You can start walking your puppy outside when they are 14-16 weeks old and have received all their vaccines. There is too much risk that the puppy will get infected with canine distemper or parvovirus until then.
So you have a puppy, congratulations! It is so exciting to welcome your new family member home for the first time. You are probably excited to take your puppy outside and let him explore his new surroundings.
However, before you take your puppy outside for walks, there are a few things you should be aware of.
Age (Must be 14-16 Weeks)
Most vets suggest you wait until your puppy is 14-16 weeks old before taking him outside for his first walk. Even though this sounds like a long time to wait, you won’t be bringing your puppy home until he’s about 8-10 weeks old anyway.
Like newborn babies, your pup is more susceptible to diseases at this young age. It’s vital that you stay up to date on his vaccinations.
A couple of potentially fatal (but definitely preventable) viruses are canine parvovirus and canine distemper. To avoid these illnesses, do your best to keep your puppy on paved sidewalks or roads.
Exposure to the highly contagious parvovirus happens when your puppy comes in contact with contaminated feces. It can also happen through indirect contact with an infected dog or person. The most common symptom of parvovirus is gastrointestinal upset.
Distemper is an airborne virus that can be transmitted to your puppy through coughing, barking, or sneezing.
The most important thing you can do to protect your puppy from viruses is vaccination. Staying up to date on them is vital for your puppies’ health and the furry friends your puppy interacts with. It boosts his immune system to make him more resistant to all future illnesses.
When you adopted or rescued your puppy, you should’ve been given a medical record of vaccines he’s been given, vaccines he will need, and the specific time frame to get them.
If you didn’t receive this, you need to immediately contact the breeder or organization and take your pup to the vet.
Your new puppy has officially left his littermates to start his new exciting life with you, but unless you have a few other animals, his socialization has decreased a lot. This is something you need to be mindful of when your puppy goes on his first walk.
For the first few weeks, your puppy should only interact with dogs you know and dogs that are fully vaccinated.
If you can’t vouch for a dog’s background and training, then you should wait until your puppy is a little older. The most crucial time period for socialization is between 8-12 weeks of age. So basically, the age when you bring your new puppy home.
Again, socialization is important, but so is the location it takes place. Dog parks can be a breeding ground for disease, fleas, and dogs of unknown temperaments.
It’s highly recommended that you do not take your puppy to a dog park until at least 6 months of age. Even then, you should research the dog park and visit it before allowing your puppy to play there.
Helpful Tips For Socializing Your Puppy
Create a safe space for the meet and greet to happen. Ensure the area is puppy-proof and that your pup has some of his favorite toys around to make him feel comfortable.
Invite your friend’s puppies or dogs over that you know are fully vaccinated and well-trained. Gentle and calm dogs are best, so your pup doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Keep yummy treats on hand. Reward your puppy often throughout the playtime so he has a positive experience.
Puppy classes provide a well-controlled environment and guarantee that the other dogs are around your pups the same age and meet vaccination requirements. It also helps that a trained professional is usually present to intervene if necessary.
Something that many people don’t consider when walking their puppy is the temperature. Puppies are more vulnerable to high and low temperatures than older dogs.
Research shows you shouldn’t walk your dog outside if it’s 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This type of heat could cause your puppy to get dehydrated, and the asphalt or pavement could burn his little paws.
In contrast, if the temperature is 47 degrees Fahrenheit or below, your dog is at greater risk of hypothermia. The most ideal weather for walking your puppy is 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
If I Can’t Take Puppy Outside, Where Should They Potty?
So now you know when it’s safe to walk your puppy outside, but your pup still has to go potty almost every hour.
Do you just use pee pads until he’s 14-16 weeks old? What if you have a small patch of grass right outside your home or apartment?
As mentioned above, your puppy is at higher risk of disease until he’s fully vaccinated. So, what are your options?
Potty Pee Pads
Potty training your puppy on potty pee pads in your house arguably might be the best option, depending on your living situation and how much time you have. Especially if you live in an apartment complex and don’t want to take your new pup down a flight of stairs every hour to a common potty area shared by every other dog in the complex.
One of the safest places you can take your puppy to go potty in the beginning is in your own backyard, where you can guarantee no other dogs are doing their business.
If your backyard isn’t fenced in, do a once over and find a spot where it’s less likely that other animals go potty.
Create a routine for your puppy, and do your best to take him to the same spot each time. Your puppy will start to associate that part of the yard with going to the bathroom, which will make potty training easier.
How to Interact With People On Your Pup’s Walks
We all love puppies, and if we see someone walking their dog on the same trail as us, it’s fun to say hello and ask if you can pet their dog.
However, until your puppy is up to date on his vaccinations, you’ll need to avoid these interactions, and sometimes that might feel awkward.
So how do you let these people know without being rude?
If someone approaches you and asks to pet your puppy or wants to let their dog play with yours, you can politely let them know your puppy isn’t fully vaccinated yet and you want to protect him.
If they continue to push, prioritize your pup’s health and simply walk away.
Maybe it’s someone that you frequently see on your walks. In this case, let them know that once your pup is fully vaccinated, then the dogs can officially meet and play together.
Stroller / Carrier
Have you ever seen those adorable bulldogs pulled by their owners in little wagons? I’m sure there are other dog breeds in wagons, but whenever I see them, it’s always bulldogs.
You can purchase a dog stroller or pack carrier and introduce your puppy to the big outside world this way. People are less likely to introduce their dog to yours since your pup is less accessible than if he was walking on the ground. People might smile and wave and comment on how cute he looks, but then they’ll usually just move on.
Prioritize Your Pups Health
I know it can be tempting to take your puppy on walks outside right when you bring them home. You want them to explore the great outdoors and have the best life possible. However, it’s important to prioritize your puppy’s health during the first few weeks.
It’s best to hold off on outdoor walks until they are at least 14-16 weeks old and have received all their vaccines.
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