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 eager for them to meet people and other dogs in the wider world. With so many activities on the horizon, one of the first questions new owners ask is: “When can a puppy go outside?”
Before you take your puppy outside, you’ll have to make sure it has its vaccinations and, in the following weeks, be careful how, when, and where you take it beyond the boundaries of your home.
What age can a puppy go outside?
You probably can’t wait to take your pup out, but it’s important to be patient.
While they can technically be taken outside at any age, puppies need to be protected with vaccinations, which make it safe for them to go outside and start interacting with other dogs. If you go out too early and your pup catches a disease that could have been prevented with vaccination, your puppy insurance might not cover the cost of any treatment.
When can my puppy get its vaccinations?
Puppy vaccines normally take place at eight and ten weeks. Vaccinations help protect puppies and dogs from very serious illnesses and diseases including:
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,” warns Sarah. “Foxes can carry disease and are known to populate urban and rural areas. Rats can also carry diseases 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 theaverage 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, of course, you may need to visit family and friends in their homes or out in public. If your puppy hasn’t yet been fully vaccinated, you can pop your pup inside a small crate or carrier to protect them.
Carrying puppies in a crate is a great way of socialising them to new environments and experiences. However, 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.
How can I make sure my puppy gets enough exercise?
For many new puppy owners, a garden often serves as a first introduction to the outside world and a place where puppies can exercise and toilet train before or just after vaccination.
If your garden is safe, secure, and closed-off from other dogs, there shouldn’t be any problems with your puppy going outside straight away.
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 your pup is ready to go outside.
Have a look at ournew puppy shopping list for these, and lots of other ideas for things to buy for your new friend.
How long after their second vaccination can puppies go outside?
This is the moment both you and your pup have been waiting for! Your puppy has had its second round of vaccinations and 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 your pup out in the car or carry them safely to experience things like traffic, children, bins being collected, and other routine daily noises. This will help them become more confident and settled with daily life.”
When can puppies go for walks?
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 puppies for too long before they’re ready isn’t good for their development. Too much 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 your puppy is fully-vaccinated you shouldn’t have anything to fear. If you’ve got any concerns, speak to your vet and follow their advice.
When can puppies meet other dogs?
Every dog likes to make friends!
Socialisation is an essential part of a puppy’s development but given the risks of disease, it’s important that you wait before introducing them to other dogs. Puppy crates (mentioned above) are a good way to get your dog used to seeing other animals before or just after they have been vaccinated, but you should wait around two weeks, as a rule, following their second vaccination before they meet new furry friends up close.