While it’s tempting to scoop up your tiny pup and take them with you everywhere you go, it’s not a very safe move. The immune system of a new puppy is not strong enough to combat the elements of the outside world. You’re probably wondering, “When can I let my puppy go outside?” Keep reading to find out when is the right time to take your pup outside.
How Long Should I Wait Before Taking My Puppy Outside?
Due to potential outdoor biohazards, most vets will advise that pet owners wait until a puppy is at least three months old before taking them outside. Your neighborhood likely has walking trails, grassy areas, and dog parks that you want to take your tiny dog to, but holding off until they’re a bit older may be a better option. If you wait to take your puppy outside after he has had his last core vaccination shot, you should be in the safe zone. This will usually be when your pup is between 14 to 16 weeks of age.
Others are of the opinion that young puppies should be taken outside earlier to begin the canine socialization process. Some canine behavior experts emphasize a critical socialization period for young puppies. However, postponing socializing your pup until they receive all the necessary vaccines may be the safest bet. In addition, young puppies don’t require as much physical activity as older dogs. Pups can be exercised for five minutes each day per month of age. For example, a puppy that is two months old should only exercise for ten minutes a day. The physical activity requirements of a young pup can be met in the safe confines of your home.
Keeping Your Young Puppy Safe & Healthy
Similar to human babies, young puppies require a lot of sleep and will need to spend most of their time cozied up indoors. Pups under three months of age can sleep for up to 20 hours a day! This doesn’t leave much time for socialization or other activities. Adequate sleep is vital for proper growth and brain development in puppies.
Most puppies are ready to be adopted into a new home when they are eight weeks old. Although they may be ready for a new family, young puppies are still sensitive, growing animals that are not equipped for everything else. Embrace this time at home with your teeny-tiny puppy. In the weeks before taking your dog outside, focus on bonding with your pet and beginning the training process.
Potty Breaks for Young Puppies
Young puppies can start potty training at about four weeks of age. Some breeders will begin potty training a puppy before they are old enough to be adopted. When you bring an eight-week-old dog home, you can start puppy house training by taking him out to go to the bathroom on a regular basis. Since young puppies have tiny bladders, you’ll have to take them out for potty breaks often. Just make sure to keep outdoor bathroom breaks short to avoid contraction of any harmful bacteria or viruses. A young puppy’s immune system is susceptible to a number of diseases from the outside world.
Playtime for Puppies
Your new pup won’t have to stay indoors for his entire life. Although they require substantial sleep, puppies certainly like to play! After initial puppy vaccinations, your dog’s immune system will become stronger. At 16 weeks, your veterinarian will likely approve your pup for some outdoor play and socialization with other pets. Soon enough, your little dog will be able to accompany you on walks to the park without the risk of contracting diseases.
When Can I Set My Puppy On the Ground?
Aside from short potty breaks, avoid setting your puppy on the ground in your backyard or outside your home until they are about 16 weeks old. Be especially cautious if other pets or animals have access to your yard because young puppies are susceptible to contracting illnesses. If you have other pets or an open yard, there’s a chance that an unvaccinated animal have been around the same areas your puppy will explore.
Some private yards and gardens are safe for puppies to wander without the risk of exposure to various illnesses. If you do not have any other pets and are certain that other wild or stray animals do not access the space, you can set your puppy on the ground of your private outdoor area earlier than 16 weeks. However, as mentioned above, puppies should not be taken for walks until they have been fully vaccinated.
Some pet owners are cautious about setting their new puppy on the floor of their veterinary clinic. However, this is likely safe to do as the chances of contracting a disease on the floor of your vet’s office are slim. It’s unlikely that an unvaccinated dog infected the floor with a contagion since the last time he was cleaned. In fact, setting your pet on the floor of your veterinary clinic is an excellent opportunity for your young pup to safely explore a public space and meet new friends.
If you’re still unsure, check with your vet. They’ll be able to tell you whether the floor is safe for your new puppy. Even if you opt to not set your puppy on the ground at your veterinarian’s office, it’s still a great place to begin socialization with people. The veterinary staff will be more than willing to hold your sweet little puppy while you fill out paperwork.
When Can I Take My Puppy for a Walk?
Since young puppies require such little exercise and thrive on substantial sleep, taking them on walks can have adverse effects on their overall health. Pushing their exercise boundaries at such a young age may even cause physical harm to your small pup. The growth plates in a puppy’s long bones won’t fully close until about one year of age, and too much exercise (even just walking) can be harmful to their developing skeletal system.
Of course, the other primary reason to avoid taking a young puppy for walks is to prevent the risk of exposure to diseases. Daily walks through your neighborhood can be dangerous for an undeveloped pup that is not vaccinated. It’s impossible for pet owners to know if every dog they encounter on a walk is up-to-date on their shots. Even dogs who appear healthy may carry viruses. This means they may look and act healthy but still have the disease and can spread it to other dogs.
Many canine diseases can be spread among animals through contact with contaminated objects or surfaces. Unfortunately, this means that if your small dog sniffs something that an infected animal was in contact with just hours before, your unvaccinated pet may become infected.
Why You Should Avoid Taking Your Young Puppy to Public Places
Due to the risk of contracting dangerous and potentially fatal viruses, puppies should be kept safe at home until they are entirely protected through vaccinations. Some pet owners may feel like shielding a pup from the outside world is overly cautious, but it’s vital to play it safe while your little pup’s immune system is still developing. It’s best to avoid taking him to public places until he has received all his initial core shots.
Introducing Your Puppy to Other Dogs & People
In general, it’s a good idea to avoid introducing your puppy to other dogs until about 16 weeks of age. However, it may be safe to arrange playdates with other dogs who you can confirm are vaccinated. In addition to the vaccination status of another dog, it’s important to know what their temperament is because roughhousing with a young pup can be dangerous as well. Some older dogs are impatient with puppies in which case socialization should be avoided until your dog is slightly older.
Once your young puppy is vaccinated, it’s a good idea to introduce them to other dogs of a similar age that match their energy levels. Socializing at a young age teaches dogs behavioral cues and helps them to expel some of their puppy energy. All dog breeds benefit from socializing with other pets and animals, but it’s especially important for those prone to aggression. Exposing your pup to new experiences is vital to their developing brain. Providing your young dog with positive interactions with new people and animals will help them grow into a friendly, confident adult dog. Just note that puppy play dates should take place in homes or private backyards that unvaccinated animals haven’t been in. With the right precautions, you can ensure the safety of your puppy while still satisfying his socialization needs.
Keep Your Growing Dog Healthy
Young puppies are required to get a few core vaccinations including canine rabies, canine distemper, parvovirus in dogs, and canine hepatitis. After that, regular booster shots are typically administered every one to three years depending on where you live as well as the particular vaccine. Staying up-to-date with booster shots will keep your pup healthy and protected from contagions when they go outside. Additionally, many pet owners keep their dogs protected from worms, fleas, and other puppy parasites with preventative medications.
It’s understandable that a new puppy owner wants to take their pet outside to explore the world. It’s healthy for young dogs to meet new puppy friends, sniff around in nature, and learn how to behave outside the home. However, young puppies don’t have fully developed immune systems and should be sheltered from illnesses until they are immunized. Your dog will build immunity through vaccines and natural exposure to the outside world. Consult your vet about safely bringing your pup outside to explore as they age.
As a new puppy parent, your first priority is to ensure that your sensitive pet does not come into contact with harmful bacteria and viruses. If you’ve asked yourself, “when can I let my puppy go outside?”, and you are still worried for their safety, consult with a professional veterinarian for further recommendations. Don’t worry – the first couple months with your pup will fly by. Soon enough, your puppy will be in the safe zone for going outside in no time at all.
- “When Can a Puppy Go Outside.” Pet MD, 18 Jan. 2018, Accessed 5 Sept. 2019. https://www.petmd.com/news/view/when-can-puppy-go-outside-37926
- “When Can I Take My Puppy Outside?’ Petbarn, 15 Jan. 2019, Accessed 5 Sept 2019. https://www.petbarn.com.au/petspot/puppy/medical-vet-services/when-can-i-take-my-puppy-outside/
- “When to Let Your Puppy Outside”, Hillspet, 6 Aug. 2019, Accessed 5 Sept. 2019 https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/new-pet-parent/when-can-puppies-go-outside