Bringing home a puppy to join your family is one of the most fun memories you’ll ever share with your furry friend and with your family. And while it may seem unfair to keep your puppy away from other dogs and the fun of being outside, there are a few good reasons to do so within the first few months of their little lives. Still, you may want to know when puppies can go outside or go to the dog park.
When can puppies go outside or to a dog park for socialization in public? New dog parents should consider several things before puppy socialization in public.
But it is imperative you socialize your puppy. This way, you can make sure your pet pal has a happy life — full of playdates, confidence, and well… social interaction. Below, you’ll learn all about the best time to start socializing your new puppy.
Important Info For Pet Parents: Socialization Schedules Vary For Different Dogs
The Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior states that poor socialization can sometimes result in behavioral issues for dogs later in their lives. The organization’s experts say, “Behavioral issues are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age.” 1 So that shows you just how important puppy socialization can be.
The first three months of any puppy’s life are crucial when it comes to helping shape their temperament. Of course, bringing home a new puppy can be a big deal for any family. But, you’ll have to jump right in with potty training and potty puppy pads, making sure your pet’s getting the right puppy vaccinations, and even puppy classes for obedience.
There are early socialization classes available for new puppies. In fact, according to the Journal of the American Animal Hospitalization Association, puppies can safely attend early socialization workshops as long as they’ve had their first round of vaccinations. These shots are usually administered when your puppy reaches 8 weeks old. 2Ask your vet if they know of any reputable classes nearby.
If you get to 18 weeks without socializing your pooch, you’ve waited too long. Puppies have a short window in which they’re open to experiencing new situations, smells, sounds, and types of people. You don’t want to miss the window.
It’s an excellent idea to slowly introduce your pup to several different types of environments, people, and situations while they’re young. If you expose them to different types of environments and situations when they’re little, they’ll likely experience less stress in these situations when they’re older.
Your puppy’s socialization process will partly depend on where you get your furry friend. A reliable breeder will begin to socialize your dog as soon as they can. That means they will likely help a young puppy with their canine parvovirus vaccination, toilet training, other puppy vaccinations, and socializing your puppy with adult dogs.
A good breeder can help your puppy experience safer environments (both indoors and outdoors). They can also acclimate your newborn puppy to cars, instigate crate training, introduce them to new scents, sounds, and people.
The General Puppy Shot Schedule
If you happen to adopt a very young puppy or a puppy from a friend or a rescue, you should familiarize yourself with the puppy shot schedule. Puppy’s need to get certain vaccinations and shots to keep them healthy and happy.
Many of the health issues puppies come across in their first year of life can be concerning — and in some cases, life-threatening. Thankfully, most illnesses can be treated with shots. But you will have to be diligent about getting your new pet pal to the vet.
Want to Take Your New Puppy Out And About For More Than Just A Potty Break?
Until your pup is fully vaccinated, you must help them avoid the pet store, the dog park, and even puppy playdates. You’ll want to make sure your pooch is completely vaccinated before you take them to certain public areas, too. 3
But when the time is right, you’ll want to take your dog out for more than just a potty break. Socializing your dog will help them adjust to a variety of people, places, things, noises, and smells. This is all of the utmost importance because you can prevent your dog from being afraid of kids or riding in a car — something they’ll no doubt come across as adult dogs.
Make sure to check with your vet that it is safe to take your new dog out and about. Your vet will let you know if there are concerns like parvo, kennel cough, or anything else. If your pup is in the clear, you can start bringing them to the dog park or to any number of events or to meet various people.
Again, your breeder will start socialization for your pup. But if you adopt a young rescue, socialization will potentially start with you. Be patient. Many dogs are quick studies — if you’re consistent, your dog will learn how to behave in multiple situations.
Remember These Puppy Socialization Basics
- Teach your puppy about new scents, sounds, and sights. You want to support your puppy as they encounter the world like you would with a newborn baby. The world can be jarring to such a tiny creature — but if they trust you, they’ll likely stay calm in new situations. They’ll hold onto this trust as they age and this will allow them to be confident, friendly, and happy.
- Positive reinforcement in new environments is key for your pup. Try to bring training treats with you when you do finally attend the dog park. Practice calling your pup to come to you. But mostly, you want your dog to associate going out with getting treats. This will ensure they won’t be afraid to leave the house or meet new people.
- Keep yourself calm. Remember, a dog can read it’s puppy parent’s emotional state. If you’re nervous about introducing your dog to a new canine friend, your dog will likely get nervous too. This can lead to them acting out. So try to relax. Remember, your little dog will take their cues from you.
- Ask friends and family to help socialize your pup. You want to keep your puppy on their toes, so if you introduce them to other potential caretakers, they’ll be calmer in the future should they need to be boarded or stay with a dog sitter.
- Take socialization slow. Don’t try to do all your pup’s socialization in one day. Your dog can become easily overwhelmed. So socialization can be an outing at a time. If you decide to show your dog the vet, groomer, dog park, and relatives all in a day, you may stress them out. You want your puppy to trust that they’re safe in your care — so take it slow.
- Finally, get your poochie in school. Puppy class can be super helpful for socialization and house-training. As long as your dog has been vaccinated they can usually attend puppy class. These classes focus on simple commands like sit, stay, come, and place.
When Can Puppies Go Outside: The Lowdown
In the end, remember that newborn puppies will be most open to new sights, sounds, smells, people, and places within the first three to twelve weeks of their lives. After twelve weeks, your puppy can get set in their ways — they grow cautious of anything too surprising. It’s a great idea to talk to your vet about vaccinations and when to socialize your pet.
By the time your pup has reached 18 weeks of age, it can be really tough to introduce them to something new. This is where the phrase ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ really comes from. If your dog is frightened by something in its environment, and you didn’t take the time to socialize him, you’ll have a really hard time correcting the fearful behavior.
So, do yourself a favor and socialize your vaccinated dogs during the appropriate window. You want your puppy to have a shot at living their best life, so do your part. If you do, you’ll not only have a friend for life — but one who can accompany you almost anywhere.