With developing puppies we need to balance health risks with behaviour risks.
The Extraordinary Canines’ training facility is disinfected with a veterinary grade cleaner that is effective against common diseases, including canine parvovirus, before every Puppy Elements class and all families must provide proof that their puppy has received, at minimum, one set of vaccinations and has been seen by a veterinarian.
While the risk of attending a group puppy class are not zero, if the proper precautions are taken there is no greater risk than taking your puppy to the vet.
While your vet will disinfect the exam room before your unvaccinated puppy enters, your puppy may also be at risk of being exposed to disease visiting a vet hosptial/clinic as sick and potentially infectious patients regularly visit veterinary offices. On the other hand, Extraordinary Canines does not allow dogs showing any signs of potentially infectious illness to attend classes. The point here is not to worry you about visiting the vet, but simply to illustrate that there may be some health risks associated to things that benefit your puppy’s health and well-being.
The primary socialization window in puppies is between 3 – 12 weeks old and if we wait until puppies have received all their vaccinations at 16 weeks old we will have missed that very limited opportunity.
Puppies that are not adequately and ongoingly socialized before 12 weeks old are at higher risk of developing behaviour issues like fear/anxiety/aggression and also being relinquished to a rescue or shelter. A reputable rescue or breeder will have already begun socialization.
The most common cause of death in dogs under the age of 2 is behaviour euthanasia not disease. So, while we absolutely need to be careful with our puppies before they are fully vaccinated we also need to ensure they are getting socialization opportunities in safe environments to mitigate risks of behavioural problems as much as possible.
Extraordinary Canines follows the latest evidence on puppy socialization and development as well as the recommendations from The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) on puppy socialization classes which is to start puppies with socialization classes as early as it is safe to do so: one week after their first vaccinations.
High risk areas for disease must be avoided with your puppy until they are fully vaccinated (~16 weeks old). High risk areas include the dog park, dog daycare, the ground at the pet store, common areas at the vet office, and any other areas frequented by unknown dogs.
Ideally your puppy should start classes before 12 weeks. The puppies that start classes at 9 or 10 weeks old usually benefit most from classes compared to puppies that start later. Puppies that do not start classes until after 12 weeks old typically have a much more challenging time participating in the various socialization activities in our Puppy Elements classes and may have already begun to develop some fear and anxiety which is why we require puppies to start classes by 12 weeks old.
Read the full Puppy Socialization Position Statement from the AVSAB to learn more.