Walkies!! We bet you can’t wait to say that to your pup. Go on, admit it you got a pup as a walking companion? Who can blame you, long walks with your four legged bestie…perfect! But you should probably know there is a lot of debate in the dog world about puppies and exercise. Veterinarians, breeders, and trainers all seem to agree that too much exercise is just as bad as not enough, but there is no set formula for calculating how much to walk your puppy as it’s quite individual to the dog.
In this article, we’re going to help you work out your best puppy walking schedule and offer our suggestions for how often you should walk your puppy, how long you should walk a puppy for, and what the best equipment is for walking a puppy.
If you’re looking for more help and advice in putting together the ultimate puppy walking schedule or the ultimate puppy training plan to follow, then look no further than the Zigzag puppy training app. Not only do we focus on your puppy’s breed and quirks, but we also work with stages of emotional development so that your puppy is learning what they should and at the best time. Oh, and if you’re stuck at any point, we have a team of trainers and behaviourists available to talk to 7 days a week.
How often should I walk my puppy?
Once your puppy has been fully vaccinated they can go out for walks a couple of times per day.
Puppy walk time doesn’t need to be about going out pounding the streets for hours, as a lot of the exercise they will be getting when they’re outside should be mental exercise. Yep that’s right, they are going to be learning so much about the world on these walks, and they’re an essential aspect of socialisation. So put the hiking gear away for now.
A walk in the morning can help to get things moving, your puppy’s bowels that is, and will help with toilet training and teaching them to use the toilet outside. It also means your puppy gets some outdoor mental stimulation and will be tired for a while in the morning. Super useful if you work from home and you need them to rest while you get on with some work. Or if you have to pop out and leave them alone at home.
A lunchtime walk will give everyone a chance to smell the outside air, and another chance for your puppy to learn a bit more about the world. Oh, yep and go to the loo!
An afternoon, or evening, walk ensures your puppy will have a chance to go for a poo before bedtime, so hopefully, less waking up overnight.
Of course, if your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated yet, they may not be able to go on the ground and have proper walks. If your puppy isn’t ready for walks yet, then consider getting them used to going in a bag or a buggy so they still get to have those all-important early life experiences, which help them feel confident about the world.
All in all a puppy walking schedule will help your puppy have predictability in their day to day routine and give you a plan to focus on, so that you get through the day without too much chaos!
How long should I walk my pup for?
The million dollar question. Okay, so there is a basic formula that we break down for you in our article about puppy exercise.
The basic formula for how long you should walk a puppy for is 5 minutes per month of age. Here’s a handy table to help with your puppy walking schedule:
Of course, there are a few other points to consider when deciding how long to walk your puppy for, such as:
Where are you doing puppy walk time
Pounding the streets on tarmac and concrete will put much more strain on your puppy’s joints and growing bones than strolling slowly and taking your puppy on a walk through a grassy meadow. If your puppy is doing lots of sniffing and it’s a slower pace of walk then you can take them out for a bit longer. Why not sit on a bench and watch the world go by, this can be great for socialisation.
What temperature is it outside, is it too hot to take your puppy for a walk?
Some breeds of dog typically fare less well when it’s hot. Brachycephalic breeds like Frenchies and Pugs should not be walked when it’s hot outside as they are not good at regulating their temperature and will struggle to breathe. Also, consider how hot the pavement is. Even if you have a long snouted sun worshipping puppy it can still be very hot on their paws!
Have you just fed your puppy – delay puppy walk time
No one wants to run around after a full lunch, it might make you sick! It can also increase the chances of bloat or GDV in some dogs, so leave puppy walks for 2 hours after eating to be sure.
What’s the best walking equipment for puppies?
You’re obviously quite a dedicated owner if you’re already wondering about a puppy walking schedule, so we expect you’re probably thinking about what equipment you might want to use as well.
Use a harness for puppy walk time
A harness will be much easier for you to walk your puppy on than a collar. It’s kinder for your puppy too. Check out our article on harnesses to choose the right one for your puppy.
A 2 metre training lead
A 2 metre training lead will mean that your puppy has space to sniff a little and their lead can be kept loose. This is especially important if you have a small puppy as it’s a long way to the ground, and if the lead is too short, it can pull up on your puppy, which isn’t nice. 2 metre training leads often have rings along them so you may be able to put the lead around your waist and walk your puppy hands free.
A treat pouch
A treat pouch will mean you have somewhere to store your treats and get easy access when you need them. Many of them are quite stylish these days too!
Use the value of treat that will work for your puppy. For some puppies who are easily distracted, especially with the outside world, we’d recommend a high value treat like tiny pieces of chicken, hot dog or cheese. If you have a very foody dog who really focuses on you then try using a medium value treat like a commercial puppy treat or for the real foodies their own kibble will do.
A travel water bowl is ideal for puppy walk time
Your puppy should have access to water when you take them out, so getting a travel water bowl you can attach to your treat pouch is a great idea.
Your happy voice
Your puppy enjoys it when you tell them what a good pup they are in a happy voice. Don’t be afraid to tell them how wonderful they are. You can also use a verbal marker like ‘good’ before you reward with a treat, to let them know they’ve done the right thing.
A clicker to mark good lead walking or other behaviour
If you’re choosing to train your puppy with a clicker, then you’ll need your clicker on walks too. You can reward your puppy for walking nicely next to you, sitting and waiting at kerbs, or coming back when you call them.
Just a little note on equipment. Here at Zigzag we focus on teaching puppies what we want them to do through the use of positive reinforcement and rewards. With that in mind, we’d encourage you to question any piece of equipment which is listed as non-pull, or says it stops pulling fast, and just check that it doesn’t work by causing your puppy pain.
Very often slip leads are touted as being great for pulling, but the opposite is true, and they act like a noose on your puppy’s neck. It’s very painful for the puppy, and we do not recommend them.
Training and socialising whilst walking your puppy
The basics of recall and loose lead walking should be learnt first at home, of course. Learning new things, and being in a new environment can be stressful for your pup, and frustrating for you if they don’t get it right, so practice both indoors and in your garden. It’ll be much easier to add training on walks if they have some idea of the task first!
To create the perfect social butterfly, add in some socialisation opportunities to your puppy’s exercise schedule. Perhaps you could get a bus to a new park, or take them somewhere with water to and let them get their paws wet.
To summarise, how often and for how long you exercise will vary depending on their age, breed and type of exercise you’re doing. If you have a longer walk one day, lay off it the next so that you don’t turn your puppy into a fitness junkie or risk damaging their growing bones.
Following a puppy walking schedule is the perfect time to train and socialise your puppy, so add it into your daily schedule so you know what’s what each day.
You don’t need to be ‘all the gear and no idea’ with Zigzag in your pocket, download a trial today and you’ll see! We have a structured lead walking programme so your pup doesn’t learn to pull like a train, and if they do already, use our lessons to stop that and teach them how to walk nicely on a lead. It’s really that simple; patience, practice and perseverance is what you need for a well trained pup. But we also realise there are times you need a bit of support, which is why we have our team of expert puppy coaches, all available, 24/7 at the click of a button in your app.. You couldn’t be in better hands.