Walking your puppy
How long should I walk my puppy at 13 weeks?
In the UK puppies are usually vaccinated against disease at 8, 10 and 12 weeks and a further week is advised to fully develop the necessary protective antibodies. After this, you will be able to walk your puppy in a public place and let it socialise with other dogs.
Vets now advise against over-exercising puppies as it could put a strain on their developing joints. As a general rule, it is advised to just walk your puppy for 5 minutes per one month of age.
Here’s a breakdown of how long to walk your puppy as they grow:
At 13 weeks you could walk your puppy for 15 minutes (up to twice a day)
At 16 weeks you could raise this to 20 minutes (up to twice a day)
At 20 weeks you could raise this to 25 minutes (up to twice a day)
At 24 weeks you could raise this to 30 minutes (up to twice a day).
Half an hour exercise could then remain the norm for many dogs, or more depending on the breed. Very energetic active dogs, such as springers may need more (for advice on what dog suits your lifestyle, click here). Most dogs would be considered fully grown by one year of age. With young active dogs, you still need to ensure that they don’t get too exhausted whilst out on a run as they are still developing their joints and muscles.
Tips for walking your Puppy
Before you walk your puppy outside it needs to be used to its new collar and lead. It’s a good idea to fit a collar at an early age, you can buy little soft collars for this purpose. As your puppy grows you will need a bigger collar and you can introduce the lead whilst your puppy is in the garden or practice walking around the living room.
Remember to fit an identification tag to the collar before you take your puppy into the big wide world. In the UK the Control of Dogs Order 1992 requires any dog in a public place to wear a tag giving the contact number and address (postcode) of the owner. Our advice is not to put your pets first name as unscrupulous people have been known to use it to entice a dog away. You will probably be advised this in your local pet shop too.
Now you are ready to go… take it steady at first. Let your puppy sniff and explore their new surroundings. Remember it is all new and strange and there may well be many scary things for the puppy to get used to. With ours, it was a strange shaped traffic cone!
Meeting other dogs for the first time is also an overwhelming experience for some but very necessary to develop socialising skills for the future. You want to nurture a feeling of quiet confidence and friendliness. Let your puppy’s natural inquisitiveness lead the way but be there to guide them. Don’t let them be intimidated by an over-enthusiastic new acquaintance as it could put them off. Calmly move on and steer your puppy away. Also, deter your puppy from eating any unsavoury objects as their tummies are easily upset at that age and you want to start good habits.
Once old enough daily walks are necessary for your puppy to relieve boredom which can also lead to bad behaviour. After a while just playing in the house or garden does not provide enough new experiences and stimuli. That is to be found in the big outside world and whilst socialising with other dogs.
As mentioned only short walks are recommended for young puppies as their joints mustn’t be overstrained which in the worst case could lead to early arthritis. At the same time those very joints and muscles need regular use to develop and as time goes on your dog will need regular exercise to prevent becoming overweight.
Enjoy your first walks with your puppy. Seeing the world through their eyes, their inquisitiveness, delight and often bewilderment is very endearing and makes for good memories.
Tips for Walking in the Rain
Sometimes you can’t avoid walking your dog in the rain. Your dog is getting frustrated maybe even stir crazy! And anyway, it needs a toilet break. So there is nothing for it but to put on your sturdy raincoat, hat, wellies or waterproof shoes and venture outside. If your dog will wear a waterproof coat, then excellent! they often have reflective strips for those dark evening walks. But if your dog won’t tolerate a coat you could buy a reflective lead or collar to make them more visible to passing cars. A reflective strip or sash is also advised for dog walkers themselves at this time of year.
If it’s torrential rain I think you could be forgiven for cutting a few minutes off your usual walk. However, a walk in the rain can often be seen as fun if you look at the positive side. You can reconnect with nature, splash in puddles as you did as a child, appreciate the dripping trees and notice that the air smells so heightened and fresh. Your dog really won’t mind too much either for lots of dogs a bit of mud is heaven. The problem comes to you once you get home ie. the wet muddy floors and smell of wet dog!!
Puppy muddy walking tips:
Make sure you have old towels at the ready to wipe the worst off the dog’s paws and undercarriage before he/she gets in the car or through the front door.
If you have a garden hose maybe a quick wash down outside will take off the worst.
Ensure you have an old rug or towels on the floor between the door and the dog’s bed.
In the worst cases, we have carried our dog to the shower. This is entirely down to the size of the dog and whether you permit dogs in your bathroom.
Keep the dog confined to the kitchen or conservatory until it has dried off.
You could use a hairdryer to dry off your dog and warm him up.
If there is ice or snow outside there could be salt on the pavement. So pay special attention to your dog’s paws. Wipe them over with a warm damp cloth and then ensure they are dry to avoid sore cracked pads.
There are numerous dog coats on the market, waterproof, fleecy, incorporating reflective strips, a good idea if you can get your dog used to wearing one. Some breeds with thin coats would especially benefit from these ie. whippets, greyhounds, Boston terriers and dalmatians. Enjoying the great outside is an activity you can share in all weathers with your doggy companion, the winter being just another season to experience together.