The common thinking is that puppy socialization needs to wait until dogs are older and all vaccines have been given. Yet countless studies have shown early socialization is essential to healthy puppy development. In fact, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior [AVSAB] states, “…the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”
By waiting until a dog is old enough to have their vaccinations, they will already be past the critical socialization period (8 weeks to 12 weeks old). It is during this period that puppies need to be exposed to different people, environments, as well as other real-world stuff, like skateboards.
People who don’t socialize their puppy during the early developmental period run the risk of having a dog who develops behavioral problems stemming from fear and lack of confidence. These behavioral issues manifest as reactivity, fear-based aggression, anxiety, and more.
Risk vs. Reward
You might find yourself asking: Is it even worth the risk? My vet said no socializing until they were fully vaccinated?
Veterinary science, like dog training, has come a long way. Remember when we used to bop our dogs on the nose with a newspaper? With new studies, comes new information, and with new technology, comes new medical advancements.
New vaccines are much more effective and have higher titers to help puppy grow their own antibodies as their natural antibodies from mother’s milk start to fade away. The AVSAB recommends: “In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class. “ Read the full article here.
Moreover, we should look at your puppy’s health as more than the one-dimensional factor of their physical health. Dogs are interactive and social beings by nature, and their physiological health plays just as an important role in their future. A dog that develops severe separation anxiety can become a danger to not only your home but also to themselves.
Enrolling your puppy in a safe socialization program can help them grow into well-rounded individuals.
There are numerous ways to desensitize and expose your puppy to the world. Here is a socialization checklist to help you cover all of the bases.
Early Socialization Do’s and Don’ts
Follow these simple Do’s & Don’ts to help you socialize your puppy early. The general rule of thumb should always be avoiding areas or dogs that are unhealthy and unvaccinated.
- Dog parks
- Public dog beaches
- Walking down the street (mingling with strange dogs)
- Playing with unvaccinated dogs
- Enroll your puppy in a safe socialization program
- Carry your dog around your neighborhood where you plan to walk them (i.e. in arms, carrier or stroller)
- Visit a friend or relative (if they have a dog and only if that dog is vaccinated and healthy)
- Host a puppy playdate in your home with your fellow puppy class friends (after COVID-19)
- Check off items on your socialization checklist!
Our Hope For Your New Puppy
At Fitdog, we believe in the power of early socialization and positive reinforcement training. Above all, we want to help you build the foundations for a healthy life for your puppy and prepare them for life in our human world. From musculoskeletal development, training foundations, healthy play behavior, and potty training, we feel our program will help your puppy play, learn, and discover.
Ultimately, we would rather see your sweet pups now, than later down the line to fix serious behavioral issues that can be costly, dangerous, and time-consuming. When your pup becomes a member of Fitdog, they have a second home where they can expand their learning, make lifelong doggy friends, and live an enriched, full life.
Last updated January 7,2021