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Puppy Socialization FAQs

Did you know that proper socialization is the most important thing you can do for your dog? Socialization sets the groundwork for a friendly, confident companion who is comfortable in all environments with people and animals of all shapes and sizes.

Old dogs CAN learn new tricks, but there is only a short window of time for proper socialization.

What is puppy socialization?

Puppy socialization is the process of introducing your canine friend to new environments and experiences in a fun, positive way. This includes interacting with strangers, other puppies and dogs, vets, groomers, car rides, balloons, vacuum cleaners, elevators, the list goes on! Whatever experiences your dog may have in his life, he needs to be exposed to during the socialization window.

When is the best time to start the socialization process?

Your pup will start her socialization process likely before she ever enters your home, as the socialization window starts around 6-8 weeks. The prime socialization window starts to close after 14-16 weeks, so the first month of having your new puppy home is critical. During this window, puppies are more open to new experiences without fear. As the socialization window closes, you may notice your puppy showing signs of anxiety he may have never shown before.

How do I socialize my puppy?

Show your puppy the world! Some experts suggest having 100+ people handle your puppy before she is 16 weeks old. She should meet men, women, babies, toddlers, school-age kids, and elderly of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Ask everyone you know to meet your puppy and ask them to give your puppy lots of treats and praise. Enroll in a Puppy Social Class. The experience must always be positive. You will also need to socialize your puppy to noises and environments, such as sirens, garbage trucks, slamming doors, fireworks, thunder, playgrounds, staircases, the vet's office, car rides, and being left alone.

Should my puppy be fully vaccinated before meeting other dogs?

Most puppies are well outside 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 a socialization class with zero protection. In general, they suggest for puppies to receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. We require two sets of vaccines. Puppies should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.

What is a Puppy Social Class?

Our weekly Puppy Social is a fun, mixed-format class where puppies build confidence with other dogs and humans and also learn and practice new skills. Puppies will gain a healthy attitude towards other dogs and humans, practice politely greeting people without jumping, and gain a brief introduction to basic commands (sit, lay down, stay, come, etc.) The class is designed for friendly puppies under 6 months old. Sign up for next week's Puppy Social!

Is there a Puppy Socialization Checklist for all the things my puppy needs to experience?


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