For many people, one of the great joys of having a puppy is taking them out for a walk. But what happens if your puppy is not so keen? It’s a surprisingly common issue and the way that most people respond tends to lead to a much bigger issue, rather than resolving things…. I’ve seen these mistakes time and time again (but I’d really like you to avoid them).
So, the day has finally come, you've got your pup all togged up with their lovely new harness and lead, opened the door to the big wide world and.... NOTHING! They refuse to move and look terrified. Oh... this is not what you had in mind! Should you pick them up? Encourage them along a bit?
STAGE 1 - PREPARATION
Before you take your puppy out, spend time building a trusting relationship with them. You can also introduce them to the equipment that they will be wearing for walks (collar, harness, lead). Handle them gently and feed lots of tasty treats!
Allow your pup to have plenty of opportunities to explore your house/ garden wearing this equipment for short periods of supervised time.
STAGE 2 – PLANNING
Rather than just heading out, think in advance about the best time of day to do this and where you will go.
Consider factors such as when your pup is generally active, what the traffic will be like at various times/ places, when/ where there might be too many other dogs around for a first time etc.
STAGE 3 – GOING OUT
It is very common for young puppies to be overwhelmed and nervous about going out for the first time. They might freeze and not want to move on, try to run back home, cower away from (or lunge towards) things that worry them, be wary of other dogs/ people or simply take a very long time to get anywhere!
Allow your pup to go at their own pace and take time to sniff around.
Don't put any pressure on them to do anything in particular (this includes luring them with food). Choice builds confidence!
Reward any moments of engagement with you.
Keep the walk short and sweet - no more than about 15 minutes to begin with.
4. COMING HOME
Once home, take your puppy to their toileting area straight away to give them an opportunity to wee/ poo. Whilst this might seem strange (surely they would have gone on the walk?), puppies are often reluctant to 'go' out on walks initially. This is perfectly normal - when they're more confident, they'll be happy to spread their scent around the neighbourhood, along with the adult dogs!
Also make sure that they have got access to some water (walking... or should I say sniffing!.... is thirsty work).
Written by Gretta Ford at The Pitter Patter of Tiny Paws.