• I was planning on enrolling Dexter in puppy classes at petsmart, but my vet said that I should wait until he is finished with all of his vaccinations/shots before we do that. I was just wondering what everyone else thought about that. He won't be finished with his shots until April 13, and I was so excited to get started with the classes, but I will definitely wait if it is better for him.

  • Puppies are very susceptible to things that other dogs may be carrying (parvo and such) so it's a good thing to make sure they are all vaccinated before too much doggie mingling goes on!

  • I agree with Walter. Practice on your own until Dexter finishes his series of shots.

  • yes i agree as well, it is important to wait until Dexter is fully protected.

  • Houston

    I would wait too..you never know what might walk into the doors of a place that gets frequented a lot by dogs from all walks of life, if you know what I mean..;)

  • Thanks, everyone. I was going to wait, just wanted to see what everyone else would say. Sigh I hope April 13th comes quickly…I'm too excited to start the classes with him! 🙂

  • You can work on his basics at home for now and he will be all the more ready when he hits class. Our girl will start her classes the week she gets her rabies shot and final series at 16 weeks, that is young enough for a formal class, I would not do it earlier. Our classes normally do not take dogs younger than 5 months, but made an exception as I've trained 3 previously with them and they know I start teaching them as soon as they come to live with me.

  • This is a very personal decision but I would strongly recommend taking him to class, particularly since he is a basenji. The stipulation on this is that the facility where the classes are conducted require proof that the other puppies have started their vaccinations as well. If you wait until the end of their shots you basically miss most of the critical socialization period which is valuable for the puppy to learn how to interact with the world around it and how to properly interact with other dogs. The risk of having a poorly socialized dog is much greater than the risk of the dog contracting a disease (if you take them to a proper training facility). If you don't want to do this, I suggest that you take your dog to play with friends dogs (verifying first that they are vaccinated and in good health at the time), hopefully of different breeds (shapes and sizes). I know not every vet makes this recommendation, but mine does. This viewpoint is typically one you will see from canine behaviorists/trainers. And the places I take my dogs to train take dogs that have just started their shots because of these reasons. There are a couple of other threads on this site with the same type of discussion.

  • Here is the AVSAB position on socialization before complete vaccination.


  • Well since he has been with me (for about three and a half weeks) we have introduced him to four different friends' dogs, and three cats. Lola, a boxer, was the only dog that actually played with him, so we do plan on continuing to bring him to her house for playdates. My brother-in-law's cat also likes him a little, and we go there often so he will continue seeing her on a regular basis. The other dog and two cats all live together and the dog usually gets along with other dogs, but he growled and kept jumping for Dexter, so I probably won't bring him there again until he is older maybe (the owner, my friend, thinks that her dog Darwin just isn't used to being around dogs that are smaller than him?). Dexter also met two of my other friends dogs, but they live far away and so he will probably only see them once a year. He played well with them. Other than that, there is no other way for me to really let him be around other dogs that I know are healthy, which is why I was looking forward to the classes. (On a side note, he DOES get to be around plenty of people and also plenty of different children). We will work on commands and such at home until we can take him to the classes. I would just be so worried that he might catch something if he isn't fully vaccinated.

  • He is plenty ready for puppy class now. Having the first two shots is fine and most dog classes around here are fine with a 12wk old pup [as they are obviously not old enough to have completed the series].
    I [nor any of my dog owners] have never had an issue taking a young pup through classes when they are that age.

  • He is plenty old enough for class. Here is a link to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's position statement on puppy socialization classes, http://www.scribd.com/doc/19277840/AVSAB-Statement-on-Puppy-Socialization

    Most of my puppies leave to for their new homes after already having attended 1-2 weeks of puppy kindergarten and I encourage my puppy buyers to have a class already lined up for when they puppy goes home or with only a 1 week or so break.

  • So not being finished with his shots isn't a problem??

  • No, he's good to go. The risk is relatively low in a class setting compared to other scenarios (dog parks, walking in wooded areas). The purpose of vaccinations is primarily to prevent spread of disease through vaccination of the majority of the population (in this case, dogs) and not just to immunize individuals. Since all of the puppies in class are also vaccinated, the risk of exposure is low. You can't necessarily make that assumption where wild animals are involved (hikes in woods) and dog parks.

  • I agree that it is a good idea to start classes as soon as possible. As long as he is only around healthy puppies there is little to no risk of disease. Use common sense. Keep him away from puppies or dogs that have been recently adopted from animal shelters, away from other dogs at vet clinics, and away from puppies that were recently bought from pet stores as any of these may be harboring illnesses.

  • First, socialization can be done without puppy classes. Puppies present the LARGEST risk to him for disease. Introducing him to dogs and people you know, particularly dogs that have completed their vaccinations and are older, it almost totally safe after the initial shots.

    Second, Petsmart isn't somewhere I would take ANY puppy. They bring in rescues and shelter dogs, they do not require proof of vaccinations, and they let people come in. We had an outbreak of parvo some are sure they got there as it was the ONLY common place.

    Third, Petsmart notoriously has sketchy trainers. Some areas are good, most not so much. I just filed a complaint at our local one after observing TWO of their trainers pop and jerk puppies.

    That said, anywhere BUT petsmart, that requires proof of vaccinations started, should be safe and fun. This link has a lot of info, including the assoc pet trainers link at bottom. See what is available.

    MOST people, really, are able to train their pups on their own. (NOTE… pets. If you plan to show or obedience or compete, you need pros! 🙂 ) Socialization doesn't have to be in a class. But socialization is utterly totally important. Having gotten a dog (Arwen) who basically had NONE til almost 14 wks old, it is a hard learning curve to overcome. That said, I have also done rehab on feral dogs. You can over come it. But why make life harder. Just don't buy into the only way to socialize is puppy training classes. You are already doing a good job. In fact, I suggest that socializing with HUMANS of all sorts, shapes, sizes, colors and ages is even more important than with other dogs.


  • I agree that once you have 2 set of shots, they are pretty much covered…. I have never waited pass that to take my kids out. Of course common sense is needed in where they go and "what" they sniff.... While I have never gone to Petsmart I do know people that have... depends on the instructor... but I would say that 99% of the time you can find a better puppy class with a local dog club then using Petsmart

  • Tanza brought up a good point in that all trainers are not created equal. I recommend that you meet instructors and watch at least one of their classes before you commit to signing up. Look for an instructor who uses positive techniques (treats and clicker training are good) and has a good interaction with the students. Don't be shy. Ask the students after the class how they like the class and instructor. If you feel good about everything then go ahead and sign up. You and Dexter will enjoy it. 🙂

  • Well, I don't even know how I would find another puppy training class/group around here. I have read on another thread that some people discourage going to Petsmart for training, while others say that their experience went well. I suppose it does depend on the area and instructor. My worry is that if I do bring him to Petsmart, I won't know where the other puppies came from or what their health is like. I have been doing my best at introducing Dex to a wide variety of people and other dogs..and cats. He certainly has met and played with plenty people of different "sorts, shapes, sizes, colors" and loves them all!

  • Yes, wait till all shots are completed, it would only take one sick dog to affect your baby

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