Vaccinate Those Pups But Socialize and Train Them, Too
Posted at 11:57AM - Comments: (16)
I don’t know how this could have escaped my consciousness – probably because I don’t own a puppy – but I just learned that the veterinarians in my area (including several neighboring towns) routinely tell puppy owners not to take the puppy anywhere for the first six months. ANYWHERE, including puppy kindergarten classes, to friends’ homes, or for walks in their neighborhoods. Never mind the fact that so many dogs die as a result of being euthanized in shelters due to behavior problems traceable to a lack of training and socializing – let’s keep advising dog owners to carry on with the same practices that lead to those behavior problems, as long as we keep them safe from parvo and distemper. Argh!
Of course parvo and distemper and other communicable diseases are a threat to the health of every unvaccinated or not yet completely vaccinated puppy. But I’d bet my house that the number of dogs who are surrendered to shelters and euthanized in shelters far, far exceeds the number that die as a result of parvo, distemper, AND every other communicable disease.
It gets worse! When I blustered about this to a friend, she told me that this “keep the puppy at home until he’s had all his shots and is six months old” advice is repeated by the folks at the front counter at our local shelters, too – including the shelter where I volunteer. I’d think that shelter staffers who receive animals daily at a shelter would know better, what with owner after owner bringing adolescent dogs to the shelter for surrender while saying, ”He’s just gotten to be too much for us…He jumps up, he’s rough with the kids, he growls at strangers, he goes crazy when he sees another dog on leash…”
I’m not saying we should take every puppy everywhere. While we’re in the process of immunizing them against communicable disease in a series of repeated vaccinations, we have to show some discretion. Don’t take puppies to dog parks or trails where dozens of dogs are walked daily – but do take them to the homes of friends whose dogs are healthy and well cared-for. It can be difficult in cities where there are LOTS of dogs in every neighborhood (and peeing on every tree and hydrant), but try to find less-trafficked places to walk them. And above all, find a trainer who offers puppy socialization sessions and puppy training classes (and screens the participants for vaccinations and practices good sanitation) and enroll for as much as you can afford!
I’ll be rounding up every speck of literature that supports these recommendations and providing them in some form to first, my shelter staffers, and then the local vets. I’d be grateful for suggestions for any resources you’re aware of.