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Immunization vs Socialization

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When Is It Safe to Socialize My Puppy: Immunization vs Socialization

As a new puppy owner, you may have been told by your veterinarian, read on the web or heard from other dog owners that you should not socialize your puppy until they have been fully vaccinated. That socialization can wait.

If you heed this advice you will be missing a critical developmental period. Doing so can result in negative behavior issues as they mature. Fear, aggression, over-arousal/hyper-excitement and avoidance behaviors can all stem from lack of social skills.

The first twelve weeks is the most important time for socialization to begin. Exposing your puppy to many new people, dogs, sights, sounds and environments in a calm manner is highly beneficial. During this time your puppy’s sociability outweighs its fear. This allows your puppy to adapt more quickly to new people, places and things.

The AVSAB- American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes “It should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization BEFORE they are fully vaccinated”.

Why then do so many veterinarians continue to tell new puppy owners to keep their pups secluded until fully vaccinated? Veterinarians are not always abreast of the most current behavioral findings. Their expertise is in health, wellness and illness.

Minimize the risk of illness by:

Socializing your puppy in a safe, clean environment.

Introduce him to puppies that have had at least their first round of immunizations.

Socialize your puppy with adult dogs who are current on their vaccinations.

Expose him to children. Children move differently than adults. Having kids offer treats to your pup creates a positive association.

Bring your puppy on outings so he can experience new environments and all the sights, sounds and smells that entails.

Compared to a lifetime of poor social skills such as, adverse reactivity or aggression towards dogs and/or people, the value of early socialization is clear.

Dogs that are socialized early, but who’s owners don’t continue the process, begin to forget skills they’ve learned. Dogs with poor social skills often exhibit fear aggression when placed in a social situation after long periods with no practice.

In simple terms, if you learned a new skill but you didn’t use it very often you wouldn’t be very good at it. Practice makes perfect!

Socialization should start early and continue throughout the dog’s lifetime for a happier, healthier well socialized dog.

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