Early socialization v. disease risk - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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Early socialization v. disease risk

Ok, what do people really think? My pup is 8 weeks old and has had one vx at 6 weeks. I was a veterinary technician for a number of years, so I'm aware of how vx's work and the need for multiple shots before any trust is put in immunity. We always encouraged people to carry their puppies and keep them away from other dogs. On the other hand, considering the ubiquity of the parvovirus, there was still a lot of exposure going on. It's just not possible to be that sterile, and one never really knows.

But I have never raised a GSD pup before, and I've read plenty about the need for socialization, particularly in the 8-12 week window. Some people seem to argue rabidly against socializing pups that age with other dogs; some people suggest it's much riskier not to socialize the pup and wind up with an unfriendly dog. I know enough to be afraid of parvo, but I don't know how worried I should be that my dog isn't socialized well enough at this age. I had made the decision that she should be socialized, because my older dog was poorly socialized as a pup (before I got him) and is a fearful adult. Now I'm worried, though. We haven't had much contact with other dogs. A pup at petco, two adult dogs that belong to the neighbors, and my Augie. We've been walking on the ground plenty, though, and she drank out of a puddle before I could stop her (we'll be lucky not to get lepto or giardia even if we don't get parvo, huh?).

I'm also a little of a skeptic, though, about the paranoia that goes on. Veterinary medicine has changed in the last 20 years or so. I love my animals, but they don't go around in diamond-studded collars. I have met some really over-the-top owners and doctors. The rural vets I've worked with simply don't seem to worry so much. I sometimes just don't know who to listen to. Despite the fears of parvo and how widespread and contagious it is, in 5 years working for vets I only saw 6 cases of parvo. I can't recall for certain, but I think that most, if not all, were unvaccinated animals.

So, where the rubber hits the road...is it more important for Sigrid to be socialized or for her to be protected from possible contagion? What was your policy with your pups?

Augie - GSD/Border collie mix, born 1/14/1997
Sigrid - GSD, born 3/14/09

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 06:06 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

Jethro was allowed to hang with KNOWN safe dogs and in KNOWN safe areas. It helps immensely that I have my own Paq that is exceptional with puppies and my friend has several dogs as well. I did not take him to any of the most popular dog hang outs though until he was fully vaccinated. Since then all is game and today alone he met 15-20 new dogs of varying ages/breeds and dispositions. There were two dogs there that *I* would never have taken at their age but I suspect it was owner ignorance (truest sense of the word not a slam). One was only 8 or 9 weeks and was waddling around on the ground on a VERY heavily used dog area. Jethro was not allowed to go to that park at all until he was fully vaccinated.

All of that said, a sound dog temperamentally, physically, mentally and emotionally is going to be fine waiting until vacs are done for much of the socializing.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

We're certainly not going to dog parks but I suppose Petco and Petsmart might be considered heavily dog-frequented. Not to mention heavily frequented by pups who probably aren't completely vx'd yet...

Augie - GSD/Border collie mix, born 1/14/1997
Sigrid - GSD, born 3/14/09

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 07:50 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

The park we go to isn't a "dog park" but it is a park where a lot of dogs go. I would definitely skip the pet stores until the vacs are done.


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 08:08 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

When I took my 8 week old pups out to socialize at the park, not a dog park, I brought along the x-pen and put in on a tarp with toys, etc... they were able to see what was going on and passing and then they came out on lead to play in the agility tunnels and visit with known healthy dogs. They didn't travel ALL over the park.
No pet stores or dog parks.
My pups come into work with me, vet clinic, but we do not see a lot of parvo at my current clinic. I wouldn't have dared do that at a previous clinic I worked at, parvo almost weekly.
I def find the risk of parvo in a pup current on it's vac schedule to be less than if you risk missing this important time for socializing. Makes the world of a difference in future behavior and comfort level.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

Thanks. I find myself developing what is probably an unreasonable anxiety on both sides. I've had nightmares about her getting parvo but like I said, I don't want her to be a fearful adult either.

I have been trying to find stats on parvo prevalence in my area but they don't seem to be available.

-Paranoid Dog Mom

Augie - GSD/Border collie mix, born 1/14/1997
Sigrid - GSD, born 3/14/09

Everything reminds me of my dog. - Jane Siberry
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 08:18 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

Are there any clubs in your area that have social get-togethers?
It also helps if you have people in your area that know how to properly approach and handle puppies.

I would go with low risk socializing, can you invite friends, family, children and well mannered dogs over for socialization time?
Also check with local trainers, some have puppy social classes, some better than others...

It's definitely safer to be paranoid than to not care ;-)
I used to worry quite a bit about parvo, and still do to some extent but as long as your pup is on schedule, his immune system is being supported by good nutrition and exercise, you lower your risk of him contracting it.
I had one pup contract parvo at 12 weeks and 2 shots. She had a much milder version b/c of those vaccines, and did fine.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 10:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

She seems very healthy and lively. We'd like to take her to the beach tomorrow, but there tend to be a lot of dogs there. Maybe if I carried her?

Augie - GSD/Border collie mix, born 1/14/1997
Sigrid - GSD, born 3/14/09

Everything reminds me of my dog. - Jane Siberry
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 10:26 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

Unless you are going to carry her the entire time I would skip the beach until she gets her second set of vaccinations. I do take my puppies out before they have had their second set of vaccinations but I avoid all high dog traffic areas. No point in taking chances!

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-16-2009, 10:46 PM
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Re: Early socialization v. disease risk

The six week vacs are basically useless, as the mothers immunities fight them off. So @ 8 weeks should be the first set of shots...I just had my almost 11 week old 2nd set, and my vet told me the same as Ruq, safe, healthy known dogs are fine, but carry him at anyplace that is public where there are unknown dogs around til the next set. I have taken my pup to my SchH club, but he was not out and about, carried most of the time and just observed. And the dogs there are all up to date. I also took him to a nursery/greenhouse last weekend. Then on to the family members homes delivering Mother's day baskets. Met the doggy cousins. He is now getting way to big to carry, so I will have to be more creative!
We do have active household w/ lotsa people in and out, so Karlo is getting people socialized, and my two GSD's are helping him learn doggy manners.

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