Pulling On The Leash Led To My Puppy Having Bloody Paws
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Young puppies have a lot of energy. They also don’t know a darned thing. So, at some point, dog owners get the idea that it is time to start taking their puppies for a walk, to teach them to Heel, and to wear them out. So, after the first long walk, with the puppy pulling the entire way, they find that the puppy’s feet are bloody.
I made this mistake with one of my dogs. He was a very energetic puppy, and I knew he needed exercise. So, I took him for his first walk around the block. When I got home, I noticed him licking his paws… and I saw bloody footprints on the kitchen floor. I was devastated. I love animals, I wouldn’t ever intentionally hurt a dog. I felt like I was a terrible dog owner. I really felt guilty.
I realized that puppies aren’t born with callouses on their feet. Those have to be developed over time. So, I had to let his feet heal up, and then I started walks again, but limited the distance. Over a couple of weeks or so, he could go around the block and no more problems.
This happened a second time during the first year I became a professional dog trainer. I was hired to do Obedience training on an adult miniature Poodle. So, we started the first lesson outside on the pavement. That’s because dogs need to be trained in public locations in order to obey off leash. The next day, I got an email from the owner, saying I had “injured” their puppy. I felt sick. What had happened? What could I have done to injure this dog? I kept rehearsing in my mind everything we had done, and I couldn’t figure out what had happened. Well, in a second email I learned the dog had sore feet from the lesson, and they had gone to the veterinarian. The vet said the dog didn’t have any callouses on her feet, to let the pads heal, and then do lessons on soft grass. I learned a hard lesson. This was about a 5 year old dog… that had never been on anything but soft furniture or carpet. So, it had no callouses on its feet. I just couldn’t imagine that people wouldn’t take their dogs anywhere, so I hadn’t anticipated this. I learned that this dog had never walked on any rough surface in its life, and when it was in public, they carried the dog in their arms. They demanded that I pay for the vet visit and refund the lesson fee. I paid the vet bill and refunded their money. What else could I do? They were offended, there was no way the lessons were going to continue, and they weren’t going to take the veterinarian’s advice. So, a tough lesson was learned that day… by me. All the dogs I’d ever been around had at least been on something other than soft carpet and furniture. I had always had big dogs that you couldn’t carry around in your arms. Toy dogs are often spoiled because they are treated this way, and that should have been a clue to me before the lessons ever started… I should have anticipated the character of the owners and the physical condition of the dog. I had to face that many people raise their dogs abnormally, and I had to be extra cautious from that point forward.
So, learn from my mistakes. We’ve all made them. Including professional dog trainers. Take it slow and easy, and build up your dog’s feet. Don’t carry little fluffy dogs around all the time. Only then will your dog be able to go for extended walks or do proper, real world obedience lessons.