Socializing a New Puppy
Vaccinations and Disease Risk During Early Socialization
Most young puppies aren’t fullyprotected against the diseases we vaccinated
them for until they’ve had all of their puppy shots. This is mainly because the antibodies they get
from their mother can interfere with the ability of the vaccine to have its
full effect. Even though puppies’ immune systems are still developing during
their early months, if we wait until a puppy has all of his shots before
socializing him, we miss our chance to do it. He’ll simply be too old. The good
news is that if you take some commonsense precautions while socializing your
puppy, the risk of infection is quite small compared to the much larger risk of
your puppy developing serious behavior problems with fear and aggression later
Veterinarians specializing in behavior recommend that owners take advantage
of every opportunity to socialize young puppies in environments like puppy
classes, where the risk of illness can be minimized. They state that:
“Puppy socialization classes offer a safe and organized means of
socializing puppies. Each puppy should have up-to-date vaccinations and be
disease and parasite free before entering the class. Where possible, classes
should be held on surfaces that are easily cleaned and disinfected (e.g.,
indoor environments). Visits to dog parks or other areas that aren’t sanitized
or are highly trafficked by dogs of unknown vaccination or disease status
should be avoided.”
The experts now agree that the risk of a puppy being given up or later
euthanized for behavior problems is so huge that young puppies must be
socialized before they are done with their vaccinations. The recommendation is
to socialize puppies as safely as possible by exposing the puppy to people,
places and other animals while not taking unnecessary risks. Well-run puppy
classes-indoor classes where all the puppies have been vaccinated at least
once-are a safe and smart way to socialize a puppy.
"In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as 7
to 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."
"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."
Other Safe Ways to Safely Socialize a Puppy Who Is Not Fully Vaccinated
- Drive to a busy mall and hang out with your pup on a mat at the entrance.
Strangers will flock to you because they want to pet your puppy and they’ll
willingly feed him the treats that you’ve brought with you.
- Host a puppy party! Invite friends and family over, play some music, toss
some streamers, and pass your pup around.
- Bring your puppy to indoor Scouts meetings. Supervise the children
interacting with him to make sure he’s not frightened by them and they’re being
- Take your pup on car rides through different neighborhoods, drive-thrus,
car washes, and out into the country where he’ll see and smell a variety of
- Arrange play sessions with other puppies and adult dogs who you know are
healthy and friendly.
- If your puppy is small enough, carry him around town and let strangers pet
him and give him treats.