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 puppy 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 our latest Scrumbles 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.
When Can Puppies Go Outside?
Puppies are bundles of energy and curiosity, but their developing immune systems make them susceptible to various diseases until they've completed their vaccination schedule. For that reason, it's advised that puppies should only go outside in public places two weeks after they've had their second round of vaccinations.
Why Puppies Can't Go Outside Straight Away
Pups in particular are vulnerable to serious diseases, such as parvovirus and canine distemper, which can be caught whilst outside or interacting with other dogs. Puppy vaccinations help protect your dog against these diseases, which is why they're essential before they can go outside.
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 on 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 on 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.
When Can Puppies Go Into Your Garden?
Whilst your puppy will need to wait until their second set of vaccinations to go outside in public places, it's okay to take them outside in private places as soon as they come home. As long as you don't have any other unvaccinated doggies that is. Make sure you keep close by at all times to stop them eating things they shouldn't, or making a dash for it, which for such small things can be a real challenge!
How To Toilet Train Before 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. Your pup can go in your own private garden straight away, as long as you don’t have other dogs without vaccinations out there. So, you can get started with 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 My Puppy Meet Other Dogs?
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 as early as possible. Some experts suggest that your pup should meet 100 people by the time they’re 16 weeks old.
It's best to wait until your puppy has had all their vaccinations before being introduced to other dogs. However if you have other family pets, or a friend does, that are fully vaccinated, they can start saying their greetings right away. Make sure to supervise at all times!
Here’s how to manage some of the key aspects when puppies go outside:
Can I Take My Puppy Outside If I Carry Them?
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 important to make sure your puppy enjoys their first outdoor trips, this will give them confidence for the future and make sure they're not scared. Give your pup plenty of verbal reinforcement and carry a bag of puppy treats with you at all times. You might like to try our new Softies Training Treats range, available in Chicken & Duck, Salmon Dog Treats and Plant-Powered. They're specifically designed for training with an easy-to-eat and easy-to-break-up texture. We've also baked them in the UK in eco ovens with gut-friendly ingredients to make sure they're guilt-free for your pup and the planet.
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 growth 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 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. If you bring them home at 8 weeks, you want to limit playtime to 20 minutes. Ideally 10 minutes, twice a day.
Remember, you want to make sure the first walks 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. It's also essential to choose a comfortable puppy harness, so that this doesn't hinder their progress.
And to finish, check out this absolutely adorable video of Bow taking his very first steps outside: