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Puppy exercise, rough play and bouncing etc.

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Hi everyone, 

I have a very energetic, bold and adventurous 11 week old collie, Bryn. Now that he can soon go for walks, I would love some breed-specific and real-life advice as to how to proceed with exercise safely. I am also concerned about the amout of activity that my pup is doing in day to day life. I will bullet these for ease - any advice would be much appreciated!

- There are two steps between my living room and kitchen. Bryn likes nothing more than to bound between the two rooms, hopping up the steps and jumping down them. He also jumps up and off anything he can - the sofa, bed, etc. My house also has steep stairs. Bryn can go up my stairs, but not down, but can go both up and down less steep stairs in my partner's house. I was not aware until yesterday (cringe) that stairs are bad for pups and have, to my horror, been encouraging his use of stairs. Should I now stop this immediately, or should I monitor this carefully? I could use baby gates if necessary but I am not sure that I can completely stop the use of the two steps between my living room and kitchen (weird stair layout).

- Up until now we have been playing in both a large and small garden and have been playing fetch. He often stalks the ball and will run up to it and pause before 'attacking' and therefore there's little jolting. I would like to continue fetching as it is excellent for enforcing some down-time. Is this OK? 

- My (recently recearched) understanding is that walking should be 5 mins per month, so 15 mins max at the moment. He plays and dashes about the garden for longer than this! Surely one size doesn't fit all breeds? I know they can overwork themselves but I would like to be able to take him for longer walks (within reason) so that we can explore hills and rivers. Should I stick to this and pop him in a bag if necessary, or should I play it by ear?

- He can be a voracious play-fighter. One dog in particular that he now encounters (my partner's housemate's dog) is a 6mo large and boisterous american bulldog puppy. I am anxious about this play because the dog seems oblivious to his size and they will play roughly. Bryn gives as good as he gets but is a quarter of the size and gets sat on and rolled over. They also get snarly and need to be separated. I hate this. I don't want to foster a boisterous and aggressive dog. I don't believe that they can give each other appropriate feedback. Am I being overly concerned and should I let them get on with it?

Again I want to make sure that he is happy and healthy. I certainly don't want to do anything that would damage him. When I had my previous collie-cross pup the internet wasn't really around and we just went with it! He did a lot from an early age and went on to be a fab agility dog. Ignorance isn't really acceptable though!

Thanks everyone.


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There is a big difference between running and jumping on hard surfaces (bare floors, pavement) and on soft or natural surfaces (carpet, grass, mulch).  Also a big difference between activities where the puppy is encouraged to do more (fetch, on-leash walking or running) and spontaneous activities where Byrn can set his own pace and rest whenever he needs to.  I tend to be careful about hard surfaces and "forced" activities and less so for soft surfaces and free play.

Play fighting with a much larger dog, especially one that gets carried away and doesn't know when to stop, is a real risk.  Try to find him a gentler playmate closer to his own size and strength.  But do let him play with other dogs, it is great socialization.  I remember from your other posts that you have trouble with him biting,  Extremely rough play with an insensitive bulldog may encourage this.  A more sensitive playmate that stops the game when Bryn gets too rough may help him learn bite inhibition.

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I agree with the above post. You can let the puppy run around and do as he likes for exercise as long as you stay aware of dangers and make sure he doesn't over-extend himself of get over stimulated. I wouldn't encourage him to go up and down stairs, but let him do it as he wants. You don't want an adult dog who thinks you want him to race up and down the stairs all the time.

Keep him from playing with much larger dogs who haven't got good boundaries. The situation you describe could escalate to the point that your pup thinks it is dangerous or at the least no fun to play with other dogs. Best case would be to find puppies his size for him to play with, and/or an older dog with a lot of patience and gentleness. And again, watch the play....don't leave them alone together...and interfere if things get ratcheted up too high. Limit the play sessions to short times...maybe 10 minutes tops, so no one gets irritated or over tired.

For now while he is so young, stay with the short walks. A border collie puppy doesn't know hw is not SuperDog, and can easily overextend himself. Just like with a human child, you need to regulate his activity.

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When I got my dog Orbit at 3 months, this forum was a wealth of information. What really stuck with me was this:

Careful of the expectations that you set your puppy up for both in terms of attention and exercise. I don't want a dog that needs to be entertained and exercised all day long. So when I have a pup, I make sure to exercise him just enough and to play and fuss just enough. Once an off switch has been established, I tend to seek out more play because they're adorable and who doesn't want to just play with them all day long.

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