By Sally Bradbury
Everyone looks forward to the day when puppy can go out for a walk for the first time. Exciting times! But what about puppy? Is he as excited as you or is everything overwhelming for him? It’s a big scary world out there.
Well before D-day…
Get puppy out and about in your arms or a sling or for car rides. Find somewhere to sit and watch the world go by. Let him see people and dogs and traffic in the distance. Watch for his reactions. Keep him safe, keep him feeling safe. You really want everything to be a non-event for him. Not too exciting, not overwhelming, and definitely not scary.
People will want to ooh and aah over him. You’ll want to show him off but don’t let people overwhelm him. Don’t allow strangers to approach him and touch him when he is in your arms unless it is clear that he is happy to make the first move.
Teach puppy to wear a harness and walk nicely on a lead well in advance of wanting to take him for a walk.
There are lots of ways to teach nice lead walking. Here is one suggestion:
At his mealtimes, walk around the house and the garden holding his food bowl and give him his food one piece at a time from your other hand any time he is there beside you. This is without a lead. Continue to do this until he understands the game and follows you about or walks with you for the whole of his meal.
Meanwhile use some yummy treats and sit on the floor and get him used to his collar and/or harness. Once he is happy to wear them and sit with his harness on for treats then attach the lead and give him a treat, take it off, give him a treat and so on.
Now, next mealtime, attach the lead to his harness, which he is now fine about. Tuck your end in your belt loop and do as you did before; walking around the house and garden feeding as you go. Voila! Puppy walking on a loose lead.
Keep those early walks with puppy short. Let him stop and take in the view, have a good sniff. If he can already walk nicely on a lead at home, it pays to continue that lead training in very short bursts outside. Puppies don’t need lots of road walking. They need to go on little adventures, somewhere where they can safely be on a long line and where they can run and play and explore then rest and sit and watch the world go by.
Enjoy your walk and make sure puppy does too.