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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