What is puppy socialization?
Socialization is critical during the first 8-16 weeks of your puppy's life. During this time, your puppy's brain is like a sponge and is more open to new environments and experiences. An adult dog's behavior is a result of the experiences as a puppy, so it's important to be proactive during puppyhood to prevent any unwanted behavioral issues down the road. Under-socialized dogs are more likely to display fear, anxiety, and aggression towards people and animals.
The key to proper socialization is creating POSITIVE experiences. Exposure is not enough. Be sure to pair these experiences with lots of treats and praise. And never force your dog to do anything he is visibly uncomfortable with, you could end up doing more harm than good.
Get all the guidance you need in our popular Puppy Social Class. Your puppy will meet new people, have off-leash interactions with other dogs, and experience new environments, smells, sounds, and items. Puppy Socials are a blast for you and your dog!
Should I wait until my puppy is fully vaccinated before enrolling in a socialization class?
Most puppies are outside of the socialization window by the time they are fully vaccinated. According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB), behavioral issues, not infectious diseases, are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years of age. For this reason, the AVSAB believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.
However, the AVSAB does not suggest that puppies should join classes with zero protection. In general, they suggest that puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. We require at least two sets. Pups should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.