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Socialization is like vaccination for behavior problems

“Don’t take your puppy anywhere until the last round of shots is completed”

That’s what we used to tell our clients… back in my day. No, really, we did. And I’ve only been out of veterinary school for 15 years (yikes… I don’t really want to think about that). But, we were taught to keep puppies inside and especially away from other dogs until 2-3 weeks after their entire puppy series of vaccines is completed. No need to risk horrible diseases like rabies, parvo and distemper, right? But sadly, this advice does more harm than good from a behavioral standpoint. So why are so many of my colleagues (and a lot of rescues and breeders for that matter) still clinging to this outdated idea? I’m going to be perfectly honest and say that I have absolutely no clue, except that perhaps they aren’t keeping up with the current literature or attending continuing education about behavior.

So let’s examine what this advice does to our patients. We do a series of 3-4 DA2PP (distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, parvo viruses) vaccines every 3-4 weeks starting at 6-8 weeks of age, and then a rabies vaccine between 12 and 16 weeks of age in order to impart full immunity to these very deadly, but very preventable, diseases. After each vaccine, it takes the immune system anywhere from 2-3 weeks to develop the necessary antibodies to fight these diseases. So if we recommend waitin