Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time for the whole family – but when can puppies go outside? You’ll no doubt be excited to show them off to friends and family and head out for adventures with your new best friend. After all, you want everyone to love your new pooch as much as you.
While it’s important to socialise your dog and get them used to their environment, you don’t want to put their health at risk. By taking the right precautions, you can ensure that your pup stays happy and healthy while not putting the vital puppy socialisation time at risk.
In this post, we discuss when it’s safe for your puppies to go outside, when can you take your new pup for a walk and why it’s important to take it slow.
Typically, it’s not recommended to take your dog for walks until they are fully vaccinated. Vaccinations help protect your dog against diseases, making them essential when puppies go outside. Pups in particular are vulnerable to serious diseases, such as parvovirus and canine distemper.
Puppy vaccinations start from around 8 weeks old and they will need two sets of injections before they are fully protected. The second set is usually administered around 2-4 weeks after the first, when your pup is around 11-12 weeks old. Some vets may recommend a third set of injections for high-risk puppies or those without a clear medical background.
Depending where your bundle of joy comes from, they may have had a head start on injections. Some breeders and rehoming centres will give puppies at least their first set of vaccinations, perhaps even the second depending how long they have been there. Be sure to ask whoever you’re getting the pup from for complete paperwork for you to pass on to your vet.
It can be tricky to find the right balance between teaching your pup to be a well-rounded, happy adult and keeping them safe from disease. If you wrap your pooch up in cotton wool for the first few months of their life, they may grow into an anxious, frightened adult with a low quality of life. That’s why it’s important to introduce puppies to new experiences in a safe, risk-free manner.
Here’s how to manage some of the key aspects when puppies go outside:
Getting out & about
While it isn’t recommended to take your puppy out for walks in a public area before they have been vaccinated, you can carry him or her on trips out to your local area, introducing them to the outside world without risking their health. Whether you go for a walk to your local park or wander around the town, getting your puppy used to its environment early in life will help them later on.
It’s also useful to interact with other people and dogs early on when they are curious and fearless puppies. The more social interactions they can have as youngsters, the happier they’ll be as adults. Some experts suggest that your pup should meet 100 people by the time they’re 16 weeks old. Of course, unless you’ve got an extraordinarily large family or are throwing parties every week, this number may be slightly ambitious.
However, by getting out with your pup, you’re allowing them the chance to meet new people and animals. Just make sure that any dogs they meet have also had their vaccinations.
Those first few weeks and months of your puppy’s life are essential for gaining new skills and forming lifelong habits. Yes, we’re talking about toilet training. But how do you train them to ‘go’ outside if they can’t actually go outside? Waiting for their injections would mean cleaning up messes for 10-12 weeks – and nobody wants that.
Fortunately, there’s no need to wait around that long. Even before the first round of injections, your pup can go in your own private garden, as long as you don’t have other dogs without vaccinations out there. So, you can get started toilet training as soon as you bring your new best friend home.
For more tips on socialising your puppy, take a look at our puppy socialisation checklist to make sure you’re covering all the necessary bases.
When can puppies go outside for walks?
The main reason people ask when can puppies go outside, is because they want to take their precious pooch on a walk. Before you start heading on walks with your puppy, you need to wait until they have had their complete set of vaccinations. Even then, you may find that your pooch isn’t as keen on walkies as you expected. Just like babies, puppies are doing a lot of growing in those first few precious months. So, they need a lot of sleep, with some even sleeping for up to 20 hours a day!
Taking your puppy for long walks before they’re ready can actually hinder their development. You may create a negative association with walking and could even physically harm your pup. The growth plates in puppy’s bones don’t develop fully until they are around 1 year old (longer for large breed puppies), so over-exercising could damage their skeletal structure.
A good rule of thumb for your pup is to aim for around 5 minutes of exercise per month of age until they are fully grown. So, if you bring them home at 8 weeks, you want to limit play time to 20 minutes – ideally 10 minutes, twice a day.
Remember, you want to make sure the first walks you take your pup on are as fun and stress-free as possible. Let them lead the way and don’t drag them along with you, if they want to stop to smell everything along the way, let them do so.