Is this you?
Our puppy is doing fine! If anything, he’s overly friendly! He’s met our friends and neighbors and has played with several dogs. We don’t need to worry about socialization or going to puppy classes yet.
This is a one-time opportunity! Puppies 3-12 weeks of age are at a special stage of brain development in which they are wired to learn what is normal and safe in their environment. Puppies thoughtfully exposed to the world have the best opportunity to mature into friendly, confident adults.
“Dogs who had more social contacts or attended puppy classes before twelve weeks of age were less likely to develop fearful or aggressive behavior.”
American Veterinary Medical Association
When does the American Veterinary Society for Animal Behaviour recommend starting puppy classes?
7-8 weeks of age
Help! How do I socialize when my veterinarian says I should keep my puppy at home until puppy shots are finished?
Paige Pierce, MS, DVM, Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, OR, recommends asking your vet to comment on the advisability of the following socialization opportunities:
- People and their healthy, socially competent, vaccinated dogs visiting our home
- Visiting the home of our friends and their healthy, socially competent, vaccinated dogs
- Enrollment in a well-run puppy class
- Carrying/walking through stores that don’t have a high volume of dogs, such as home stores, that allow dogs
- Short road trips
- Carrying/walking past a schoolyard
Your vet’s knowledge of recent cases of parvo or distemper will inform their advice.
How to Begin
There’s MUCH more to it than simply exposing your pup to your friends and their dogs! Check out Mardi Richmond’s article: The Puppy Socialization Checklist.
Reduce the Risk
Avoid dog parks, trails, rest stops, the beach, busy pet stores, and other areas where unknown dogs congregate until two weeks after puppy vaccine series is completed—at 16 weeks or older.
Remember! Infected dogs may shed virus before they appear ill, and continue to do so after they’ve recovered.
Read more about it!
Whole Dog Journal: The Complete Puppy Socialization Guide
American Veterinary Medical Association: Socialization of Puppies and Kittens
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior: Puppy Socialization Position Statement