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When Can Puppies Be Around Other Dogs

↯ Key takeaway points

  • New puppies can meet fully vaccinated dogs at any age.
  • Puppies should not interact with unvaccinated dogs or visit dog parks until they have all their shots.
  • Puppies should continue to socialize even when they are not fully vaccinated to avoid anxiety and behavioral issues.
  • It's important to supervise puppies at all times, let them wear a leash or harness, and be aware of disease outbreaks in your area.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Monday 6 February 2023
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
When Can Puppies Be Around Other Dogs
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As a new puppy parent, one of the many questions on your mind is likely to be “when can puppies be around other dogs?” Some pet parents may believe that a puppy cannot meet other dogs until they are a certain age. However, most vets currently agree that a young puppy can meet other dogs as long as some requirements are met.

So, when can a puppy be around other dogs? If they don’t have all their shots, they may meet fully vaccinated dogs. When they do have all their shots at 16 weeks, they can meet new dogs. But why is this? And which dogs are safe for your puppy to meet? To find out more, read on with us today!

When Is It Safe For a Puppy to Be Around Other Dogs

Your new puppy can meet vaccinated dogs at any age. However, if the vaccination status of the other dog is unknown, it’s advised that you keep your pup away. Until your pooch is fully vaccinated, they cannot go fully out and about to mix with other dogs. Without their complete set of vaccinations, your puppy risks contracting potentially deadly diseases.

Keep Your Dogs’ Vaccines Updated

It’s important to socialize your puppy, even when not fully vaccinated. Avoiding socializing your pup until they are five or six months old can lead to anxiety and behavioral issues later on. However, your pooch should not interact with dogs who are not up to date on their vaccinations. The key to safely introducing your pup to other dogs is to be sure that you know the other dog, their vaccination history, and whether they’ve been around other dogs you don’t already know. This means that you should not take your unvaccinated puppy to dog parks. You should also not let them run off-leash around other dogs. By allowing your pup to interact with unvaccinated dogs, you risk exposing your little one to a huge range of potentially deadly diseases! These include parvovirus and distemper.

Make Sure To Update Deworming

Your young puppy is especially prone to worms. A pup can contract worms through direct contact with infected dogs and contact with feces on the ground. Similarly, your little one may transmit worms to other dogs. So, it’s important to keep your puppy up to date on their worming medicine. Your puppy should have to deworm at 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12 weeks old for the best protection. Once your puppy is 12 weeks old, you should continue to treat them for worms every three months. Keeping your pooch up to date on their worming medicine is important because worms can make your puppy very sick. Puppies with severe worm infestations will suffer from diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a dull coat.

Train Adult Dogs to be Gentle

It’s important to consider the temperament of any adult dogs you introduce your pooch to. If your dog has a history of good behavior with young pups, it may be a good idea to introduce them to your pup early on. If you’re not sure how your dog will react, you can use baby gates or exercise pens to protect your pup whilst monitoring their interactions. Just be wary that your dog does not get overexcited, as they may attempt to jump the barrier to access your new puppy.

Once you start to see friendly curiosity, you can allow them access without the barriers. Be sure to reward your adult dog for being gentle and friendly with your youngster. On the other hand, if your adult dog is not accepting of your little one, you’ll need to keep them apart. You don’t want your pup’s first meeting with an adult dog to go poorly, as first impressions are vital for pups – a frightening interaction with an older dog as a puppy can cause lifelong fear!

Supervise Them at All Times

When allowing your puppy to meet other dogs, always supervise them closely. First and foremost, you can’t know exactly how the other dogs will react. Young pups are endlessly curious and still learning manners, and an adult dog might not take kindly to a puppy invading their space. Being able to remove your young puppy from an interaction quickly could save your puppy from injury and lifelong anxieties. Secondly, your puppy can get themselves into all kinds of trouble – chewing things they shouldn’t, eating things they shouldn’t, and so forth. Supervising your puppy closely means that you can protect your puppy from harm in the environment.

Let Them Wear a Leash or Harness

Your puppy can start wearing a leash and harness as early as 8 weeks of age. Because your new puppy is so young, they will not yet fully understand recall – and being able to get your puppy back under control quickly is vital for their safety. You need to have full control of your puppy, as fights or other dangerous situations can quickly break out that may frighten your puppy for life. By using a harness, you can swiftly regain control of your little one without causing them harm – grabbing a collar can cause pain and injury if they struggle. As well as this, the AKC states that a harness is the safest option for young puppies as puppies will often pull on walks.

Check Your Area

When letting your puppy outside, be sure to check for news in your area. Unfortunately, disease outbreaks do occur. For example, canine influenza cases surged in Texas in late 2022. As a result, vets are urging owners to get their pups vaccinated for the disease. Similarly, Blastomycosis broke out in Wisconsin in 2022. News sources urged residents to avoid hiking, camping, and walking along riverbanks, where the fungus resides. Being aware of the diseases in your area is vital for protecting your puppy! If in doubt, ask your local vet for advice. They can advise you on any additional vaccines your pup may need. Some vaccines are “optional”, so your puppy won’t have gotten them with their routine shots.

How to Introduce a Puppy to Another Dog

Introducing your puppy to your adult dog can be daunting. However, as long as you supervise the two closely, there is little to fear.

First Impressions

Introducing a pup to an adult dog can be an exciting time for you, but it’s important that you stay as calm and casual as possible. You might first put a baby gate or playpen between the two to monitor their behavior – if all seems well, you can progress to the first real meeting. When it’s time for your little one to meet your adult dog, plan the meeting in a neutral place. This might be outside in the garden or in a room away from your adult dog’s bed. Here, there are ideally no toys or food to lay claim to. This is especially important if your adult dog is a resource guarder! You don’t want your adult dog to snap at your puppy for food or toys.


Do not reprimand your adult dog for growling at or correcting your puppy. This is how your dog lets the puppy know that they are unhappy about their behavior. This will teach your puppy the adult dog’s boundaries and discourage impolite behavior. As long as your adult dog does not injure or unduly frighten your puppy, just continue to supervise and monitor closely. If you notice that your adult dog is becoming agitated by the puppy, separate them or redirect your pup to another task. Puppies are high-energy creatures and will quickly tire an older dog. Be sure to give your adult dog breaks and places to rest away from the pestering of the youngster.

When an older dog is constantly pestered to play, is climbed on, barked at, and overall has its resources compromised, the frequent corrections will become draining. Your older dog might become frustrated, leading to them shutting down, or beginning a long life of fights with the puppy. It is unfair to put all of the corrections down to your older dog. Eventually, an older dog will over-correct or actually bite the puppy, labeling them as aggressive. As you continue to not advocate for your older dog, they may develop a grudge towards the puppy. When your puppy grows, fights become more frequent as they push boundaries.

You can advocate for your adult dog by doing the following:

  • Crate train your puppy, thereby teaching them to settle down
  • Feed and play with the two dogs separately
  • Do not leave your puppy unsupervised with your adult dog
  • Read your older dog, remove the puppy when they are overwhelmed

When Can Puppies Interact With Outdoor Dogs

Your puppy is safe to interact with strange dogs around 16 weeks of age. At this point, your puppy should have full vaccinations and benefit from their deworming medication. It’s important that your youngster is fully vaccinated before venturing out to meet unknown dogs. Strange dogs may carry diseases that your puppy could contract. At 16 weeks old, your puppy is also physically stronger and better able to withstand play with larger dogs. However, this does not mean that your puppy should play alone. Continue to monitor your puppy whilst they meet strange dogs. And, be ready to separate your puppy from them if anything goes awry.

At this age, your puppy is still learning manners. As such, you may find that strangers’ dogs will correct your puppy when they are impolite. Do not rush to separate your puppy from these dogs if you notice growling or snapping. There is a lot of value in older dogs correcting young puppies.

When Can Puppies Be Around Other Dogs: FAQs

Still wondering when puppies can be around other dogs? Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt about socializing your new puppy, you can always ask your vet for advice.

Can my 8-week-old puppy be around other dogs?

Your 8-week-old puppy can be around vaccinated dogs who you already know. These dogs might belong to another family member or friend or already live in your household. It’s important that your pup only meets fully vaccinated dogs at this age, as young puppies are particularly susceptible to diseases.

Can my 16-week-old puppy be around other dogs?

A 16-week-old puppy can safely mix with other dogs. At this age, your puppy should be fully vaccinated, and thus less susceptible to potentially deadly diseases. Your puppy also poses a lesser risk to other dogs when they are fully immunized. Just be sure to continue supervising your puppy during play. You cannot guarantee the temperament of a stranger’s dog and must be able to gain control over your puppy if things don’t go to plan.

Can an unvaccinated puppy be around vaccinated dogs?

An unvaccinated puppy can be around vaccinated dogs. However, these dogs should be dogs who you know the health history of and already know personally. You should allow your puppy to socialize only with trusted dogs who you know will not injure or frighten them.

How do I socialize my puppy when not fully vaccinated?

You can socialize your unvaccinated puppy by allowing them to visit vaccinated dogs. You must be confident that the other dogs are fully immunized, healthy, and of sound enough temperament to interact with your young puppy. It’s important for your puppy to meet friendly, gentle dogs, as negative experiences in their early years can lead to lifelong anxieties!

Can I walk my unvaccinated puppy?

Most vets advise against walking unvaccinated puppies in public. This is because your unvaccinated puppy will be very susceptible to disease in the environment. Even walking down your street comes with the risk of your puppy picking up harmful diseases and parasites as other dogs will have fouled in the area. However, you may exercise your puppy in your own garden as long as it is not used by unvaccinated dogs.

Your puppy can meet fully vaccinated, friendly dogs at any age. They should not meet strange dogs until they have all of their shots. Always supervise your dogs during their interactions.

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