Puppy Recreational Activities Part 1
Your Puppy and the Wonders of the Big Wide World Part 1
If you ask a dog owner, they might tell you that one of the best things about having a dog is seeing their reaction to new places and experiences. Watching your dog's face light up at the sight of their favorite lakeside beach, or being pulled by a taught leash while on a pleasant stroll through the forest are pleasures only a dog owner can enjoy. Dogs are adventurous by nature, and much like people, they love to get out and explore new environments, have their own favorite places and activities — and genuinely enjoy the beauty of the world.
Outdoor activities also help keep your dog happy and healthy, with exercise and green spaces providing a big boost to your dog's immune system and mental wellbeing — and to yours! In this guide, we'll talk about fun outdoor activities for dogs which you can enjoy with your Goldendoodle puppy and how to practice outdoor safety for puppies and have a good time wherever the trail takes you.
Is My Puppy Too Young for Outdoor Activities?
Veterinarians strongly advise waiting until 2 weeks after a puppy's final vaccination shot (or when they are about 16 weeks old) before taking your puppy outdoors. Of course, that's not to say you can't play with your puppy in the backyard or take them for a walk in the driveway in the meantime. If you decide to take your puppy outdoors at any time before their final vaccination booster, it should be in a safe and familiar environment where there is no tall grass, natural water, mud, dirt, or other elements which may possibly endanger your puppy or expose them to disease. It is also best to avoid public spaces and locations where other dogs may have visited due to the possibility of there being diseases such as canine parvovirus, canine distemper and other pathogens — at least not until your puppy has been fully-vaccinated.
Socializing Puppies with Other Dogs
As your puppy begins to see the world, they'll inevitably run into other dogs that may want to socialize and play. It's important to only socialize your puppy with safe dogs early on, particularly dogs that have received all of their vaccinations and show non-aggressive and friendly behavior. This ensures that your puppy stays healthy and can avoid any negative experiences such as fighting or being attacked, which can traumatize a puppy and make them afraid of or aggressive towards other dogs later in life.
An extended family pet or a neighbor's friendly dog are great candidates for your puppy's first social encounter with other dogs, which should always take place in a safe and familiar environment such as in a backyard or home. As your puppy gets older and bigger, you should begin to feel safer about letting them have social encounters in the street, at the dog park or elsewhere with stranger dogs just looking for a new friend.
Taking Your Puppy for a Walk
Your puppy's first walk — what an adrenaline-filled, mind-blowing and thrilling experience!!!
But seriously, you should be almost as excited as your puppy to join them on a walk. After all, it's their first time around the block — and the stimulation is almost too much to bear! The sights, the smells and the sounds can have your puppy's adorably-limited attention span pulling them in every direction all at once. Going on a walk is not only physically-healthy for dogs, but puppies will enjoy the extra benefit of an educational experience. This brain-stimulating good time will challenge your puppy to observe, discover and understand things as they begin to familiarize themselves with their surroundings and the world.
Walking a puppy should always be done on a short leash, at about 4-6 feet long. It's important not to spend too much time on a walk when your puppy is still young, as their bones and joints are still growing and you don't want to overexert them. A general rule of thumb is to walk your puppy for 5 minutes for every month of age, so a 4-month old pup typically shouldn't be on a walk for longer than 20 minutes.
Playing Fetch with a Puppy
A game of retrieval that teaches your dog to act as a furry boomerang, fetch is practically a cornerstone of dog ownership. It can be played with dogs of any age and is a great exercise and bonding experience to enjoy with your Goldendoodle puppy. For your pup's own safety, fetch should only be introduced in a safe and enclosed environment, such as a gated backyard.
When your puppy gets good at playing fetch and you are comfortable with taking them off the leash outdoors, you can play fetch at a park, beach or other dog-friendly open space. Unless your dog is already an adept swimmer and is equally skilled at fetch, you should never play fetch in the water with your dog or puppy.
If it's your puppy's first-time playing fetch, a quick demonstration may be in order. Before you begin, make sure you are using something soft, chewable and easy for your puppy to carry, such as one of their smaller toys. Sticks should never be used to play fetch with a puppy because they can irritate or injure your puppy's mouth and even cause them to swallow the bits and pieces.
Your puppy may favor some of its toys over others, so bring a few along to see which one they respond to best. Toss one of your puppy's toys towards a safe location, and see if they go after it. If they go after it and begin playing with the toy on the spot, try calling your puppy back. If your puppy comes running back with the toy, they've just won the game of fetch! Such a good job warrants lots of praise and even a treat, so make sure to make your puppy feel special when they bring back their toy.
Sometimes, you may have to lead the puppy's toy to get their attention. Play with the toy in front of your puppy to show them that the toy is fun, and lead them around the yard until they can't wait to get it. Now, give it a toss!
However, your puppy is more than likely to take its time playing with the toy before bringing it back to you, so if your pup goes after the toy and starts playing with it, just stay where you are! Wait patiently to see if your puppy brings the toy back when it's done playing, and make sure to reward them with treats and praises if they do.
If your puppy comes back without the toy, try demonstrating the required action yourself by throwing the toy and then running after it. When you pick it up, run back to the spot where you threw it from, sometimes with the puppy running at your feet! Try this a few times and let your puppy run after it alone, then call them back. When your puppy comes back with the toy, make sure to let them know they're a very good boy or girl!
Keep fetch sessions short and fun, and no more than 10-20 minutes at a time to prevent your puppy from getting fatigued. If you've already taught your puppy commands like sit or stay, this is also a great opportunity to practice their obedience, just be sure to have plenty of patience — they're just babies after all!
Next up we have Puppy Recreational Activities Part 2 which features more tips on outdoor adventures for you and your Goldendoodle puppy!