Sunday, February 10, 2013

Taking Puppies for Walks: When to Start, Where to Go, Concrete, and for How Long

1.  When can you start taking puppy for a walk?

Playing with a leaf on our "walk"
 You can take your puppy out and about at any time! In fact, you should do this to get them used to the lead and collar and also get their little brains a-bubbling and working as they sniff and explore their environs. However, bear in mind the issues with their weak immune system which limits you as to where you can walk them and for how long.  Your "walks" will be short at very young ages.  A big walk for an 8 week old, 6 lb puppy would be 60-100 yds long in any one go, depending on temperature and terrain.  If it's hot and terrain is steep, make the walk short and sweet and stick to the lower end of the range mentioned above.

2.  Where can you take your dog?
Your vet will know where is safe and where is not in your location.  My vet told me about our local "hot spots" (of which there are few since I live in the bubble known as Santa Barbara, CA). Disease risk increases where you have high numbers of a) dog traffic, b) of low income and homeless people who can't afford health care for their pets and c) in or near animal shelters.  I live in a secluded mountain community so I took Indie out in our neighborhood because I know my neighbors.  The best place for young puppies is a backyard, a friend's backyard, or a grassy park that is not in a very public area. 
Indie in the grassy area of my neighborhood

On a short hike in our neighborhood
Avoid:  Places where lots of dogs go, e.g. dog parks, popular community parks, beaches, shopping centers, and even your sidewalk or neighborhood if it is highly trafficked by dogs.  If you live in a nice neighborhood that is not very public and you know your neighbors and that they are responsible people, then you can take your dog out there on the sidewalk.  Disease risk for Parvo decreases in cold, dry climates because Parvo needs a warm, moist climate to survive (it can survive for up to 3 weeks in optimal conditions).

3.  How long should walk them for?
At 8 weeks old they can walk about 60-80yds in one go (includes stopping to sniff, grab sticks or leaves, etc).  They can go for a walk about 3 times per day.  Morning, afternoon, and evening.  But twice or even once is fine too.  For us, even a walk to the mail boxes down the road and back was a pretty big affair (they are about 60 yds round trip, but up a steep hill).  You can gradually increase the distance with each week they get older, but learn to read the signs of tiredness so you know when to stop and carry your puppy.

The MOST important thing is to never, ever force a puppy to walk against their will when they are tired! 

4.  Can you walk a puppy on concrete? What about running and jumping? What about up or down stairs?
You will read a lot on the internet about the "dangers" of puppies on concrete, going up or down stairs, etc.  The answer is that it's okay! Both my vet and breeder reassured me of that.  Basically, only let the dog do what it can and wants to do.  If it wants to run, then let it run.  The time you will get injuries to growth plates etc. is when you make a dog do a repeated action, such as running a long distance to keep up with you or repeatedly jumping on an off the couch.

Indie walking around one of the sets of stairs in our yard after a hail storm
 I live in the mountains and there is no way around stairs and steep hills on our property.  I was terribly scared because even as a young puppy, he would bolt up and down our small stairs and run up and down steep hill slopes. I thought it would stunt his growth and give him hip problems. Well, my breeder and vet reassured me that it's okay so long as he is doing it on his own.  That's the key: on their own will! My vet said that the concrete helps keep their nails short.  

Also, Indie is a LEAPER x 100!! He loves to leap gayly off of anything and everything.  Try to keep them from doing anything too high off the ground when they're really little, say anything higher than 6 inches, but otherwise if they can do it and it doesn't hurt them then it's okay. 

1 comment:

  1. Getting new puppy and I'm doing some research the site was very helpful, and I was wondering if you had any advice for noisy roads