Puppy and dog walking tips
Puppy and dog walking © Dan Miller
Every dog owner has a duty of care to make sure that their dog gets at least one walk every day. Unlike most activities dog walking is something that the whole family can enjoy and better still, it doesn't cost anything at all.
Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy you can overtire it and damage its developing joints, causing early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes (up to twice a day) when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer.
It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated. Time spent in the garden (however large) is no substitute for exploring new environments and socialising with other dogs. (Make sure your puppy is trained to recall so that you are confident that he will return to you when called).
You should never exercise your puppy on a full stomach as this can contribute to bloat.
Who is it suitable for?
All dogs and dog owners can and should get walking. The government recommends that we get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day and this is something that everybody can achieve, and go beyond, on a daily dog walk. Dogs' exercise needs vary according to the breed that you have but every dog should have at least one walk a day, often two. Use our Breed Information Centre to find out more about the exercise needs of your chosen breed.
How good is it for me and my dog?
Although dog walking is not a high intensity work out it is great for cardiovascular development, strengthening of muscles and bones and lowering blood pressure. And there are many social benefits as well because people who go walking with their dogs are often believed to be friendly and approachable by others. For your dog, walking is essential for its long term health and fitness - keeping the muscles strong and supple and ensuring that it doesn't get overweight. With one third of our pets estimated to be overweight as a result of their owners' sedentary lifestyles, walking is an essential part of being a responsible dog owner.
What do I need to remember?
If you're planning on making a day of it when you set out for a walk then remember to check out the Kennel Club's Open for Dogs website first, which will show you the kind of pubs, hotels and other pit stops that are dog friendly.
Take a pedometer out with you so that you can measure the number of steps that you walk throughout the day.
Always take poo bags with you so that you can dispose safely and cleanly of your dog's mess. This helps to ensure that places remain friendly towards dogs and dog walkers and that dog bans aren't imposed, spoiling the enjoyment of open places for other dog walkers.
Whilst walking your dog, it is important that you are aware of the Countryside Code to keep your pet safe, protect the environment and show that you are a responsible dog owner. You are obliged by law to ensure your dog wears a collar and an identification tag stating your name and address (Control of Dogs Order 1992). You can purchase tags and have them engraved online here. In addition, cleaning up after your dog is one of the key areas of responsibilities for dog owners, especially when in public spaces. You can face a considerable fine if you do not.