We have a nine week old puppy and have been receiving conflicting advice about whether or not to take her outside with us. Some people say that she could contract Parvo because she has not had all of her immunisations while others tell me this is the most critical time to socialise her. I am confused and don’t know what to do. What’s your advice?
Many people are confused and worried about this issue, it is a great question. When you bring your new puppy home they are not fully immunised and the risk is that they can contract life threatening illnesses such as Parvovirus. Parvo is usually spread through close contact with infected faeces or soil, it is very contagious and can live for months in such environments. Yes, there is a risk. It is for this reason you will be advised to ‘quarantine’ your puppy until after their last vaccination to ensure they have immunity to Parvo.
The other side of the argument is that this is also the time when you should be taking your puppy to as many places as possible so they can learn about the world. This advice comes from the stage of development your puppy will be between 8 and 16 weeks. During this time your puppy is at its most ‘open’ for learning and accepting new experiences, a delay in dog-dog or dog-person socialisation during this time can damage your dogs temperament.
So what do you do?
In short, do what you feel comfortable doing. Your dog must meet other dogs and people during this time so decide how you are going to manage this. As a minimum, you should have new people and dogs over to your home every day and be sitting in your driveway or front yard with your dog so they can observe the world. I take my puppies everywhere, even the off lead dog park, from the time I bring them home. However, I would only recommend doing this if you are very dog savvy. It is vital that your puppy meets the right kinds of dogs for a positive experience.
You can even take the middle ground, take your dog out in your street for a wander and time for observation. Sit down on the footpath with your puppy and allow them to watch all of the things that pass by and allow them to explore the environment. The reality is that if you have Parvo on your footpath you will probably bring it in on your clothes and shoes anyway. Our homes are not sterilised vacuums. Many more dogs are euthanised because of lack of socialisation than die from contracting illnesses like Parvo. It is also likely that people who walk their dogs are responsible enough to immunise their dogs too.
Nicole, in the end the decision is yours. You can take socialisation as far as you feel comfortable, but you must, somehow, socialise your new puppy intensively.