Everyone knows that a new Australian Shepherd puppy needs exercise, but knowing the right time to start going for walks and how long to walk is where it gets a little trickier.
As a general rule, you can take your aussie puppy on a walk for around 5 minutes for every month old they are. So, when you start taking your puppy on a walk as early as 8 weeks old, stick with no more than 10 minutes until they are 3 months old.
If you have never tried to take a puppy for a walk, then you just might be in for a surprise! Most puppies either don’t even notice that you put a leash on them at first until you either start to tug on the other end or they realize that they cannot go in the direction that they want to go in.
At this point, if you don’t start teaching your puppy to get used to their leash, you will be teaching them to hate it. Once a puppy learns to dislike their leash there is a whole list of things that can happen. One of these is that your puppy can refuse to come to you or flat out run away when they see you go for that leash!
Getting Your Puppy Used To Their Leash
When you first get your australian shepherd pup they may not even be used to wearing a collar much less used to having a leash on them. This being the case, you want to make sure that you put to put a collar on them that fits as soon as you get them if they do not have one on yet.
When you pet your aussie puppy, which will be very hard to resist doing anyway I know, make sure that you fiddle with their collar often. This starts getting them used to the fact that you touching or grabbing the thing around their neck is not a bad thing.
When you are ready to put their leash on them for the first time, put it in front of their face first so that they can check it out. Whether they show any interest in it or not, the next thing you want to do is touch it to their back as though you were going to pet them with it.
Sometimes this will get their attention as they try to figure out what you are doing, but if it makes them scared then you should give them a little longer to check it out and get used to it. If not, you can safely clip the leash to their collar.
When you first put it on, don’t pull on the leash. Let them still go where they want to and call them with your voice to follow you with only a slight and momentary tug on the leash to get their attention if needed.
Don’t keep in on very long for the first time either since a puppy will almost always find a way to tangle themselves especially at first. Every puppy that I have had has always panicked when this happens to them, sometimes in spite of me closely watching them and trying to prevent it, and you do not want them getting hurt.
Common Problems With Collars And Leashes
Hopefully, your australian shepherd puppy will learn how to go on walks without a hitch, but just as often this won’t be the case for you. There are two main problems that I have seen and experienced with training a puppy to go for a walk.
This is probably the most common thing that you might have a problem with when you are trying to get your puppy to go with you on a walk. Sometimes your puppy may even be doing great and then it seems like all of a sudden they want to go anywhere but where you want them to go!
There are two key things that you want to do in this situation. The first thing that you always want to keep in mind is that you want your puppy to enjoy following close to you.
Make it more fun to be with you than it is to wander off and sniff that rock or anything else.
The second thing that you need to do is to not struggle against them. Trust me, this can make your arms sore after a while and it is also not good for your puppy in any way. If your arms feel the strain, then you are fighting the leash whether you realize it or not.
To help prevent yourself from yanking, just keep your arms by your sides and hold them still while your hands keep a firm hold on the leash. Usually, a puppy will struggle, yank, and even try going backward.
I have never entirely figured out why they seem to think that going backward will help them, but you should stand still and let them get all of it out of their system.
With you not doing anything, they will eventually give up and will usually end with their head towards you as they try to rest their weight against you by seemingly trying to sit out just out of range of the leash.
Instead of yanking on the leash, try calling them to you verbally without moving the leash at all. If this doesn’t work, try distracting them by having them lay down or showing them a ball.
I had one puppy that struggled with being too submissive when I first got her. She would squat and do a ‘submissive pee’ anytime I would scold her verbally for anything even though a verbal scolding was all I would ever do.
This being the case, when I would have her sit in front of me and grab the leash, she would dribble a little. If your puppy does this, scolding is the last thing that you want to do since this will only make the situation worse.
Instead, the thing to do in this situation is to ignore the pee, praise the puppy, and try to start associating good things with sitting down for their leash to be put on.
If the only time you put their leash on is to go somewhere where they don’t want to go or is unpleasant for them, you won’t make any progress.
Try to determine if there is a reason why they don’t want to go on their leash and see what you can do about getting rid of it. Give them plenty of treats while they are on their leash and make it as fun for them as possible.
The other thing that you can do if this really annoys you is to get their attention elsewhere.
Have them go to the down position and then back to sitting, giving them treats for this. Save one of their favorite treats for only when you are putting their leash on and give it to them with one hand while the leash is put on with the other hand.
Things That Can Affect Your Walk
When you go to take your puppy for a walk, there are a lot of things that you should keep in mind.
For example, a puppy is going to be a lot more sensitive to the heat and therefore walks outside during the summer should be done in the cool of the day and kept much shorter.
You should also think about the puppy’s feet. Black concrete can get really hot and thorns can get caught in a puppy’s soft pads really easily.
As they get older their pads will toughen up some, but until then ask yourself if you would walk over something barefoot. If not, then neither should your puppy.
When your puppy is still young, their immune system is weak. If they have not finished getting their shots yet you should never take them to a dog park and you should try to avoid taking them anywhere at all as much as possible.
If you have a big backyard or it is a long walk to your mailbox, you can go for long walks safely even before your puppy has had their shots.
However, if the only place where you can walk your puppy is highly traveled streets then you should keep the walks really short if you go out at all.
Parvo, for example, is one of the worst things that a puppy can get and it can live for three weeks if the conditions are right for it. Most of the time the vaccinations are not fully completed until around 20 weeks.
Over Walking your Australian Shepherd Puppy
Finally, the most important thing that should always help determine the length of your walk is if your puppy is willing or not to walk with you.
You should never drag your puppy along behind you whether it is because you are going too fast for them or they simply don’t want to follow you.
Over time this can be bad for their growth plates. Let them set the pace. You should know that playtime in the backyard is quite different from a walk from a puppy’s point of view.
During play, a puppy often pauses to sniff something or pauses to catch their breath which they are not as free to do on a walk.