AVSAB Releases Position Paper on Early Socialization

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) recently released a position paper on the importance of early socialization for puppies. It states that because the first three months of life are the most important time to expose a puppy to new people, animals, things, and places (in a safe and non-threatening way), “...it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.” The paper goes on to state, “While puppies' immune systems are still developing during these early months, the combination of maternal immunity, primary vaccination, and appropriate care makes the risk of infection relatively small compared to the chance of death from a behavior problem.” Well, hallelujah! I know trainers everywhere will join me in rejoicing at this progressive statement. The paper even recommends having puppies enrolled in group classes prior to three months of age. Imagine if owners took this excellent advice!

Now, the AVSAB (a group of veterinarians and research professionals who share an interest in understanding animal behavior) should not be confused with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Just because the AVSAB released this statement, it does not mean that vets everywhere will suddenly stop warning owners not to take their pups anywhere until they are fully vaccinated. Of course, not all vets warn their clients against early socialization, but many still do, much to the chagrin of trainers who are trying to help owners produce well-socialized pups who have fewer behavior issues to undo later on. But it’s a start.

I applaud the AVSAB for going on record about the importance of early puppy socialization. The statement is a handy tool for trainers to refer to during those conversations with owners who still feel they should not expose their pups to the outside world at all until the age of sixteen weeks. I suggest printing it out and having it on hand for training sessions. You can read the full text here:


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