It is important to ensure that your first walk together is not a bad experience and that the puppy is kept safe. Not all puppies will actively enjoy this first trip but as long as the owner ensures that no extreme stress or harm befalls it in that time, its confidence will soon grow. Use the following tips:

Puppy’s First Day Out Should Not be Puppy’s First Day OUT

Although your pup is not fully immune until 2 weeks after its second vaccination, it should not be kept holed up in the house until that time, as this would mean it misses valuable socialisation time and will be very scared when suddenly removed from the only safe environment it has ever known. If you can carry your pup, take it for short walks in your arms, allowing it to see people and traffic. Travelling on public transport and for journeys in the car is another good idea. If you cannot carry your pup take plenty of car trips and allow it to meet people in areas not frequented by dogs; e.g. their own homes.

Collar and Lead

Never put a puppy’s collar and lead on for the first time on the first day it goes out for a walk. Start by putting this on each time it leaves the house, even if only for a ride in the car. Let it wander around the house wearing the collar and lead, following it quietly, then once it is comfortable start to apply a little pressure on the lead and encourage it to walk with you. If you only put the collar and lead on on the day you take the pup for its very first walk, the feeling of something new around its neck will only cause anxiety, perhaps even panic, and mean it takes very little of the outside world in.

Use a Calm Canine Companion

Nothing gives a puppy more confidence than going outside with a nice calm adult dog. Ideally your puppy will have been able to meet a dog or a couple of dogs you know that are sensible and fully immunised and it will be a great help if he can go out with one of these dogs for the first trip. Let the two walk close together but not on top of each other, and if the puppy seems confident try to break them up for a little while so your puppy knows that it will be going out alone at times and that this is ok too.

Check the Collar is Secure

If the puppy panics it may try and slip the collar by pulling backwards to run away. This is not a time to leave one too loose. Never put a check chain on a pup, as the increasing pressure could frighten it and even cause it to hurt itself, but do ensure that the buckled collar is snug fitting. For most dogs you should be able to slip two fingers under it, but try putting gentle pressure on it to see if it can easily be pulled over the head. As an alternative, many people find a snug harness a better way to make sure their puppy cannot wriggle away from them. Whatever method you choose, check the fit carefully somewhere secure like the garden before you go outside.


Choose a Quiet Time and Area

Ideally take the puppy out early in the morning or late at night when less people are around and choose quieter areas, like suburban streets, not busy main roads or shopping high streets. There are a lot of new sights, sounds and smells to cope with when puppy takes a first walk, so trying not to subject it to a time when each or all of these will be very intense is a sensible move. That said, it’s worth planning walks in such busy environments for the future as part of your pet’s socialisation, just don’t rush into it. A steady approach is the way to build confidence.

Start Short

Take the puppy for a short first trip and check its reactions. If it is interested and happy, keep walking on your pre-planned route, which should not be long anyway. If it seems very nervous make sure you are on an even shorter walk, so adjust the planned trip even if it means turning back on yourself. However, try not to end the walk while the puppy is still very nervous, or fall into the trap of constantly soothing the puppy as it will only start to think there is something to fear. Try to distract it with treats or a toy, and once it is behaving in a more relaxed fashion praise it and go back into the house. Ideally pop out again in a short time after the pup has rested. Give it most attention when it walks normally rather than cowering, but be patient, it takes longer for some to adjust.

Remember to ask your vet about the right amount of exercise for your puppy. Over-exercising growing bodies can cause permanent long term damage, so start slowly and only build it up gradually.

Dogs are some of the most dependable companions a person can count on. They don’t get angry when you forget to wash their socks or underwear, they don’t require a fancy dinner every night, and they are content to sit by your side when all you want to do is enjoy a peaceful moment. Dogs are like spouses, without any arguing. They love you unconditionally, and they stay by your side in sickness and health. All they ask from you is that you love them back, and maybe give them a scratch behind the ears once in a while.

According to the ASPCA, there are 5,000 animal shelters nationwide, and approximately 6 million pets in these shelters waiting for a home.

Reasons to Adopt a Dog

They help cope with loneliness. A service called C.O.P.E. provides service dogs for people with a range of difficulties. According to the C.O.P.E. Service’s homepage, dogs as companions benefit people incredibly because they are able to “decrease loneliness; inspire people to smile, laugh and have fun; foster feelings of safety and acceptance; offer unconditional love and acceptance; and provide comfort.”

Dogs encourage you to exercise. Because most dogs require exercise to stay healthy and happy, they encourage the owner to go outside with them and walk, run, hike or bike. This can lead to a healthier lifestyle. According to a Health Guidance article by Mack LeMouse entitled “Ways Exercise Reduces Stress,”, exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happier, produces testosterone to improve confidence and to relieve stress, and also helps to improve cognitive functioning, including memory.

Adopting a dog from the shelter discourages puppy mills. Puppy mills are successful because they sell purebred dogs to pet stores and on websites that appear to be legitimate. People see these dogs as superior to other dogs because they are purebred, and so the demand for puppy mills continues. The Humane Society of the United States documents how the dogs living in these puppy mills have extremely poor living conditions and often have no human contact. After the dog birthing all the puppies reaches a point where she is no longer fertile, she’s often killed. Adopting a dog from the shelter instead of a pet store discourages the cruel and corrupt production of puppies in puppy mills.

You could save the dog’s life. According to the ASPCA, five out of ten dogs held in shelters are euthanized because there is simply not enough room for them. Perhaps one of those dogs waiting for a home is the one that will bring you laughter, unconditional love, and many years of happiness. Bringing a dog home from a shelter could potentially save the dog from being killed just because someone else couldn’t take care of it.

So Consider This….

If you’re looking for a new pet, or if you’re looking for something to bring a little more meaning into your life, consider making a visit to your community animal shelter and adopting a dog. If you do, you can rest assured that it will never nag at you to do the dishes, compete with you for the remote, or judge you for your beliefs. All your dog will do is beg you for a little attention, and maybe some scraps from the table.

Owning a pet dog is a wonderful experience for adults and children alike. These cuddly, lovable animals provide hours of love, compassion and companionship but what happens when their lives are put at risk by another dog?

Imagine the scenario. A woman is walking her 9 year-old golden retriever while pushing a double stroller with her two toddler daughters inside when she hears rustling behind her and sees a mutt who has broken free from its owner’s grip on the leash and is running toward her full-force, teeth bared and a fight in its eyes. In the blink of an eye, the two dogs have each other by the neck with no signs of letting go. What’s the best way to handle such a situation?

As Linda Cole writes in her article, “Responsible Pet Ownership: How to Break Up a Dog Fight,” fighting dogs hear, see, smell and fear nothing except the dog in their face. At this point, they cease to become pets and instead turn into animals in a fight to the death. As a result, humans should never attempt to break up a dog fight by pulling on a dog’s collar or calling a dog’s name.” What can be done, then?


Think Through a Dog Fight Before It Happens

Cole recommends that pet owners first think through how they would handle a dog fight situation before it happens as it’s important to remain calm to help maintain an air of composure when an attack does occur. While the immediate purpose in breaking up a dog fight is to get the dogs to release their holds by separating them, it requires a significant amount of force to do so.

There is no magic answer, no sure-fire solution, but there are steps one can take in different situations.

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

If a fight happens outside, most experts advise spraying the dogs directly in the eyes and muzzle/nose area with a garden hose to shock them enough to release their grips. Don’t stop spraying until both dogs have backed off and are as far from each other as possible. If a hose is not available, a large chair or trash can lid will do, as long as it’s something that provides a big enough barrier while protecting the human involved. Note that this is very difficult to do when alone, much easier with two or more people.

The only safe way to break up a dog fight involves two capable adults, especially if the dogs are big. While spraying them with hoses, hitting them with sticks and/or yelling to stop the fighting can work, it’s important to keep in mind that if the dogs are intent on killing one another, these techniques will not work and yelling, especially, will often times escalate the fight. Remaining calm and keeping one’s wits about is the best advice out there.

What Not to Do in a Dog Fight

One’s first instinct may be to yell, kick or hit the dogs with a stick, but this will only raise their level of excitement. Stay calm and never reach between two dogs who are fighting.

If two dogs are fighting, even if they are one’s own pets, they are in a zone packed full of adrenaline and will bite anything in their way, including hands, legs, arms, face, etc. They don’t realize they are biting their owner; they are simply reacting and biting anything they encounter. Trying to break up a fight using physical force is a battle that the dogs will win every time.

Tips for Avoiding a Dog Fight

Kim Campbell Thornton wrote a blog post in which she offered the following key pieces of advice:

  1. If one sees people approaching with a dog, especially a big dog, call out to ask if they can meet. Letting dogs approach each other on loose leashes is the surest way to ward off aggressive behavior from either party. That’s because when each owner pulls hard on the leash, the tension makes the dog feel defensive.
  2. In situations where the other owner would prefer that the dogs not meet, teach the dog to stand or sit and focus on the owner until the other dog passes.
  3. Never let a dog approach another dog who is tied up, even if he looks or seems friendly. Since the tied dog’s movement is restricted, he’ll try to defend his space.

Hands Off for Safety

No one ever wants to be in a situation where separating two fighting dogs is necessary but, occasionally a dog fight breaks out and it is crucial that one knows the best way to respond. Remembering the number one rule, to never try to separate the dogs by putting one’s hands in the middle of the fight, will go a long way toward ensuring a safe outcome for all involved.