If you’ve just acquired a puppy or you’re looking at getting a puppy, you’re going to want to know absolutely anything and everything there is to know about dogs. That includes when do puppies start walking? And the answer is: at around four weeks old. A puppy will be up and stumbling about by about three weeks, but it should be starting to try and find its feet around two weeks old.
Watching puppies scramble about and get their paws under them is one of the first pleasures of these cute little things.
At What Age Do Puppies Start Walking Properly?
A puppy will start to walk properly around four weeks old. They should be able to run a little, rough-and-tumble with their littermates, and reliably stay on their feet while playing at least most of the time.
If you’re looking after puppies this young, you may still notice quite a few tumbles and slips as they get used to operating all four limbs, but on the whole, by a month old, puppies should be capable of getting to their paws and walking at least short distances without toppling over.
If a puppy isn’t showing signs of doing so, you should contact a professional to find out if there is a problem that can be rectified, as puppies that aren’t developing normally by this stage will struggle to live normal lives.
When Do Puppies Start Walking On A Leash?
Once your puppy has found his pads, how soon can you start teaching him to walk on a leash? If you live anywhere but open country, this is going to be absolutely crucial, and it’s important even if you live in the countryside.
Teaching your dog to walk on a leash will mean that you can take him places other than your backyard. If you need to go into town or even walk in parks or in the country, your dog will definitely need to be capable of walking reliably on a leash.
This keeps them and other people and other dogs safe, and gives you the control you need to be a responsible dog owner.
So, how early can you start teaching your pup to walk on a leash? It will depend a little bit on the dog, his walking skills, and the circumstances, but some dogs can start training as early as around eight weeks old. Once they’ve found their feet and their confidence, you can start to gently and slowly introduce the concept of a leash to them.
Most dogs love nothing better than a walk, and walking with your dog is one of the biggest pleasures of dog ownership, but your puppy is probably going to struggle at first. Puppies are endlessly curious and excitable, and want to look at and explore everything.
Starting leash training early can make it an easier lesson to learn, and will ensure you and your dog are safe at all times. You can speed it along by showing the puppy the leash and familiarizing him with it even before he’s ready to walk with it.
How To Leash Train Your Puppy
You’ll find a myriad of advice about leash training online, but here are a few basic tips that may help you get going. Firstly, introduce your puppy to both the collar and leash. Let him get used to them slowly, and be very patient. You don’t want any negative experiences with either item!
Let your puppy just wear the collar and leash at first, for short periods of time. Offer treats and praise as a response to the leash, so a positive association is formed.
Next, start calling your puppy to you while he’s wearing his collar and leash to help him get used to the sensation of the leash. This will help him to stay calm – and indeed, stop even noticing the leash – after a while, which will make those first walks easier.
Once your puppy is used to this, start building him up to the idea of you holding it and even giving the occasional gentle tug. He may find it startling at first, so go slowly and keep the experience positive with rewards and praise.
Eventually, you can start “walking” your puppy around the house. Encourage him to follow you while you hold the leash. There will be minimal distractions indoors, so it’s easier to get your dog to focus on you and the leash, and they’re less likely to want to run off.
This can then graduate to “walking” in the garden. You shouldn’t take your dog anywhere he might meet other dogs until he’s fully vaccinated, however, so hold off on proper walks until then.
When Can I Take My Puppy Walking In The Dog Park?
You might be desperate to show off your new buddy and let him exercise with other dogs, but you need to wait until he’s vaccinated, or you may put him at risk of picking up diseases from other dogs.
This can usually be done at about 16 weeks old, unless your veterinarian gives you different instructions, so don’t get ahead of yourself. However, once your dog is ready, get them to the dog park quickly, so they can start learning to socialize and get familiar with the space as soon as possible.
It’s a good idea to try quite a few dog parks if you have several local, so your dog gets opportunities to try different spaces and get comfortable in them. You’ll soon learn what you and your dog love best, so it’s a great idea to diversify and not stick to just one space.
How Much Exercise Does A Puppy Need?
We all know that dogs need a lot of exercise, but how about puppies? They do only have quite little legs, and when they’re young, they also need quite a lot of sleep. They tend to be balls of energy when awake, and then crash out hard when they run out of bounce.
Your puppy will not need exercising the way an adult dog will. Often, you’ll be able to wear your new friend out and still have plenty of energy yourself.
Of course, how much exercise they need will depend a lot on the kind of dog and their individual personality. Individuals can differ amazingly, and some will want to spend their whole days napping, while others will be go-go-go from sunup to sundown, perhaps with the odd little snooze in the middle.
As a very rough rule of thumb, however, times their age (in months) by five minutes, and offer them this level of intense exercise twice a day. If your puppy is mostly inside, you might do this by playing tug-of-way, sending them to find things, calling them to different parts of the house, etc.
Don’t take your puppy on very long walks, even once it’s safe to have him outside. He will get overtired and unhappy.
Stick to short walks and see what his limits are over a period of time; as he grows, he’ll be keen to be out for longer, but as a youngster, he’ll wear out fast. Short bursts of exercise are both more satisfying and better for him.
Over-exercising a dog when he’s young can cause problems with his joints and bones, even if he seem ready to go. Get to know your dog and watch for body language that indicates he’s getting tired; like parenting a child, you need to know when enough is enough.
For a puppy, a yard will be sufficient scenery and play space, but remember that adult dogs need to get out, see new things, and socialize just as much as people do. Even if you have a very large garden, you need to take your dog walking at least once a day to burn off excess energy and keep them engaged.
Does A Puppy’s Breed Affect Their Exercise Needs?
Absolutely, just as it does with adult dogs. A border collie pup is going to need more exercise and mental stimulation than many other breeds. A basset hound puppy is more likely to be satisfied with short play and short walks.
Although every puppy is unique, don’t get a dog with higher stimulation needs than you can meet. You need to do thorough research and know that you are able to handle the adult dog, or you will end up with a very unhappy pet.
Don’t assume that just because a breed is large, it needs lots of exercise. Large breed dogs may have longer legs and therefore be capable of longer walks, but they often grow more slowly, and you should have a strong understanding of your individual dog’s requirements, rather than guesswork based on how long his legs are.
What Can Be Done To Help Puppies Learning To Walk?
If you’re having trouble getting your pup to walk on a leash, here are a few more tips that might help.
Firstly, make sure the leash is associated with fun and play, not boredom. Your dog should not view it with dread. Get your dog to see the leash as a sign that fun is coming, and he will be much more cooperative about it.
Secondly, train in quiet spaces. It’s much harder for your puppy to focus and understand what you want him to do if he’s constantly being distracted by other things. Even if he wants to obey, he will be constantly tempted to bounce off and investigate things, which makes training hard.
Thirdly, introduce a command that reminds them to “heel” when on the leash. This can help you overcome issues such as pulling. Showing your puppy exactly what you want and having a command which triggers that response is a great way to speed leash walking along.
Keep plenty of treats on hand. While you shouldn’t spoil your dog, this is one of the best ways to reinforce a particular behavior, and since leash training is so important for owners, it’s okay to have a bag of goodies in your pocket when you bring the leash out. It should make the experience more fun for you both!
Teach your dog that the leash should not be tight at all times; that means giving them some play and letting them wander around. If you keep your puppy at your side constantly on a short lead, they will adjust to the feeling of constant tension, and will always pull out the slack of the leash.
What NOT To Do When Walking Your Puppy
Here are a few things you should avoid doing when you’re walking your puppy on a leash.
Never shout at your puppy, even if he is being stubborn and refusing to cooperate. If a training session is getting frustrating for you both, end it. Puppies are a bit like children, and can cause mischief without understanding why it’s upsetting you.
Similarly, never use negative coercion. You do not want your puppy to be afraid of the leash under any circumstances.
Do not yank on the leash at any point. You aren’t going to teach your puppy that it’s wrong to pull by pulling him around; he’ll just see it as a fight, possibly even like a game of tug-of-war. You can also harm a dog’s neck by pulling on his collar, even for an adult dog, so never risk this with your furry friend.
If your dog pulls, try other techniques to get him to stop. Call him, offer a treat for him to come back to you, or walk over and distract him. Do not yank him back to your side; this is a fight you won’t win, especially with bigger dogs, and it could hurt them.
The short answer to when do puppies start walking is that they’ll start at around four weeks old, and you can start leash training from around eight weeks old. Some puppies may not prove very willing to train until up to twelve weeks, however, so take it slowly.
Leash training a new puppy is a challenge sometimes, but with good information and willingness on both sides, it’s one you and your dog can overcome, and it will lead to many happy walks together in the future!