Preparing for your puppy's first walk
As soon as your puppy’s been vaccinated, you’ll both be keen to set out on your first walk. Regular walks help your puppy to become a well-balanced dog and provide a great source of exercise for you, provided your puppy follows your lead and learns to remain calm.
Once your puppy’s vaccinations are complete, you’ll both be keen to get out and about for your first of many walks together. Remember, they still need puppy care, so keep walks short and not too energetic at this stage. If you have a friend with a calm, friendly dog, it is a great idea to go together so that your puppy can learn by example. Allow them to meet and play with friendly dogs, but watch closely – not all dogs have learnt to socialize with puppies.
Is “lead training” necessary?
Walking on a lead is an important skill for your new puppy to learn. When you first take them out with so many distractions and only their basic training complete, it is vital for you to be sure you can keep them safe by your side. Even as a well-trained, adult dog, there will be situations when you need to put them on a lead and if they get used to it now, they will behave well on the lead later on.
The 4-step program to successful lead walking!
1. Choose the right collar
The collar or harness must be made from a strong, flexible material. Metal chains can be too heavy for puppies. Check if the fastener is easy to open and close and that the collar or harness allows you to slide two fingers between it and your puppy’s skin. The lead should also be strong and fasten securely to the collar so that it will not break if the puppy tries to run off.
2. Get your puppy used to wearing her lead
Start by getting your puppy used to wearing their collar or harness at home. Let them sniff it first, then put it on and play with them using one of their favourite toys. You can leave a collar on permanently if you wish but make sure you check it regularly to ensure that it is not getting too tight for the growing puppy.
3. Teach your puppy to remain calm
Next, get your puppy used to the idea of being restrained by the collar or harness. Hold the collar and gently steady the puppy with the other hand so that they cannot wriggle. Wait until they stand nice and still before you give them lots of praise and release them. Practice this often, ignoring any wriggling, and they will soon learn to wait calmly if you are holding the collar.
You can then attach the lead again, just playing at first so that they are happy with this new idea. Then start to hold the lead, keeping still, and praise them whenever they return to you. Make sure to release them when they are with you, so that they don’t learn to pull on the lead.
4. Take them for walks!
Finally, start to move around, encouraging your puppy to follow you. Praise them when they do but stand still and ignore them if they pull or stop. Wait until they return to you before praising them again and continuing. This way your puppy learns that when they are on the lead they must stay with you and that pulling away achieves nothing.
The first few times that you walk your puppy on the lead out of the house, remember that you may need to stop regularly to remind them not to pull, so don’t plan to go too far! But if you are patient, practice regularly, and are always consistent, it won’t be long before your puppy is a delightful walking dog.