Q: When is the right time to start taking a puppy out for a walk?
A: The easy answer is, start walking him right away, even as young as eight weeks of age. For example, you can walk with him in your living room and in your yard and, whenever he happens to catch up to you and walk by your side, excitedly exclaim. “well, look who’s here!” and give him treats. That’s an easy introduction to teaching him to heel. But if you’re asking when to take him on walks in the real world, there are a few factors to consider:
The first 14 to 16 weeks are the most important for socializing your puppy to the sights, sounds and smells of the world in a friendly, non-threatening way. On the other hand, you don’t want your puppy to catch any diseases, parasites or worms so a lot of vets say to keep your puppy safe and stay home until they’ve received a full round of vaccinations. Sounds like a catch-22 doesn’t it?
As pointed out, socialization during the first four months of a puppy’s life is critical. And puppy classes are ideal. Puppy classes simply ask you to get a clean bill of health for you’re puppy before bringing him or her to class. That is, no worms, parasites, or diseases.
To get your puppy use to a collar and leash is easy to do by simply putting the collar on a few seconds before putting the puppy’s meals on the floor. After eating, play a bit and then take the collar off. After a few days, you can simply leave it on. Then repeat the process of attaching the leash while he’s eating and progressing to holding it and then leading him outside and playing and so on. Obviously, we’re not trying to force a puppy to do anything.
I allow puppies in my group classes that are held in public areas, two weeks after their second round of shots, about 14 weeks of age. I haven’t had any problems in 40 years. You can see a list of upcoming classes here: http://originaldogwhisperer.com/product-category/group-and-private-dog-training-classes/
That being said, if you like and trust your vet and he or she is adamant about your puppy finishing the series of vaccinations, do what you think is best. Here is a link to vaccination protocols from one of the leading voices in the field, Dr. Jean Dodd.
And here is a puppy clip just for fun:
Finally, let me add how critical it is to remove collars when puppies and when some dogs play. Let me preface by saying what you are about to read is very stressful. In all my years of training, four of my clients have come home to find one of their dog dead from strangulation because the other dog got his teeth caught in the other dog’s collar. Tragically horrible! If your dogs play by grabbing each other’s neck or collar, take the collars off or, better yet, buy break-away collars and put them on when the puppies or dogs play so that if the unthinkable happens, the collar will twist and come off.