Bringing a new puppy home and thinking about your first walks together? Read our puppy walking tips for everything you need to know.
Your first walks with your new puppy not only contribute to their physical and mental well-being but exercise them too. Happy, healthy pups develop into… well, happy, healthy adult dogs. Here are our ten top tips to help dog walkers on their first puppy walking expeditions.
1) Ensure your puppy has all their shots before walking
This is less of a top tip, and more of an important reminder! As soon as you bring your puppy home from your rescue centre or breeder, you should head to the vets for a check-up and to get their immunizations underway.
Puppies are usually vaccinated against parvovirus, distemper, rabies and hepatitis – but check with your vet. These shots are vital – all of these diseases are potentially fatal, and very expensive to treat if your new best friend becomes sick.
If your pup will spend time with other dogs – in kennels or at doggy day-care – consider kennel cough and canine parainfluenza immunization too.
However, before your puppy’s vaccinations are complete, you can still use your garden for bathroom training and to begin collar and lead training.
2) Start socializing your puppy early
Your pup can start experiencing the world by being carried around with you in a bag, even before you begin your puppy walks. This is important as puppies are most open to new experiences and learning new things between the ages of 4-12 weeks. You want them to be confident when you eventually start walking.
Be careful not to over-stimulate or overwhelm your puppy at first – and remember that puppy bladders are small!
3) Get puppy lead-training!
Lead-training your puppy is an important step and doing some prep can help make that first walk be a little less daunting for a young pup.
Collars and leads feel strange at first, so introduce them gradually, well in advance of first walkies.
Once they’re happy with the collar you’ll want to add a short piece of string, ribbon or wool where you would attach the lead. Let your pup run around and get used to the sensation. You can lengthen the string over time and then swap for their first lead when they’re comfortable.
Remember to keep it fun and positive, so they see the lead and collar or harness as the start of good things!
4) Puppy walking at puppy’s pace
Go somewhere quiet and let your puppy take their time. Some puppies will be super-excited to discover the world, while others will be less outgoing. Let your puppy guide the speed and let them stop, sniff and explore.
Remember to give lots of positive encouragement and reassurance. Make sure it’s an enjoyable experience that your puppy wants to repeat!
5) Don’t walk too far!
The temptation is always going to be getting out and about as much as possible. However, it’s important to remember that your puppy needs to build up slowly to proper walks to protect its growing joints and avoid causing damage later in life.
We’ve made a table to help with this – it can be a bit confusing! Take a look below:
6) Protect your puppy’s joints
By avoiding over-exercising, you’ll prevent damaging your puppy’s joints. What’s more, large breeds and breeds prone to joint challenges in later life should be discouraged from rough play, running up and down stairs, or jumping on and off furniture to avoid accidental injuries. This also extends to walks – keep things relaxed and not too rough-and-tumble!
7) Focus on positive learning
From buses to babies to men with beards… it’s a big world out there, and your pup needs your help to make sense of it. Think about everything your pup will experience as an adult. And then, make sure your pup experiences these things in a positive way – lots of puppy treats and play.
When it comes to introducing younger members of the family, never leave children and dogs unsupervised. And encourage little ones to only ever touch the dog or puppy with one hand. This stops children hugging dogs, which is one of the top causes of stress in child/canine interactions.
8) Meet other dogs, but stay in control
It’s important that your puppy meets other dogs, but it’s equally important to make sure experiences are positive ones. Always talk to other dog owners before letting your puppy approach – not all dogs are happy to mix with others, especially if your puppy is very bouncy and playful.
9) Invest in a long line while your puppy learns recall
Letting your puppy off-lead is a big step. We’d recommend keeping control using a long line whilst you work on recall (coming back when called), but if your puppy is playing this won’t always be practical. A great alternative is finding a safe, enclosed place to play like a special dog area of the park… or hosting a puppy party in your back yard!
10) Get help early on to tackle any problems
It’s possible that your puppy may have a negative experience when out early on. After all, there’s only so much we can control as dog owners. If something not-so-positive happens, depending on how scary the incident is, you might want to talk to a behaviorist to get some advice.
Now you’ve read all our tips for puppy walking its time for the fun bit – spending time with your new puppy and getting out and about with confidence. One of the best things about sharing your life with a dog is the adventures you go on together. From urban rambles and discovering new routes through your local area, through to playing on the beach and getting out and about in your neighborhood, it’s all up for grabs!