April 13, 2022 Dogs Pets and Family

New Puppy FAQ: Socialization, Safety and Grooming

white puppy sniff a dandelion

New Puppy FAQ: Socialization, Safety and Grooming

Summer is just around the corner, and many people are considering adding a puppy to their family. Nice weather makes it easier to housebreak a puppy, get outside for exercise, and the children are home from school to socialize and bond with the new family member. But if this is your first puppy, or it’s been a while since you’ve cared for a new pup, the details of puppy safety and etiquette may be difficult to navigate. In this blog post, I’ll answer some common puppy raising questions.

When should I begin socializing my puppy?

Puppies are most open to new people, environments, and experiences in the first 3 months of life. During this time, your puppy should meet people outside the family, other dogs and go outdoors as often as possible to ensure they’re on track to grow into a well socialized adult dog.

How can I make sure socialization is safe for my puppy?

Enlist friends and family with healthy, well vaccinated dogs to come over for supervised puppy playdates. Invite the neighbor’s children over so your puppy learns humans come in many sizes and shapes. (However, be sure to supervise the children’s behavior as well!)

If you live in a city, puppies should avoid unfamiliar dogs on the street, dogs who might not be well vaccinated or might be sick. Until your puppy has completed their core vaccination series, I do not recommend doggie day care, dog parks and boarding kennels to avoid catching a preventable disease.

Do you have any other tips for socializing my puppy?

Our friends at the American Kennel Club have some suggestions on all phases of puppy socialization. One recommendation I whole heartedly support is puppy kindergarten. These classes aim to bring together puppies of similar age and vaccination status for both socialization and early obedience training. Behavior problems are the most common reason dogs are relinquished to shelters, and proper socialization and obedience training will help prevent behavior issues as your dog matures.

puppies in the grass

Is grass safe for my puppy? 

There is nothing cuter than a puppy frolicking in the grass, but how safe is grass for a young, unvaccinated pup? The answer depends on where you live. For me, the closest green grass happens to be Central Park. Not safe for an unvaccinated puppy, unfortunately. Even if you keep your unvaccinated puppy away from other dogs in the park, the grass can harbor infectious diseases, including parvovirus.

However, the grass in your backyard is a different story. A yard with a fence is very safe for puppies because other dogs cannot enter and bring disease. A puppy can go out in your backyard as soon as you get him.

What is parvovirus and why is it such a big concern for puppies?

Parvovirus is a highly contagious and potentially fatal viral disease that can easily be prevented by a vaccine. The virus is very hardy and can survive on surfaces for months, even outside. Even trace amounts of feces from an infected dog may harbor the virus and infect other dogs. However, veterinary hospitals are safe even though we hospitalize parvo puppies, as the virus can be killed with disinfectant.

When can my puppy go to the groomer?

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer here. On the one hand, you want to keep your not-yet-fully-vaccinated puppy safe from any infectious diseases that may linger in a doggie grooming parlor. But you also want to socialize your pup to your groomer to help future visits go smoothly. 

The answer may depend on where you live. Many urban grooming parlors require certain vaccinations before they will see your puppy. If your puppy has not yet completed their core vaccine series, but meets the vaccine requirement of the grooming parlor, see if you can book the first appointment of the day to ensure a sterile, recently disinfected environment. 

Rural and suburban puppies may have the luxury of a mobile grooming salon. These salons take in only one dog at a time and minimize your puppy’s risk of exposure to contagious diseases from other dogs. 

Whether you raise an urban or a suburban puppy, the experience will be a very special one because nothing is better than having a puppy.

Tags: dogs, parvovirus, puppy, socialization, training,

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