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Walks with your puppy are really exciting and a great opportunity to practice some training. They also give your puppy an experience of different sights, sounds, and smells. So, what do you need to prepare before taking your puppy for its first walk?


The most important thing is to make sure your puppy has had all their vaccinations. Walking an unvaccinated puppy puts them at risk of catching a variety of diseases. The vaccinations your puppy needs depend on the country you live in.

Your puppy will receive their first vaccinations between 6 and 9 weeks old, then a second round 2-4 weeks later. In the US, puppies have three vaccinations: the first at 6-8 weeks, the second at 10-12 weeks, and the final round at 14-16 weeks. Canine vaccinations cover:

Parvovirus: a highly infectious and often fatal disease that can quickly overwhelm a puppy. It is spread via the faeces of an infected animal, remaining active in the environment for months. Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhoea, which cause weakness and dehydration. For puppies, this can cause death in a matter of days. Long-term effects can include infertility, damage to the digestive tract, and congestive heart failure.

Leptospirosis: another serious and potentially fatal condition, Lepto is a bacterial disease spread via urine, contaminating soil and water sources. This disease causes vomiting, excessive thirst, fever, and muscle stiffness or pain. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be passed between animals and humans.

Canine parainfluenza: this is a condition similar to cold or flu in humans. It causes respiratory problems and is highly contagious. It is an airborne disease so you should keep your sick puppy isolated if you have other pets. Although it is not usually fatal, it is important to vaccinate your puppy so it cannot pass the disease on to other dogs.

Canine Distemper: this is one of the more serious conditions as it has no cure, only preventative treatment and the condition itself has various stages. In the early stages, your puppy may experience discharge from the eyes and nose, reduced appetite, fever, and coughing. The next stage brings vomiting and diarrhoea, plus hardening of the paw pads. Later stages affect the central nervous system causing limb weakness, imbalance, poor coordination, and seizures. Dogs may suffer ongoing seizures throughout their life. Distemper is transmitted via saliva and sometimes also via urine.

Adenovirus 1 and 2: This is a two-strain virus. The first cause hepatitis, which is a condition affecting the liver. The second strain causes a type of kennel cough which is a respiratory illness. Both strains are transmitted via bodily fluids including blood, saliva, urine, faeces, and nasal discharge.

Rabies: puppies in the UK do not require a rabies vaccine, but it is mandatory in the US. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system. The virus causes progressive inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which is what leads to a dog becoming ‘rabid’. Once the clinical signs of the disease appear, it is fatal. Rabies is transmitted via a bite from an infected animal. An infected animal can also infect humans.

Once your puppy has had all their vaccinations they will be ready to go for their first walk! You can take your puppy for walks before they have had their vaccines, but only in areas that are not accessed by wildlife.

What You Will Need

Now the vaccinations are sorted, you will need to get some equipment ready. You will need a collar and lead, plus some tasty treats to help with training. You may want to start with a harness, so if your puppy pulls, it will not put any pressure on their neck. This should be a temporary measure until your puppy learns to walk nicely on the lead.

A week before you start walking your puppy, practice walking them on a lead around the house so they can get used to it. Most puppies won’t be at all bothered, but some will find the sensation of a harness very strange and it make take them a little time to adjust.

You can start your walk training at home too, so your puppy has a head start for his real walks.

Teaching Good Lead Manners

When you are out and about with your puppy, you want him to be calm and relaxed. The ideal place for your puppy to walk is by your side with his head next to or just behind your leg. If he is ahead of you, then he will encounter obstacles first and he will think it is his responsibility to deal with them.

To train your puppy with good lead manners, start walking and allow your puppy to go along with you. As soon as they move ahead of you or strain on the lead, stop walking or change direction. Your puppy will automatically look to you to see what is happening.

Reward them with verbal praise and a treat whenever they are beside you. Consistency is key here so your puppy understands what you want of him. Practice this at home and in the yard before your puppy’s first walk. Be prepared for him to get distracted by strange sounds, cyclists, or other dogs. This is all new to him, so keeping up with the training will help to focus his attention.

Walk Times

The general rule is to add 5 minutes of walk time for every month of age. Your puppy should be ready to start their walks at 4 months old after they have had all their vaccinations. You can start their walks at 20 minutes, but the walks should be on lead only and should not include any rough play, running or jumping as these activities can cause damage to their developing joints.

For each month onwards until they reach their first birthday, continue adding one month to their walk times. Around 5 months old, you can allow 5 or 10 minutes of off-lead time, but be sure to monitor their activity and put the back on the lead if they get too boisterous.

By the age of one year, your puppy should be having one hour of walks per day, with plenty of time off lead to play fetch, investigate their surroundings, and interact with other dogs.

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