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Isolation or Socialization? It's Your Puppy! You Decide

So you have a new puppy and you want him to be happy and healthy AND well-behaved and well-adjusted? What to do?

Veterinarians advise isolation for young puppies due to their vulnerability to infectious diseases. The maturation of the puppy's immune systems and the need for vaccines to be boostered to become effective all take time, so the general recommendation is to avoid potential exposure to these diseases until the series of vaccines is complete and the puppy is four to six months old. Having seen the unnecessary suffering and death that some of these diseases cause gives validity to this advice.

In contrast to that advice, Behaviorists and Trainers advise early socialization of puppies. Eight to sixteen weeks of age appears to be critically important to the development of well-adjusted dogs. Prolonged isolation may contribute to unreasonable fear of strangers, both human and canine, and inability to adapt adequately to novel situations. The best advice is to enroll a puppy in a puppy class, which is kind of like kindergarten for dogs. They learn some basic obedience and get to play with other puppies and humans, and get to learn appropriate behaviors and responses while they are in their " formative" stage of psychological development. An added plus is that these classes are generally fun for both you and your puppy. The alternative, the suffering and the euthanasia of animals that have become fear biters or have developed destructive behaviors, can and should be avoided.

OK. Maybe Veterinarians and Behaviorists are both right. Like most things in life, compromise is the way to socialize your puppy and keep him healthy. Use good judgement to improve the odds for your pet as best as you can.

Do get the puppy vaccinated on schedule, feed it the best food you can, keep it clean and well protected, and isolate it from dogs and areas that are likely to have disease exposure such as parks and animal shelters and pet shops where many animals come and go. Use good hygiene and nutrition to maximize your puppy's ability to mount an adequate immune response.

Check out the obedience school. Is it clean? Really, really squeaky smell good clean? How often is it disinfected? Very important: Are they very insistent about seeing proof that your pup is current in its vaccination schedule? If they take your word for it, they take everyone's word for it!

Odds are, if you're careful, you will have a great experience, and a healthy, well-adjusted canine companion with minimal effort. Can things go wrong despite perfect planning? Sure. But the bet is a good one. Extreme overprotection or lack of any protection are asking for trouble.

It's your puppy. You decide.

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 197 - November 2017
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