When can a puppy go outside?

Bringing home your new puppy is such an exciting time.

There’s so much to learn in the first few days and weeks with your pup and you’re probably wondering when you can take them outside to meet people and other dogs in the wider world.

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Is it safe to take my puppy outside before their vaccinations?

You probably can’t wait to take your pup out, but it’s important to be patient.

Puppies need to be protected with vaccinations before it’s safe for them to go outside and start interacting with other dogs.

Puppy vaccines normally take place at eight and 10 weeks.

Vaccinations help protect them from some very serious illnesses and disease including:

  • Canine distemper
  • Kennel cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Parainfluenza
  • Parvovirus

Sarah James, a qualified veterinary nurse and our Veterinary Relationship Manager explained why vaccines are important:

“Your puppy should be fully vaccinated before going outside for the first time. It's safest to allow the vaccine a few days to get the best immune response (a bit like with Covid vaccines). It can take a few days or a week until the vaccines become fully effective.

It’s not just other dogs that can be a source of disease either, warns Sarah. “Foxes can carry disease and are known to populate urban and rural areas. Rats can also carry disease that are potentially fatal to dogs.”

There's no legal requirement that says your dog should be vaccinated in the UK. But vets will recommend core vaccines for every dog to keep them safe and healthy.

Find out the average cost of vaccinations where you live.

Can I take my puppy out between the first and second vaccination?

Before your pup is fully vaccinated the most important thing is to keep them safe.

A new puppy doesn’t mean an end to your social life and you may need to visit family and friends in their homes or out in public. If your puppy hasn’t been fully vaccinated, you can pop your pup inside a small crate or carrier to protect them.

Carrying them in a crate is a great way of socialising them to new environments and experiences.

Don’t let them walk on the ground in public spaces and keep them away from other unvaccinated dogs. You should also avoid any areas that might attract animals such as foxes and rats.

For many new puppy owners, a garden is often the first introduction to the outside world and a place where they can begin toilet training.

If your garden is safe, secure, and closed off from other dogs, there shouldn’t be any problems with them going outside straight away. But as we all know, not everyone lives in a house with a garden.

For dog owners living in flats, there might only be a shared communal garden which may be used by other dogs or visited by foxes which are common in large towns and cities.

If you live in a flat, it’s best to avoid any communal area until your puppy has had their second vaccination. And for toilet training, you can always use puppy pads indoors until they’re ready to go outside.

Have a look at our new puppy shopping list for these and lots of other ideas for things to buy for your new friend.

After vaccinations when can my puppy go outside?

This is the moment both you and your pup have been waiting for! You can finally start exploring the world and creating memories together.

Sarah says: “One to two weeks following the final injection is normally enough before you can let your puppy outside.”

After this time, it should then be safe for them to go into areas where other vaccinated dogs have been.

Once you get your pup into the outside world it’s time to continue their socialisation.

“it's important for their development to be exposed to lots of different things - if it's safe and practical, take pup out in the car or carry them safely to experience things like traffic, children, bins being collected, other daily routine noises. This will help them become more confident and settled with daily life.”

How far can a puppy walk for?

Once your puppy is vaccinated you can start taking them on their first walks. Start off slowly. Your pup won’t be ready for a long trek.

Walking them for too long before they’re ready isn’t good for their development and too much over exercise can cause joint damage or even lead to early arthritis.

Once they reach their first birthday puppies officially become adults and you’ll be able to take them on longer walks. Just remember that many dogs continue to grow in height and size even after their first birthday as their bones are still developing.

A general guide for walks and exercise time should be five minutes for every month of your dog’s life. So, if your puppy is three months old, you should take them out for two 15-minute walks each day. When they’re five months old you can increase it to two 25-minute walks and so on.

Letting your pup outside for the first time will be a big day for both of you. You may feel nervous and anxious but once fully vaccinated you shouldn’t have anything to fear. If you’ve got any concerns, speak to your vet and follow their advice.

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