Introducing Puppy to Equipment


Photo by J. Nichole Smith |

A puppy’s paws can be very sensitive so teaching him to walk on different pieces of equipment, surfaces and terrain will help him gain confidence when walking in all kinds of environments. This is something that people don’t often think about for their puppies, but becomes an issue when puppy decides to put on the brakes during a walk, refuses to climb stairs or resists walking on wooden floors.

It takes time for a puppy to develop good motor coordination and to feel stable, especially on higher surfaces. Encouraging your puppy to climb onto or over different objects and giving him the experience of different surfaces under his paws will help him acclimate and be confident.

Puppies and adult dogs that are raised in sterile, hostile environments such as puppy mills, where all they feel under their paws is wire mesh or concrete, might shut down when they first experience the feeling of grass underneath them. Some adult puppy mill dogs that are rescued literally cannot move when they are first set down onto any surface they have not previously experienced.

Why won't my puppy walk on different surfaces?

There might be a number of reasons why your puppy refuses to walk outside but don’t discount the surface he is walking on. Is it too hot or too cold? Is he walking on a surface that has sharp stones or vegetation that hurts or itches his feet? When a puppy or dog refuses to walk he is often labeled as stubborn, but stubborn is a word that relates to human behavior and should not be used to explain why a dog refuses to do something you want. There is often a much simpler explanation.

Beginners’ agility equipment is great for encouraging your puppy to experience different heights and surfaces. Puppies should not be doing strenuous activity like jumping on or off great heights as this can damage growing bones, but pieces of equipment that are low to the ground such as tunnels are all good for encouraging confident and safe investigation.

If you are placing your pup on a higher surface, make sure it is a pleasurable experience for him by giving him a treat or toy. Always keep a good hold of your pup to prevent falls and encourage him to be confident with plenty of praise.

Puppies are naturally inquisitive and like investigating new objects and environments. You can harness this desire to explore by allowing your puppy to experience different terrains while encouraging safe investigation.

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One thought on “Introducing Puppy to Equipment

  1. Miss Cellany

    My 8 month puppy wasn't introduced to lots of different objects as a pup (she spent most of her first 3 months in a bare concrete shelter) and she's very uncertain of new things (sometimes she freaks out and barks at random things on the street - e.g. a bin bag or a gas canister). I want to start teaching her advanced tricks (she's bored of her basic tricks and obedience already and I want something to tax her brain) but she won't step on boxes, go anywhere near poles (not even ones placed flat on the floor) or step on a taped X on the floor. It's maddening for me especially as my last dog (border collie) was so easy to encourage to do things like this and really enjoyed training. I'm running out of non-prop tricks to teach her and I want to get her to do some really fun tricks but she doesn't like the objects involved and gets suspicious if I bring out treats and an object! It would be ok if I could bring her around with food lures but she just flops on her bed (shuts down?) or hides if I try to encourage her to approach them. She's totally resistant to training with any sort of prop it seems.

    My cats will do these tricks without even a food lure (they'll move to wherever I tap my fingers). I'm at the point where I'm thinking of just giving up on the puppy and trick training my cats instead!

    What can I do to earn her trust around new things and get her to enjoy training? She's quite intelligent and learns very quickly and seemed to like learning all her other tricks / obedience (that didn't involve props).

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