By Stacey Brecher
While you may be eager to introduce your new pup to your neighbors, there are some precautions you should take before that first walk. Your dog may be afraid of his new surroundings and not yet properly trained, so you as the owner need to prepare both him and yourself.
The first step to safely restrain your dog to protect him from getting hurt or lost is using a leash. Amy Shojai, CABC, a certified animal behavior consultant and author of 26 pet care titles as well as the Puppies Guide at About.com, suggests using a halter rather than just attaching a leash to the collar. “Puppy necks can be easily injured just from an exuberant pup straining to run toward or away from something new,” she said. “It is important to work on leash training with your new puppy.”
When you head out with your dog for the first time, you should also bring a squeaky toy, puppy designed treats for reward or incentive purposes, and poop bags to clean up after the puppy.
Once outside, there are many hazards that you need to be extra careful around when you bring your new dog on that first walk. For example:
During your walk you may encounter other dogs, either in yards or out on a walk as well. “Dogs may be protective of their turf as you walk by their yard, and rush and bark,” Shojai explains. “Or they may approach with a friendly wag. When the owner is present, ask how the dog feels about other pets. You don’t want the pup overwhelmed with multiple dogs — first encounters should be with friendly single pooches. Look for low, loose wags (friendly/inviting) or jerky-high-wags (possible aggression/threat).”
Once your dog leaves the comfort of your home, there are hazards like cars, teasing squirrels and cats, viruses, and things that your dog may try eat that she could choke on. To avoid these dangers, Shojai suggests always keeping your puppy under leash control to avoid most of these issues. “Avoid the ‘retractable’ type leashes, as they allow puppies to roam an unsafe distance away, and also can teach puppies to pull on the leash perhaps to dash into the highway in front of a car to catch that squirrel,” she added.
It is imperative that you keep your new dog healthy and away from germs and viruses lurking in the neighborhood. Proper vaccinations and parasite protection help to ensure all those interesting smells he sniffs from the sidewalk, grass, other pets or stranger’s shoes won’t make him sick. Avoid dog parks until your dog has received all his shots.
Children and Adults
Everyone wants to meet the new dog on the block, but an influx of new people may scare your dog. Children, especially, can be very scary. “Even if your dog welcomes adult humans, a running, screaming, tail-pulling miniature version smells funny, sounds scary and may not be considered safe,” said Shojai. “If your puppy is willing, and so are the parents, ask the kid to sit on the ground, and only then allow your puppy to approach to be petted.”
Being aware of these hazards will make your dog’s introduction into the neighborhood more enjoyable for both of you.
Stacey Brecher is a freelance writer. She has contributed to Animal Fair magazine, and her blogs have previously appeared on The Dog Daily.