Chocolate Labrador puppy playing on grass for the first time.

When Can Puppies Go Outside Safely?

Written By Olivia De Santos | Canine Coach, Professional Writer & Video Content Creator.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | Double B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 7th January 2024

So you have a new puppy! Congratulations! It’s wonderful to have a new pooch in the house. And if you’re anything like me, you’re probably tempted to show your puppy to the world, arrange playdates and go on wild adventures together. But you could be jeopardising your dog’s health if they aren’t fully vaccinated.

When can puppies go outside in Australia? I’m going to answer that question today. We’ll talk about why it’s important to quarantine your pooch in their early life, what the typical vaccination cycle is, and how you can get around the potty issue.

Ready to learn more? Let’s do it!


Why Can’t My Puppy Go Outside?

I hear you groan through the screen. You got a dog so you can exercise with them, explore the world, and meet other doggy folks. Aren’t you supposed to socialise your puppy straight away too?

All valid concerns. Here’s the thing.

Taking your puppy outside before they are fully vaccinated puts them at risk of some rather nasty diseases.

Here is a quick list of the diseases your pooch is vulnerable to before they have their shots:

Rabies

Rabies is a virus that can be fatal to dogs. The infection usually spreads by having contact with other rabid animals – especially if bitten by one.

“Physical signs of rabies in dogs to watch for include fever, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, staggering, seizures, and even paralysis. As the virus progresses, your dog may act as though they are overstimulated, meaning lights, movement, and sound may appear to have a negative effect.” (1)

If you notice signs of rabies, you need to contact your vet immediately for treatment. It can become extremely dangerous within a matter of hours.

Parvovirus

Parvo is a highly contagious virus. Puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months old are the most susceptible to parvo.

“Your puppy is exposed to the parvovirus every time he sniffs, licks, or consumes infected feces. Indirect transmission occurs when a person who has recently been exposed to an infected dog touches your puppy, or when a puppy encounters a contaminated object, like a food or water bowl, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.” (2)

 If your puppy catches it, they will get extremely sick. Symptoms include bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, dehydration, and dehydration. 

It’s important you get treatment from a vet as soon as possible.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects the mucus membranes and other organs. It spreads through the bloodstream and is contracted from wet and muddy environments. If your puppy drinks or swims in infected water, they can easily catch it. 

“Leptospirosis spreads throughout a dog’s entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system.” (3)

Symptoms include runny nose, vaginal discharge, speckled gums, coughing, dehydration, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

And those are just the most common ones. Though it’s not a guarantee that your puppy can get ill, there is a high risk of contracting these diseases.

Even if your puppy doesn’t interact with other dogs, they could be exposed to the pee and poop of other dogs. These are prime environments for bacteria and viruses to thrive.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy going outside for the first time.

A Quick Guide To Puppy Vaccinations

Vaccinations are essential to your puppy’s health and well-being.

They help to protect your furry baby from contracting various diseases, including the scary ones we just spoke about in the previous section.

Related: How Much Does Dog Desexing Cost In Australia?

The timeline for vaccinations may vary depending on your puppy’s breed and individual health needs, but here is a general guideline:

  • 6-8 Weeks: Your puppy should receive their first round of vaccinations, which typically include parvovirus, distemper, adenovirus, and parainfluenza.
  • 10-12 Weeks: Your puppy should receive their second round of vaccinations, which may include the same vaccines as the first round, as well as other vaccines such as leptospirosis and Lyme disease.
  • 14-16 Weeks: Your puppy should receive their third round of vaccinations, which may include the same vaccines as the previous rounds and any additional vaccines recommended by your veterinarian.

It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate timeline for your puppy’s vaccinations.

When Can Puppies Go Outside After Vaccinations?

So do you have to wait until your dog is fully vaccinated before they can go outside?

Here’s what the experts say.

Your puppy isn’t totally vulnerable when they are 8 weeks, because they will have some antibodies from their mother’s milk still. Studies show that protection from the antibodies transmitted through colostrum can last up to 42 days. (4)

But going outside on walks is the most vulnerable your dog can be. So most vets don’t advise you to do this until after they have their full vaccinations.

Once your puppy has received all of their required vaccinations, they are considered protected from the diseases. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccinations to incubate and create antibodies. Therefore, at around 18 weeks old is when you can take your puppy outside in Australia, and

it should be safe to walk your dog to go to the toilet outside and meet with other dogs.

I will caveat that some vets disagree that you need to wait this long. Some will suggest that you can take your dog out after their first round of vaccinations.

As we always say, if in doubt, contact your vet for advice.

But what does that mean for your puppy’s socialisation? Are they going to be socially behind?

Let’s dive deeper.

Chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy on green grass.

How Can You Socialise Your Puppy Before They Are Vaccinated?

It’s a tricky situation. Your puppy’s tender learning phase is between 4 and 16 weeks. But if you can’t take your dog out safely until they are 18 weeks old, how can you socialise them?

Here are some ideas:

Socialising your puppy at home

Experts suggest you should start socialising your pup at home.

“To start the socialization process, bring your puppy around friends or family members who have dogs that are vaccinated and are not currently sick. Socialization can be done in your home or backyard, or their home or backyard—as long as they have not had any sick dogs in their backyard recently.” - Brittany Grenus DVM from PetMD, (5)

This contained playdate system ensures your puppy can meet a variety of people and dogs without endangering their health. 

Carry your puppy around the block

You can also carry your puppy outside (without putting them on the ground) to get them used to outside smells and sounds. Only do this for short bursts so that your puppy doesn’t get too annoyed with floating above the world in your arms. They’ll be extremely excited to engage with the world so only use this technique if you can comfortably carry your dog safely as you walk around for a couple of minutes, without them wiggling out of your arms.

Take your dog to puppy classes

Puppy classes typically start between 11 and 18 weeks of age. So most puppies will have done their second vaccinations but not the full course.

Related: When To Start Training Your Puppy?

But this is on purpose.

“Puppy school is one great way of doing this – it’s generally aimed at puppies between 11 and 18 weeks of age, which is to try and coincide with the critical socialisation period while also ensuring that the puppies are sufficiently vaccinated with all their routine vaccinations.” - RSPCA Australia, (6)

Because puppy classes are for puppies at the same level of vaccination, it should be safe.

Puppy classes are also great for learning dog training techniques and making connections for future playdates.

When can my puppy meet other dogs outside?

When can you finally let your puppy meet their dogy friends outside of school and home?

It’s recommended to wait at least 1 to 2 weeks after your puppy’s final round of vaccinations before allowing them to go outside and socialise with other dogs. This waiting period allows time for the vaccinations to fully take effect and provide the necessary protection for your puppy.

Even after this waiting period, you need to be cautious and introduce your puppy to other dogs and animals gradually. Start with short, supervised playdates with dogs that you know are healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations. For example, you could suggest an outdoor playdate with the puppy friends your dog made at school (how cute!).

Avoid taking your puppy to areas where there may be a high risk of exposure to diseases, such as places where strays roam.

To be extra careful, make sure you continue to follow good hygiene practices to minimise the risk of disease transmission. This includes picking up after your puppy and washing your hands after handling them or coming into contact with their poop.

If in doubt, consult your vet for advice on when it’s safe to go outside.


Can You Take Your Unvaccinated Puppy Outside To Pee?

So we’ve tackled socialisation. What about potty training? Can you even let your dog out to pee?

In a word, no. Unless it’s in your own back garden. If your back garden hasn’t had any dead animals in it for a year, it should be safe for your dog to use for potty training.

But if you have an apartment, the outside world is risky. So let’s talk about potty training inside.

How to potty train your puppy inside

The easiest way to potty train your dog inside is with a puppy pad or puppy grass. These are specially created for toilet training your puppy indoors. 


My Final Thoughts

In summary, vaccinations are essential to your puppy’s health and wellbeing.

After your puppy has received all of their required vaccinations, it’s recommended to wait at least one to two weeks before allowing them to go outside and socialise with other dogs. It’s important to be cautious and introduce your puppy to other dogs gradually, and to continue following good hygiene practices to minimise the risk of disease transmission.

Remember, your puppy’s health and safety are your top priority. By following these guidelines and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure your new furbaby has a happy and healthy life!

FAQ

I took my puppy outside before vaccinations. What should I do?

Firstly, don’t panic! Practice good hygiene and give your puppy a wash, including wiping their paws with parvo disinfectant. Watch your dog for any signs of illness over the next couple of days and weeks to ensure they haven’t caught any viral or bacterial infections. If you’re worried, consult your vet for a check up.

References

  1. Claussen, K. February 22, 2021. “Rabies in Dogs”. WebMD. Retrieved April 28, 2023. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/rabies-dogs
  2. Burke, A. August 24, 2022. “What Every Puppy Owner Needs to Know About Parvo in Puppies”. American Kennel Club. Retrieved April 28, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/what-every-puppy-owner-needs-to-know-about-parvo-in-puppies/
  3. Allison, L. July 27, 2020. “Leptospirosis in Dogs: What It Is and What You Should Know”. PetMD. Retrieved April 28, 2023.  https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_multi_leptospirosis
  4. Mila, H., et al 2014. “Protection against canine parvovirus type 2 infection in puppies by colostrum-derived antibodies”. Journal of Nutritional Science, 3, e54. Retrieved April 28, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2014.57
  5. Grenus, B. February 2, 2023. “When Can a Puppy Go Outside Safely?”. PetMD. Retrieved April 28, 2023.  https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/when-can-puppy-go-outside
  6. “Socialising your puppy”. August 2, 2022. RSPCA Australia. Retrieved April 28, 2023.  https://www.rspca.org.au/blog/2022/socialising-your-puppy

Olivia De Santos


Olivia De Santos is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer and Video Content Creator.

Olivia has over 10 years of experience writing professionally and is a dog Mum to Pip, her Podengo and Blue, her Flat-coated Retriever. She loves writing pieces to help people to be better dog owners.

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