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JoAnna Lou
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Socializing Puppies
Study looks at parvo risk for young dogs in socialization classes

When I get a new puppy, my main focus is on introducing them to as many dogs, people, and environments as I can. Puppies that are not socialized during the first three months of life are more likely to be fearful and possibly aggressive later in life.

Socialization is clearly important, but I always meet people who think they have to wait until their puppies receive their final vaccines at four months to take them outside of the house. While the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior recommends that healthy puppies can start classes as early as seven to eight weeks of age, not all veterinarians agree.

The University of California Davis decided to look at this issue, more specifically at the parvo risk puppies bear by attending socialization classes before their full vaccination schedule is complete.

Of the 1,000 puppies included in the study, none of the dogs that attended socialization classes were diagnosed with parvovirus infection. All of the fourteen puppies in the study that were diagnosed with parvo did not attend classes.

Not only does socialization influence behavior, but retention rates are higher in homes with dogs that participated in classes. However, people continue to get mixed messages on when it's safe to socialize their puppies.

UC Davis' study found that the majority of dogs, 86.6 percent, did not attend socialization classes. This underscores the importance of doing more research in this area and getting a uniform socialization recommendation for veterinarians to advise their clients.

What age did you start socializing your pup?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by Shirley Zindler | April 14 2013 |

Wonderful! As a shelter worker who has fostered and re-homed many litters of puppies, I always advise my adopters to socialize the puppies during that critical time period. I tell them to avoid areas with a lot of stray dogs, but to take the puppies to classes and to visit friends with healthy, friendly, vaccinated dogs. Puppies can be carried into clean pet and feed supply stores and the risk from clean dry sidewalks in nice neighborhoods is probably minimal. So many shelter dogs come in with no socializing and its heartbreaking. My own rescued great Dane came in to the shelter at around 8 months of age as a stray. She was absolutely terrified of everything, had no idea what a leash was and was snapping at anyone who came near. Thankfully we've worked through most of her issues and she's a delight, but life would have been a lot less stressful if she had some positive experiences early in life.

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