Dr Platzhund answers a question from a reader who wonders when to take her puppy to socialisation and training classes.
Q: I’m getting conflicting feedback from pet professionals about my new puppy going to socialisation and training classes. Some say I should enrol him at 8 weeks old, while others say I should wait until he has had all his vaccinations, which is at 20 weeks old. What’s your advice?
A: Your puppy is safe to attend puppy classes 7-10 days after his first vaccination, which is at about 8 weeks. Keeping your pup isolated from its own kind until 20 weeks of age will make it more vulnerable to diseases, as its immune system weakens rapidly due to a lack of interaction with other pups. Puppies need exposure to develop their antibodies against fatal diseases. At training, there’s never been a case of a dog dying of an illness for which it can be vaccinated against. There’s even a cross-immunisation that happens naturally in these classes (which still needs some research) that dog trainers, animal behaviourists and certain vets will vouch for. Training and socialising at 20 weeks of age is too late as long-term behaviour problems are most likely cast in stone by then. And your pup is already physically difficult to handle at this late stage.