If you’ve got a puppy and want to know more about taking your puppy for a walk then you’re in the right place.
We love helping owners understand the problems they can have walking their puppy so they can have fun and stress-free walks for life! If your puppy just sits down and refuses to walk, or any other reason that walking your puppy is stressful, then read on!
However, it can be something we feel stressed or worried about, so these top tips, plus top confidence boosting and enrichment games ideas should help you.
1. When Can Puppies Go For Walks?
As a rule of thumb you can start taking your puppy out for walks around one to two weeks following their second vaccinations.
However, you can be getting your puppy ready for walks far earlier than this. Start introducing them to their collar and lead straight away – you can use a puppy line which is nice and light to start off with.
Play games with your puppy with their lead on so that wearing the lead becomes a non-event. I will give suggestions of games to play later in the blog.
Walk around your house with your puppy both on and off lead and reward them with food (you can just use part of their normal daily food allowance!) for staying near to you. This will be a great foundation for loose lead walking.
2. How long should I walk my puppy for?
We used to follow the advice that you should walk your puppy for 5 minutes for every month of their age. This is because they are still growing so too much repetitive exercise can be bad for their growth. Notice the key word repetitive! This advice still holds true for marching down the road, however you can be more flexible if your puppy is sniffing around or is even off lead.
Take signals from your puppy. If they are getting tired and need to be carried, then it’s too much for them.
However, let’s reimagine the walk as physical exercise, and mental enrichment. There are alternatives to the walk such as playing games (see later!!!)
3. Can I let my puppy off the lead on walks?
As a rule puppies don’t stray too far when they are under around 16 weeks so letting them walk on a long line is a great idea, particularly if you are rewarding them for proximity when you are at home. Reward them for checking in with you (just looking at you) – mark with a “yes” and follow up with a tasty treat, and keep playing games so that you become more exciting than the environment. At around 16 weeks it’s common for puppies to start exploring a little further afield, so at this age it’s a great idea to boost proximity games and rewards for proximity when on walks.
4. Should I let my puppy greet other people and dogs on walks?
It’s really important to teach your puppy that interacting with you and your family is by far the most exciting thing to do in the world. Ideally you want any interactions with other dogs and people to be calm and positive. Whilst lots of playing can seem fun, it can also quickly become scary for your puppy, and this will dent their confidence.
You also don’t want your puppy to think that they are able to interact with every dog and person they meet – this will cause problems with loose lead walking and recall later on and could get your puppy into dangerous situations. Plus whilst most people don’t mind being jumped up at excitedly by a puppy, once your dog is grown it’s a different matter.
So be the best advocate for your puppy, have controlled interactions with some people and dogs, but don’t be afraid to say no to people! I find that “sorry, he’s in training at the moment” usually works really well without causing offence.
5. My puppy keeps stopping on walks!
This is a REALLY common problem, particularly between 12 and 16 weeks when puppies can start finding the big, bad world a bit scary. If your puppy does this, then ditch the walk and do something else to increase their confidence – forcing your puppy to carry on walking could make matters worse.
6. My puppy pulls on the lead!
Ditch the walk and play proximity games and practice loose lead walking at home. If you need help with this, get in touch!
Boost your puppy’s confidence!
- Build a fort out of cardboard boxes and scatter part of their daily food in amongst the boxes for your puppy to explore and find. If your puppy is particularly nervous, just start with one box!
- Make a mini obstacle course. Make sure that your puppy doesn’t have to jump up on anything but use different textures underfoot, things which make a noise to walk on or things which are unstable to walk on (pillows or cushions are great!)
- Put a random object in middle of the floor and scatter pieces of food around it, then let your puppy into the room.
Alternative ways of getting exercise!
- Throw a piece of food away from you, wait for them to eat it. When they look at you mark with a “yes!” then throw a piece of food the other way.
- Get your puppy to follow you around the house and garden, rewarding for proximity to you. Try walking forwards and backwards and see if they will shadow your movements.
- Use the confidence games above!
For weekly lives, tips and tricks on building confidence in your puppy plus loads of games for you to play together click here to join the All To Play For Club – it’s all free and you’ll get loads of support.
There you go. Now you understand some of the most common/biggest struggles owners have walking their puppies.
If you work on these now it will avoid LOADS of struggles as your puppy gets bigger.
And remember, having a walk isn’t the be all and end all of everything, there are alternatives
If you would like my help to help with any of your puppy training struggles, including walks, then book a call here!