Puppies need walks to help burn off excess energy, but how far is too far for an 8 week old puppy?
There’s no denying that puppies bring so much joy to people’s lives! If you’ve just welcomed a new puppy into your family, your canine companion will undoubtedly be getting to grips with their new forever home.
Puppies are at the right age to get taught all kinds of things. You can start teaching them things like walking on leash and exercising outdoors with you, and, of course, knowing when, where, and how to go outside for a toilet break!
Your puppy will be getting very excited indoors, running around in your home and outside in your garden. However, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “I want to walk my puppy outdoors on a leash,” but you’re unsure of when is the best time to begin.
It’s essential to keep in mind that it’s not merely a case of buying a leash and taking your puppy for a walk. You must consider many factors, and you’ll need to understand more about your puppy’s limitations. Here’s what you need to know on the subject:
What are my puppy’s limits?
As you can appreciate, your puppy is still a very young and extremely small dog. If you’re used to adopting adult dogs into your home, getting to grips with puppy life can sometimes be a steep learning curve.
You must consider many things when training puppy dogs, and one of the most important considerations to make is knowing their limits. Before taking your puppy out for their first walk, some factors you’ll need to keep in mind are age, breed, and vaccination schedule.
Puppies have small bodies and small feet, and so they typically can’t walk very far at first. You’ll also need to take into account your puppy’s breed. Here’s why:
Some puppies with short coats such as a chihuahua can quickly get hypothermia in cold weather and cannot walk long distances;
Larger breeds with thick coats such as huskies cannot tolerate hot temperatures but can walk long distances due to their bigger sizes.
There’s also the question of your puppy’s vaccination schedule. Generally, you cannot take puppies around strange dogs that you are uncertain if they have been vaccinated or not until they’ve completed their vaccinations.
At what age can I walk my puppy?
The thing about taking your puppy for their first walk outdoors is that it doesn’t depend on their age but more on their vaccination schedule. Puppies are the newborn babies of the dog world, so their immune system is only just starting to protect them. Walks however, are important for them to learn how to walk on a loose leash without pulling and to expend their excess energy.
What you don’t want to do is take your puppy for a walk around unfamiliar dogs too soon, and they catch something like a virus, parasite or infection during their outing. At such a young age, a puppy’s immune system will struggle to fight off anything that would otherwise be okay for an adult dog.
So puppies are ok outside for walks around 8 weeks old as long as you take care to keep them away from unfamiliar dogs, mind the weather conditions and don't expect them to walk too far.
How often should I walk my puppy?
Puppies can be walked two, three or four times a day. What is important is that you don't try to push them walking further than they want to go. So in the beginning more frequent short walks are better than one very long walk.
One way to go about it is let your puppy’s toilet breaks tell you when to give them a mini walk in your back yard. Keep in mind that your puppy is very small and will frequently be going outside for a toilet break!
As puppies get older, you can take them for at least one long walk a day. The age puppies become adult dogs is around nine months for small breeds and 15 months for larger ones so you can gradually increase the length of the walk as your puppy grows. This of course also depends on the breed and size of your puppy.
How far should I walk my puppy?
From the age of eight weeks, a short stroll roughly the length of 1/2 of one side of a city block out, and then walk the other 1/2 back home. As your puppy grows you can gradually increase the length of the walk. Watch your puppy carefully for signs of fatigue and let them be the judge of how long the walk is.
There is no standard answer for appropriate puppy-walking distances. It all depends on the limits of your puppy’s breed and energy level. For example, a puppy who has been in the house all day because you have been away at work might have more energy than a puppy who has walked already twice today.
It makes sense to start with very short distances and gradually go for longer walks as your puppy gets older. When people take puppies for walks, they must know about keeping a puppy cool during warm weather and keeping a puppy warm when it’s cold outside. This includes being aware of hot pavement in the city under full summer sun and also the possibility of salt used to melt ice on a sidewalk in the winter.
How can I walk my puppy on a leash?
It would be great if all puppies naturally knew how to walk on a leash. Sadly, that wish is far away from reality!
Thankfully, puppies are intelligent and will soon pick up how to walk on a leash. What’s more, it’s something you can teach your puppy at an early age in and around your home! Here are some tips to help you get your puppy acquainted with the concept:
- Before you first put your puppy on a leash, let them sniff at it and familiarize themselves with it;
- Reward their interest and curiosity with lots of praise and introduce treats as rewards;
- Give them extra praise when they wear their harness and leash for the first time and take them off soon afterward;
- Repeat that process, building up the time they wear their harness and leash whenever they wear them.
- Once your puppy gets used to the harness and leash, you can encourage them to walk alongside you while they wear them. Again, plenty of praise and treats helps reinforce their positive behavior.
Walking a puppy without pullingLast but not least, different breeds will have different temperaments and levels of energy. Even taking that into account, all puppies are curious and will naturally pull as they’re eager to explore their new world.
The good news is walking a puppy without pulling is an achievable goal for all breeds. Here are some things you can do to dissuade your puppy from pulling on the leash:
- When your puppy pulls on the leash, stand still and refuse to move until they’re back by your side;
- Keep them behind you, so if they walk in front simply turn and walk the other direction
- If your puppy pulls in certain situations like seeing other dogs, people, or cars, sit them and make them wait until they are calm before proceeding;
- Remember to praise and reward your puppy when they’ve been ‘good’ - reward the desired behavior:
- Never resume walking until your puppy is firmly by your side;
- Watch them as you walk them and change direction before they pull the leash, aim for a constantly loose leash.