By Vanessa Vandersande DVM
It’s springtime and puppies are arriving in the practice for their puppy series vaccinations. This is one of my favorite times of year- who doesn’t love puppy breath? Most puppy owners recognize the importance of puppy vaccination and the value of preventing diseases like distemper and parvovirus.
However, many new owners are raising the question “When will it be safe for my puppy to have exposure to other dogs?” The question has a complicated answer. Depending on when vaccines are begun, some puppies will not truly develop immunity until the end of the vaccine series. The entire series takes four months, and that is an awfully long time to keep your new friend isolated!
The other side of the coin is many dogs don’t work out in their new homes due to behavioral problems. Exposing a pup to other dogs early in life can be extremely beneficial, helping the puppy to learn how to behave with other dogs in a non-fearful manner. Puppies also have a phenomenal amount of energy and having them run around with another dog is a wonderful, healthy way to tire them out.
The object in this situation is to find a middle ground where the puppy can interact with other dogs and learn good social skills while steering clear of situations where the pup might be exposed to a dangerous disease. We offer owners some rules to use so their pup can get out of the house. First, puppies can play with other dogs who are properly vaccinated and are on monthly deworming products. Go to other dog owners you trust. Your puppy can definitely play with their dog!
Second, only walk your pup in areas that have little dog traffic. Dog parks are NOT a good choice. Avoid other animal feces and urine, as they can harbor disease. Third, make sure you keep up to date with your puppy’s vaccine and deworming protocol.
A little common sense means you can protect your pup and still teach it to interact with the big, exciting world.