When can I take my puppy for a walk?
There’s nothing more exciting than bringing your puppy home for the first time.
While it’s great to introduce them to new people and places, it’s important to take the right precautions when it comes to keeping your puppy safe.
Puppies need to be protected with vaccinations before it is safe for them to interact with other dogs. However, it's also really important for the development of young dogs that they are able to experience different environments and interact with different people and objects.
You might be asking yourself 'is it safe for my puppy to go outside in the garden before they've had their vaccines?’. The answer is yes. If your garden is safely secured and can’t be accessed by other dogs, you can introduce your puppy to the garden straight away.
Familiarising your pup with a safe and controlled outside environment allows them to build up confidence as they experience their new surroundings. Allowing your puppy to get to know the garden is also a great way to start toilet training.
You should only take your puppy out for walks once they are fully vaccinated and your vet has given you the go-ahead.
Before your dog has had its jabs, you can keep them mentally stimulated in the home by playing games with them, such as tug of war and fetch. Another great way to keep your dog entertained before they are allowed outside is to introduce them to simple commands, such as sit and stay.
Read More: How to make your dog sit
Read More: How to make your dog stay
When they are around 12 weeks old, your pup will start to approach new experiences with caution. Therefore, it's important for their development that they experience lots of new situations when they are still really young and receptive.
Before they've received their full set of vaccinations, you can carry your puppy around when you're walking in public places to meet friends and family. It’s a good idea carry your puppy with you to as many places as possible. This will help to expose them different environments and experiences, helping them to become well adjusted adult dogs.
You can also get them used to car travel, expose them to different noises (such as traffic) and introduce them to livestock from a safe distance.
By making sure that your puppy doesn't visit places where other dogs have been, or come into contact with unvaccinated pets, you are helping to eliminate the risk of them catching viral diseases.
It’s always best to speak to your vet and follow their advice, but as a rule of thumb, you’ll be able to take your puppy out for a walk 2 weeks after their second jab.
Before your puppy receives their vaccinations, they are susceptible to picking up infectious diseases and dangerous viruses, such as parvovirus and canine distemper, because they do lots of licking and sniffing as they get to know their new surroundings.
After consulting your vet and waiting for the amount of time that they have advised, you will be able to walk your vaccinated pup outside, where they’ll be able to meet and play with other dogs.
Venturing out into the wide world for the first time can be very tiring for a young puppy, so it’s a good idea to start off by taking them for short walks of about 15 minutes. You can steadily increase the time that they are out for as they get bigger.
Puppies don't need as much exercise as fully grown dogs. Whereas adult dogs are perfectly happy to go on long walks, puppies can develop issues with their bones and joints if they do too much exercise when they are still young.
As a rough guide, you should allow five minutes of exercise for every month old they are, so if your pup is 3 months old, take them out for 15 minutes. However, this can vary depending on the breed. They can go out up to twice a day, and once they are fully grown, they will be able to go for much longer walks.
Before you head out for your first walk, it’s a good idea to get your dog used to wearing a collar or harness and walking on the lead. You can practice in the garden by keeping plenty of treats to hand and rewarding your pup for good behaviour.
Want to know more about walking your puppy?
For details and advice about walking your new puppy, contact your local vet. Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page.