The Importance of Early Socialization for Puppies
Many veterinarians suggest that puppies not be socialized with other dogs or go to parks where they may encounter dogs or wild animals until they have received their second set of puppy vaccinations (14-16 weeks). Their main concern is that the puppy could contract a serious or deadly disease (Parvovirus or distemper, rabies, Para influenza.) While these risks are real, there are also serious risks to dogs not receiving proper socialization during critical times during puppyhood.
A puppy’s socialization imprint is between 5-16 weeks. Basically this is your dog’s early childhood. Research shows us that dogs socialized correctly during this imprint time have much better social skills, are much less likely to be fearful, show aggression or have behavioral problems. If you keep your puppy isolated from other puppies/dogs during this imprint time, your puppy will also be much more likely to have dog-to-dog aggression issues later on in life. Unfortunately, most of the dogs with these behavioral issues end up in shelters and many are euthanized. There are approximately 8 million dogs in shelters presently in the U.S. Every day approximately 8,000-11,000 dogs are euthanized. More dogs die each year from lack of early socialization (Euthanasia) than they do from getting a serious disease during puppyhood.
Of course you should be smart with your new puppy and not interact with dogs/ puppies you do not know and who may be sick. Don’t let your new puppies go into the woods where they may interact with wildlife and keep them away from other animals’ feces. Use common sense. However, taking your new puppy to puppy class and getting your puppy to meet all sorts of people is something you should not miss. Starting this at 16 weeks is too late!
(Original Article posted on CanineMaster.com blog)