I've been taking Mac on short walks to get him socialized and tire him out a bit, etc. I live in an apartment building and the streets around us aren't terribly busy, but definitely not quiet. He does fine on the leash but whimpers and cries the whole time. I can tell he's unsure of the cars, trucks, sounds, all of it. He's almost 12 weeks now. He did a similar thing when I took him to a secluded baseball park recently to run around – was unsure of his surroundings and was reluctant to play.

I'm wondering if anyone had similar experiences with a puppy crying on walks, and if they outgrew it naturally with time and practice? I obviously don't want to traumatize the poor guy! Any advice is welcome, thanks :)

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  • I always take treats with me during socialization.  Just to amp up the positive association.  In the baseball park did he just sit there, did he sniff around at all or do any exploring?  What did you do to in response?  How long were you there?  Was he on a short leash or off leash or dragging a long leash?

    • You could also pick an area and just kind of sit there with him.  I sat with my pup in our front yard on a blanket and we just watched the world go by: cars, joggers, people walking dogs, etc.  It isn't super busy on my street, but busy enough to see plenty.  I had a bag of treats and just kept feeding him the tiniest bites.  15 min of that is plenty.  Think of it as active training to refocus on you or follow you or otherwise keep him engaged rather than taking him somewhere and hoping he'll play.  But maybe I'm not reading your question correctly.

      • I take treats and it does help a little. I give him a little bit every few minutes or so to keep him feeling good. The baseball park was near a road with cars that you could hear in the distance... so I truly do think it's a thing about cars and truck noises. He LOVES my parents' backyard which is fully fenced in–he goes nuts out there. When he feels safe, he does totally fine exploring and having a blast. I think the world still makes him iffy which causes the crying. Will keep slowly working on it, as he's still so young! THANK YOU :)

  • I agree with Adina  -treats and go slow.  At 12 weeks your puppy can start to learn to walk politely on a leash - that means walking by your side with slack in the leash.  Start slow - come outside on the leash and let him sniff around a bit  as soon as he returns to you and looks up at you treat and good boy.  If necessary start in backyard or similar small quiet place.  Repeat this several times a day.  When he can do really low key and come for the treat with no whining etc, move to front yard.  At this age it shouldn't take long for him to get the idea that you will treat, pat, praise if he stays close.  When he really has it, start moving with him at your side on loose leash and move around in really quiet area. When he is good at loose leash in quiet area but looking at you often don't treat every time, maybe only 3 out of 4 times.  If necessary start in your home or hallway of apartment as if it were your backyard.  I know this sounds arduous but at 12 weeks should go really fast. When you have good side/ loose leash in very quiet area progress to busy area.  Puppy will be using his brain which takes much more energy that walking and whining - truly it does.

    The key to this is puppy understands you are there and good things happen when you look at him.  So long as he stays close

    he is safe.  Then he will begin to venture out without worrying.  All dogs should walk quietly on loose leash unless given permission to "go sniffers" or "check it out" which begins with a very limited area. Your job during check it out is to never let the leash get tight - tight equals return to you for treat, pat etc. 

    I strongly recommend a good trainer, much easier to have on the spot help than to read this and try to implement. 

    • Thank you! He does really well on a loose leash in environments he feels comfortable and safe. It's when he feels nervous (usually on a busier street) when he starts to pull a bit. I try to avoid those as much as I can, but we live downtown in a city, so it's tough to get him out walking without seeing at least SOME cars. He does totally fine with people passing by, usually stops to say a quick hello. Will keep slowly acclimating him with positive association and hoping in time he feels less anxious around some of the commotion. Thank you :)

      • Dogs have a few big drives: defense, prey, social -- so he's in defense when it's a scary thing to him.  You have to show him through your nonchalant actions that he's not about to die.  And if that means you have to stay farther from the road initially, that's okay.  Work your way up to it if it's SOOOO scary he can't hold himself together at all.  

        Same with prey and social drives.  Start farther away and work up to the closer proximity if he can't hold himself together with excitement or desire to chase.  

      • Just keep on keeping on.  This is going to take a lot of patience, repetition, and treats.  One of my dogs was fine until he could see another dog coming at him, then bark, jump, bark, bark, bark.  It took me a whole year (or more) to get him to be completely non reactive.  Try to be proactive and start by staying as far from "threat" as possible, turning your back to threat (dog would never to this so helps understanding) and facing your pup up really close with yummy treat which he only gets when he is sitting and looking right at you. At first when he is really stirred up get right up to him and treat, treat , treat but only when eyes on you!! Just keep on keeping on.


  • I wonder if you could find recordings of traffic noises and play them periodically in places where he already feels safe. I remember banging pots and pans together in the kitchen to get my dogs used to loud noises. Maybe hearing the sounds of cars and trucks indoors with you acting totally relaxed will start to teach Mac that those sounds aren't as scary as he thinks. 


    • There are playlists on Youtube specifically for sound de-sensitization of puppies.  We played them for Toby and Riley a lot when they were very young and we weren't taking them out yet.  It definitely worked well, especially for Riley who doesn't even flinch when something super loud is nearby. 

  • UPDATE! Thank you to everyone who offered advice. We've went on two walks now where Mac has cried significantly less, if at all! Keeping him positively reinforced with treats was huge – he's even finally stopping to explore / sniff around instead of staying close to me at all times. Time and consistency really does pay off :) Thank you!

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