During your dog’s pregnancy you need to take extra special care of your dog. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t walk them at all. They will still require exercise to keep their health (and that of their puppies) at optimum levels. But it needs to be the right type of exercise at the right frequency, whilst not overlooking their wellbeing.
Can you walk a pregnant dog? It is ok to walk a pregnant dog. In the early stages of pregnancy, you can walk your dog as normal. Near the end of the first half of the pregnancy (4 to 6 weeks), limit any strenuous activity. For the latter half of pregnancy, limit their exercise to shorter, gentler walks to overexert them.
Our personal story
When I was a teenager, our family dog became pregnant. I remember by parents being very overwhelmed and stressed because at that time, there wasn’t a lot of reliable information available, aside from talking to your vet of course.
Back in the day I had to visit the local library to find out whether it was ok to walk a pregnant dog, if they can jump around, and whether or not there were any exercises they can do. The biggest concern was whether walking a pregnant dog can induce labor.
What I learned about walking our pregnant dog really worked at the time. What follows is that advice, mixed with some more up to date guidance that has come to the fore over the last decade.
How to walk your pregnant dog
So, ultimately, the answer is yes, you can walk a pregnant dog. pregnant dog. However, you should dial down on the intensity of the walks once you reach the second half of the pregnancy, and you can do this in a number of ways:
1. Walk them separately to your other dogs
Obviously, other dogs won’t really understand pregnancy. They might want to roughhouse and play with your pregnant dog as normal, unaware of the fact that it might end up harming her and the puppies.
By avoiding other dogs, you can also reduce the chances of the mother picking up germs and diseases that can possibly harm the unborn puppies.
Equally, the pregnant dog might want to play too, or she might react a little angrily to being jumped on by your other dogs and then get into a fight. It’s best for all involved if you walk the pregnant dog separately to avoid them getting excited and to maintain a calm atmosphere.
2. Change your walking route
If your current walking route includes a steep incline or hill that is usually a good form of exercise for your dog, you might want to re-evaluate that now she’s pregnant.
Steeper walks might be more strenuous for your pregnant pooch and might do them more harm than good. Once you approach the latter half of her pregnancy you should try changing your walking route for more even terrain.
Furthermore, if your current route involves a lot of stimuli (such as a dog park) that is likely to overexcite your dog, it is also best to avoid these areas too.
3. Slow and steady wins the race
Although your dog might have enjoyed jogging along with you before, she is likely to get overexerted and potentially injure herself if this continues in the latter half of her pregnancy.
Shorter, gentle walks allow her to get good quality exercise without potentially overdoing it.
4. Decrease the length and increase the number of walks
As mentioned, longer walks that your pregnant dog may well have coped with before might tire them out now. However, it is still important for them to get a certain amount of exercise per day, so you should change their walking schedule in order to adapt.
Rather than one long half an hour walk, try two fifteen-minute walks a day or five to ten-minute walks between three and five times a day.
5. Learn to read your dog
Though your dog can’t verbally communicate when she’s tired, she does probably exhibit non-verbal signs – you just need to learn to spot them.
If she’s slowing down, panting, dribbling, whining or just sitting down and refusing to walk at all, these are all fair indications that she is tired and has had enough.
Can a pregnant dog exercise?
Should you exercise a pregnant dog? Yes, you should. And although walking is a very popular way to exercise your pregnant dog, you are by no means limited to it. There are other low impact exercises dogs can do that won’t harm their pregnancy and unborn puppies.
Here are some other safe and effective ways to exercise your pregnant dog in order to bring a little variety into their regime.
1. Play catch or fetch gently
By playing games like this with your pregnant dog, you can help to maintain their muscle tone, which can help to make delivery easier.
The good thing about catch and fetch is that whilst they aren’t too strenuous, they still provide exercise.
However, any exercise that involves running and jumping should be avoided once you’re around 4 weeks (a month) into the pregnancy.
2. Take your dog swimming
Swimming is another type of low-impact exercise that makes a change from walking and is suitable for pregnant dogs. However, swimming should always be closely supervised to ensure that it isn’t too strenuous.
There are specialised doggy swimming pools and hydrotherapy centres all over the country, or you could even buy your own one online. Here’s a dog swimming pool on Amazon that also doubles up as a whelping box.
Alternatively, you could use your bathtub as a makeshift doggy pool or take them for a paddle at a local beach (though make sure you check the beach is dog-friendly).
3. Avoid competitive or working activities
If your dog does competitive exercise and training such as hurdles or has working duties such as herding or guarding, these activities should be ceased as soon as you find out that they’re pregnant.
They’re far too strenuous and can cause severe harm to the pregnant dog or her unborn puppies.
4. Exercising indoors
A lot of activities, like playing fetch, catch, or going swimming can be indoor activities provided they are done in a spacious room.
Gentle indoor exercise should be favoured over outdoor exercise in the later stages of pregnancy to ensure that
When to stop exercising your pregnant dog
As well as stopping strenuous exercise after the first month of pregnancy, you should take extra care with your dog’s exercise regime during the last three weeks of pregnancy.
During this time period, you should avoid contact with other dogs and, ideally, stay indoors: limiting exercise to a light play or potter around the yard.
However, with pregnant dogs being at a higher risk of being obese, you shouldn’t cut out exercise completely.
Most pregnant dogs should only start gaining weight in the final month of their pregnancy, and they shouldn’t gain more than 20% of their original body weight.
Weigh your dog regularly, and if you have any concerns, speak to a vet.
Will walking a pregnant dog induce labour?
No, walking a pregnant dog should not induce labor. However, walks can tire out a pregnant dog and even risk possible injury to herself and her puppies if it is too intense.
Can a pregnant dog jump around?
Vets advise that you don’t let pregnant dogs jump around. Avoid them jumping as this could lead to injuries to herself and puppies. Pregnant dogs should not be jumping around once they’re four weeks into the pregnancy.
Can you walk your dog after she has had puppies?
Yes, you can walk after the birth, but there are some caveats. I’ve published some advice on walking after puppies, which includes an example timeline you can adopt. You can read that in this guide to when you walk a dog after puppies have been born.
A quick primer on how a dog pregnancy will progress
And here’s a very quick overview of the stages you can expect your pregnant dog to go through.
- Like humans, dogs are pregnant for three trimesters. However, unlike humans, these trimesters last for 21 days each, meaning that in most cases, dogs are pregnant for about 63 days in total. This amounts to nine weeks – or just over two months – in total.
- Pregnancy in dogs is counted from the day of ovulation to the day of birth.
- A dog’s reproductive cycle lasts between 18 and 24 days.
- After the first stage of the cycle (called proestrus) where the dog experiences vaginal bleeding for around nine days, your dog will reach its peak fertile stage, which is called estrus.
- This stage lasts for roughly 3 to 4 days and is around the time your dog is ovulating and most likely to mate male dogs.
- Most dogs’ heat (ovulation) cycle only occurs twice a year, although smaller breeds can have cycles up to three times a year. You can read more about a dog’s heat cycle here.
Finding out your dog is pregnant can be a very exciting time, but it isn’t a responsibility that should be taken lightly. Your dog will be growing not one, but up to seven puppies inside of them depending on the breed!
I decided to do my own research and write up this advice guide for people who were wondering about how to go about exercising their pregnant dog and how to walk them during this period.
Although having a pregnant dog can be exciting, it is undoubtedly a lot to think about. Whilst exercise is important, the sensitive condition of your dog should always be taken into account to optimise the health and safety of both herself and her unborn puppies.
Quick Disclaimer: I am not a vet. But I am a dog owner and lover who has experience in such matters. The advice here worked for me and has worked for my friends. You should always talk to your vet first and foremost to see what they say about walking your pregnant dog.