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When Is It Safe to Expose Puppies to Other Dogs? Health Safety Facts & Tips

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

Puppies Playing

When Is It Safe to Expose Puppies to Other Dogs? Health Safety Facts & Tips

Although some vets recommend waiting until a puppy is fully vaccinated before meeting other dogs, new owners are also told that early socialization is key and that the ideal window in which to start socializing is when a dog is between three weeks and three months of age. It is impossible to follow both guidelines, but as long as you’re sensible and ensure that your puppy only mixes with dogs that are fully vaccinated, there is no reason that you can’t start to meet other friendly, sociable dogs pretty much as soon as you get your new dog.

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What Is Socialization and Why Does It Matter?

New puppy owners are told to socialize their puppy, but what does it really mean? Meeting new people and new dogs is part of it, but that isn’t all. Socialization means introducing a dog to new situations, new people, new animals, and new encounters.

Having your puppy meet a policeman, in full uniform, for the first time won’t just teach the puppy that policemen in helmets and bright yellow jackets aren’t to be feared, but it will teach them that new situations aren’t a bad thing. The same is true of all other social situations. Generally, well-socialized puppies will do better when meeting new people and encountering situations as older dogs. Those who underwent no socialization will be nervous about new people and get anxious when put in a new situation.

Mexican Hairless Dog puppy
Image by: Masarik, Shutterstock

Why Do Vaccines Matter?

Vaccines are also important. They protect against parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, and rabies. Additional vaccines may also be given, according to factors such as the area your dog lives and whether it will be a working dog or a pet. After an initial vaccine, your dog will need to have an annual booster to ensure that it enjoys continued protection.

The initial vaccination requires two injections, one at around 8–10 weeks and the second 2–4 weeks later. This means that your puppy could be nearly four months old before it is fully vaccinated and has been given two weeks after its final jab.

In the meantime, if your puppy comes into contact with a dog that is shedding parvovirus, it could contract it. This leads some vets to caution against letting unvaccinated puppies meet other dogs.

You do need to be sensible. Don’t let your dog socialize with unvaccinated dogs, and ensure that you know the vaccination status of any dog with whom it comes into contact. This is the only way to be sure of your puppy’s continued good health while allowing it to meet new dogs and socialize with other puppies.

Tips for Socializing a New Puppy

1. Regular Walks

Regular walks are a great tool for socialization. Not only do they introduce your puppy to the outside world, but they are likely to include new situations that your puppy isn’t prepared for. It will be exposed to cyclists, cars on the road, other people, and even dogs and cats.

cute Xoloitzcuintle puppy
Image by: art nick, Shutterstock

2. Change Your Walks

To get the most benefit from your walks, take different routes and at different times. If you take the same walk at the same time every day, you are likely to run into the same scenarios. While this might make your puppy feel comfortable, it won’t be teaching social skills.

3. Enrol in Puppy Classes

Puppy classes are great for a lot of reasons. They give you the basic tools needed to train your puppy and are also a sympathetic environment where other members should accept you, your puppy, and your puppy’s habits. They are also packed full of other puppies in the same situation and are a good opportunity to meet male and female dogs, different breeds, and puppies with various temperaments.

Labrador retreiver puppies sitting on grass
Image by: DTeibe Photography, Shutterstock

4. Visit Dog Parks

Puppy classes, however, tend to be filled with puppies, and your dog will meet older and young puppies. Dog parks are a good place to go to meet adult dogs. Be mindful if your puppy hasn’t had its vaccines, and also make sure you check with owners before your puppy greets their dog. Not all dogs are happy being jumped on by a new friend.

5. Get the Family Involved

You can’t intentionally introduce your puppy to some situations but can fabricate these meetings. Have somebody wear a hoodie while walking past your dog. Have your son or daughter ride their bike slowly past the puppy. Get everybody involved. It will be a fun experience and help ensure your dog is well-adjusted and equipped to deal with life.

border collie puppy practicing tricks
Image by: Geertes, Shutterstock

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When Is It Safe to Expose Puppies to Other Dogs?

Puppies need socializing, but you don’t want to overwhelm them when they’re too young. You also need to ensure they are not at risk of catching diseases like parvovirus if they haven’t been vaccinated. You should start socializing as soon as possible, but start small, and as long as your puppy doesn’t have full vaccination protection, check the vaccine status of any dogs it meets.

Featured Image Credit: 825545, Pixabay

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