If you have been reading my blog for a while, (or if you haven’t, hello new readers!) you know that I preach the virtues of puppy “socialization.” So what is socialization and where does it happen? It is the process of exposing your puppy to people, places, sounds, sights and smells when they are young. The idea is that this exposure, combined with consistent puppy training, will help create a confident, friendly dog that can follow your directions in a variety of settings. I have written about this subject in several blog posts, which led to one reader to ask the following:
You have mentioned before how important it is to socialize young puppies by taking them to different places to experience people, smells, etc. But you have also said to not take puppies to dog parks. Isn’t this contradictory?
No, it’s not contradictory. Puppies are not fully vaccinated till about 4 months of age. A puppy owner must always keep in mind where their puppy is on their vaccination schedule in relation to where they take their puppy. Dog parks can have dogs there that are not vaccinated, there can be in-tact males etc. There are many other places for puppies and dogs to experience new sights, sounds, smells, noises rather than dog parks. Even for older dogs there are other places besides dog parks to get them used to all those things. There are puppy day camps and other pet resorts where vaccinations are required. There is doggie day camp, and much more.
I would simply say that owners must inspect and be comfortable with where you are sending your dog for the day just as parents would inspect and be comfortable with where they send their children. Kids can get hurt playing and so can dogs. A good day camp facility has a specific # of dogs per counselor and those counselors must be vigilant when the dogs are playing. Do not be afraid to ask questions about this and request a tour.
Also not ALL dogs are of the right temperament for day camp. Some are too shy or low energy. Each dog should be temperament tested prior to joining a day camp and the pet owner’s job is make sure you take your dog or puppy to a reputable day camp facility.
Remember, “Opportunity Barks!”
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