When can puppies and dogs go outside?

If you’re the doting owner of a new puppy, you’re no doubt wondering when it’s safe to pop the lead on and take them out for the first time. Here’s all you need to know to get your new dog enjoying the great outdoors.

If you’re the doting owner of a new puppy, you’re no doubt wondering when it’s safe to pop the lead on and take them out for the first time. Here’s all you need to know to get your new dog enjoying the great outdoors.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 7 OCTOBER 2019

When can I take my puppy outside?

Vets tend to recommend not taking your puppy into public places until about a fortnight after your puppy has had its second vaccination, at around 14-16 weeks. This is because they can easily pick up nasty viruses such as parvovirus and distemper. Just sniffing or licking a surface that’s been contaminated by an infected dog can pass the parvovirus on – and unvaccinated puppies can be particularly susceptible. 

When do puppies need vaccinating?

New puppies need two vaccines – the first can be given when they’re six weeks old. Because all puppies should stay with their mothers until they’re at least eight weeks old, reputable dog breeders tend to arrange the first vaccination. The second vaccination can take place four weeks later.  

Most owners take their puppies home when they’re between eight and 12 weeks old, so you’ll need to set up the second vaccination as soon as you bring your dog home, if the breeder hasn’t done it already.   

Before you go to your vet, it might be worth asking what to do when you’re there waiting. Check whether they want you to keep your puppy away from other pets in the surgery. Ask if you’ll need to hold your dog in your arms so it doesn’t go on the floor. Your vet should be able to tell you what’s safe to do. But remember, most pets in the surgery will already be vaccinated so your dog should be safe.

After their initial ‘puppy’ vaccines, your dog will need booster jabs each year. 

How can I give my puppy exercise if they can’t go outside? 

Puppies can play in your garden and socialise with other dogs, in their gardens, as long as those dogs are fully vaccinated. 

How can my puppy start to learn to socialise if they can’t go outside?

If you’re keen to socialise your puppy with other animals – always a good idea – you can start doing so as soon as they’ve had their first vaccination, provided they socialise with other vaccinated dogs. Make sure you know the vaccination status of any dogs that come into your home and also their temperament, so you know if they will play nicely with your puppy.  

If you’re planning on putting your puppy in kennels, dog shows or anywhere else they’re likely to mingle with lots of other dogs, they’ll need an extra vaccination that covers them for kennel cough. 

Once your puppy has had all its jabs you can start taking them out in public and enrolling them in puppy training classes.

What happens if I take my puppy out in public before I’m supposed to?

It’s tempting to take your new puppy for walks when you first get them home. But there are risks involved with taking your dog out too early: 

  • they may be exposed to serious diseases  
  • everything will be new to them, which could be overwhelming   
  • you risk over-exercising them, which can cause joint problems later

Are vaccinations covered by my pet insurance? 

Vaccinations and vet fees for routine check-ups aren’t usually covered by your pet insurance. Pet insurance is there to help you in the event that your dog suffers an injury or illness that needs treatment.  

Compare a range of pet insurance quotes in minutes to find the right policy for you.

How to prepare your puppy for going outside

There are a few things you can do to prepare your puppy for their first trip outdoors:

  • Take them into the garden - You should do this often, for toilet training, but don’t leave your puppy alone in the garden. Not only could they destroy your flower beds – they might also eat plants that are poisonous to them, or learn to chase birds and squirrels.  
  • Expose them to new things - Create an obstacle course in your garden, using dustbin lids, sticks, tennis rackets, etc. This will get your puppy used to seeing new things, so they won’t find them alarming when they discover them out in public. 
  • Gradually increase walks - Even once your puppy’s allowed outside, you should take things slowly. A 10-minute walk three times a day is enough for most dogs under the age of six months and is the perfect start to training your puppy to walk on a lead. After that, you can start to gradually increase how far you go. 

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