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What to Do With a Puppy That Still Can't Leave the House

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A puppy's learning begins once he makes his first step into his new home. He still may be too little to go out onto the street due to not having his vaccinations scheduled. However, as an owner its your duty to train him in the house. Besides, puppies are always eager to experience and learn new things.
What to Do With a Puppy That Still Can't Leave the House
Last update: 16 August, 2018

One of the biggest concerns when adopting a puppy is not being able to leave the house because it poses a threat to his health. People are always wondering what to do with a dog that can’t leave the house yet. Some people even put off house breaking their or teaching them to walk on a leash, but it’s better not to wait.

Vaccination schedule and socialization process

You normally adopt a puppy when they’re between 8 and 9 weeks old. As of that age, the puppy should be more independent from his mothers. He hasn’t been weaned yet, but he can eat other foods at this point.  He isn’t ready to go out onto the street due to not having all of his vaccinations.

It depends on the vet and the regulations of your country, but normally the last vaccine should be injected at 12 weeks old. That means there’s an entire month where puppy can’t leave the house.

This is the stage of life when puppies learn the most. They’re right in the middle of their socialization process. In other words, it’s the time when they learn how to interact with their surroundings and other dogs. This stage takes places during 3 weeks to 14 weeks old.

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This is a good reason you should start teaching your puppy what he’ll run into outside the house, even though he can’t leave yet. Continue reading to learn about some ideas.

Getting them ready for walks

Even though a puppy can’t leave the house yet, doesn’t mean he can’t learn to wear a harness or walk on a leashIf it’s the first time he has ever worn a harness and gone out on the street, there might be too many stimuli for him to handle.

Even though you’re not taking them out, it’s still worth showing him how to wear a harness. Start by putting it on him for a few minutes a day. Have him do other things while it’s on, such as playing or eating, so he can get used to it. That way he won’t associate it with the excitement of going outside, or see it as a punishment. 

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Once they’ve gotten used to the harness, it can be good to teach them to walk around with a leash on. The first few times they won’t know how to walk properly, and they’ll pull on the leash. This is the perfect period of time to teach them how to walk without pulling.

Learning basic commands

Due to the young age of puppies, their brains are like a sponge. Therefore, it’s the perfect time to teach them basic commands. You only have to do a few repetitions to get them to understand simple commands. It’s most common to teach them how to sit or lay down, but what’s really useful for them to know is to come back when you call and to drop whatever is in their mouth. 

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Keep in mind that their body is still really young and their joints will start to hurt as they grow. Also remember to use positive reinforcement to speed up their learning process and make learning seem like a game.

Give them new stimuli

If you have a puppy that can’t leave the house yet, you can bring things from the outside world to him. Introduce your puppy to new people, people of different ages and appearances.  So, make a couple phone calls and have your grandparents or grandchildren come over for a visit. Meeting people of different ages at home will be really important when your puppy finally goes out onto the street. 

Plus, if you know someone who has a balanced, healthy, vaccinated adult dog, you can have them come over too. Some lessons only dogs can teach each other, like introductions and games.

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You can take these introductions more into depth. You can introduce your puppy to cats, birds, or all kinds of other animals. Let him learn new noises, sounds, and music. Even though he’s still too young to stay home alone, you can practice by having him do something alone in a different room.

Keep in mind that all these people and stimuli need to be manageable for your puppy. Start out with simple things. Let him take a break between one stimuli and another. If it’s too much for him to handle, then take a break. This is a lesson that should be positive, not mandatory or overwhelming.

Their first walks

When the vet says your puppy’s vaccinations are complete and he can leave the house, you still have to do it gradually. The street is very different from your house. There are a lot of new stimuli he’ll want to learn about.

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During his first walks he won’t realize that he can go to bathroom outside. He might not even want to walk. Take him out several times a day, but only for very small amounts of time. During the first week 10 minutes will be more than enough. Don’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do. Let him explore.

Puppies are extremely intelligent and eager to learn. There’s no reason you shouldn’t teach them new things just because they can’t leave the house yet. It’s a great time for them, and there are an endless amount of things they can learn and experience.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Entendiendo la Importancia del Aprendizaje y la Socialización Temprana. Recuperado el 19 de febrero de 2022, disponible en: https://amaltea.fmvz.unam.mx/ETOLOGIA/TEMAS/Entendiendo%20la%20importancia%20del%20aprendizaje%20y%20la%20socializacion%20temprana.pdf

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.