Taking your puppy on a walk is a wonderful experience for both of you. They get to explore a whole new world, and you have the pleasure of watching them experience it. However, a question that is commonly asked by new dog owners is “how far can I walk my 8 12 week old puppy?” The good news? There is a simple answer and plenty of guidance.
We know the world of puppy ownership can be daunting, and that’s why we have this guide to help you through each stage of their life. We’ll take you through how far you can walk them, the dangers of over-exercising, and some great tips to make walks great for you and your new puppy.
Can You Walk a Puppy too Much?
Yes, you can walk a puppy too much. They are still developing and growing, so too much exercise can cause damage to their joints as well as mobility issues later in life. If you walk them too much, you may notice that they become exhausted much faster and they may even become lame or start limping from overexertion.
This is actually a big issue with large and giant breed dogs because they tend to develop slower than standard sizes. Every breed has different development times, and some do not finish physically maturing until they are around two years old. This is why you should always research your chosen breed thoroughly first.
Why is Walking a Puppy too Much Bad?
Walking a puppy too much can cause some major issues in both their young and adult lives. Here are some of the reasons why walking a puppy too much is a negative thing:
- It negatively impacts their musculoskeletal development, especially the growth plates
- It can cause arthritis to develop early in their life
- It can lead to severe exhaustion as well as lameness and limping
- It makes them more vulnerable to injuries
- It can cause injuries to heal incorrectly due to the softness of the growth plates
This is why you need to take your time when introducing your puppy to longer and more vigorous walks. You can’t take them jogging or sign them up for agility, but once they are fully grown they will be more than capable of performing these activities with you. You just need to be patient and slowly get them used to exercise.
At What Age is it Ok to Walk a Puppy?
You can start walking your puppy after their second vaccination at the age of 10 weeks. This is because they are now fully protected against a whole range of illnesses that could be carried by unvaccinated dogs. However, there is some contention here.
There are vets who will state that you need to wait for two weeks after the second vaccination before you can take them for a walk. Others will say that they are good to go right away, and there are some who ask that you wait a few days. It really depends on the advice your vet gives as well as your own feelings on the matter.
Can I Take My 12 Week Old Puppy for a Walk?
As long as they have had all their vaccinations, you can definitely take your 12-week old puppy out for a walk. This is a great time for them to explore the outside world and make the most of their puppyhood. It’s a key time for learning, so try to ensure that they experience as much as possible in order for them to grow up to be confident and happy dogs.
It’s natural for them to be a little nervous when they meet new dogs on their first walks, so make sure you positively reinforce their experiences and make the most of every opportunity you can to squeeze some extra training in.
How Far Can I Walk My Puppy?
This is the big question, and one that has a very simple answer. The general rule of thumb is that they should be walked for five minutes for every month old they are. So, when they are 12 weeks old, they can walk for 15 minutes. At four months, this increases to 20 minutes.
The 15 minutes (or more, depending on their age) can be done up to twice every day depending on the puppy and their activity level. For some, 15 minutes once a day is more than enough, every pup is different.
If you want to go on long excursions with your puppy, you can always purchase a special puppy bag or even a stroller for them. Many owners will put their puppy in a bag and carry them most of the way so that they can experience the world without overdoing it.
How to Exercise Your Puppy Before Their Vaccinations
Before their vaccinations, it can be difficult to exercise your new puppy before they hit three months old. However, we have some great things you can do with them to keep them stimulated and to ensure that they make the most of their time before their first walk.
#1 Take them to puppy classes. This is for puppies that have had their first vaccine (8 weeks) and are looking to play and socialise with other puppies. Some even give owners great advice and lessons – especially if it is their first pup.
#2 Teach them tricks. Make sure they learn all the basics when they are young and learning is easiest for them. Make it into a fun experience with lots of delicious treats for all their hard work.
#3 Play mentally stimulating games. Hide toys and treats around the house and get them to find them – making them use their nose to sniff out the reward.
#4 Play games in the garden and in the house. Use their toys to interact with them and bond with your puppy. It’s also the perfect time to teach bite inhibition – those puppy teeth hurt! Make sure they get plenty of time to run around at least twice a day to get all that puppy energy out.
#5 Take them on car rides. It is really important to get them used to car rides and the motion involved in them. Go on regular journeys and bring lots of rewards to show them that the car is a positive experience and one that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed.
Top Walking Tips for Your New Puppy
When you are walking your puppy, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to make the most of your walk. The best part? These tips are for adulthood as well as the puppy years.
#1 Always let your dog stop and sniff. It’s important for their mental health as well as how they explore the world. There is plenty of time for them to run around and sniff, it’s all about balance.
#2 Avoid throwing sticks. We know it’s a classic, but sticks can splinter and cause serious internal damage as well as get lodged in their mouths.
#3 Change up the speed while you walk, a varied pace is good for both of you and keeps things interesting. It can also be a useful training method.
#4 Change your route as well. Don’t do the same thing every day, your dog will love all the new smells so consider planning a few different walking routes you can take.
#5 Make sure they have ID tags and that you wear fluorescent clothing in the winter months so that you are visible to any traffic in poor conditions or at night. You may also want to consider adding a GPS Dog tracker to their collar.
#6 While a flat collar is perfect for everyday use and for displaying ID tags, most experts agree that a harness is the safest option for going on walks or situations that might cause your puppy to pull on the leash.
#6 Remember poo bags and treats – two major puppy needs that you simply cannot forget on walks.
Puppy walks are fantastic, and we know you’re going to love every second. The important thing is that you take it slow and let them get used to the exercise, as well as allow their bodies to finish developing properly. It can be tempting to go on hikes right away and throw the ball around, but this can cause problems for them when fully grown.
For now, it’s all about getting used to the big wide world and ensuring that your puppy is socialised properly as well as enjoying loads of fun mental and physical activities outside of walks. This is the best time in their life to really have fun together and build a strong bond.
For over a decade, Adrienne has been a freelance content writer and blogger who’s passion lies in anything related to dogs. Growing up, dogs were a very important part of family life in the Hardwick household. Now, Adrienne is the proud parent to two Swedish Vallhunds called Moose and Pumpkin.