Walks are one of the great joys of dog ownership, but they are not always stress-free experiences. Here’s how you can have fun when you walk the dog, and make the most of spending time out and about together.
For most of us, walk time is one of the most exciting things about having a new puppy. Your best friend trotting along at your heel, no lead in sight and perfect recall, a long line of admirers petting your beloved and well behaved pup. Well, that’s the dream anyway...
However, the reality doesn’t always live up to expectations. Your puppy might run off after a squirrel or child and not come back or get snapped at for pestering an older dog to play. Alternatively, your puppy might be shy and cower away from other dogs. Here are a few ways to make walk time more enjoyable for you both:
Find new places to explore
It’s important for your puppy to get to know where it lives, but don’t just walk the streets around your house. Find fun places to walk your dog. Depending on where you live, the time of year and travel restrictions, you may be able to visit parks, the seaside, woodland and even the grounds of stately homes.
You may also be able to rent out secure dog fields that have agility jumps so you can train your puppy and ensure they get enough exercise. Getting your puppy safely used to a variety of environments will help them feel more secure in new places.
Let your dog off the lead
The first time you let your puppy off their lead can be a daunting experience. But your pet is more likely to stay safe if they have learned good recall habits, which can be trained from your very first walks.
It’s important to slowly work up to letting your dog off the lead. Spend time practising recall with your pet while using a long line (very long lead). Gradually lengthen the line each time you’re out walking your puppy, offering lots of encouragement and rewards every time they come back to you.
You can then progress to allowing the dog to let the line drag behind them. Finally, you can try removing the line altogether. If you find that your puppy doesn’t come back on recall at any point during the process, go back a step and try again.
Getting your dog well used to being let off the lead, and having the lead put back on again, will ensure walk time is a happier time for both of you. Make sure, however, that you’re confident about your puppy coming back to you before letting them off the lead in a busy or dangerous public place.
Play lots of games
Instead of just walking in a straight line, make your puppy’s walks more fun by taking a ball or throwing toy with you. Practise walking properly and then reward with a game in a field if possible.
Encourage your dog to play with other dogs
Socialising your puppy is important so you should use walk time as a good opportunity to socialise, if it’s safe to do so. Encourage your dog to play with other dogs in a safe way during your dog’s main socialisation period (up to 16 weeks). This will help them be less fearful of meeting new dogs and owners and help prevent aggressive behaviour.
Don’t do too much too soon
While it might be tempting to immediately head out on epic hikes with your puppy, don’t walk for longer than you should be walking. Too much walking can tire your dog out and could potentially harm growing joints. A good rule of thumb is five minutes’ exercise per month of age, twice a day, until your puppy is fully grown. Then their exercise requirements will vary according to breed.
How do you make walk time fun? Share a snap of you and your puppy out and about with us on social media, using the tag #PethoodStories – we’d love to see it!