Puppy socialisation and parvovirus protection

We recently had a question from Deb, who has purchased an 8 week old Kelpie. Deb asked us, "How do I safely socialise my puppy given the current parvovirus disease outbreak?"

Firstly, a brief experience for your puppy between the ages of 6 and 16 weeks can have a significant influence on future adult behaviour. For this reason early socialisation is a must for a puppy's long term development. Ideally you should expose your puppy to as many of the things he/she is likely to encounter as an adult as possible. Whether the experience is with other boisterous puppies, excitable (friendly) adult dogs, birds, children, people in costumes or uniform, moving objects such as bicycles and lawn mowers, different surfaces such as wooden floors and stairs, loud people, loud noises or even the sound of traffic.

So how do you balance socialisation with the danger of the deadly parvovirus ?

The first step is joining a puppy pre-school. When choosing a puppy pre-school, ensure the business requests that all puppies in attendance produce a vaccination certificate to prove that they have been examined by a vet and that they have received their first vaccination. The puppy pre-school should also ensure that the floors are thoroughly disinfect to reduce the risk of any pups picking up any diseases.

Secondly, your puppy should be exposed to as many experiences as safely possible. Here's some other ways you can do so:-

  • Visit a friend's dog who is healthy, fully vaccinated and friendly and ensure you keep the dogs contained in the backyard during the interaction. Also check to make sure an unvaccinated dog has not been in the same yard. 
  • Take your puppy for excursions in the car
  • Take your puppy to visit friends/family, keeping your puppy in your arms - don't let him walk on the ground! (Unless it is somebody's backyard or home where you know only vaccinated dogs have been.)

Walking a fully vaccinated puppy

During a parvovirus outbreak we also strongly recommend that young dogs even when fully vaccinated and passed their isolation period should only interact with other dogs who are vaccinated. We also recommend that owners do not allow their fully vaccinated puppy to sniff other dog's faeces once they are allowed to walk in community areas such as the park and beach.

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