For many new and experienced dog owners, there is always the debate of when to start socializing your new pup? For most people who get a new puppy, it should be no less than 8 weeks old when taken away from the litter and the mom. After that, most vets will tell you NOT to socialize your puppy until they are roughly 12 weeks or have had their second set of shots.
What I would like to clarify, is firstly, not to contradict the vets. Secondly, to be more specific on what to stay away from and why. Thirdly, what should be considered as “OK” to do the first day you bring your new pup home. What practices are helpful and necessary to set the pup up for an easy transition to its new world.
On the first note; the reason behind the 12-week mark and second set of shots, is for health reasons and the fact that the puppy is more susceptible to picking up viruses and illnesses from a weaker immune system at that time. Dog parks have a much higher concentration of dogs daily and not all dogs may be completely healthy or the park environment clean of fesses, viruses, or things that can get a puppy into trouble. As well, you do not know what kind of dogs may be in the park at that time. It could be a bad experience for a new puppy if overly dominant or aggressive dogs may be there. You just don’t know!
What things should be encouraged is exposure to people, noises, car rides, play sessions, selective healthy dogs in a home environment or the occasional leash meeting with neighbor or family dogs that you know are not aggressive or going to give the pup a bad experience.
Then once they have had their second set of shots, the next level of exposure would be signing up for puppy class! This is a controlled environment with a limited number of pups, an experienced instructor, that can referee energy and behavior levels.
Owners will learn what is acceptable and what is not. It also allows the pups to start interacting off leash on supervised terms and learn from each other.
Doggy daycares that separate puppies and smaller dogs is also a great way to start this process. It helps tremendously, with exposure, exercise, stimulation and tuckering out all that puppy energy, in a controlled & monitored environment.
Don’t wait and isolate your puppy beyond the 12-week mark… this makes integrating with other dogs more complicated and harder to enforce especially if the dog has lots of energy to burn to keep them calm and well mannered.
Just remember, Awesome K9’s motto is a tired, exercised, stimulated pup, will be easier to manage and much happier to have at home. Daily exposure, exercise, boundaries and rules along with not overdoing the love is all good stuff!
Nancy-Lynn Stoller I.A.C.P.
Professional Dog Trainer
Canine Behaviour Consultant
904 Winnington Ave.
Ottawa Ont. K2B 5C7