By Andrew Fischer
From when can a Labrador puppy be taken for walks?
I had few Lab puppies myself and I would say that you can take your puppies for a walk soon as they are able to follow you around. At about 6 weeks, you can start taking them out for small walks around your house and garden. At about 7-8 weeks you can take them for short walks around the neighbourhood or forest. Between 8-10 weeks is the crucial period of your dog’s socialization so you should definitely take your pooch out so he can develop his brain and motor skills.
By around 7 weeks puppies can come along on proper walks
When you puppies are around 7 weeks old you can take them on proper walks. These trips shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes as your pups will get tired really fast. Increase the distance of the walk gradually. A rule of thumb says that a dog shouldn’t have more than 5 minutes of walking for every month of its age. So a 4 week old puppy can walk up to 5 minutes, a 8 week old puppy for 10 minutes etc.
If you don’t have time for longer walks, make your dog run more during the walk (play fetch or something which exercises your pooch).
Many owners receive their puppy at 8 weeks. If you are one of them you can safely take your pooch outside for a walk at this age.
Taking young pups for walks is important as climbing over and crawling under different obstacles helps them develop their muscles and coordination. Taking them out is also important for socialisation and getting them used to different smells, sounds and objects.
I recommend you start some basic training techniques for a safe walk first in the backyard before taking your dog for a proper walk. Also you should get your dog used to the leash first.
Don't overexercise your Labrador
You should follow the rule of thumb that says that a dog shouldn’t have more than 5 minutes of walking for every month of its age because overexercising your retriever may be a factor in the development of joint disorders like dysplasia. Especially larger breeds like Labradors or Golden Retrievers suffer from hip dysplasia and other similar disorders.
Young Labradors (under 4 months / 17 weeks) should avoid climbing steep hills and stairs as this can also lead to the development of hip dysplasia. Hard running and jumping at this age may also not be great for your Lab’s joint health.
Some breeders I talked to recommend to prevent larger breeds like Labradors from jumping for the first year to reduce impact on their joints.
Only take your puppy for a walk after vaccination
Labs or any other breed should be taken out for a walk only after the first round of major vaccination like Parvovirus.
The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour recommends taking dogs on walks as early as one week after their first round of vaccinations, which is at about 7 weeks of age. Don’t keep your Lab from socializing until all their vaccinations are complete because you would miss the important socialization window of your pooch which ends at about 13 weeks.
If you are worried about your Lab’s health before the vaccinations are completed you can carry him while going outside in public so your pup is exposed to all the objects, smells, sounds and animals. If you wouldn’t expose your puppy to as many new stimulants as possible, you could end up with an adult dog that suffers from depression, anxiety, aggression and fear. (1)