When can puppies go outside and how to keep them safe - James Wellbeloved UK

When can puppies go outside and how to keep them safe

Knowing when to take your puppy outside for the first time is a balance between the benefits of early socialisation and the risk of them being overwhelmed by the experience. They will also need to be medically ready for exposure to the wider world. Here we explore some important questions such as whether you can carry your puppy outside before vaccinations or how long you should wait to take them out after the second set of puppy vaccinations. Our simple guidance is designed to make the transition from indoors to outdoors a happy and relaxed time for both you and your dog.

When can puppies go outside?

Puppies can go outside after their second set of vaccinations which will be given at 12 weeks of age. When you collect your puppy from the breeder or shelter, it’s important to confirm that they’ve had their first set of vaccinations and if so, receive their vaccination card or paperwork. You should also ask the exact age of your puppy so you’ll know when they’re 3 months old and need the second set of vaccinations. If you’re wondering when you can take your puppy for a walk after vaccinations, you can usually start with a short stroll 2 weeks after the second Vaccinations are carried out by your vet. Vaccinating your new puppy for the second time will give your puppy the effective protection they need as a puppy. The 2nd set of vaccinations, which are required at 12 weeks old, are critical to fully protect them as they grow into adulthood. As well as ensuring your puppy can go outside, vaccinations mean that your young canine will not pass on any infections to other dogs when they start to socialise on the street or in the local park.

When can puppies go outside into the garden?

Your puppy can go into the garden after their first vaccinations at 8 weeks of age. These injections should give their immune system enough of a boost to guard against picking up a disease from a wild animal, such as a fox, that may regularly walk on your lawn. If you’d rather be cautious about when your puppy can go into your garden, it’s perfectly okay to wait until after the second set of vaccinations at 12 weeks when your puppy will be fully immunised against diseases passed by other animals and other dogs.

How to toilet train your puppy before they are vaccinated

Even before your puppy can go outside, putting newspaper or puppy ‘potty pads’ down will help to toilet train them. Try to place the puppy in the same spot when they start to go to the loo and use a set word (such as ‘toilet’ or ‘pee’) with plenty of positive reinforcement when they use the designated area (even close by deserves some praise). A good tip is to position the paper next to the back door so it’s easier to transition out to the garden for toileting after vaccinations. Some dog owners insist that a puppy must go outside into the garden straightaway to effectively toilet train them and that they can be carried out to pee before vaccinations. With a risk of them catching a disease from a garden visitor such as a fox, especially before their first set of vaccinations at 8 weeks, it’s not recommended that puppies go outside until they are fully vaccinated.

How to socialise your puppy before they can go outside

The first few months of your puppy's life are key for learning socialisation skills, so you should start to build their confidence within the home environment as soon as possible. Friends and family can visit your puppy for play dates so they get used to meeting strangers and hearing different voices. You can also start to teach your puppy to come to you when they’re interacting with someone else as invaluable training for life. You can also help to desensitise your puppy before they can go outside by listening to a special download with sounds such as babies crying or cars on the road. It’s even possible to take them out on a car journey, as long as they are closely supervised by a passenger, parking up in a busy area so they can look out of an open window, explore the exciting smells and get used to crowded places. Their socialisation period of development is crucial for limiting behavioural troubles during adulthood, such as fear and aggression. Good early socialisation will result in a sociable dog who is comfortable around people, other dogs and various unfamiliar situations. Exposing them to a range of people, situations and objects from 8-12 weeks old will also help them to better adapt to new experiences going forward.

Can I carry my puppy outside before vaccinations?

Puppies can be carried outdoors before vaccinations to help their socialisation process. When carrying your puppy outside before vaccinations it’s important you don’t place them on the floor or allow other dogs or animals to touch or get too close to them. These exciting trips safe in your arms will help your puppy grow into a well-rounded and calm dog, not frightened by people, movement or noise.

What happens if you take your puppy outside before vaccinations?

If you take your puppy outside before both sets of vaccinations, there is a risk of them catching a nasty disease or passing on an infection to other dogs if you walk them or even set them down on the ground. Infection can be spread through blood and saliva as well as urine and faeces, so your puppy could catch a disease without direct contact with a dog. These diseases include:
  • Canine distemper
  • Parainfluenza
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Kennel cough
If you mistakenly took your puppy outside before vaccinations or they were exposed to another dog, talk to your vet as they will explain how to monitor their health and whether you’re in a high risk area for diseases such as parvovirus. Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, vomiting, and diarrhoea. If your puppy shows any of these symptoms, get them seen by a vet as soon as possible. A puppy’s journey from inside your home to the outdoors is a new and exciting experience that should be a delight for both the young dog and owner. As long as you follow the advice above, the journey from indoors to outdoors will be a super fun and safe experience for you and your puppy. There’s no doubt that a calm and comfortable dog in all surroundings, starts with early socialisation. So above all remember to get your puppy out and about safely as soon as possible.