When can you take a puppy for a walk?

When Can You Take a Puppy For a Walk?

You’ve brought your new bundle of joy home and they’re settling in well but you can’t wait to take them for their first walk to see how they react to the big wide world – and – let’s be honest show them off!  It’s also really good for their socialisation too so let’s look at what you need to do to keep them safe before they go out of the house for the first time 

Can I take my 6 week old puppy outside?
If you have a back garden that is secure, clean and free from other unvaccinated dogs then your puppy can spend time outdoors.  You will want to begin toilet training as soon as you can but always make sure they are supervised when outside and keep it quick if it’s cold.  
You can take your puppy into public places but always carry them and don’t put them on the floor.  You could pop them in a satchel bag or carry them in your arms, but hold them tight as they’ll almost definitely try to wiggle their way out, when they see other dogs or people.

Can I take my 8 week old puppy out for a walk?
Although your pup can go outside in your safe space, how soon can you take your puppy for a walk?  It’s really important to wait until she is fully vaccinated before taking her out walking where other dogs have been.  Fully vaccinated means a week to two weeks after the second jab in her primary vaccination course. 
Puppies are typically vaccinated at eight and ten weeks (although they can be vaccinated as early as four-six weeks) with the second dose usually being given two to four weeks later. On average most puppies will be fully vaccinated at around 14-16 weeks. But as always, it’s best to speak to your vet about the best timings.
If she’s not fully vaccinated before going where other dogs have been she could be at risk of contracting parvovirus (parvo) or distemper – both nasty illnesses, potentially fatal to your pup..

Can my puppy get parvo from my back garden?
As long as your outside space is secure and free from unvaccinated dogs she will not contract parvo or other viruses from your back garden.  Unvaccinated dogs (unvaccinated puppies are most at risk) can catch parvovirus from an infected dog, an infected dog poo or anything an infected dog has touched such as a dog lead, food bowl, bedding, human hands and clothes.

puppy on leash

Can my 9 week old puppy be around other dogs?
If you are sure the other dog is vaccinated then your puppy can play with his new friend in a safe space, but it may be safer to wait until he has had both his injections so he is fully vaccinated.

For how long should I walk my puppy?
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated, the general rule of thumb, is to exercise them for five minutes per month old – so if your fluffy bundle is 12 weeks old they can be walked for 15 minutes a day.  
When to start walking your puppy?
You can start walking your puppy after 1-2 weeks of them being fully vaccinated.  This is usually around the 8 week mark. However, make sure you keep a strict eye on them and ask your vet to confirm when they are allowed out on a walk.
As well as being fully vaccinated and not over walking them, remember that puppies are much less able to regulate their temperature than older dogs and us!  To protect your puppy from heat stroke, it is important not to take them out if it is too hot for them.  It is generally safe in temperatures up to 19°C (68°F) but be careful even if it goes only 1°C above that.  Make sure you always take fresh water out with you and you can always cool them down with a doggy ice-cream!
If the weather gets too cold, it is a good idea for your pup to wear a coat and not be out for too long.  You can tell if they are getting cold as they may shiver, slow down or even stop.  They may also whine and bark if they are feeling any form of discomfort.  Once you have chosen your pup’s outerwear, get them used to wearing it at home for short periods before walking them in it.  

Is a harness or a collar better for a puppy?
There is a whole array of leads, collars and harnesses to choose from and it’s great fun shopping to see what would suit them best. 
Whilst a flat collar is best for everyday wear a harness can be better for preventing accidents if your puppy was to pull on a lead.  Get them used to wearing it from 8 weeks old for short periods of time and don’t forget to adjust or upgrade them as they grow bigger - which they will in a very short period of time!
Hopefully, you will now feel really confident about when your puppy can go outside and when you can take them for their first walk in safety.  Remember:

  • Only let your unvaccinated puppy go outside in your own garden.
  • If you take your unvaccinated puppy to a public place do not place them on the ground.
  • Be cautious about letting your puppy meet another dog unless they are fully vaccinated.
  • Start their vaccinations at 8 weeks.
  • Wait 1-2 weeks after their second vaccination before walking them outdoors.
  • Only walk them for as long as their age allows.
  • Get them used to a harness from 8 weeks.
  • Only walk them when the weather conditions permit.
Most importantly enjoy every minute of your walks together - they definitely will!