as normal up until the last week of pregnancy. Easy yet consistent exercise during pregnancy helps a female dog stay well-toned which is believed to help with labor and delivery. In most cases, exercise can gradually resume within your own yard 2 to 3 weeks after birth. Avoid leaving the house as the mother can track in diseases from outside the home.
Proper Walking Pace
The goal will be to walk at what is a brisk pace for your Poodle. Depending on the age and size of your Poodle, this may simply be a casual stroll for you. With toy Poodles, do not expect to get in your cardio while walking the dog (however, the fresh air, sunshine and movement will be beneficial to you as well… studies show that time NOT spent sitting is as important as exercising and that walking slow is much better than being sedentary).
The average dog walks about 1 mile in 25 minutes and adult standards may reach this pace with ease; with the tiny toy Poodle, you can expect to cover 1/2 of a mile in 20 minutes. Take note of how your dog's legs are moving… He should be at a trot, with a short stride.
The Summer Heat
Exercising in hot, humid weather is certainly a concern for this breed and for all dogs. However, with some planning, you can continue to make sure that your Poodle stays active enough during the summertime. Here are some tips:
Protect the paws from hot pavement. Far too many dogs have their paws scalded by hot pavement and this can easily be fixed by either using a super high quality paw wax that will create a layer of protection or by placing comfortable doggie shoes on your Poodle.
Protect the nose from sunburn (this can happen within 20 minutes with direct sun) which can lead to peeling. Use a quality nose balm.
Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day. Even on exceedingly hot days, early morning and then again right before sunset, the temperature can often be in the 70's or low 80's which is tolerable. Not to mention, the sun's rays will not be as strong.
Bring along water and plan one break. At just about the halfway point, take a break preferably in the shade. During the break, offer a good amount of cool water to your Poodle (a canine travel water container works well… the cover works as a bowl and you can place a couple of ice cubes in the insulated thermos to keep the water cold).
Do always use caution; if you feel it is just too hot out to safely walk your Poodle, look to alternative activities (more ahead).
Those Cold Winters
While there are exceptions, walks during the winter can be doable if you plan ahead. For 'normal' winter days, here are some tips:
Protect the paws from winter elements. The freezing ground and/or ice melt chemicals can lead to dry, peeling paws and adding protection also helps a Poodle feel more comfortable. Use a quality paw wax or slip on no-skid canine booties.
Dress appropriately. This is important advice for both you and your Poodle. When an owner is freezing and miserable, they will be much more likely to rush the walk, take a short cut or skip it all together by rushing back inside after the dog goes to the bathroom. If you bundle up (we're talking hat, scarf, thick winter coat, gloves and durable water-proof boots), you'll be much more apt to stick with your Poodle's exercise program. Likewise, particular for toy Poodles, owners often need to take steps to help the dog stay warm. A thick lined vest, hoodie, coat or sweater will help your toy Poodle keep his core body temperature warm and toasty.
All information provided is from allpoodleinfo.com