Does Exercise = Running?
Updated: Aug 3
Whippets were made for speed! There is nothing more exhilarating and even sometimes slightly terrifying than watching your whippet fly across a field at full gallop. They eat up the earth from the airborne moment of full extension to full collection where they flex fully like an accordion. Having the ability to run free is intrinsically part of being a whippet. It's something they NEED on a basic level the opportunity to do EVERY single day. Once that need is met, they tend not to require high amounts of exercise throughout the day. A happy and well trained whippet has an excellent "on/off" switch. Meaning when it's "go time" they will be energetic and game for anything, but outside of their structured play and exercise they relax and spend a fair amount of the day sleeping. Now that being said, the first two years of a whippet's life they will require more frequent intermissions or opportunities throughout the day to exercise.
Does a leash walk constitute exercise?
For you, yes, for your puppy, NO! Although leash walks are a great opportunity to get outdoors and offers up enrichment opportunities by allowing your dog to explore the world through scent, leash walks are not sufficient for a breed MADE for running. (Yes, your new puppy will need lots of leash walks, but this is not what we mean by exercise). Your whippet will need the opportunity to run freely EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's absolutely imperative for proper growth and development, mental soundness and stress relief. Simply turning your whippet puppy loose in your yard with the instructions "go run" is not sufficient especially if your whippet lives in a home as the only whippet or only dog. Instead of simply turning your dog loose in the yard, work on recall, teach your puppy to fetch, practice training games outdoors together. Explore new spaces. Train your puppy's recall and establish that training so you can work your puppy safely on trails together. There is no limit to the incredible opportunities life with a whippet will open up, only your creativity will limit you.
In terms of structured exercise like accompanying you on runs or jogging, we strongly encourage new puppy owners to wait until their dog's growth plates are closed meaning, AT LEAST 18 months of age. More specifically if you're running on sidewalks in the city, that's a hard surface to run on and we would recommend waiting until your whippet is 2 years of age. If running cross country or on trails, then you can safely start at 18 months of age. Make sure you weekly check the status of your dog's pads. Do they need conditioning? Are there any callouses? If so, you may need to take a break and more gradually work your dog up more slowly. Be mindful of the heat of the pavement and concrete in the summer and bring water for you too if you're going on a longer run.
We also work our dogs with our bike. We do NOT recommend this for inexperienced owners or those who are not confident on the bike. Shown below is Envie being conditioned with the bike. If you are interested in learning more about cycling with your dog reach out to us and we're happy to chat about our gear.
REMEMBER DOG PARKS AT ANY AGE IS A BIG NO!!!