Every dog or puppy owner knows the importance of walking their pet regardless of the breed, age and size, as walking a dog each day is good for the dog’s mental and physical stability, plus a walked dog is a happy dog. As a puppy owner you will also enjoy this one to one time with your pet, even in the pouring rain, walking your dog will become a very satisfying part of your day.
As you may know I am not a dog trainer but as a loving dog owner I really enjoy walking my dogs and find nothing more pleasing than seeing them greet other dogs politely and to see them running at high speed in a safe and secure field. I must say my own dogs do not always walk perfectly on the lead and heel training is an ongoing part of my life, as distractions and excitement cause my dogs to pull and bark too, but this work in progress has improved greatly over the past month or so.
It is important to be consistent when training your dog to walk, but most of all enjoy this time with your lovely pet and you will both get so much out of a daily walk.
Here are some question and answers relating to walking your puppy.
What age can I start walking my puppy outside?
Your puppy is not allowed to be put down or walk in public areas until he/she has had both puppy vaccinations in the UK. Always take your vets advice as after the second vaccination you will still need to keep your puppy away from public areas for between 1-2 weeks. For example if your puppy has their first puppy vaccination at 8 weeks old, second injection at 10 weeks old, then it may be able to be taken on walks at around 11-12 weeks old. More on puppy vaccinations can be read in Caring for your New Puppy.
Which collar and lead should I get for my puppy?
Your puppy will only be small so therefore a puppy lead and collar set may be ideal as you don’t need to go to any huge expense in the early days. You want a puppy collar which is soft and is easily adjustable for your growing puppy’s neck. As your puppy grows you can invest in a collar which is more appropriate for an adult dog and this is really a matter of personal choice as there are so many to choose from including nylon, leather, and rope collars or even harnesses and head collars.
Personally I have always used the small size Red Dingo collars and leads for my dogs when they are puppy’s and by approximately 6-7 months old my dogs are ready to have a medium size Red Dingo collar and matching lead.
How do I get my puppy used to the collar and lead?
It is really important to introduce your puppy to his/her new collar as early as possible as having a collar on will feel different for your puppy and to have a lead attached will feel even stranger. Put the collar on for short periods of time and attached the lead to it for some of this time, to get your puppy used to the feeling even before he/she is allowed to go out on walks. Also as you start training new commands you may choose to have the lead on for more control during training sessions. The more you put the collar and lead on the quicker your puppy will get used it, plus it is a good idea to practice your path walking before your puppy is allowed in public areas, so take your puppy for a walk around your garden on his/her lead. Don’t expect too much too soon, as some puppies take to having a collar and lead on quicker than others.
Should I let my dog off the lead on walks?
Your puppy will love nothing more than an off lead run but as a first timer owner you may be nervous of this, plus it is a good idea to practice recall training in your garden to reassure yourself that your puppy will come back to you. Generally puppies like to be very close to their owners on walks and by taking delicious treats with you on all walks your dog will associate you with treats and not want to go too far away. There is no wrong or right age to let your dog off its lead, but please make sure you do this in a secure area which you feel your dog is safe and an area where you feel you can control your dog.
I have let all my dogs off the lead for a run between the ages of 3–5 months old and this is always done in a secure and well fenced field which is very open so I can see exactly where my dogs are, plus I can see any distractions such as other dogs, walkers, rabbits or deer are ahead of us. Be confident and praise your puppy when he/she is near you to reinforce coming back to you is always a good thing.
How long should I walk my puppy?
Of course this will vary depending on the breed of puppy. A medium sized breed and at approximately 11-12 weeks old a short walk on the lead for between 10-20 minutes should be enough for a young growing puppy.
There is a 5 minute rule which is basically 5 minutes walk per day, per month of your puppy’s life, so therefore a 3 month old puppy can be walked for 15 minutes and a 4 month old puppy for 20 minutes, which is a guideline but as an owner make your own judgement on your puppies needs as each puppy is different.
It is important to walk your puppy each day to help with training, plus during a walk he/she will gain social skills, mental stimulation and physical exercise. As your puppy grows you can extend the time of each walk and remember to go on different walks with new surrounding and scents which will be more stimulating for your puppy, plus more enjoyable for you as you will meet new dog walkers during your walk.
How do I stop my puppy biting the lead?
Some puppies do bite the lead either before or during the walk which can be caused by excitement, boredom, frustration, but consistent lead work and control from the owner will help prevent this. If your puppy does bite the lead whist walking him/her there are many training techniques which dog trainers use, as each puppy is different so therefore will respond better to different types of training which include lead correction, distraction, holding a toy or stick, giving a new command such a SIT and clicker training can reinforce good walking behaviour too. Always follow the advice off your professional dog trainer at the puppy class you attend and your puppy may respond quicker to a certain type of training.
I have stopped a puppy mildly biting the lead by standing still and not continuing our lovely walk and by distracting using the SIT command, also by rewarding and treating when not lead biting.
How do I train my puppy to walk to heel?
Basic Dog Training Commands – Part 2 has some training tips on how to teach your puppy to walk to heel, and being consistent with any training is vital to gaining quicker and more effective results.
How can I stop my puppy pulling on the lead?
By training your puppy to walk to heel this will prevent lead pulling but there are also some good products available such as head collars which will help you control your puppy in the heel position. Gentle Leader and Halti Head Collar can prevent lead pulling for many breeds of dog which helps the owner gain control of the dogs head whilst walking, making the walk more pleasurable.
Should I use a collar, harness or head collar?
This is personal choice as there are so many types and styles of collars, harnesses and head collars available and it may be worth trying a small selection to see what suits you and your puppy/dog on walks. A walk should be enjoyable for both puppy and owner, so it is important that the restraints used makes the walk more relaxed and fun. There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing which type of collar or harness you use, basically use one that suits your needs. Please have a look in my reviewed products section for a range of collars and harnesses.
What is a lead correction?
A lead correction is a quick and firm pull of the lead which gains your dogs attention and is a non verbal method to let your dog know this is not acceptable behaviour. A lead correction may help when training the HEEL command, along with verbal commands such a NO when giving the lead correction and HEEL when your dog is in the correct position. Positive training methods work well such as treating your dog when walking well on the lead and praising the good behaviour, but a lead correction along with positive reinforcement can work well.
Rules when Walking your Puppy/Dog
- Your dog must wear a collar with an ID tag when in a public area.
- Always remember to take your doggy poo bags with you on every walk as you must pick up faeces left by your dog.
- When letting your dog off the lead ensure you are in a safe area and in a surrounding you can control as an owner, good recall training is important to get your dog to return to you in any environment with any distractions.
- Let your dog approach other friendly dogs and always check with the approaching dogs owner first, as not all dogs are friendly. Enjoy letting your dog sniffing and greeting other dogs in a polite canine manner.
- Your dog must not be allowed to chase, disturb or injure livestock during a lovely country walk.
- A muzzle must to be worn if your dog may be considered as dangerous around animals or humans.
- Your dog must not be let off his/her lead near any public roads.
- It is polite to control your dog to prevent them jumping up at people or animals who may not like this type of attention.
- Most of all enjoy walking your puppy/dog as it is an important and rewarding part of dog ownership.
- A note for owners with many dogs in their pack, some local councils only allow a maximum of 4 dogs to be walked by one person at any one time.