When can I start walking my puppy?3 July 2023
Written by Dr. Kathleen Pohl, BVSc PgC(FVS) MRCVS Advanced Practitioner in Feline Medicine Clinical Director and Veterinary Surgeon
Reviewed by Dr Jill McMaster BVM&S MBA MRCVS, Veterinary Surgeon and in-house expert at BorrowMyDoggy on 6 Jun 2023
Bringing home your new puppy is such an exciting time. You’ll probably want to get out and about with your pup to introduce them to their new surroundings straight away.
While it's great for your puppy to meet new people and explore different experiences and environments, it’s also important to take the right precautions to keep your pup safe and healthy.
We’ve spoken to Kathleen Pohl, a veterinary surgeon from Zetland Vets and My Family Vets, to find out everything you need to know about walking your puppy.
Can my puppy go outside?
Puppies can go outside, but they shouldn’t go to public spaces where other dogs have been until they’ve been protected with vaccinations. However, it’s really important for their development that puppies experience as many different situations as possible.
It’s a careful balance, and although wrapping your dog in cotton wool and keeping them inside until they’ve been vaccinated might seem like the responsible thing to do, it can do serious harm to their development.
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.
How can I introduce my puppy to other dogs whilst keeping them safe?
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 to carry your puppy with you to as many places as possible. This will help to expose them to 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.
Can my puppy go in the garden?
If your garden is safely secured and can’t be accessed by other dogs, you can introduce your puppy to the garden straight away.
Allowing your puppy to get familiar with a controlled outdoor environment can help them to build up their confidence in new surroundings. It’s also a really good way to start toilet training.
When can I walk my puppy after their vaccines?
Always speak to your vet and follow their advice, but generally speaking, it will be safe to take your puppy for a walk 2 weeks after they have received their second vaccination. The reason for waiting this amount of time is so that the vaccine has time to take effect.
Unvaccinated puppies are susceptible to picking up dangerous diseases and viruses, such as distemper and parvovirus. This is because puppies spend lots of time sniffing as they explore new environments.
How often should I walk my puppy?
As you might expect, puppies don’t need as much exercise as fully grown dogs. Because they are smaller and still growing, over-exercising your puppy can lead to issues with their joints and bones.
Roughly speaking, allow 5 minutes of exercise for every month old they are, so if your puppy is 4 months old, you can take them out for 20 minutes per day.
Before you head out into the wide world with your puppy, it’s a good idea to get your pooch used to wearing a harness or collar and walking on the lead. You can practice walking together in the garden, just make sure to keep plenty of treats handy to reward your puppy for good behaviour.
This article is for information only, and should never replace any advice, diagnosis or treatment from your veterinary surgeon. Always contact your local vet or out of hours vet without delay if you have any concerns about your dog.
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