Written by Anna Hollisey
Boing, boing, is it time for a walk yet? Energetic pups will love discovering the world on their walks. And we love to accompany them! Here’s all you need to know about those early adventures.
Before venturing out for a walk you’ll need some basic gear. There are several options for restraining your eager pup: first you’ll need to decide whether you want a collar or harness. Here are some key points to consider while choosing.
If you want to learn more about picking the best collar and harness for your dog and making sure everything fits correctly, have a read of our article here.
If you’re not already a keen walker, you might need to consider additional equipment to help you to brave the weather in your region. Unlike us, dogs don’t look out of the window and think: “maybe I’ll skip the walk today”. You’ll be walking through gales, storms, rains, snow and ice for at least part of the year.
The secret to success? Be prepared. You can buy protective gear for your dog, including:
Online, you’ll find experts recommending a rule of 5 minutes per month – that’s 30 minutes of leash-walking for a 6-month puppy, which you can do twice a day.
It’s a good rule of thumb but in practice, your walks may differ depending on your breed and terrain. The key principle is to protect your puppy’s growing joints and skeleton – and prevent them from excess impact and overexertion.
Some breeds can become bored and destructive (or start racing around the house) when they haven’t had enough exercise. If your pup needs extra exercise, take it slowly; choose a soft terrain (like a grassy park or sandy shore) and remember that you’ll be building up their stamina over a period of months.
After each walk, see how your puppy winds down. You will get to know when your puppy has had enough (or too much) exercise.
Some owners, especially new owners, keep their pups on the leash and it’s wise in terms of safety (they can’t eat something hazardous or run into a dangerous situation) and control (if they’re not yet fully trained).
If you plan to walk your dog off-leash, the first attempt can be daunting. But take heart: young puppies often have an instinct to stay close to their owners and will gradually increase the distance as they gain confidence. Practising recall will reward you with an attentive pup who will not stray too far. Begin in a safe, enclosed place and observe how your puppy responds to freedom – and how quickly they return to you when called.
Confident about your pup’s recall? If you’re ready to let your (vaccinated) pup off the leash, choose a safe place for the occasion. Firstly, check the rules in your state and local area to see where your pup can safely run off-leash. Then, take plenty of your dog’s favorite treats so you can entice them to behave nicely. Restrict the time they have off-leash: distracted by new friends, puppies can become overstimulated and overtired.
In short, no. Running or jogging means covering around double the distance on your walks and can cause overexertion, even if your puppy appears to be keeping up. For these early walks, it’s better if your puppy moves at their own pace. Take it slow and stay patient. You’re developing their legs so they’re strong enough for longer runs and one day, they may be able to run with you.