Congratulations! You’ve just brought your new puppy home and can’t wait to start taking them on big adventures outside and introducing your new puppy to your friends and their dogs. But do you know when it is safe for your new puppy to explore the great outdoors?

As a new puppy owner, you have lots of choices to make and you may have lots of questions! When to bring a new puppy outside for the first time is a very common question that we hear from new puppy owners, and a very good one! The first few weeks in a new home are very important to set a puppy up for success.

When determining when a puppy can go outdoors, you need to take into consideration the consequences for their health, their routine, and their socialization, and we are here to talk you through it!

The First Few Weeks

What an exciting time! You’ve just brought home your new family member. You are awed by their peaceful puppy naps, and can’t get enough puppy snuggles. You may also find yourself a bit tired as you get into a rhythm with a night-time routine, potty training, and crate training.

You want to show off your little cutie to everyone, but want to know what’s safe for your puppy first. Maybe it’s your first time with a puppy at home, or maybe it has just been a while, but you know there are many important things to consider when developing a routine with a new puppy. ​

The First Few Weeks


Important Medical Considerations

​We always recommend that you consult with your veterinarian about your specific situation, but most vets recommend that you limit exploring the outdoors with your puppy until they have completed all of their puppy vaccinations, usually around 14 to 16 weeks old.Puppies are generally more susceptible to many diseases because their immune systems are not full developed. Additionally, the stress of weaning, a new home, or change in routine can make any puppy more likely to catch an illness.There are many biohazards in the greater environment that could impact your puppy or make them sick if exposed before their vaccination series is completed or with a compromised immune system. One of the primary concerns for young puppies is contracting parvovirus, which is one of the leading causes of death for unvaccinated puppies and can live in the environment (for up to one year!) or be passed from feces or body fluids of an unvaccinated animal. The symptoms of parvovirus are vomiting and diarrhea.

Exposure to the outdoors or unvaccinated or unwell dogs (or other animals) can also result in them contracting parasites, distemper, kennel cough (bordatella), rabies, or upper respiratory infections.

Important Medical Considerations

When Can My Puppy Go In The Backyard?

So does all of this mean that you shouldn’t take your puppy outside at all, even for potty breaks? Not at all! In fact, you will want to establish a potty routine for your puppy that includes going outside from day one, and make sure to stick as closely to your puppy’s schedule as possible. What this does mean is that you want to limit their outdoor time to safe, private, known areas where unknown, un-vaccinated, or sick dogs or other animals have not recently had access.We recommend new puppy owners stick to a private backyard area until the puppy has completed the final round of puppy vaccinations. Until that time, avoid exploring the neighborhood, the dog park, and other areas that may expose them to biohazards.

No Paws on the Ground!

You have a new puppy and you can’t wait to take your puppy everywhere! The vet’s office or pet store should be safe, right? Wrong! We are strong proponents of the “no paws on the ground” rule for all public places until a puppy has completed all vaccinations. No paws on the ground means that you carry your puppy any place that they may be exposed to pathogens or other, unknown animals (essentially, anywhere that is not well known to you and private).

Carrying your puppy helps in several ways: they are not able to run up and sniff or lick another unknown animal, they cannot find and eat unknown objects, and they do not risk picking up viruses or parasites in the environment. If you want to expose your puppy to new people for socialization purposes, one way to do this is to carry them in a public place (such as a dog-friendly hardware store) and make sure not to set them down.

No Paws on the Ground! 

When Can My Puppy Go On a Walk In The Neighborhood?

At Rochester Dog Walkers, we are all about the dog walks, but we spend plenty of time playing with young puppies in the confines of a safe backyard and encouraging them to stick to their potty routine. But when is it safe to start taking puppies out for walks in the neighborhood? Again, we go back to the common veterinary wisdom to wait until the puppy has completed their final round of puppy vaccinations, usually around 14-16 weeks. At this time, puppies can begin exploring the neighborhood with short walks.You may want to continue to mix it up with play time and walks, as playing with toys and playing games can help puppies with mental stimulation, help them learn, and prevent boredom.

When Can I Introduce My Puppy to Other Dogs?

You may have heard that you need to socialize your puppy with lots of dogs and people starting on day one. This is important for their development as a happy, social, well-adjusted dog. How do you do this if your puppy should not be adventuring around the neighborhood?One option for introducing your puppy to other dogs is intentional play dates with dogs that you know the health and vaccination status of. You may have friends with dogs, or can find others in a similar situation with local dog lover Facebook groups or the website/app NextDoor.

When introducing your puppy to any new dog, you want to make sure that they have good experiences and limit play with dogs who may be overbearing or aggressive. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, you should make sure that play dates happen in a home or backyard where no unvaccinated dogs have been.

Happy Puppies

As a new puppy owner, you may be overwhelmed with choices and responsibilities, and want to make sure you do what is best for your pup. With these tips, you are well on your way to a happy, safe, well-socialized puppyhood for your new family member!

If you are looking for experienced puppy care, fill out our form to us to schedule your free new client meeting. We love working with new puppies and new puppy owners! ​

Happy Puppies