A pup should not be removed
from its mother and littermates before 8 weeks of
age (THIS IS THE LAW IN COLORADO AND ALL OTHER 50
STATES). If you get a pup sooner, then you're wasting a
lot of prime socialization building time with the
pup's mother and pack. Yes, the pup may be capable
of leaving at 6 weeks but if you want a
dog-socialized pup, then it should stay with its
litter for another 2 weeks to help with its dog
social skills. That's when dog socializing goes on -
during those weeks and with its littermates and
other attending adult dogs, not with strange dogs
from outside the pack during the next 2 months.
There is no reason or need to trust other dogs at
This leaves you with a total of 8 weeks that the
puppy must be kept from other dogs (between 8 weeks
and 16 weeks). This isn't a very long time to "ruin"
a dog in terms of dog socialization. This, as a
matter of fact, is the most important time in
bonding with YOU, not other dogs. The nice side
effect of keeping your pup away from other dogs at
this point is that it makes you spend more direct
time with the dog. If you feel that you absolutely
must have the pup socialize with other dogs during
this period, reunite the pup with its littermates,
its dam, or other members of its direct pack. If
this isn't possible, any other dogs in your own
house will suffice. If you don't have other dogs,
then you shouldn't go any further.
Pet fairs, dog events, contests, and doggie parks
are the worst place to bring your pup before
16 weeks of age precisely because they have so many
other dogs. I cringe every time I see a young one at
any of these events. These are prime places for the
communication of nasty diseases and increase the
pup's exposure 1000-fold. (Remember what happened
when one kid in school got chicken pox?). There is
almost always no vaccination requirement for these
events. Infectious diseases such as kennel cough and
the like run rampant at these places. Ask regular
pet-event travelers how many times their dogs have
"picked up" some cough or diarrhea at one of these
affairs. For an adult dog, kennel cough is merely a
nuisance. For a young pup, it may be
Just because any particular dog is vaccinated
doesn't mean it isn't a carrier of a serious canine
disease. The dog may be an asymptomatic carrier. Or,
remember, disease agents can travel on, in, or with
a dog, immunized or not.
An immunization prevents a
dog from getting a disease - it doesn't prevent it
from carrying it. My dog may be vaccinated for parvo
but still may harbor it in its feces, intestinal
tract, in its paws, on its coat, wherever.
Vaccinated dogs tend to go everywhere - especially
where other non-vaccinated dogs roam.
neighbor's dog may seem safe but when you consider
that it goes down to the local park where all the
non-vaccinated dogs wander, and defecate, and
sneeze, etc. and then comes back to your house, your
pup isn't safe at all.
Even people can bring parvo
in on the bottom of their shoes or on their hands.
This is why very few outside visitors should be
allowed in the house when there is a litter present
- you never know where they've been.
Many Trainers: Many trainers, the Monks of New Skete for
example, point out that the dog's socialization with
other dogs occurs in its litter and pack before you
ever pick up the puppy. Any other dog socializing
can go on at some later point.
Poorly dog-socialized dogs, even if they can't be
rehabilitated need to be kept in single-dog homes,
not euthanized. A people-aggressive dog is one thing
and may call for euthanization - but a
dog-aggressive one is something entirely different.
A dog-aggressive dog can live a complete and happy
life, without a single problem, in a single-dog
From the very early exposure of young
puppies to changes in their daily living to the gradual introduction of
human children and adults' interaction, tone of voice, play equipment to
explore, the list becomes as varied as the imagination of the breeder. And
from the breeder to the new home, experiences that broaden the life of the
puppy should continue. This is the process of "socialization".
A responsible breeder will recognize that
even the youngest of puppies needs to be exposed to varied experiences.