After bringing home a new puppy it is natural to want to take your pet outdoors as soon as possible in order to show him or her to the world. However, you must use caution in doing so, because your dog’s immune system will yet not be strong enough to ward off disease.  Listed here are tips for safely taking your puppy outside.

Use Extreme Caution until after Vaccinations

Until your dog has received his or her last round of vaccinations it may not be safe to have your pet outdoors.  While your dog is unlikely to contract rabies during this time, the chances of your puppy contracting other illnesses, such as Parvo or Distemper, is high.  Your puppy’s immune system is still developing, which makes his or her natural disease resistance inherently low.  For this reason, is safest to wait 1 – 2 weeks after your dog has received the final vaccination booster – typically at 14 – 16 weeks of age – before interacting with other dogs.  

Avoid Contact with Other Dogs

Of course, you will have to take your puppy outdoors at some point, unless you are planning to solely potty-pad train your dog.  When taking your dog outdoors keep potty sessions short.  Avoid contact with other dogs, and don’t be afraid to tell other pet owners that your pet has not yet received its shots and will be unable to say hi.    

Be Vigilant while your Dog Explores

Your puppy will want to explore the outdoors and this is entirely natural.  However, part of your dog’s exploration tendencies will include picking up things in his or her mouth.  Watch that your dog avoids picking up anything outside, especially the feces of other dogs or animals.  Arm yourself with high-value treats, such as cheese and meat, in order to get your puppy’s attention quickly, if necessary.

Socialize with “Safe” Dogs

Many canine behavior experts recommend socializing your dog as soon as possible, even before they are fully vaccinated.  If you choose to go this route, make sure you only socialize your puppy with dogs you know have been vaccinated, such as the dogs of friends or family members.  While it might be tempting to ask strangers whether their pets have been vaccinated, it is best to bear in mind that even small lapses in vaccination, such as 1 – 2 months, can leave your pet at risk.  

Socialize with Humans

Humans carry little risk of infection for your dog, so do not assume that you must wait 16 weeks before providing your pet any socialization opportunities.  Introduce your dog to as many humans as possible by hosting a “meet my puppy” party or allowing your dog to accompany you on short excursions to the bank or post office (if allowed in your area).  

While it can be frustrating to wait months before showing your dog off to the world, you can use this time to start developing good habits, such as obedience training!

To help your puppy be the bestest pup they can be, be sure to download the Puppy Scavenger List to make sure your pup gets exposed to all the world has to offer!