While this month marks the start of Responsible Pet Owners Month, pet parents have a duty of care all-year-round to ensure that their dogs get the right amount of exercise. Regular walks provide your dog with physical exercise, social interactions and mental stimulus. Not to mention, it’s good for us humans, too, and helps to improve our overall mental and physical wellbeing. This month, the team behind Vet Advice Line are taking us through their top tips on how to exercise your new puppy.
How much exercise does my puppy need?
A common misconception is that puppies need a lot of exercise, as they have a lot of energy to use up. However, their bones, joints and muscles are still growing during this first year, which means exercise does need to be limited to prevent problems in later life.
A good rule to follow is five minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice a day. So, a 16-week-old puppy would need no more than a 20-minute walk twice a day. You should also limit access to stairs for large breed dogs for the first few months, too.
When can I walk my puppy?
Your puppy will be ready to go out for walks two weeks after they receive their second vaccination. It’s a really good idea to get your new furry friend used to walking on a lead before they are ready to go out walking in public places. Some dogs don’t have a lead attached to them until their first walk, and this can be very scary and confusing for them.
Decide if you are going to use a harness or a collar and put it on around the house and the garden. Occasionally, clip on a lead and let them walk about with this attached (always stay with them just in case they get caught on something), and every so often lift the handle end of the lead. This will let the puppy get used to being joined to you and make it less of an issue when they are ready to go out and about for this first time.
What kind of lead do I need for my puppy?
There are so many different options when it comes to the equipment needed for walking your puppy. Do your research on the breed you have and keep in mind the strength, temperament, and size of your dog when you begin training. It is the law in the UK that all dogs must wear a collar with an ID tag on it, however, it is not always a good idea to attach a lead to this collar as it could damage your puppies’ neck or throat if they pull. A harness works well, but keep the puppy on a short, fixed lead to keep them close to you and to reinforce the training you are doing with them. And don’t forget to have some treats handy, so you can reinforce good behaviour!
Taking your puppy out for the first time
If you meet any others dog while you are out walking, it’s important that you don’t pick your puppy up straight away unless you genuinely feel they are in danger, as doing so will teach your puppy to be scared of other dogs.
Also, don’t be afraid to say no to people who ask to stroke your dog if you don’t feel its appropriate. Your dog does need to meet new people and new dogs, but this can be overwhelming for them at the beginning.
If it is very hot or cold outside you may want to adjust the timings and type of exercise that you do with your pup. On hot days, try going for a walk early morning or late evening, and on cold days, look out for salt and grit on the pavements that could hurt your puppy’s paws. And remember, never exercise your puppy straight after a meal!
We hope you and your new puppy have great fun together!
If you need any further advice, TrustedHousesitters members can speak with a dedicated team of veterinary nurses via our free 24/7 Vet Advice Line. Find out more here.
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