Our pup turns 16 weeks on Monday and is getting her final set of shots on Tuesday, so by next weekend we should have a lot more freedom. The problem is, I'm not sure what to do with it. I think I've found a park/field that's completely fenced in, but I have to walk the perimeter to be sure. I'm excited to take her somewhere where I can let her off leash ... but should I? Her recall is iffy to be generous, but I'm confident we can take enough interesting things to get her back to us if she sprints for the hills. If nothing else, her flirt pole has a magnetic pull.
I'd love to give her the space and freedom to really run the way she wants to, I just don't know if it's a better idea to have her on something like a 30 foot leash instead.
I know that some people recommend hiking with pups from day one, but we didn't do that and of course it's not day one anymore. There's no way I'd trust her at this point on a hike off leash, but what about on leash? I'm worried she'll eat all the rocks and sticks and animal dung. Of course, we'll keep her away from them, but her "leave it" is in the infant stages, so we'd have a very long hike if we have to pull her away from every single thing on the ground. In your experience, do they get more excited about being in such a big place so they don't do quite as much trying to eat the whole world? Or do I need "leave it" firmly in place first? I'm also worried about her encountering other dogs on hikes (see the next paragraph).
Lastly, what about puppy day care? She's had fantastic socialization experiences with people but terrible socialization with dogs. She's had five separate instances where a loose dog charged at her while on a walk. Twice she was able to bark the dog down, twice my husband got between her and the other dog and shielded her and once I froze (and yes, I'm ashamed of that) and let the other dog get to her and they had an altercation. I pulled the other dog off and held them apart, but I'm worried the damage was done already. She barks and lunges at friendly dogs we encounter, but she's always on a leash. She does have a wagging tail and her hackles aren't up, but she has a big girl bark now so I'm not sure how to read it. She has made one "friend" at my friend's house, but he's an older dog and just tolerates her more than plays with her. And we can't take her over there much because it was their other dog that got loose and attacked her. We are starting training a week after her shots. Should I work on the socialization with the trainer and then slowly introduce puppy day care?
Dog parks ... I know these are a controversial subject and I wouldn't take her until we get her more dog socialization, but IF you like dog parks, at what age would you introduce your dog to them?
I know it probably seems like I want to do everything RIGHT NOW and that's because I absolutely do. I've been waiting anxiously for the day when we can do more things like hikes in parks instead of limiting her to short walks on sidewalks and fetch in the back yard. I appreciate any advice anyone has. Thanks!