How To Socialize A Puppy Before Vaccinations
Published: August 5, 2022
Updated: October 10, 2022
Summary: Socializing a puppy is important, but you may be wary to do so before they’re properly vaccinated - which is the right hesitancy to have, pet parent! So, in this blog, we’ll learn how to socialize a puppy before vaccinations…
Did you know that the first 12-17 weeks of a puppy’s life are vital for shaping their future behavior, reactions and personality? And, socializing a puppy properly is essential for helping develop a well-adjusted, confident, and happy dog.
However, how do you socialize a puppy before their vaccinations? Most doggy daycares won’t take a dog that hasn’t had their shots!
A puppy should start receiving their first shots between 8-10 weeks of age, and their second doses should then take place between 10-12 weeks of age. You can read more about the exact canine vaccination process in our Ultimate Guide To Dog Vaccinations here.
So, if your puppy hasn’t received their full dose of shots yet, how do you ensure they’re socialized safely? Here’s our top ten 10 tips on how to give your dog the best start in life in regards to socializing before their vaccinations…
How To Socialize A Puppy Before Vaccinations
- Invite friends (of all ages and backgrounds!) to your home - just ask them to remove their shoes as these can carry outside germs in from the ground, and to sanitize their hands and their forearms before interacting with your puppy. You can also visit your friend’s houses as long as the same rules apply in terms of sanitation. Any pets that live in the house you’re visiting should be up to date on their vaccinations and known to be good at interacting with other animals. If the pet you’re visiting isn’t, this could be detrimental to your dog’s development, because if a dog is aggressive towards them or barks excessively at them, they may learn that other doggos are things to be scared of!
- Take your pup for a walk in a carrier, stroller, sling or in your arms. They mustn't walk anywhere that might have been exposed to other animal’s poop or urine though, as excrement can carry germs and parasites that may prove problematic to a puppy’s unvaccinated, vulnerable immune system.
- Make sure before you bring your pup home that any other pet you own is up to date on their vaccinations so they can socialize immediately and get comfortable with each other quickly.
- Take an exercise pen and a large blanket to the park. Place your puppy on the blanket to avoid the potential germs on the grass, and keep them enclosed in their pen. This way they can watch the world and get used to outdoor noises in a germ-controlled environment.
Take your pup for rides in the car to help get them adjusted to the motion and traveling in their crate or in a secure harness and belt.
- Visit your puppy’s vet’s office so the staff can make a fuss of them and teach them that visiting the vet is a good experience, nice and early. Come armed with treats to make sure you can positively reinforce the experience for them too.
- In a carrier, stroller, sling or in your arms, take your pup to public spaces like dog-friendly cafes. This will help them get used to the noises and smells in areas that you intend to frequent with them often once they’re vaccinated. Just remember to not put them on the ground or near other dogs you’re not sure are vaccinated.
Vacuum the house, blow dry your hair, play music and watch TV while your pup is enjoying a treat or playing with toys. This will get them used to these noises during a positive experience so the positive association occurs and your dog isn’t surprised by these noises in the future.
(PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Think about less frequent scary noises, like fireworks or gunshots too. Play these noises at home via your phone, computer or television in a similar way so your dog isn’t spooked by them when an action film is played or events like New Year’s Eve roll around.)
- Consider taking your pup to puppy classes. A well-run, reputable and ethical puppy class will take precautions to ensure all the unvaccinated puppies are as protected as they can be from diseases while helping your pup become socialized and receive some foundational training. Simply search online “puppy socialization near me” or “puppy classes near me” and find your local ones - remember to check their ratings and the host’s credentials before you enroll!
- Remember, it’s the quality of the exposure that’s important, not the frequency. A young dog just needs to have repeated, positive experiences of social situations with humans and other animals alike in a safe, controlled way while they’re too young to be fully vaccinated. And, that includes your behavior and experience of these interactions too! Stay calm and positive yourself, and this in turn will reassure a hesitant, learning pup.
According to staff members at UK company Paws In Work, a puppy should ideally be encouraged to safely meet around 90 different people in their first 90 days of life to help ensure a well-adjusted dog. So, now it’s over to you, pet parent! Happy puppy socializing!
Author Richmond, Mardi MA CPDT-KA, CC. “11 Ways to Safely Socialize BEFORE Your Pup is Fully Vaccinated” Good Dog Santa Cruz https://www.gooddogsantacruz.com/11-ways-to-safely-socialize-before-your-pup-is-fully-vaccinated/