Exersizing your new puppy
So what is good exercise? Those of you who have visited my kennel have watched my "Thundering Herd", and know exactly what good exercise is. I throw the tennis ball in the back yard, as hard and as far as I can, and all my dogs give chase. I keep it up until they start coming back slower. My "old man" Bud will go stick his whole head in the water bucket, a good sign that it's quitting time! That's good exercise. Usually takee 15-20 minutes twice a day for adult dogs.
Exercise is important, but should be done with care with large breed puppies. For the first 4 months playtime should happen 3-5 times a day. Some easy fetching, some gentle rough and tumble, some gentle tug of war. Respect his energy level. When he tires, don't push. Babies still need lots of sleep. From 4-12 months, running, fetching, and if you can, swimming is especially good. If you have water access, swimming (throw the ball in the pool) is great. It's a smooth motion low impact exercise, good for both muscle tone and heart/lung (aerobic) exercise. Jogging is the next best. Start slow and short with a 4 month old puppy. He shouldn't go more than 1-2 minutes at a time in the beginning, walking and playing between sessions. Keep it fun for both of you. Slowly work up to times and distances he is comfortable with, and when he's a year old it'll be you that stops first. Playing fetch is a natural to most of these puppies, just take it easy, don't throw hard and far, and again keep the sessions short and playful and as mellow as possible reducing the hard stop and start, high impact exersize. And always remember with the little ones, they are still babies! Don't over do it.
During this period you need to be alert for lameness, soreness in elbows, shoulders or even hips. Because these large dogs grow so fast, they can get uneven growth or damage to the soft growing layer of bone in the joints. Too vigorous exercise with sudden stops and starts can cause this damage, so use care. If it is a case of bruising the growth plate, reduced exercise and an antiflammatory (like aspirin) for a week or to may cure it. If not, then surgery ($$$$$) will be required. He will need the exercise, just be careful. Lameness, or limping for no obvious reason (like he got his toes stepped on), indicates a trip to the vet is in order. After 12 months or so this should no longer be an issue.
Here are some suggestions for throw toys other than your standard tennis ball. (Click on image. Opens in new window. Close to return.)