First time out for a walk!
It’s a day you look forward to, but also secretly dread. How will your puppy behave when they go out into the world? What will happen? Will you be able to manage?
Quin is my 8th dog. I remember taking one puppy out for their first time on lead, 35 years ago and being amazed at how they danced around and dangled on the end of the lead! Coping with the lead is very much the first battle. Nowadays I make sure that puppies have met their collar and lead well before their first walk.
As a breeder, I don’t vaccinate my puppies before they go to their new homes. This is because each veterinary practice has a different brand of vaccine and a different regime for giving these. My vet gives the first vaccine at 8 weeks and the second one three weeks later. The puppy can go out straight away after this, although not swimming in lakes and rivers for another month.
Please make sure you follow the guidance given by your vet and respect their regime.
Going out out
Just because the puppy can’t go out for a walk, does not mean they cannot go out! Of course I have taken them out for microchipping, hearing and eye tests and their school visits! Then they travel to their new home.
I hope that my puppy owners have taken their puppies out for visits to friends’ houses. Or carried them along to meet people at the school gates. They might even go out for a walk in a puppy sling. (I can’t do that with Quin – he’s too heavy already :p).
Finally though, the day is here and they are ready to go out out.
Off lead – surely not?
I ask my potential puppy owners when they should let their puppy off lead. Sometimes people say ‘Six months?’ A six month old puppy is fully grown. They can run – fast! Even a small toy breed can shoot across the ground at that age. So you’ve got absolutely no chance of catching it.
When you first take your dog out, you are their whole world! You are their comfort blanket, their familiar, loving, caring food provider. You should also be their fun playmate.
If you really don’t believe they will come back to you – get a longline. Then you can let them wander away from you, but still have some control. You can gently tug the line as you call them. If all else fails, you can hang onto the end and go and get them.
You shouldn’t need to do that though. If you have done the practice recall around the house and garden, and played with them, you should be able to go for it!
How long should first walks be?
When you take your puppy out for their first walk, 15 minutes is long enough. It’s an intense experience for a dog. There are so many smells! So much to look at! All that noise! Added to which you are making them think about coming back to you.
Do not imagine you need to ‘tire out’ a puppy. They will play all day long, unless they are asleep! Puppies are extremely active, but also sleep for long stretches. They must be able to regulate this activity level themselves. Enforced activity can do untold damage to joints. Not to mention the more you force a dog to exercise, the fitter they will get.
You wouldn’t take a 2 year old child on a 3 mile run, would you? Well don’t do it to a puppy either :(. Keep it short and sweet. A positive experience for you all. Then do it again tomorrow.
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