How old can a puppy be to go without a leash?
I am taking over my sister's puppy labrador because her children are allergic, but unfortunately I live in an apartment.
There are several places in town including a dog park that I can take the puppy to, and I understand that unless she can run around free to exert her energy there is really no good replacement for a backyard.
How old must she be before I can safely allow her to run around a dog park without a leash?
What do you recommend?
I'm not sure how old this puppy is or how much training she's had, so it's difficult to really give you much of an answer. Age isn't the only thing to take into account, her temperament and training are also important.
Once a pup has had all her puppy shots then she can safely go to places where other dogs gather, that includes dog parks. How well this works out for you all will depend on how busy the park is, how well she gets along with other dogs and whether or not she will come back to you when you call her.
I'd make sure that she's settled into your home and has bonded with you, and that she's got some basic training under her belt before you let her off leash in any sizable area... and make absolutely certain it's securely fenced and allows dogs to be unrestrained. There are often dog beaches too, but they are less likely to be contained.
Although running around is necessary for a puppy, a good walk on the leash will also give her a way to burn off that energy. Training classes also help as they tire a puppy out mentally which tires them physically too.
Chewing is a way for puppies to use up excess energy to and expel any built-up tension, so make sure that she has plenty of safe, sturdy chew toys (see my Indestructable Chew Toys page for ideas) to keep her busy.
There are also often doggie day care facilities and such that a puppy can spend time at and these are great socialization experiences as well.
It's perfectly possible to keep a puppy happy and healthy even when you live in an apartment as long as you are happy to be creative in your approach. I wish you lots of luck!
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