How to take your puppy outside

Taking a pup outside for the first time can be a nervy time for both dog and owner. But it’s a big part of any dog’s development as they get accustomed to other people, other dogs and the sights, smells and sounds of the wider world.

When can I take my puppy outside for the first time?

In my experience, if you have a garden or outside space that’s safe, secure, clean and free from other dogs, then you can let your puppy out immediately.

As for taking them outside for their first walk, this will need to wait until at least two weeks after your pet has had its second set of vaccinations.

What do I need to know about vaccinations?

Vaccinations provide invaluable protection against several diseases that your puppy is likely to be exposed to, such as canine distemper virus and canine parvovirus. Having your puppy vaccinated will protect them against these potentially fatal diseases and stop them from passing disease on to other animals, so I’d urge all new puppy owners to get their pet vaccinated as soon as possible.

Puppies usually have their first vaccination at around eight weeks old, followed by another vaccination two to four weeks later. The vaccinations take time to take effect, so avoid taking them outside until your puppy has had all of their vaccinations.

Find out more about vaccinating your puppy

What’s the best way to introduce my pup to the outdoors?

Ideally, introduce them to the outdoors in an enclosed space or garden that’s been checked for potential hazards. Take it slowly, stay close by and make your visits short so your pup gradually gets used to it.

Letting your pup explore the garden helps with toilet training, learning about what they can and can’t play with and is good for their general development.

Before taking your pup for their first walk, I’d suggest getting your pup used to wearing their collar by fixing it loosely while indoors.

How should I prepare my garden?

It’s important to make sure your garden is safe by removing any potential hazards. This includes things like slug pellets that are poisonous to dogs, fir cones that they can choke on, and sharp edges, broken glass or exposed nails that could cause injury.

I always advise people to make sure they block any holes in fences that a puppy could escape from, cover up water features and ponds and secure dustbin lids too.

What other hazards or harmful items should I be aware of?

I’ve seen puppy problems caused by all sorts of hazards. From weed killer to daffodils, toads to wild mushrooms, there are lots of potential hazards and poisonous things your puppy shouldn’t come into contact with.

To help keep your pup safe, here’s a useful A-Z of some of the hazards and poisonous items to keep an eye out for.

What should I do on my first walk?

Taking your pup for their first walk is a big moment for both dog and owner, so my first piece of advice is to take things steady, remain relaxed and keep a careful eye on your pup at all times.

There’s a lot for your pup to take in, so I always suggest keeping the first walk short – around five to ten minutes. This will prevent your pup from getting overwhelmed or anxious. Let your puppy set the pace and stop whenever he or she wants to.

If your puppy becomes scared, try not to comfort them too much. By doing so, you might make them think that there’s a good reason to be worried and thereby reinforce their anxiety. Instead, remain calm and move on. If your puppy becomes distressed then I’d recommend returning home for the day.

What’s the best way of dealing with traffic?

Road safety is crucial. From the very first walk, teach your puppy to stop at the curb and wait for your instruction. Again, remain calm and allow your pup to get used to the sights and sounds of passing traffic.

What about other dogs?

If your puppy is confident enough, let them greet other dogs. But keep the meeting short and try to avoid any over-excitement. If your pup is very nervous, I always recommend that you don’t approach other dogs to begin with and allow your pet to build more confidence.

Top tips for lead training your puppy

Lead training is a great way to develop good behaviour in your puppy and ensure they walk to heel safely alongside you. Find out more in this short video.

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