Posted on: 6 June 2015Share
Dogs' experiences during their first few months play a major role in later behavior, influencing their ability to function and behave normally around strangers and other dogs as an adult. Many puppy owners, however, struggle to find the right balance between socializing their new pet while still protecting it from dangerous diseases before it is fully immunized. Because puppy vaccinations are delivered in several rounds, your puppy may not be safe from common and often fatal illnesses such as parvovirus until it is four months old! Following these four tips can help give your puppy plenty of the socialization it needs while still minimizing its exposure to germs.
Avoiding Areas With Heavy Dog Traffic
Keeping your puppy indoors for its first four months is neither advisable nor feasible, but there are certain precautions you should take when going out for a walk. Although it may be tempting to visit a dog park where your puppy can practice interacting with dozens of other dogs, stick to areas where dogs are less likely to be taken for walks or allowed to run off-leash. This reduces the direct and indirect contact your puppy has with unvaccinated dogs, making it less likely to pick up a disease.
Throwing Puppy Parties
Instead of taking your puppy out to meet the world, consider bringing a small part of the world indoors. Invite friends and family over to your home, including any of their vaccinated pets, to meet your puppy and get it accustomed to having strangers in the house. Have your guests remove their shoes before entering to leave any unwelcome germs at the door. This helps combat territorial behavior in your puppy later on while still allowing you to control its environment.
Attending Puppy Socialization Classes
Many veterinary clinics and pet stores offer special classes for puppies to interact with strangers in a safe and clean environment. You may also have the opportunity to begin early obedience and bonding exercises under the eye of an experienced trainer, enriching your puppy even more. These places do typically have high dog traffic, so pick up your puppy or keep it in your lap until you are in the designated class area.
Focusing On Other Desensitization Training
Socialization is essential for any young dog, but it is still best to exercise caution and limit your puppy's time spent outdoors until it is fully immunized. During your puppy's first few months, focus on different forms of training that will also prove beneficial in the long run. Get your puppy used to the vacuum cleaner, basic voice commands, car rides, baths and nail trimmings to make the most of this time and ensure that your puppy grows up happy, healthy and well adjusted.
For more help with dog care, contact a local veterinarian.