[Be sure you puppy is fully vaccinated before allowing them on or off leash anywhere in public, especially places other dogs frequent. A dog park is NOT the place to practice these exercises.]
Let’s go for a walk! Just like any other time we begin working on something new or potentially stressful for puppy, we’re going to keep this short. For your first few times out on the leash, stay close to home, preferably in your driveway or a parking area near your apartment- a safe, fairly distraction free spot.
If you’ve been working your focus exercises on a consistent basis, your puppy should have no problem following along beside or a least within a few feet of you. Name and explain: “Walking! Good walking!” Praise and treat when your pup is walking well. Asking for the sit when you stop will help teach your puppy to ‘auto sit’ each time you stop on your walk without you having to give the command.
Don’t work more than 5 minutes a day for these first few days. Your puppy may want to play with the leash or carry it in their mouth. This is quite normal, after all it IS something new and having something to carry in the mouth is one way puppy may deal with stress. Don’t worry about trying to remove the leash, but don’t get into a tug of war either. Do not drag your puppy behind you.
Encourage him or her to move along with your HAPPY tone of voice OR pick your puppy up and walk a few steps forward and try again OR (if you’re in a safe area) drop the leash and work your focus exercises. Remember, we want to teach our puppies that it’s their job to keep up and be aware of where we are, not for us to be constantly calling or searching for them.
Make these short walks fun and happy times. Take it slow. Build up the distraction level.
Five minutes per month of age is how we determine how long our walks should be. Ex. 3 m/o puppy x 5 min = 15 minutes TOTAL per day(does not include potty breaks). Repetitive movement, especially on unforgiving surfaces like pavement, is hard on growing bodies and can begin the process of degenerative joint issues that show up later in life.