When it comes to keeping your doodle puppy safe outside, it seems pretty obvious: they need to be on a leash or contained in a fenced area. Still, there are a few tips related to these recommendations to ensure your pup remains safely close by.
First, training your new puppy to come when called is of the highest importance. We teach “come” early on and practice this command in as many different environments as possible and save our high value treats for this training exercise.
Puppies are full of curiosity, excitement, and sometimes fear in new situations so they are prone to bolting, so getting their attention back can be a matter of life and death should your puppy somehow escape his fence or leash. Start by practicing his recall in your house or backyard, make sure he accepts the command from multiple members of the family, and gradually progress to practicing it in more distracting (but still safely contained) environments such as the dog park.
Before bringing your puppy home or before letting him off leash in a new fenced area, walk the perimeter of the fence to check for any holes. It is quite surprising how small of a hole a pup can fit through particularly a doodle puppy as they often look bigger than they actually are due to all their fluffy hair! Always keep a close eye on your puppy and correct any signs of digging along the perimeter of the fence.
Even if you are sure your pup cannot escape your fence, it is important to “puppy-proof” your yard, too. There are many plants that are actually highly toxic to dogs including azaleas, ivy, tulips, sago palm, certain mushrooms, and hydrangeas. Some puppies are prone to chewing and eating all sorts of miscellaneous items. Smaller rocks/gravel is one potential hazard that can pose a digestive danger to your pup. Even sticks and mulch can be an issue if your pup is a particularly zealous eater!
When it comes to taking your puppy outside of a fenced in area, you will want to make sure he is on a leash. We typically recommend a standard 6 foot leash as this gives the handler good control. A retractable leash can pose dangers if the owner is not paying attention and does not get the lock on fast enough as the puppy as retractable leashes can extend as far as 26 feet, potentially allowing your pup to dash into the road.
Always make sure your pup is already clipped onto his leash before opening the door. Teaching your pup to stay and wait calmly before beginning his walk will ensure his safety and prevent any bolting accidents. We also always hold the leash with the loop over the wrist and the leash gripped in hand. This provides an extra security measure, if your dog surprises you with a suddenly pull on the leash and you lose your hand grip, the loop on your wrist may save the day!
We typically recommend the use of harnesses for young puppies who are still learning leash-walking as harnesses are much safer and more comfortable for dogs that pull, as they distribute pressure across a larger, less sensitive area (the chest). But making sure your harness fits snugly is extremely important.
We have seen some doodle puppies turn into Houdini at a moment’s notice and wriggle out of a harness that was too loose. You should be able to fit only two fingers snugly under the harness. If you can fit more, the harness is probably too loose.
Following these tips are always important but are especially vital for a new puppy or dog who is not yet fully comfortable with his new environment or routine. And, finally, practice pays off! The more effort and consistency you put into your pup’s training especially on vital commands such as recall and stay/wait, the safer he will be in the long run.
Jenna and the JLDD Team