The excitement of getting a new puppy is coupled with the excitement of showing him or her off on outings and walks. But how do you go from a playful crazy little thing that doesn’t seem to listen to anything you say to a nicely walking dog? How to walk a puppy?
The road is long and I’m still on this road. However, I want to let other puppy owners know you are not alone. Here are my experiences of how to walk your new puppy.
Phase 1 – training at home
I brought my puppy home when he was 9 weeks old. Such a tiny little thing! Putting a collar around his little neck was surprisingly easy and he accepted it with no resistance. I of course then thought walking him was going to be easy. Walking on a leash is a natural thing for dogs, right?
I was wrong. As soon as I attached a leash to his collar, my puppy immediately decided this was the best new game ever. He tried to bite it, eat it, kill it and I gave up.
At the age of 12 weeks, I took my puppy to puppy school. “This will fix him!” I thought. The puppy trainer recommended daily walking practices at home and we were very committed to our daily training. After a couple of training sessions, my puppy walked amazingly well on leash in our back yard. This was of course due to the fact that it was a familiar environment and I had food in my hand.
If your puppy loves food like mine does, training can be deceivingly easy.
Will my puppy ever be normal?
The time then came that my puppy had all his vaccinations and it was safe for him to go outside of our house. This was around 16 weeks of age. I was excited we could finally explore the world together and I was confident everything would go smoothly since we had done so much training at home.
I was wrong again. My puppy was mesmerized by the new smells, sounds and things he could see. Although I had treats in my hand, it was as if these did not exist, food did not matter. He was jumping, zigzagging and doing erratic moves and I was frustrated.
For a little while my puppy’s walking behavior wasn’t getting better and I remember there was a time when I was dreading our daily walks as his behavior was so unpredictable. I was jealous of owners of normally walking dogs and I was certain my puppy would never be like them, my puppy was never going to be normal.
Thankfully it did get better.
I persisted with our daily walks and as my puppy got used to them, his walking behavior started to improve. He realized the more he walked the more new smells he could find and the more he could explore new environments.
My puppy also used to be very shy around other dogs. I took it as my mission to bring him out of his shell by actively socializing him. On our walks we aimed to say hi (i.e. sniff) to five new dogs everyday (luckily there are a lot of dogs in my area!) and little by little my puppy started to get curious and interested about other dogs.
When everything started to go “too” well, my puppy decided to acquire a new skill, namely eating everything. And I mean everything: bark, sticks, leaves, feathers, tissues and any kind of rubbish he could find. By the way, he still hasn’t grown out of this habit, it’s still happening. Countless of times I’ve had to shove my fingers down my puppies throat to dig out slimy bits of somethings and have other pedestrians wonder what I’m doing.
I’m confident he’ll grow out of it one day though.
Sticks and sniffs
We’re now at the stage with my puppy that we can enjoy relatively long walks and actually walk at a nice pace. My puppy now has this thing that towards the end our walk he’ll pick up a stick and bring it home. To me it’s a sign that he’s enjoyed his walk and I must admit, it’s pretty cute.
I’ve mentioned in my previous posts that my puppy is half beagle so sniffing is incredibly important to him. If I was in a hurry, I used to get very frustrated with his constant sniffing. However, I’ve now realized that if I just let him sniff, he’ll walk a lot nicer and won’t even try to eat so many things off the ground.
One drawback of my puppies constant sniffing is his desire to roll around in some yucky smells to, I guess, cover up his own smell. Sometimes he finds an interesting smell in the middle of the footpath and tries to roll in it, I mean on concrete! It probably looks so silly to by passers.
Going with the flow
So, as to my tips on how to walk a puppy: relax, take it easy and go with the flow. Your puppy will eventually grow out of his or her crazy behavior and walk like a normal dog. Consistent training at home and outside of the home is of course important to teach your dog to walk nicely on leash.
Also, it is a personal preference and depends on the type of dog you have, but I’ve chosen to walk my dog in a harness instead of a collar. This is because a couple of times he’s tried to pull his head through the collar and I don’t want him to escape and run off onto the road.
Remember to enjoy the precious time you have with your young puppy as before you know it he or she will be all grown up!
Finally, if you’re planning on getting a puppy, read my New Puppy Care Tips article for some important information about keeping your puppy safe.
To many happy barks & walks