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Gigi is 9 1/2 weeks old. Now I realize that she is too young for a proper walk, and she hasn't even finished her parvo/ distemper series yet so we're not taking her anywhere high risk. But we live at the top of the hill where there is very little dog traffic. We also live in a community where pets are very well taken care of so parvo is extremely rare.

so, in trying to combat the puppy blues and the stir craziness of the first 8 weeks, we do go out for brief walks at the top of the hill each night. This helps with potty training and with getting her some extra exercise so that she sleeps well in the night.

The questions: First of all, Gigi is not really into walking. I don't know whether to laugh about this or to be dismayed. Most puppies I know are ready to romp all over the place pulling on the leash displaying all kinds of terrible leash manners but at the very least, are motivated to go go go. I don't know if we have a super low Drive German Shepherd, or she's just too young, but she's just not really into taking walks. Every few feet she will just decide to stop, plant her feet, and the leash goes tight... But in the opposite direction with me in front of her! this happens morning noon or night. Irrespective of how much rest she has had or how late it is I don't really want to yank her to proceed but I don't want her to get her way and tell me where we're going. I should be the one telling her, right?

So how young is too young for a walk? Even a short one like say 50 yards up and down the driveway....?

is this normal puppy behavior? does she have a particularly low drive at the moment? And should I expect it to go up over time? She comes from a working line reader but was notably the "sweetest" puppy in the litter. The breeder picker her for us as specifically because she thought she would make a good family dog

Final question... We have a bunch of stairs leaving down from our carport to the house. As young as she is I'm waey of inducing certain problems with her shoulders and elbows by making her walk too many stairs at a time so she often gets carried. But I'm just curious what everyone else feels about puppy age and stairs Etc.

Looking forward to reading your expert advice!
 

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My boy was not into being "walked" for his first few months either. The leash was really only for tethering him when I took him out for potty, or had him out of the crate in the house. I didn't worry about it. We got exercise via play in the house and backyard.

Stairs... I carried the pup up and down til he got too heavy. Then I had a harness on him and "assisted" him down. (Up the stairs, no problem.) When he seemed scared and balked at going down I was patient. Didn't put pressure on him. Soon enough he was charging down on his own and it was hard to restrain him (for his joints' sake).
 

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My dog has a compromised immune system - I limit his exposure to places with lots of dog traffic (kennels, dog parks, pet stores, etc)... but I also limit his contact with other dogs that frequent these places. My friends dogs may be well cared for and vaccinated... but they could still carry things from other dogs...to mine.

Just something to think about.
 
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My dogs weren't interested in going far for the first couple of months either.They were more into discovering things around the homestead and learning our routine.We went very slowly and carefully down steps.
 

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Some dogs have drives for different types of work. Every large dog I've ever had has really enjoyed going on walks, but they may be less interested in other things. My GSD is not a huge fan of fetch or balls in general(Other than basketballs, getting expensive because he pops them instantly), but he likes walking, running, bite work and his flirt pole. My other dog absolutely loves every physical activity under the sun. It'll grow some, some of it's also confidence. It has to be built up. The flirt pole skyrocketed my GSDs drive(both work and prey) in general, so I highly recommend getting one of those for when your dog is a bit older if you haven't yet. Your dog may just not really be into walks, and that's not something I'd be worried about. There's plenty of other ways you can get your dog exercise.
 

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As I brought one 8 week old home, we stopped at a friend's house for a few nights (it was something like 1k miles to home from the breeders). The youngster didn't really think she wanted to walk with us. (Me & my dog and my friend's dog.) We were in a safe area. I dropped the leash and the other two and I kept walking. We didn't get far before the youngster caught up and quit lagging.



Last two pups = plenty of stairs. They did not get carried. They have four legs. I have two legs. They can walk down stairs and up stairs.




You realize of course that she's a cute little snot...
 

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Oh, she has a nice head already for 9.5 weeks! Such a cutie!


I didn't really take Steel out walking much, but he definitely was more of short spurts of energy than go for long walks. Those tiny legs can only carry them so far so quick!


If you wanted her to experience things just for socialization, Katsu's brother's owner took him out in a rucksack while he walked his older dogs. That way Orvar (Katsu's brother) got to see, hear, smell new things but didn't necessarily make contact with the ground. The photos of him in the bag hanging off his owner's shoulder were so cute too!


For stairs, I carried Steel up until he figured out how to go up the stairs. It took him a little longer to figure out how to go down them. He was about 13 weeks when he was reliably going up and down with no issues. Just don't pressure her into going up and down. Eventually she'll make an attempt on her own.
 

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I wouldn't worry about the stairs and if you decide to walk her, don't start the habit of letting her decide whether she will walk or not. If you walk her and she wants to sit down, keep going and pull her along. Short pops on the leash are better than a constant pull. Keep a silly, high pitched voice to encourage her so she doesn't feel she is being punished and praise profusely whenever she decides to go forward. If you feel this is creating too much conflict, wait until she is a little older and better able to handle the stress of basically using compulsion to get her to walk. But I would nip this in the bud now and get it over with. It is easier when she is smaller. Rather than dropping the leash, use a thin long line. You can buy quarter inch thick rope in 50' lengths at the hardware store, as well as a leash clip and make your own long line. This way you maintain control over her if you go ahead of her so she won't bolt. Another option is to walk her in an enclosed area in which you can safely drop the leash.
 

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I think, like somebody else already posted, if you simply dropped the leash or, if safe, didn't even have her on a leash, and just simply walked away, you would be surprised at how fast she follows you.

To a puppy, home is a safe place, so I would not expect her to be in a hurry to leave. Puppies are hard wired for self preservation and often not inclined to leave home territory. I would take her somewhere neutral.

I don't put a leash on my puppies until they are over a year old and I have never failed to have a puppy follow along. The biggest problem I have with this method is the puppy weaving around my feet and almost tripping me.
 

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Thanks for all the great replies.

I should clarify two things: the first is that she actually is quite capable of doing the stairs. She learned by the end of her first week at home with us. we taught her by putting a piece of kibble on each step and letting her work her way up and then we did the same thing going down. She's super smart and I went really fast. However, what I'm worried about is whether or not it's appropriate to have a puppy that young age walking so many stairs. If we were to go from the lowest level of our house all the way up to the street it's about 50 steps. so the question is more about whether or not joint health will suffer if she does too many stairs before she is fully developed.

I love the idea of walking her without a leash and I do so inside our house whenever I can, just to make sure that she will follow me. She got used to her collar and leash almost immediately. She's never really minded having them on. I think it will be helpful to remove the leash once I can get her out and about in the world and walk her in neutral places where she can't bolt and get into trouble too easily.
 

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Some dogs have drives for different types of work. Every large dog I've ever had has really enjoyed going on walks, but they may be less interested in other things. My GSD is not a huge fan of fetch or balls in general(Other than basketballs, getting expensive because he pops them instantly), but he likes walking, running, bite work and his flirt pole. My other dog absolutely loves every physical activity under the sun. It'll grow some, some of it's also confidence. It has to be built up. The flirt pole skyrocketed my GSDs drive(both work and prey) in general, so I highly recommend getting one of those for when your dog is a bit older if you haven't yet. Your dog may just not really be into walks, and that's not something I'd be worried about. There's plenty of other ways you can get your dog exercise.
Tangential question about the flirt Pole: I've really been tempted to get one because I know she's going to go crazy for it. However I'm a little bit afraid of increasing her prey drive too much... As you may have read about her in other posts we have three cats and we are trying to teach her to be indifferent to them. She is still in Chase and pounce mode with them so I'm not sure that increasing her pretty drive right now is a great idea.

With that said, she does do really well if we sit next to her near a cat and tell her "look at me" and "leave it" with lots of yesses and treats. She's starting to get a little less reactive around them which is good. Would a flirt Pole undo all of that progress?
 

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Prey drive is a good thing if you are interested in pursuing dog sports. My dobe mix has a very high level of drive, yet he is perfectly calm and completely ignores my parrot in the home. They are smart enough to differentiate things that are off limits.

When my pups were young I’d take them out off leash, they have always been eager to keep up on their own and don’t wander off either. I introduced leash walking with a harness, so the pressure is applied around the body and not tightening around the neck which could be alarming. When the puppy comes forward releasing the tension, praise her and give her a treat. I will every so often hide a treat in my hand while we are out walking and if he’s walking by my side where he should be, he gets the treat. As a result he becomes more and more accustomed to walking calmly by my side.
 

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IMO, the only reason to use a flirt pole is either to begin to build prey drive for bite work or begin to build prey drive for using a toy in obedience. If she has good prey drive, learning how to use a toy for obedience can be very effective, but I would start out using food because you can lure and reinforce more frequently. I think you can still build prey drive while teaching the cats are off limits. This is where some early punishment is not a bad thing.
 

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Here are a couple of good articles about age appropriate puppy exercise: https://www.instituteofcaninebiolog...arExFLjMrSNSs8j49UFSmiPyxYPSfVllEU59QI_7uEp5s

https://www.dogworksfitness.com/sin...kLcOoZYZwa0Jhztxcypb8DBzgoNySx5ygHjI7KqFzZqhg

Just because she CAN do certain things doesn't mean she should be doing them quite yet. Since my puppy will be doing a sport I'm particularly careful about what I have her do. I'm being extremely conservative wrt her flyball training in particular. Although what she does on her own around the house is probably way worse than what I'm not letting her do yet in flyball, lol. Cava will be 11 months old tomorrow and we just introduced jumps at practice last weekend. Jump bases are 6" high, so for a larger breed dog, she's not even really jumping them, it's more about learning to stay in the lane. I don't let her jump out of the SUV, although she's finally jumping in on her own. Just in time, I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to heave her in!

But even with a pet dog, what you do or don't do now, while she's still very young, may determine how prone she is to certain types of injuries later. I like flirt poles, but I would make sure to keep the toy on the ground so she's not jumping up to get it, and to not move it so quickly that she's making a lot of hard stops and starts or quick turns. Just tugging with a toy might be better for now. And as far as walking, I'd encourage her to stay with you using food or a toy, either on or off leash. I did a lot more off leash work around the house with my puppies before I really did much work with them on leash.
 
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Here are a couple of good articles about age appropriate puppy exercise: https://www.instituteofcaninebiolog...arExFLjMrSNSs8j49UFSmiPyxYPSfVllEU59QI_7uEp5s

https://www.dogworksfitness.com/sin...kLcOoZYZwa0Jhztxcypb8DBzgoNySx5ygHjI7KqFzZqhg

Just because she CAN do certain things doesn't mean she should be doing them quite yet. Since my puppy will be doing a sport I'm particularly careful about what I have her do. I'm being extremely conservative wrt her flyball training in particular. Although what she does on her own around the house is probably way worse than what I'm not letting her do yet in flyball, lol. Cava will be 11 months old tomorrow and we just introduced jumps at practice last weekend. Jump bases are 6" high, so for a larger breed dog, she's not even really jumping them, it's more about learning to stay in the lane. I don't let her jump out of the SUV, although she's finally jumping in on her own. Just in time, I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to heave her in!

But even with a pet dog, what you do or don't do now, while she's still very young, may determine how prone she is to certain types of injuries later. I like flirt poles, but I would make sure to keep the toy on the ground so she's not jumping up to get it, and to not move it so quickly that she's making a lot of hard stops and starts or quick turns. Just tugging with a toy might be better for now. And as far as walking, I'd encourage her to stay with you using food or a toy, either on or off leash. I did a lot more off leash work around the house with my puppies before I really did much work with them on leash.
How is Cava turning out size wise if you don't mind me asking?
 

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I'm going to weigh her tomorrow, Nigel, since she'll be exactly 11 months. I've been weighing her approximately monthly. I'm guessing she'll around 60 pounds, maybe even under. From 9/7 (8 months old) to 11/2 she only gained 2.8 pounds. She was 56.8 pounds then.
 
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I'm going to weigh her tomorrow, Nigel, since she'll be exactly 11 months. I've been weighing her approximately monthly. I'm guessing she'll around 60 pounds, maybe even under. From 9/7 (8 months old) to 11/2 she only gained 2.8 pounds. She was 56.8 pounds then.
Sounds like she's slowing down which is good if I remember correctly.
 

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Sounds like she's slowing down which is good if I remember correctly.
Yes! :rofl: I knew she was going to be bigger than Halo, who was a great size for a sport dog at around 55 pounds. But I was hoping Cava would stay under 65 pounds at least. She's super fast and athletic, very agile, which is the important thing. Our previous females were all in the 72-78 pound range and she will definitely be way less than that. Interestingly, her sister was already over 70 pounds nearly a month and a half ago, 14 pounds more than Cava was at the time.

I'll actually probably weigh her on Friday when I'm off work.
 
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Re: the OP, this behavior of stopping on walks is telling you something about your pup's genetic temperament. I can't say for sure what it is, but a confident dog with good drives should have no issues with going on a walk other than getting used to the leash. I'm not saying the pup lacks confidence or drive, but something about her temperament is being revealed. It could be she has a stubborn streak. Maybe it is early signs of dominance. It could be many things. Try to see if you discover other behaviors that are consistent in some way with her refusal to walk and you will start to put together a profile of her temperament.
 
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