When can puppies go outside?
Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Sarah Elliott
5th Dec 2023
When your puppy can go out for walks depends on their vaccination schedule. Pups can go outside for walks about 7-10 days after they’ve finished their vaccinations. But taking them outside safely in their ‘socialisation window’ is important, and that will probably be before they’ve had all their vaccinations. You can let them explore outside spaces where unvaccinated dogs and foxes can't go. You can also carry them outside so they can still experience the sounds and smells and get used to them.
You might be wondering when your puppy can go outside so you can start having new, fun, outdoor adventures with your pup. And it turns out simply keeping them inside until their vaccinations are done isn't always necessary. Socialising your puppy and getting them used to the noises and smells of the outside world is important. However, your pup can't go walking outside until their immune system is fully developed. So let's look at when puppies can go outside and when they shouldn't.
When can puppies go outside?
Puppies can be carried outside when you've had them a few days, but they should not be put on the ground or meet other dogs. When your puppy can go outside for walks depends on theirpuppy vaccines
. As a general rule, you can take puppies outside for walks 7-10 days after their vaccinations are finished. Check with the breeder or rescue if your pup has had any vaccines, and chat to your vet to get the rest sorted. The sooner they’re fully protected against diseases, the sooner they can get out and about!
But forthe first few days after bringing your pup home, it's important to keep them cosy at home. Let them get used to their space, and feel safe and comfortable in their new home and garden (if you have one). This helps you both to:
- Bond with your pup.
- Helps your puppy feel less stressed about leaving mum and the rest of the litter, and being somewhere new.
Can I carry my puppy outside before vaccinations?
You can safely carry your puppy outside if you’re careful about where you take them. You can take your puppy outside before their vaccinations have started as long as they don't go on the ground where other dogs and animals have been.
Going out and seeing the world is an important part of their socialisation. The first 16 weeks of your puppy’s life is their socialisation period, and what happens in these weeks helps them understand what’s "normal" in their world. Carrying them outside is a great, safe way to let them see, hear, and smell things like cars that have to seem normal and not scary when they're older.
Talk to your vet and get their advice about carrying your puppy outside the first few times. They can tell you what's safe in your area and what to avoid to make sure your puppy has a good time while staying safe.
What you should do when carrying your puppy outside
- Hold your puppy securely.
- Stick to safe places.
- Keep wipes handy.
1. Hold your puppy securely
Carry your puppy in your arms or use a special puppy carrier as you slowly get them used to as many sights, sounds, people and places as possible. Introduce your pup to different people and places but not all at once. Do this in a calm controlled way. Keep watching your puppy’s body language. For example, if they seem worried or overwhelmed, don’t let people try and pet your pup.
2. Stick to safe places
Only put your puppy on the ground in clean, safe places. Don't let them walk on the ground where other dogs or foxes may have been as they are not yet fully protected against the diseases included in their vaccine course. This includes your vet practice! Avoid spots where other dogs go often like public parks or dog parks unless you’re going to keep your puppy in your arms. Don’t let your puppy near places where other dogs poop as harmful bacteria and diseases can hang out here, like parvovirus. Also, avoid places with still or stagnant water or where wild animals are like lakes or forests.
3. Keep wipes handy
Bring cleaning wipes with you and use them to clean things your puppy might touch, like benches or their carrier.
When can puppies go for walks outside?
You can start taking your puppy for a walk outside 7-10 days after they’ve finished their vaccination course (check with your vet). Some vaccine brands take 4 weeks to finish the course and provide full protection for your puppy. Your vet practice can tell you their vaccination schedule.
When your puppy’s vaccines can start depends on their age and the vaccines used. Most puppies can start their vaccination course at 8 weeks old, when they arrive at their new home. Some puppies will have already had their first vaccination with the breeder. The earliest your puppy can have their second vaccination is at 10 weeks old because of the antibodies all puppies get from their mum.
How to take a puppy outside for a walk
Getting your puppy used to going for walks outside can take time. Before going out, help your puppyget used to wearing a leash and harness
inside without the pressure of using it immediately for a walk.
Once they’re used to a lead and harness, start by letting them explore safer outdoor spaces like a quiet area without cars. This can be a good time tostart toilet training
orlead walking training
if you haven't already. Remember to check the ground on your first few walks. Watch out for sharp things or things your puppy might try to eat that they shouldn’t.
At the start, keep outdoor walks short, and let your puppy decide where to go and how fast. It is possible to overexercise a puppy, which can lead to joint problems further down the line. Here'sa guide on how far puppies can walk
by Ben the vet.
After a while, slowly introduce your puppy to different things they might see or hear throughout their life, like traffic, kids, birds, squirrels, and eventually other dogs. Don't introduce these things all at once as it'll be overwhelming. Letting your pup experience these things slowly, calmly, and positively can help them feel more confident and be less reactive when they see these things in the future.
Pay attention to how your puppy acts during walks. If they seem scared, tired, or overwhelmed, end the walk early or take a break. Every puppy is unique, so be patient and use rewards to make outdoor walks a fun part of your puppy's routine.
Does the weather affect when I can take my puppy outside?
The weather can be important to think about before taking your puppy outside. Here are some things to think about with different types of weather.
Puppies get chilly faster than grown-up dogs. Especially if your puppy is small or has short hair. Put a puppy sweater or coat on them to keep them warm. Don't stay outside too long, and watch for shivering or signs of discomfort. The ground might be too cold for their paws so don’t let them walk too long if it’s really cold out. Salt used for gritting the roads in winter can also be too rough and scratchy for their paw pads, and could make them sick if they lick it off. So if your puppy or dog walks outside in winter, remember to wipe their paws when you get home.
Puppies don’t handle heat well. Don't take them out during the hottest part of the day toavoid heatstroke
. Wait til it gets a little cooler in the early morning or evening. If they have a light-coloured coat, you can use doggy sunscreen on their nose, ears and other areas where their skin is exposed to the sun to avoid sunburn. (Yep, dogs can get it too!)
Remember to check how hot the pavements are with your hand. If it’s too hot for you to touch for a few seconds, it can be too hot for your pup's paws, and might burn them.
Finally, give them plenty of water along the way and find shady spots to rest in. If they’re panting lots or are tired and don’t want to walk, these could be signs they’re overheating. If you think your pup is overheating or may have heatstroke, it's vital you call your vet for advice.
Rainy, wet weather
If it's rainy or the ground is wet, your puppy can get muddy. Clean them with a damp towel when you get back inside. Don’t let them drink puddle water because it might not be safe. Puppies can be scared of thunder and lightning, so if you think a storm’s coming, it’s better to wait. Although keeping a routine is important for your puppy, it can be better to walk them earlier or later than normal to avoid a storm. Or just miss a walk that day and make sure they get plenty ofstimulation and exercise inside
Puppies can feel colder when it’s windy. Keep your pup warm with a jacket or sweater to protect them from the wind.
Each season has different potential dangers to watch out for. In the winter, be careful around snow and ice that can hurt their paws. In autumn and spring, be careful of bulbs and plants that could be dangerous for them to eat.
On outdoor adventures, make sure your puppy is comfortable, safe, and happy outside. Stay flexible so you can change plans if the weather takes a turn and have some safe, nearby spaces your puppy can enjoy without you having to worry about other dogs and animals being around.