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17 Apr Taking your puppy on their first walk

A puppy’s first walk is a great adventure for them, and it is the start of an activity that you will enjoy doing together as they grow.  As well as helping them to get the exercise they need, they can begin to explore and understand the world around them; which is a key part of their development.  But how do you make sure you are both ready for this next step in your puppy parenting journey?  Here are some things to think about before you venture outside your front door.

Are my puppy’s vaccinations up to date?

Now your puppy will be venturing beyond your home, it is really important that they are protected from diseases, which means making sure that all their vaccinations are up to date.  Their vaccinations usually begin around 8 weeks old, with another set being given between 2-4 weeks later.  It is then advised that you wait at least 1-2 weeks before walking your puppy for the first time, as they could come into contact with dogs who aren’t vaccinated.  Don’t forget that they will also need a booster injection each year, and if you have any concerns then make sure you have a chat with your vet, they will be more than happy to answer any questions that you may have.

How do I get my puppy ready for the lead?

Walking on a lead is a brand new skill that your puppy will need to learn as it will help keep them safe on your walks.  It can be really helpful to have a practice beforehand so you both know what to expect.

The first thing you will need to do is to select your harness or collar.  Try and pick one that is made of a strong flexible material that will be comfortable for your puppy to wear.  To check that their movement isn’t restricted and it isn’t fastened too tight, make sure you can slide two fingers between the harness or collar and the puppy’s fur.  It is also a good idea to check that the lead is strong and won’t come loose if your puppy makes a break for it!

Golden Labrador puppy

Before the big day arrives, let your puppy get used to their collar or harness by wearing it at home.  Let them have a good sniff, and once it’s on make sure to spend some time playing with them so they associate their collar or harness with having a good time.  Once they are used to wearing it, practice holding it gently, ignoring any movement, making sure to praise them a lot once they stand still.  Let them go and then repeat, this will help get them used to being still and calm when you are holding on to them.

Then it’s time to introduce the lead!  Move around your house or garden and encourage your puppy to follow you.  If they start to pull on the lead simply stand still and ignore them.  Once they come back to you and are no longer pulling, shower them with praise and then begin again.

By going through these simple steps in an environment your puppy knows and is comfortable in, you are more likely to make your first walk a stress free and happy one.

How much exercise does my puppy need?

It will be so exciting to be getting out of the house with your pup which means it can be tempting to want to go too far too quickly.  Remember that puppies are doing a lot of growing and just like babies this means they need lots of rest.  Some puppies can even sleep for up to 20 hours a day!

More importantly too much exercise at this early stage can cause injuries in later life, so try to avoid long walks and let your puppy rest when they need to.  You may find it helpful  to monitor how much activity your puppy is getting each day with a dog activity monitor like PitPat, which gives you a tailored exercise goal based on their age, weight and breed that will gradually increase as they grow.

Two yellow Labradors in the forest

How do I socialise my puppy?

When you are out and about with your puppy, the chances are you will at some point see another dog.  It is equally likely that your puppy will want to investigate and make some friends.  This means that it’s really important that you know how to make it a positive and helpful experience for your puppy.

It is a good thing for your puppy to meet other dogs, but make sure you are always monitoring the situation and are ready to step in if you need to.  If a game becomes too spirited then take your puppy out of the situation and get them to focus on you instead.

If your puppy is shy, or the dog they are meeting is a lot bigger than them, get down to their level and provide a safe place for them to run back to if they need to.  Remember that while it can be daunting to let your puppy play with other dogs, it is key to helping them socialise and grow into a well-adjusted adult dog.

Adult and puppy golden labradors

So, if your puppy is fully vaccinated, is used to being on their lead and is ready to meet some new friends, then you are ready for your first walk.  Be responsible, stay safe but most of all remember to have fun.  It’s time for your next adventure!

PitPat tracks distance, resting, calories and more, so you can track your puppy’s health from the palm of your hand.

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