If your puppy stops on walks, just standing there or lying down, you know something must be amiss.
After all, aren't dogs supposed to be eager to go on walks and dread when the walk comes to an end? Don't they think that walks (on top of meals) are the highlight of their day? Not so fast. Young puppies do not need to walk as much as much as adults
On top of this, young puppies are different than adult dogs in many ways and you will have to factor in several possible issues that may be putting a dent in your puppy's pleasure of going on walks.
A Word About Puppies and Walks
Puppies are different compared to adult dogs in many ways. They aren't mentally developed as adult dogs, their bodies are still growing and they have different nutritional and physiological needs.
Puppies therefore need to follow different guidelines than adult dogs when it comes to walks. This is important to keep in mind.
Below are some important factors to keep in mind when thinking about taking puppies on walks.
Too Long of a Walk
Puppies need much less exercise compared to fully grown dogs. They tend to sleep a lot during the day because they a doing a lot of growing.
It's important to not push puppies too much. If your puppy insists on lying down or starts panting, you may need to cut back a little on walks and gauge how your puppy does.
You may have heard about the puppy five-minute rule. The "rule" says that, puppies can do five minutes of exercise per month of age up to twice a day.
This means that a puppy who is 2 months old can do two 10 minutes exercise sessions a day, a puppy who is 3 months old can do two 15 minute exercise sessions a day and a puppy who is 4 months old can do two 20 minute exercise sessions a day.
In children, a similar rule is often used. Children are said to being capable of doing 1 km for every year of their age.
While these rules may be appreciated as general guidelines, it's important to consider that not all puppies are crafted the same.
"I don't ascribe to the 5-minute exercise rule as every puppy is an individual," points out veterinarian Dr. Michelle.
The Weather is Too Warm
Puppies also don't tolerate the heat as much as an adult dog so it can be a bit harder on them. It would be important to bring along water in a collapsible dog bowl just in case the puppy gets thirsty.
Also, consider whether the pavement is too hot. If the pavement is too hot for your bare foot or hand, then it is too hot for your dog’s paws too.
Keep in mind that cement and tarmac are much hotter than the ambient temperature. For example, if the ambient temperature is 91 degrees, the concrete will be 124 degrees and the tarmac will be over 140 degrees, explains veterinarian Dr. Ivana in an article on why dogs get blisters on their feet.
Not Used to Being on Leash
Many young puppies stop on walks because they aren't used to being on leash. Getting puppies used to wearing a collar and leash is a gradual process that may encompass several days.
If you haven't allowed your puppy to wear a collar and then get used to dragging the leash around the home (with your supervision in home of course) and giving in to leash pressure, then your puppy will resist the pressure on walks and may stop walking or even lie down.
Being Frightened About Something
Does your puppy stop walking once he's past the driveway? Does he walk well in other areas but struggles in your neighborhood? If so, he may have become frightened about something.
Perhaps it's a dog that is barking as he's walking by a property or may be someone did fireworks or sprayed pepper spray in the area. Maybe the trash truck driving by or
the scary construction going on could have left an impact.
Puppies go through fear periods and some stimuli may startle them and leave an impact on them.
On top of this, consider that young puppies may feel uneasy leaving the home. In nature, pups wouldn't walk too far from their maternity dens until they are a little bit older.
Should I Drag Him or Pick Him Up?
What do you do when your puppy stops walking on leash? Should you drag him or pick him up?
Dragging a puppy by the leash or getting irritated is something that can backfire. If the puppy isn't used to wearing a collar or harness and a leash, tugging him along will only make matters worse.
The opposition reflex will make the dog resist more and dogs may eventually just give up moving and respond by stopping and possibly even lying down.
On top of this, consider that if we get angry or frustrated with our puppies, this can impact them at an emotional level causing them to freeze into a state of learned helplessness.
Picking the puppy up also leads to another problem. The puppy learns to stop to be picked up and this can put a dent in teaching him to walk on leash. This should be used only when strictly necessary.
A Word About Infectious Diseases
Before taking a young puppies on walks, it's important to ensure safety. Puppies who haven't finished their booster shots are vulnerable to infectious diseases. In particular, parvo is a scary, life threatening disease puppies can pick up from an infected dog's feces
Yet, it is also true that puppies go through critical times for socialization. The window for socialization closes by the time the puppy is 12 weeks. If puppies aren't socialized well during this critical time, they can develop lifelong behavioral issues.
The biggest concern is taking puppies who haven't finished their shots to areas frequented by other dogs.
In general, veterinarians suggest to wait at least 10 days after the last shot before allowing puppies around other unvaccinated dogs or in areas where potentially unvaccinated dogs may have been.
Now That You Know...
As seen, puppies have their own good reasons for stopping on walks. Individualizing the exact cause can be helpful for tackling it at the foot. Based on the above possible reasons why puppies stop on walks, here are some tips and solutions.
- Rule out medical conditions. Make sure your puppy is healthy considering that an underlying medical condition can surely put a dent in a puppy's willingness to go on walks. For example, a puppy with joint problems or panosteitis (growing pains) will be reluctant to want to go on walks. Puppies with heart problems may tire easily and struggle to keep up.
- Check your puppy's feet. Sometimes some foreign object may embed in or between your puppy's paws and your puppy may refuse to walk because it hurts or just feels odd.
- Avoid hot temperatures. As mentioned, puppies tend to be less tolerant of heat and they may need to drink often. Bring along water during walks and try your best to avoid the warmest hours of the day.
- Teach to give in to leash pressure. Teaching your puppy to give in to leash pressure is easy. Simply sit on the couch holding the leash and very lightly put pressure and lure your puppy to move in your direction by showing a treat to encourage him to release the pressure. Praise your puppy the moment he gives in to the pressure and moves your way.
- Practice in the home/ driveway. Do the same exercise with you and your puppy walking in a hallway. Show the treat and praise your puppy for giving in to the pressure and sticking by your side. Then practice walking up and down the driveway before going on brief, fun walks.
- Start with short walks. In order to gauge exactly how puppies fare with walks, start them out on something completely manageable. You don’t want to crush their enthusiasm right off the bat with a long, tiring walk. Don't expect puppies to walk perfectly on these walks, aim more for making them fun and upbeat.
- Make walks fun and rewarding! Commit to using friendly tones and refrain from getting irritated or frustrated and tugging on the leash which can causes puppies to freeze more.
- Drive and walk home. If your puppy stops walking in a specific area because he got scared of something and that something is no longer there, you can try driving him down the street and then let him walk back home just to confirm in his mind that it's OK to walk there. This may take several trials to get your puppy used to his old walking routine again.
- Bring along a doggy friend. Do you have a friend with a puppy or dog who literally adores going on walks? If so, enlisting these dogs' help can be sometimes far more effective than us trying a variety of things. If your puppy stops and refuses to walk, then have your friend stop and love up on your pup's doggy friend. Most puppies will want to join in the fun at this point. When your puppy catches up with his friend, make sure to have your friend praise your puppy too and give him a treat.