Puppies need lots of socialization- by this we mean dog/dog; dog/human; dog/other animals & lots of other safe and fun experiences for a puppy. Some veterinarians caution about exposing the puppy to the world before all of the puppies vaccinations are complete but many experts in animal behavior advise that there is a small window of opportunity to teach puppies that the world is a safe place. Ian Dunbar, an Vet and Animal Behavior PhD, advises that safe socialization during the first few weeks at home is of ‘extreme urgency’. The critical time, according to Dunbar, is between 4 and 12 weeks of age.
Dog trainers believe that safe puppy socialization in the first 3-4 months is critical- before the puppies are fully vaccinated. The key is to socialize with other dogs that are vaccinated and healthy, unfortunately socialization with litter mates is not sufficient. Failure to socialize early can result in aggression, bad manners when walking and stress for an owner. Behavior issues are the biggest reason dogs are given up to a shelter.
We recommend joining an AKC Puppy Star class which is focused solely on puppies and young dogs (under 1 year) and allows for safe play time within the class format. Most classes will accept a puppy with their second set of vaccinations completed. Your puppy will learn basic manners while having a fun time in a safe environment and be set-up for a life time of acceptance and learning.
You should, of course, work closely with your vet and discuss your puppy’s socialization plan with them.