Are you expecting your first litter of puppies in the home and want to know when they start walking after birth? Perhaps you have brought your first puppy home and want to know when they can start walking on a leash? Either way, I’ve got you covered with this guide to when puppies start walking at the various stages in their life.
Here’s the quick answer first, focused on newborn puppies. You can find out more about when puppies start walking on a leash properly a bit further down the page.
When do puppies start walking? After birth, puppies should be walking properly by about the age of 4 weeks old. At 2 weeks old they’ll be starting to stand, at 3 weeks, they’ll be ready to climb out of their whelping box. By the time they’re 4 weeks old, the puppy will start walking unsteadily.
After this period of learning about how to balance with some short walks, between 4 and 7 weeks, puppies can walk properly with a steady gait.
Here’s some more detail about those so important first steps where they can explore the world around them by walking independently.
When do puppies start walking properly?
You may be thinking about what’s going to happen when puppies start walking properly. The thought of little doggies wandering around your house could seem a bit perturbing especially if they’re not contained properly.
How about deciding when is a good time to take your puppy walking? When do they actually start to walk properly? This information will help you manage your puppy from birth to when they’re ready to be on a leash.
When do puppies start walking after birth?
Your puppy will start to mature as soon as his or her eyes open after birth. This normally happens between one to two weeks after birth.
For the first two weeks of his life, your puppy will waddle on his belly (a bit like belly surfing on a board). While he’s doing this, he’s constantly building up his leg muscles.
At around two weeks old, your puppy will start to stand although his first few attempts will be wobbly (just like a human baby when they first try to stand). The stronger he gets, the more active he’ll become – this means walking isn’t too far off now!
By three weeks old, your puppy will want to get out of his nest and explore the big wide world. This is when you’ll notice him (and all his siblings) trying to crawl out of their whelping box. He’ll also be climbing all over his mother for entertainment!
If you want to keep all the puppies in one place, this is a good time to get a large play or exercise pen, so they’re kept contained.
By the time your puppy is four weeks old, he’ll be able to walk with a wobbly gait. As the weeks go by, he’ll gain more strength and confidence with his walking after birth.
Should a puppy be walking at 4 weeks?
Puppies should be walking by the age of 4 weeks old. If your puppy is not following these typical milestones I detailed above, then it would be a good idea to have the vet check him out. They should also have developed their own little barks at 7 weeks and up.
What age do puppies start walking properly?
From four weeks old, your puppy will develop and mature rapidly. His leg muscles will continue to strengthen, and his wobbly gait will start to balance out.
Between the age of four and seven weeks, your puppy’s ability to walk will improve until he’s walking with a steady gait. By the time he reaches seven to eight weeks, he’ll be fully active, running around and causing general chaos in the household – and probably now biting at your ankles!
At eight weeks old, you can start taking your puppy for short walks around the garden or house. Exercise and playtime are important for your puppy’s development. But don’t overdo it. Their bones and joints are fragile up to the age of two years old.
When do puppies start walking on a leash?
Even though it’s best advised to not take your young puppy walking in the dog park before vaccinations, you can still introduce them to the collar, harness and leash.
For example, you can start your puppy walking on a leash from the age of 8 weeks and up.
Puppies don’t have a natural ability to walk with a collar and leash the first time you put them on! It’s skill you need to teach them so be patient.
The best age to start introducing your puppy is around eight to ten weeks. Start off by letting him get used to the feel of wearing a collar and/or a harness by putting them on for short periods. You could also put the leash on while he’s playing or walking around the house.
You could give him some treats and make wearing a collar and leash fun time. This way, you’ll get an enthusiastic response every time you bring out the leash (nothing like a bit of bribery to get puppy learning!).
Create a cue sound such as clicking or saying, “Here boy” whenever your puppy is learning to get used to the leash. When he responds to the cues and walks towards you with the leash on, you can reward him.
Once your puppy is comfortable walking with a collar and leash in the house, you can take him outdoors. Stick to your garden or back yard until he’s old enough to walk around the neighborhood or to visit the local dog park.
Use the first few times outdoors as an opportunity for your puppy to explore with a collar and leash on. He’s going to be excited and distracted easily by the different smells, sights and sounds. If he yanks at the leash, stop walking and make your cue sound. When your puppy responds, reward him with a treat.
When can I take my puppy walking in the dog park?
If you only get your puppy when he’s eight weeks old, then you’ll discover he’s already quite mobile! He’ll be walking steadily, even running and playing with everything and everyone in sight. It’s around this time you may be wondering if you should be introducing your puppy to the local dog park.
It’s very tempting to take your new puppy to the dog park as soon as you get him. But, until he’s had all his vaccinations, it’s not advisable. I’ve already written about the dangers of taking your puppy to a dog park at such a young age.
You can read here when it’s safe to take your puppy to the park.
The best time to take your puppy walking in the dog park is around four months old. By this time, he should have had all his shots.
What can be done to help puppies learning to walk?
Anyone learning to walk could do with a helping hand and your puppy is no different. A slippery floor will make it difficult for a puppy trying to stand or learning to walk. Make sure you place blankets or a rug in the whelping box to give him better traction.
When your puppy is older and walking around your home, make sure there are rugs on the floor so he’s got a good grip while exploring.
Remember, your puppy naturally knows when to stand and when to start walking. You can’t force him to do either. If he’s not doing these things by himself, then get him checked out by the vet. Delayed milestone developments could be a sign all is not well with your puppy.
Handy Hint: When walking your puppy you might see a sign that read ‘curb your dog’, and here’s what that means.
What NOT to do when walking your puppy
Here are some things you should NOT be doing when walking with your puppy:
- Yank your pup: Don’t yank at his leash if he’s pulling. Instead, stand absolutely still and don’t move. Your puppy will soon get the message he’s not going anywhere fast! And, he’ll come back to you.
- Allow your pup to lunge: You may only discover this behavior when you take your pup into the Big Wide World (aka the dog park). An excitable pup may start lunging at other dogs, people or even cars if you’re walking on the sidewalk. To prevent this from happening, try using distraction techniques.
- Overexert your pup: A young puppy (three to four months old) should only walk about 15 to 30 minutes a day. If you over exercise your dog, you could make him prone to injuries or cramps. Only start running or hiking with your puppy when they’re between 12 and 18 months old.
Puppies love to walk and it’s a great way for you and your doggie to bond. Make sure you’re doing it right though, so both you and your puppy enjoy the experience.
Most puppies will start walking properly from a very young age. If you see problems from the age of 4 weeks and up, it’s probably wise to consult with a vet.
You might also like…
Here are common problems that can occur once your puppy has started walking.