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So I'm having a conundrum I'd be curious to hear how others solved.

I know you aren't suppose to take your puppy out and about until after she has had all of her shots. But I've also read that it's extremely important that you socialize your puppy as early as possible - well before she has gone through the full vaccination schedule.

The question is, how? How do I take my dog out into the world and give her experience in new situations without exposing her to risk? I know I can take her to friend's houses but that's such a controlled environment it won't give her the exposure of a crowd or a restaurant or any number of experiences she will have. I can take her to some places and never set her down, but she's a very active 9 week old and won't enjoy being held for long.

Is it just a calculated risk one takes and you avoid the high problem areas like the beach, dog parks, dumpsters (not that that is a high priority spot for me to visit anyway), frequently traveled corners, etc? Or do you simply invite people into the house and hope that's sufficient until she gets her last vaccination?

One person I read said, "just be smart, but take her into the world." Another said, "it's not worth the risk." Thoughts?
 

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You need to contact your vet, first, and ask about the risk of communicable disease in your area. It's a much higher risk in some areas than others.

That out of the way, it's not hard.

First of all your goal with socialization isn't to expose the dog to every environment they will ever encounter. It is to expose them things that are *new to them*, so that they (hopefully) generalize that new isn't scary/new is normal. Encountering new things is either neutral or positive not so shocking that it freaks them out. So friend's houses, friend's yards, friends' dogs, and puppy classes where all the dogs are vaccinated are also fine for that whole 'it isn't a shock to encounter something new to them' thing.

Second: Yes, ideally you socialize before 16 weeks but you don't stop AT 16 weeks. Which means you don't have 'X weeks to encounter/expose them to everything ever'. It is an ongoing deal.

And finally: You can take your dog anywhere you like, even in a high risk area and without vaccines. what you can't do is put the puppy on the ground. Carry the puppy, put the puppy in a dog stroller, whatever. Keep it off the ground and definitely keep it off grass/dirty, and extra definitely don't let it eat grass/dirt in public, or interact directly with unknown dogs.
 

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And very specifically what I did, in my area, with this puppy was:

9-14 weeks we had puppy play dates, in controlled environments with known people and known vaccinated dogs. Ie: Private property, fenced property. We drove to parking lots and sat and people (and sometimes dog) watched. We had the odd trip through some busy environment with one of us carrying the puppy.

After 14 weeks? That was his third vaccination and it was game on. All the things. All the places. ...and continuing playdates with known safe dogs and people, though now in varying locations.
 

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Depends strongly on where you are too. I am NOT recommending this, but in my area parvo and distemper are virtually nonexistent. People take their very young puppies to highly populated hiking trails and dog parks and are fine. I did not do this exactly, but I did bring my puppy to public places that would have been an issue if I lived in a more risky area.
 

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I think about this so often when I had my multiple GSD's over the years and even more so now that I have not aloof/tolerant breeds as the GSD's, but now that I have suspicious/non tolerant breeds... and not dragged them all over the place during said critical age (limit) times as pups or young adults. I know for a fact that my GSD;s never met (100) people in their 15 years of life. not even close to 50.. and they were fine capable of being confident individual to face anything at any time without hesitating (because they had never learned from a poor experience that the world might be a scary unsafe place) , they were bred well , started by a good breeder with a start program. and a stable structure home (daily routine they could depend on). What you can do as an owner in your own home during these critical first exposure learning development stages not to screw them us is vital (you, and your home set the pace for what the world is like).... and more so controlled then depending on uncontrollable and un predictable strangers and strange dogs to teach your puppy that the world isn't safe..... just food for thought..... to not make yourself crazy over this...
 

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I am pretty distraught because my daughter brought home a pup. I had no idea you shouldn't put the pup down before being vaccinated, and we have all been taking it out to the front yard to potty, where it has been sniffing and biting and touching grass, bushes, pine cones, etc. Now I'm worried I've done long term harm. I had NO clue. I've never had a pup, and my daughter should never have brought one home, but we have it meantime until we decide what to do with it. Meanwhile I have been telling her to look after it properly. Have I done this dog long term harm?
 

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It's not contact with grass, pine cones, bushes, etc... that can harm a (not fully vaccinated) puppy, but the potential contact with disease pathogens that s/he isn't fully immunized against. Parvo is often the disease of most concern, as the virus can remain in the environment for a year or more (so anywhere that a contagious dog has potentially eliminated & laid the virus down) Here is an informative article regarding Parvo:
http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_dg_canine_parvovirus_infection
As far as risk for this, or other diseases, which vary greatly based on geographical location, you would really need to contact your vet & get local recommendations.
 

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For exposure to people and places, I've been taking my dog to high end grocery store parking lots (ie: Whole Foods) that don't have a peer related business in the same shopping center. I let her explore the sidewalk around the store and let people give her treats. I also take her places that are less safe but hold her.

For exposure to different things, I take her to two puppy playtimes in my town. One is free, the other is $20/playtime but they both have odd (to dogs) items like bikes, low tables, kiddie pools with things in them, wobble boards, skate boards, cones, and tunnels.
 

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A puppy should not be socializing with other dogs when he/she has not received all of their shots. However, a puppy can be socialized with other dogs that have had all of their shots. I have a friend who just got a golden and he has been taking her to the dog park and will ask the other owners about their dogs. If the dogs have received all of their shots, then he will let his puppy play with them.

It's up to you if you want to do it that way, or if you know a friend or family member who has a dog with all of its shots, then you could socialize your puppy that way. Socialization is important when your puppy is young, but it is more important to make sure your puppy is healthy.
 

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Vaccination status of the dogs currently there does not matter. If a dog has come through, pooped or vomited and then carried on and gone home, even if the owner cleaned up, they have left disease the puppy can eat on the ground. That way is a good way to get a dead puppy.
 

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Not to mention, people lie about their dogs' vaccination status sometimes, or they simply don't know.
 

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I am pretty distraught because my daughter brought home a pup. I had no idea you shouldn't put the pup down before being vaccinated, and we have all been taking it out to the front yard to potty, where it has been sniffing and biting and touching grass, bushes, pine cones, etc. Now I'm worried I've done long term harm. I had NO clue. I've never had a pup, and my daughter should never have brought one home, but we have it meantime until we decide what to do with it. Meanwhile I have been telling her to look after it properly. Have I done this dog long term harm?
if both pups are strong and healthy, and both pups are free of distemper, or parvo.. you should be fine. at this time. read up on parvo and distemper to truly understand what your dealing with. And that usually puppy's that are healthy have a better chance then pups that are unhealthy .
 

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I should note that the two puppies playtimes require proof of vaccination from the vet's office and a note from the very saying she is healthy and can participate.
 

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When it comes to socializing a dog, keep in mind that it's necessary but the protection, sanitation, and health of your dog is even more important. So, talk to your vet, take precautions and if you want to take your dog out, go to places that are hygienically safe for your dog.
 
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