Puppy of the Month

Bear is a 6 month-old Labradoodle.


Favorite Activity:
Joining the family for rides in the van.


Life's Ambition:
To wear all the shoes she has stolen.


Favorite Socialization Spot:
The children's bus stop.


OS Certified Trainer™:
Patti Hight of WOOFS! Dog Training Center LLC.

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Socialization Safety Guidelines

Safe, Early Socialization: A Guide

Operation Socialization Puppy Socialization Safety Guide

©2013 Operation Socialization LLC
Download a printable 8.5" x 11" pdf

Protect Your Puppy's Heath

Puppies are more susceptible to diseases until fully vaccinated, typically around 16 weeks of age. Common illnesses (puppy warts, kennel cough) are very rarely fatal. More serious conditions (parvovirus, distemper) are transmitted through urine, fecal matter, or infected dogs. Fortunately most puppies already have some immunity from their mother or from vaccinations. Follow our guidelines and you can vastly reduce your puppy's risk of infection.

Protect Your Puppy's Friendliness

Bad experiences—and their consequences—are often an overlooked risk of puppy socialization. A puppy that's very frightened by something is much more likely to develop fear or aggression toward that thing (and others like it) in adulthood. The good news? Socialization helps your puppy develop resistance to traumatic events, just as vaccination does for his health. Let's say your puppy has lots of fun, rewarding experiences with other dogs, but is one day attacked by another dog. Your puppy, with his stockpile of positive experiences, is less likely to see all dogs as a threat from that point forward. A puppy that has had few or mostly bad experiences has no such protection.

What does this mean? Never force your puppy to face something he finds scary or unpleasant. Instead, gradually create a positive association with the scary situation until your puppy confidently and willingly meets the challenge.

Socialization Safety Guidelines
All things in life carry some risk, and early socialization is no exception. But, by taking a few common sense precautions you can greatly reduce any health or behavioral risks to your puppy. These guidelines are not meant to replace the advice of your veterinarian.

8 Things To Remember

Work closely with your veterinarian and keep your puppy current on his vaccinations.

Wait a minimum of 7 days after your puppy's first set of vaccinations before you begin a puppy class. The benefits of early socialization vastly outweigh the risks, according to renowned veterinarian R.K. Anderson. Read his open letter to colleagues on the subject. Or read the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's position statement on early puppy socialization.

Pick a puppy class provider that: A) uses disinfectant to clean waste, and B) requires proof of vaccination.

The most common way for your puppy to contract a serious illness is by walking in areas where dogs of unknown health and vaccination status go to the bathroom. Until your puppy is fully vaccinated, avoid these areas as much as possible. Good alternatives are doggy daycare, fenced-in backyards, and places that are regularly disinfected.

Only let your puppy interact with other puppies that are healthy and current on vaccinations, or with adult dogs you know to be friendly and fully vaccinated.

Stay away from dog parks until your puppy is fully vaccinated and at least 6 months old.

Always keep an eye on your puppy and be ready to remove him from situations that overwhelm him.
If your puppy shows sign of communicable illness (e.g. coughing, mucus, or diarrhea), contact your vet and keep your puppy away from other dogs.