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Published: Jan 30, 2013

Puppies seem to have boundless energy, so at first, you might assume keeping them active and fit will be easy. However, anyone who has owned a puppy and carried her home after a long walk can tell you that as energetic as puppies are, they also tire quickly. 

In addition, puppies have certain limits that some owners might not notice when their little ball of fur's energy seems literally endless. According to Animal Planet, puppies should not go on long runs or jogs until they are about a year old, since this is when their joints are mature. Too much impact exercise while the dogs' bones and joints are still developing can lead to arthritis in dogs or dog hip dysplasia.

Then again, it's critical that you give your young canine enough exercise to keep her at a healthy weight - you don't want to set her up for obesity in dogs before she's even fully grown! So, how can you strike a happy balance? Try some of these games to keep your puppy fit, healthy and having fun.

A good old fashioned walk
It sounds simple, but walking your young dog is an important time for socialization, exercise and certain puppy training lessons. The news outlet reports that puppies' walks should be relative to their age - for every month old your pup is, the walk should be 5 minutes. That means a 3-month-old puppy needs 15-minute walks. Anything longer and you'll probably be carrying her home.

Walking - and all the sights, sounds and smells involved - is already stimulating for your puppy, but you can make it even more fun. Bring some treats and lead her along curbs, or practice commands like "sit," "wait" and "stay" while out. The additional distractions add a challenge!

Hide and seek
This classic game is as fun for dogs as it is for young kids, and it is a great way to establish a strong bond with your puppy. To play, have a friend hold your pup while you run and hide. Then, say her name every few seconds until she finds you. Using the "come" command during this game is also a great way to reinforce training. Finding you is a treat in and of itself for your puppy, but if she doesn't seem to be listening to the "come" command, make sure to bring treats with you when you hide. 

Water games
Most dogs love water, and it's a great place to bring your puppy for low-impact exercise that won't hurt her developing joints and cause dog hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or other joint and bone problems as she grows up. Fetch is probably the most popular game for dogs in the water, but make sure you choose the right toys - a small, soft toy that floats is ideal. Avoid using sticks, since they can splinter and cause oral injuries. 

It's also a good idea to use a puppy life jacket at first, even if your dog takes to the water naturally. Use this until she has proved to be a master swimmer. Of course, if your puppy seems to hate the water, never force her into it. 

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