When you have a young pup in your house, it’s obvious for you to have this thought – How far can a puppy walk? This is a common yet complex query for many dog owners. I say complex because many dog owners don’t know how long can puppies walk. They often think – How long should I walk my puppy?
But, before we get into the details, it’s crucial for you to know why puppies need to go for a walk. The simplest answer is they get much-needed stimulation i.e. physical and mental exercise. While they are out in the wild, they can also socialise with other canines or individuals.
Now, let’s begin with understanding – how far can a puppy walk.
How Far Can a Puppy Walk?
In general, a puppy can walk up to 0.5 to 1 mile. But, this distance varies as per their age, weight, breed, vaccination status, and behaviour. Yes, you read that right! All these factors have a significant impact on how far or how long they can walk.
So, it’s not a standard rule that you must walk your pup for this many miles. Still, a common thumb rule practised is – allowing the pup 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. This means, if your pup is say 3 months old, you can walk them up to 15 minutes.
A small pup can walk at a pace of 2mph. Hence, in 15 minutes a small pup can roughly cover a distance of 0.5 miles.
Factors affecting how far you can walk a puppy
Now, that we have a basic idea regarding the distance and timing for a puppy walk, let’s glide into the factors which influence these parameters. Here is a list of some of the prominent factors which can help in deciding how far you can walk a puppy:
In comparison with adult dogs, puppies have less steadiness and need frequent breaks while walking. The reason is simple, their bones are developing and excessive walking may damage their joints causing some serious damage. So, while you walk your pup, especially if its age is less than 1 year, make sure you don’t make them walk more.
- Vaccination status
Puppies begin to receive continuous vaccinations once they hit 6 weeks old. They receive complete protection till they get 16 weeks old. So, till then, it’s best to avoid walks as they might get exposed to contagious viruses or bacteria.
Still, if you wish to take your unvaccinated pup for a walk, you need to consult your vet. They will suggest you some precautionary measures for avoiding any potential health hazard.
The breed of pup you have also plays a significant role in how long they can walk. For example, larger breed puppies such as Mastiffs, are not capable of covering much distance like small breed puppies like chihuahua. This is mainly because they are prone to orthopaedic issues and arthritis.
In addition, puppies of breeds like pugs, bulldogs, and shih tzus who have short skulls, or snouts may also walk less. They have less threshold for exercise and they overheat easily. Breathing gets difficult for such dogs.
Lastly, herding, working, or sporting puppies like labradors or border collies may walk more because they have high energy levels and need to release them through different exercises.
A puppy’s weight also has a significant impact on how far can a pup walk. Puppies who are obese will find it tough to walk longer distances as they will easily get tired. Also, the overweight will cause stress in their organs and joints which may cause different health issues.
You are probably thinking lightweight pups can walk more. Well, you are wrong. Lightweight pups also face some serious challenges. They are prone to leg injuries because of less muscle mass and low-fat content in their body. Hence, a middleweight pup can easily walk.
- Health condition
Puppies who are suffering from obesity, heart disease, or joint issues will not walk properly. A healthy pup will have received proper vaccination and their body condition score is 4 or 5 out of 9. In addition, they must also not have an underlying medical condition which can affect their stamina and walking abilities.
- Behaviour and energy level
The behavioural aspect is very crucial as it helps determine how long they can walk. There are many pups who like to explore their surroundings and walk more while some prefer short walks. This happens because their energy levels differ.
Highly energetic pups are keener on going on walks. While this may seem good, short walks may bore them and they might behave aggressively. In fact, if your pup is aggressive in nature it’s important to train them before you take them out.
The environmental conditions have a great impact on your pup’s walks. They are not good at handling extreme heat or cold temperatures. So, it’s crucial for your to pick a location or area where their paws are not burned or frozen. Also, make sure the terrain is not so rough or obstructive. Otherwise, pebbles and stones may get stuck in their paws.
If your pup is in good shape and has got all vaccine shots but, is not well trained then they might jump, pull or escape while you are on a walk with them. In such a situation, your furry friend risks injuring themselves.
Train your pup with a harness on at home. Reward their good behaviour. Thus, use a suitable lead or harness for better control. Make sure the lead or collar you use is comfortable for your puppy.
How long should I Walk My Puppy?
We saw the basic breakdown of distance for how long a pup can walk. The rough estimate got us a distance of roughly 0.5 miles within 15 minutes of time. The distance they can cover relies on various factors. Speed is one of the crucial aspects.
Smaller pups can walk at 2mph and larger pups may have a speed of 3mph. However, how long your pup will walk is up to you. You need to analyse their behaviour, and diet, and consider many other aspects to schedule their walk. Here is how you can plan out:
- Firstly, get a precise insight into your pup’s health, age breed, size, weight and vaccination status. These are basic aspects and can help in deciding the time duration and distance for walking your pup.
- Once you consider all the factors you can simply follow a common thumb rule. The rule suggests that you can walk your dog for five minutes per month of their age. So, if you have a pup about weeks old, it can walk for roughly 30 minutes.
After your pup develops a routine of walking for a specific distance, it’s time for you to continuously analyse them. You’ll have to analyse the following things:
- Their pace – your dog may continue to walk the same distance on a regular basis but, you’ll have to observe their body language and figure out when they are feeling tired. Gauge the distance and make sure you don’t cross that distance next time.
- Leg movement – if your furry friend is not comfortable while walking, you will see them limp. This may either be a sign of an injury or they are faking it to avoid taking a stroll with you.
- Behaviour – your dog may suddenly show signs of distress, panting, whining, or growling. You need to immediately halt and have them relax for some time.
After a few walks, you will know whether your dog prefers these walks or not. If they are following your cue and walking regularly you need to reward them. This gesture may register a positive response within their minds and they will start enjoying it even more.
Benefits of long walks for pups
If you manage to handle the distance and time duration for walking, your pup will have many benefits. Here are some of the significant benefits to look out for:
- One of the prominent benefits of long walks for pups is their muscles and joints get stronger. This helps in avoiding health issues like obesity and arthritis.
- A long walk can also help improve the digestive system. Because a long walk can help regulate their bowel movements and this helps to prevent any digestive issues such as bloat or constipation.
- The Cardiovascular fitness of your furry friend gets better. A long walk will elevate the heart rate and facilitate blood flow. This also ensures their blood pressure remains low.
- Your pup’s behaviour remains normal. This means you won’t see them suffer from depression, anxiety or exhibit any destructive behaviour. The release of energy keeps them at ease.
- The pup also gets much-needed mental and physical stimulation while having a long walk. They get to meet other canines, explore the surrounding environment and register different smells.
- While having a long walk with your pup, you are spending some quality time with them. Your bonding with the pup will get stronger.
- It can also help in inducing positive behaviour. For instance, you can train them for obeying your commands or teach them lead manners.
- Long walks often boost the level of serotonin and dopamine in your pup. This helps in keeping them happy and elevates their confidence level as well.
Finally, if your pup manages to interact with some people or fellow canines while they walk, they will embrace this behaviour once they grow old. This means your pup will show friendly behaviour.
Drawbacks of long walks for pups
While there are ample benefits of long walks for pups, there are some drawbacks as well. Some of these drawbacks are a result of excessive walking. Let’s have a peek at them:
- The joints of a pup are developing as they are growing, so, if you overdo the walking, they will have some serious issues. They may also face damage to their bones if you walk them more than usual.
- Long walks can also make your pup feel stressed and make them feel tired. If they are not enjoying these walks, it affects their behaviour as well.
- Too much walking can cause dehydration, especially when the weather is hot. Lack of water will cause different health issues.
- Many pups need more rest instead of exercise. Walking may hinder their physical growth as their energy will get utilised in the exercise. So, it’s crucial to make sure that they have enough rest as well.
- The more time you spend walking, your pup is at risk of getting an infection. Because you can never completely protect them from such instances even with proper vaccinations.
- While it’s unlikely, but, if your pup is notorious, you will see them behave randomly or badly. For instance, they will jump while walking, randomly start chasing other animals or pull the harness strongly.
- Your pup may lose interest in other physical activities if you make them walk more. They might refuse to train, exercise, or play afterwards.
- A long walk may also cause injuries to the paws. Tiny pebbles can get stuck in their paws and cause swelling or cuts.
- Long walks can cause some dogs to poop more often. If your pup seems to poop excessively during walks, be sure to read about why does my dog poop so much on walks to understand the potential causes
Some pups may also break their bones while walking so, it’s important for dog owners to properly analyse their pup’s health condition.
Preparing Your Pup For Long Walks
You have an idea about the health condition, the approximate distance your pup can walk and other factors. But, if you randomly decide on taking your pup for a walk, that too a long walk, you are risking their health and your relationship with them.
Making your pup walk without any preparation can lead to the following issues:
- Pain or injury
- Disobeying cues
- Loose confidence
To void these issues you need to prepare your pup for walking. Here are some of the tips you can consider:
#1 Training for collar and harness
Your pup needs to feel comfortable while having a collar or harness attached to them. If they are not used to it, you will see them try and escape or pull during the walks. They may injure themselves in the process. So, how to ensure they don’t act out?
The simplest yet effective trick is to apply a harness or collar while they are in a good mood. Allow them to roam around the house. They will begin to adapt, reward them and endorse this positive behaviour. Once you feel they are comfortable walking with a collar or harness on, you can take them for a walk.
#2 Maintain proper health
You need to keep your dog healthy and make sure they have received at least a few shots of vaccines if not complete vaccination. This can help safeguard them from the contagious diseases which they might face because of the atmosphere outside.
#3 Obedience training
Your pup needs to have proper obedience training. Because if they fail to respond or follow your cues or commands it gets tricky to handle their behaviour. For instance, they might get aggressive because of the slightest noise or smell, seeing a fellow canine or a stranger. In such situations, if they are not following your cues, it gets tough to calm them down.
So, train them at home. Use different methods and make them follow some basic commands like “stay”, “sit”, “come”, “stop”, or “don’t”. This will help you control them and contain the situation.
#4 Set up a routine
Setting up a routine is important as it can help your pup know the exact time for walking. While you plan their routine activities, include their meals, potty time, playing time, resting time, and exercise. Adjust the walking in a way that it doesn’t wear off their energy and they feel refreshed and not bored.
#5 Training for walking on stairs
While you go for a walk outside, it’s possible you may encounter many stairs near a park, bridge or around a building. Some pups are scared of stairs hence, it’s crucial to train them. Help your pup at home to navigate stairs safely. You can also try using books as stairs and increase the height gradually.
Further, for better results, use food treats for training them to walk on stairs. You can simply place the solid pieces on stairs and they will climb stairs to eat those pieces. Follow the same for training them to walk downwards.
#5 Pick a suitable time
Different dog breeds have different preferences. Thus, when you plan on taking your pup for a walk, you need to understand their preferences and analyse their behaviour. In the context of timings, you need to understand whether they prefer walking in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
For knowing this, you’ll have to arrange their walks at different times and see at which time they are at their best behaviour and exhibiting positive behaviour. So, regardless of your pup’s preference, here are the reasons explaining why all the times are beneficial:
- Morning – is a good time for a long walk as many pups relieve themselves early and are looking to release their energy before beginning their day.
- Afternoon – some pups enjoy the afternoon walk because they get mental and physical stimulation right before their afternoon nap. They are not bored and the release of energy helps induce sleep.
- Evening – many canines enjoy a walk before they have their dinner. It helps them settle and relax before going to sleep at night.
If your puppy refuses to walk no matter what time of day, refer to how to walk a puppy that doesn’t want to walk for troubleshooting ideas.
Following these tips will help you train your pup for long walks. However, whenever you decide on taking them for long walks make sure you increase the distance gradually. Making them walk 3 miles on their first walk itself is excessive. Have a chat with your vet regarding this aspect and lay out the strategy for increasing the distance.
There is no exact distance or duration for this but, in general, a 12-week-old puppy can walk 0.75-1 mile in 15 minutes. However, this distance and duration are not fixed as it relies on various factors such as the dog’s age, health, breed, weight, and environment. Weather also plays a crucial role. For instance, a dog might walk less if the conditions are too hot.
Normally, it’s not safe to take a 4-month puppy for a walk, especially if they are not vaccinated. But, if you follow the safety measures and consult a vet you can take them. A 4-month-old puppy will walk 0.25 miles in 5 minutes. If their stamina is good you can stretch their walk to 10 minutes but, it’s best you keep it short.
The longest distance covered by a dog is 2000 miles in Australia. As per the details from the Guinness world record, a dog in Australia named Jimpa, walked for 14 months covering this distance in search of the old house back in 1979.
A 5-month-old pup can cover up to 1 to 1.5 miles of distance if they walk for an hour. However, if we consider the thumb rule a 5-month-old pup will only walk for 25 minutes. In fact, they will not be able to walk for 25 minutes in a single go, you’ll have to make them walk in two separate walks.
How Far Can a Puppy Walk – Conclusive Remark
The closest answer suggesting how far can a puppy walk is 1 mile considering the common thumb rule. It indicates that you can walk your pup for 5 minutes for every month age. So, if you have a pup that is 4 months old, you can walk them for roughly 20 minutes.
This is just a common rule which seems to have worked for many dog owners out there. I mention this because there is no scientific method or study which backs this thumb rule. This means you can modify it as per your furry friend’s needs and plan their walks accordingly.
Remember, your furry friend will be able to walk longer once they grow older. Their muscles and bones are stronger and you can increase the distance of their walk. Make sure you keep this transition gradual. Because enforcing this change instantly may backfire.
Once you know how far your pup can walk, you may want to bring the best dog walking torch for visibility on evening or nighttime walks.