Walking a puppy can often give owners a dilemma. To work out how long to walk your puppy for, start with our general rule then consider your own dog's circumstances.
So how long should you walk your puppy for?
A general rule when walking a puppy is five minutes per month of age. This suggestion is particularly good for dogs who are going to grow rapidly and whose skeleton can be damaged with over-exercise. However, there are other factors to consider which could alter your puppy walking routine:
- Consider how strenuous the walk is. A lot depends on what type of surface you are walking on and whether the puppy is on lead or free running. Bigger breeds, in particular, should not overdo it as it can damage their fast-growing bones.
- With a smaller dog you can probably safely do a little more than this recommendation and an occasional longer walk is unlikely to do harm. However, regularly walking your puppy to the point of exhaustion isn't sensible and can cause skeletal damage to growing youngsters.
- Play games at home and devise other activities that employ his brain. At home he can break off for a nap if he is tired, but on a walk he may have to keep going.
- Mental exercise is equally as important and is just as tiring for your puppy. If you start to introduce training, particularly using clicker training, you will find that 10 minutes' training is just as good as 30 minutes' free running in terms of settling the puppy down.
How far should I walk my puppy?
When you begin taking your pup out for walks aim to educate rather than strenuously exercise him — getting out will allow you to begin to introduce more new sights and sounds.
Long walks aren’t a good idea and can stress growing joints and muscles leading to future health problems; a 10 or 15-minute stroll two or three times a day will be plenty for most dogs until at least six months old (older for large breeds), when you can gradually increase the length of time you’re out for.
Some leads have poo bag dispensers built into them. If not, tie a couple of bags to the puppy’s lead each time you go out, or wear a waist bag with some in so they are always handy when needed.
Walking your puppy within the law
When you acquire a puppy, you will not only be taking on a new pet but certain legal responsibilities too. The main points to be aware of include:
- Every dog in a public place must wear a collar bearing the owner’s name and address.
- Dog fouling is illegal in many places — as well as causing a lot of antidog feeling. Don’t forget to carry poo bags when out and about so you can clean up after your pet, otherwise if you get caught you could end up with a fixed penalty fine.
- When out for walks, bear in mind that although you and your dog have a right to walk along public footpaths, this right does not extend to allowing him to wander on to adjoining land — it’s up to you to keep him on the path.
- When on any enclosed land containing livestock your dog should be kept under close control and as to what constitutes close control can be something of a grey area, it’s best to keep him on a lead. There can be severe penalties if he worries livestock — and the term covers not just inflicting actual physical injury but also chasing. Remember you shouldn’t allow him to chase wildlife either.
- Insurance is not legally necessary, but if your dog causes an accident or injury and you don’t have third party insurance cover you could find yourself personally liable.
- Since April 2016, legally all dogs in England (March 2015 in Wales) must be microchipped; failure to chip your dog could incur a fine.