wolfhound exercise

A puppy up to six months of age should just be allowed to play and should be given no actual formal exercise, except for training. It is important to allow the puppy plenty of time to rest, so children and other dogs should be prevented from continually harassing the puppy. A wolfhound puppy is growing extremely fast and skeletal disorders can be caused by both wrong feeding and incorrect exercise. Pushing a puppy for early maturity is damaging to its health, and it is most beneficial to have a pup growing slowly and naturally.

It is important to remember that any giant breed puppy could be susceptible to skeletal problems during its growth period, and that it is with the puppy that you need to guard against joint problems such as arthritis in the older dog. Although diet plays a major part in healthy growth and skeletal development, so does exercise. Many wolfhound puppies have been damaged by allowing them to play for long periods either with older wolfhounds, or with smaller breeds whether puppies or adults. Smaller breeds have more energy and can go on way past the stage at which a wolfhound puppy should have given up and rested, but in such circumstances the wolfhound pup often will continue to play and cause damage to its growing bones. So the rule is: do not allow the puppy free access to either older dogs or puppies of smaller breeds. Wolfhound puppies do need lots of sleep and rest and it is important that they get it.

Do not take a puppy under six months for proper walks, even short ones. By all means give it lead training but not by taking it for walks. Once over six months, the puppy may be taken on short walks, starting with a few minutes a day and very gradually increasing to about a mile a day. The pup may also be given some free running other than playing in the garden for a few minutes each day. At nine months, the amount of exercise may be increased to reach two miles a day at a year old, plus some free running. After this age, exercise may be increased to twenty minutes or more free running twice a day by eighteen months, plus two miles walk. However, do not only walk a dog tied to a pram or pushchair and walking at the pace of a toddler or young child because being forced to shorten its steps and walk slowly will damage its skeletal and muscular structure so that it will not be able to stretch out on the move properly when it has finished growing.

However, do not take it on proper walks does not mean shutting the pup in a pen or cage all the time. Having space for playing and some running about is as important to health as a good diet and plenty of sleep.

An adult hound requires at least 20 minutes free exercise twice daily but some road walking is beneficial as well. No form of exercise should be given for an hour before or two hours after feeding because of the risk of bloat/gastric torsion.

Also, do not exercise your hound in the heat of the day; in warm weather exercise early in the morning and late in the evening when it is cooler. Exercising in heat can cause many problems, including collapse and even death. It is as well to remember that dogs should not be left out with no shade in hot weather and should absolutely never ever be left in a car in warm weather, even if the car is in shade when you leave it. It is not enough to open the windows; a car in sun becomes an oven in minutes and the unfortunate dog left in it literally cooks. This is also something to bear in mind when taking a dog out to drive anywhere in warm weather; the windows of modern cars are so designed that the dog has difficulty in staying out of direct sun. Investing in window shades that will help keep out the sun's rays is sensible, as is having a car with air conditioning, but window shades are not going to make it possible to leave a dog in a car on a sunny day.

Do not exercise for an hour before or two hours after feeding because of the risk of bloat/gastric torsion.

Also, it is unwise to expect any puppy (or junior in the large and giant breeds) to do jumping or agility because of the stress on developing bones and joints. Only start such activities when a dog is fully grown and in good condition. And going downstairs is not good exercise for any dog of whatever age, because of the stress it puts on the joints. However, walking uphill is good for building muscle once a dog is adult and requiring conditioning.

The Irish wolfhound should be hard muscled - it is, after all, a galloping breed - but good muscle is as much due to structure and diet as to exercise. you do not want to try to muscle up a puppy through exercise or you will cause it possibly irreparable harm. However big your puppy is, remember that he is still a baby and needs treating as such. Vet Ian Billinghurst gives an excellent and easy to follow description of how bones grow in his book "Grow Your Pup With Bones". He also gives sound advice on feeding and the importance of care with exercise.

Do remember that the Irish wolfhound was bred for hunting and many still retain a strong hunting instinct. Even those that are brought up with other animals may not be trustworthy with those animals as adults because of this.