2001-Wed Mar 22 18:08:50 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A. Your veterinarian is right to warn you about the risks of taking your puppy out before completion of the initial series of protective vaccines. That doesn’t mean you have to neglect the important work of socializing your new family member — but it does mean you have to be careful about where and how. Keeping a puppy protected from exposure to potentially deadly diseases will help get him to adulthood, but socializing him properly will protect him for life from other potentially deadly problems.
Over the course of a lifetime, a dog is more likely to die from behavior problems than disease. The adorable puppy who grows into an out-of-control or aggressive dog becomes a candidate for a trip to a shelter, where he'll be unlikely to get a second chance. A pup's best chance at becoming a loved member of a family for life has a lot to do with the effort put into raising him properly.
Behavior experts, such as my friend Dr. Ian Dunbar, say a puppy needs to meet 100 people in the first 100 days of life. A puppy needs at least that many new experiences as well. If you’ve gotten your puppy from a source committed to starting puppies off on the right paw, some of that work is done. It's up to you to keep it going.
Places to socialize a puppy in relative safety can be as varied as the outdoor patio at a coffeehouse or the waiting area at a car wash. Take lots of small, juicy treats for friendly strangers to give to your puppy and keep the experiences positive. Visiting friends and relatives who have healthy, friendly dogs current on vaccines is also an option.
Another place to socialize your pup is a good puppy class. Trainers who run them — such as my daughter, Vetstreet dog trainer Mikkel Becker — make sure the classrooms are clean and safe before puppies are brought in. Once in a well-run puppy class, a youngster can safely learn to play nicely with other dogs and pay attention to people, both important skills for a lifetime.
In general, you’re looking for places unlikely to have attracted dogs you can’t vouch for, especially unsocialized, unvaccinated and possibly contagious ones. That means skipping dog parks and other areas with heavy use by a large number of dogs. When your puppy is fully vaccinated, those places will no longer be off limits, but they are at first. Be careful even at your veterinarian’s office; carry your puppy in from the parking lot and keep him on your lap in the waiting room.
So, yes, you do need to be careful with your puppy, but you also need to leave the house before all those shots are done. It’s about managing risk, and the payoff of a well-socialized family pet makes it important to socialize your puppy safely and sensibly.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.