How to Walk Your Puppy for the First Time
For first-time dog owners, taking new puppies out for their first walk can present an unpleasant surprise. No, your dog won’t instinctually don their new collar and leash. Getting them used to this gear, as well as the sensory and social experience of walking, is usually a process of trial and error. Don’t worry, the PetPlace team has tips to make strolling with your puppy a walk in the park.
Walking Your Puppy: Prior to Your First Walk
Nearly all puppies will receive a number of shots during their earliest weeks and months. Talk to your veterinarian about developing an appropriate schedule for these vaccinations. They’ll also offer guidance for when and how to begin socializing your puppy safely.
Choose a collar or harness and leash
There’s much more to choosing leashes, collars, and harnesses than selecting materials and colors. Depending on your dog’s breed, size, and temperament, they may feel more secure and comfortable in one type of restraint than another. Front-clip harnesses, for example, may be a good choice for dogs who especially like to pull at their leashes.
Introduce the gear and walking process
Whether you choose a collar or harness, give your dog an opportunity to try it on and wear it around the house before heading outdoors. Make sure to play with them and dish out treats while they’re testing out their new accessories. That way, they’ll associate wearing a collar or harness with positive experiences and embark on walks with the right outlook.
Walking Your Puppy: On the Walk
Keep your eyes on your pup at all times during your first few walks and keep these tips in mind if you run into trouble.
If your puppy pulls on their leash
“Be a tree,” advises the American Kennel Club. When your puppy starts to pull, stop moving. Stand perfectly still and wait until your dog lets the leash go slack. Front-hook harnesses or head halters may be an especially good choice for dogs who like to jerk and pull their leash.
If your dog lunges at a person, pet, or vehicle
Proactivity is everything when your dog prepares to jump or lunge. Make sure to keep a close eye on your canine throughout a walk to ensure you can intervene with a treat or another form of positive reinforcement before they have an opportunity to make a move. Put yourself between your dog and their target and change direction if necessary.
If your dog barks
Anyone walking an especially vocal dog should follow the same steps they would for a dog who lunges. Walkers should put themselves between their dog and whatever is causing the disruption, offering treats and other positive reinforcement until the situation has subsided. If rambunctious behavior is a recurrent problem on walks, make sure your pup has an adequate outlet for their energy throughout the day. Extra play time indoors or in a safe, fenced-in yard could keep dogs from turning leisurely walks into hectic ones.
As walks become more and more familiar, you’ll spend less time distracting your pup with positive reinforcement and more time enjoying the exercise and companionship. Remember to follow local leash laws and always respect the health and safety of others by cleaning up after your dog.
Can You Leash Train an Older Dog?
When it comes to leash training, it’s possible (if occasionally challenging) to teach an old or middle-aged dog new tricks. With a little extra persistence and patience, pet parents can introduce older dogs to regular walks with many of the same strategies discussed above. Check out more pro tips for walking pooches at any age here.
Can You Walk a Cat?
You won’t see many cats on daily walks with their owners, but that doesn’t mean it never happens. Learn about introducing your feline to a leash and making strolls a regular part of your shared routine.