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Hi all! I have a new spoo puppy who is now 9 weeks old. I'd like to get her started in a puppy kindergarten class for the socialization and training opportunities. There are classes at my area Petsmart that she can start after 10 weeks of age. I'm just a little confused about the safety of doing so based on her vaccination schedule. She had her first round of shots while with the breeder, and her next round is scheduled for the middle of September. The class I'm interested in starts the day before that.

Is it safe to start the puppy class before the 2nd round of shots, assuming the other puppies are at a similar level? Or should I wait a few more weeks to start a later class?
 

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And I am going to say the exact opposite of my dear friend MaizieFrosty. Although I didn't take Javelin to a puppy class because the only one at my club started a couple of weeks before he came home. The age range in our puppy classes 8 to 18 weeks, but younger at the start is preferred. I did start bringing him with me to meet people and well mannered healthy dogs belonging to the people (all of whom I knew) who were taking my classes starting when he was around 10 -11 weeks old.
 

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MF your point about a club vs. a chain store is well taken. To look at it from the immunology of what goes on though, if a pup has had one set of shots at the right time they will have a good level of IgM (primary response antibody) within five or so days. A new exposure to an antigen against which the individual has been immunized can effectively then be a provocation of a secondary IgG response as a booster like exposure.
 

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But what if they don't have a good level of IgM after the first vaccination? Does a second vaccination double their odds of protection?

Thank you for the education :D
 

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Since it is a PetsMart with many dogs walking thru the store I would err on the side of caution and wait until the 2nd set of vaccinations are given. Meanwhile you can put her in a cart. It would just worry me as so many people walk thru the store with their dogs and I would guess (from my area) that many haven't been vetted.
 

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I agree petsmart is probably not the right place to take your puppy for classes at this age. You could probably find, through trainers that do it as a business, a class that is better suited. Last time I did a puppy socialization class, you had to show proof of vaccines every week to make sure not even one round was missed. Even tho shots are not given every week. Not current on shots = no class. The other classes they taught at the same time for older pups had the same rules.


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Yeah, but you also don't want to wait until it's too late. I was just reading Fiona's contract from the breeder which stated that she wasn't supposed to go out in public until she was "fully vaccinated." Well, that would have been when she was 16 weeks old! Too late, socialization window closed. Fortunately, my mom read Ian Dunbar and the like and got her out and about well before that time.
 

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I would feel more comfortable at that age going to a member owned dog club, whether AKC or non-AKC because they require proof of vaccinations and people who go to these kinds of training facilities are more likely to take their dogs to the vet for good care. With places like petsmart and petco, the people coming for lessons are also probably on top of keeping their dogs up to date with vaccinations and health care. The problem are the random dogs which people bring to the store: probably most are vaccinated but you never know. If you do go I wouldn’t potty my dog near the store and I would carry your puppy into the store and only put them on the floor in the area fenced off for classes.

You can also ask your vet.

I will add there’s lots of new puppies at both my AKC and non-AKC club - members are taking their new puppies not only for puppy classes but they are taking their puppies to classes with their older dogs and asking the rest of us to hold and pet their puppies and letting the puppies sniff friendly older dogs for socialization.
 

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You can get your puppy out and about, socializing, without exposing them to other dogs or dog trodden areas where Parvo or other diseases/ parasites could lurk. Your puppy spent plenty of time with other pups, aka, his litter. He’s got to become accustomed to his humans, and all the sights and sounds of his new home and beyond. He can safely attend dog centric stuff, soon enough but Parvo can kill a puppy in a day, so please wait and get creative with socializing that doesn’t involve potential exposure to doggy disease until fully immunized.
 

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Thanks for the responses everyone. I will wait until at least after the 2nd set of vaccinations, and I'll ask my vet about it while I'm there. Unfortunately, the AKC training club in my area has a puppy class starting this weekend, which is too early for us to get into, hence why I'm looking at Petsmart and Petco.
 

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Since I am stranded today (my car got wrecked by presumably a drunk driver at 3:30 AM this morning while parked in my driveway) I had a bit of time to do a little research on the IgM vs. IgG questions I provoked earlier. I found an interesting paper (which most of you may not want to read but which I will provide a link) that actually looked at amounts and types of Ig's after rabies immunization. To give a very simple and direct answer, it will not directly double the amount of protection from the IgM to IgG shift, but the protection is definitely better since the levels of IgG are higher and longer lasting. This is the basis of getting the initial dose for your dog followed by another dose at one year and then only every three years.


https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/jgv/40/3/JV0400030595.pdf?expires=1567696019&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=26C5770339006D3809F96243EA389EA0
 

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More than the immunity question I would be very very worried about the qualifications of the person leading the groups at Petsmart. I know their intentions are noble but I am very sorry to say from what I have experienced (shopping while other people were training) the instructions are sometimes way off.... I have seen very youngish looking (teenagers?) "instructors" spout things that have been disproven years and years ago. They most likely go through a very minimal training to teach these classes. Not like with an AKC licensed club. Puppy kindergarten is incredibly important and you have to be super vigilant to protect your puppy against rowdiness of others (both teachers and other pupils and other owners). It has a to do with the background of the other pups (some of which will be puppy mill bred - some will be rescues) and the knowledge of the instructors is paramount for the supervision. There is loads of opportunity for bullying and that can mark a lifelong hatred for certain breeds. My Mini is iron clad in that sense but my also really self assured Dalmatian was constantly being picked on by a Pit-bull rescue in his puppy class - so much so he was booted from (AKC club sponsored) class (the Pit-bull) and asked to come back for private lessons. How you react to your dog being out of his comfort zone is paramount. You don't want to coddle (create a fearful dog) but you also don't want him to think you were not there for him. Always re-direct - keep it upbeat - distract with treats and teach him "eyes on me for guidance". And choose the environment you expose him to at this early age very, very carefully!
 

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My breeder said to keep them at home in my yard until they had their 2nd vaccines. My vet also said after the 2nd vaccine it was safe enough to get the puppies out and about...just stay away from heavily dog-laden areas such as dog parks, Petco and the like. But Do get them out to meet dogs I know who are healthy and tolerant, friendly, gentle and humans, let them see different environments, different ground surfaces, all kinds of objects etc. Get them out asap. And even before the 2nd set of shots, invite people over and even a neighbor's friendly, vaccinated, healthy dog if you're sure it will be a pleasant experience. Children. Invite children over from your neighborhood to play with your pup in your yard, then take the puppy out and about. It doesn't have to be a class right away. There's time for that. But do socialize amply asap while being careful as possible. I asked vets in my various areas that I've lived all my life with new pups, if they had heard of any parvo outbreaks. I'd be more careful then to avoid areas more likely to harbor that. Another place to associate a pleasant experience are vet clinics. (make sure there aren't any sick dogs in there.) But stop by for a quick, friendly visit and a treat, maybe ask for a weight and then go. Various vets. I did this once a week or so. Think of as many places and things to expose your puppy to as you can...things he'll likely encounter when he grows up. Cover those things but don't over whelm your pup. It must be a happy experience.

Best wishes.
 

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We actually did our puppy and an intermediate class with Lily and Peeves at Petsmart. The classes were actually very good, but I agree the quality of the classes can be very hit or miss. Many Petcos have free puppy social hours (also of variable quality). I took Javelin a few times to one that wasn't great. I can't say he got much out of it because the "trainer" allowed one person to bring his adult pugs because they were small and not acutally very polite. In fact looking at some old pictures of it recently I would say he mostly was not happy, but every couple of times a real and appropriate match to him puppy would be there.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Since I am stranded today (my car got wrecked by presumably a drunk driver at 3:30 AM this morning while parked in my driveway) I had a bit of time to do a little research on the IgM vs. IgG questions I provoked earlier. I found an interesting paper (which most of you may not want to read but which I will provide a link) that actually looked at amounts and types of Ig's after rabies immunization. To give a very simple and direct answer, it will not directly double the amount of protection from the IgM to IgG shift, but the protection is definitely better since the levels of IgG are higher and longer lasting. This is the basis of getting the initial dose for your dog followed by another dose at one year and then only every three years.


https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/docserver/fulltext/jgv/40/3/JV0400030595.pdf?expires=1567696019&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=26C5770339006D3809F96243EA389EA0
Thanks for the link to the research, and I'm sorry to hear about your car! At least you weren't in it at the time...
 

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Peggy started puppy class at 12 weeks, after a one-on-one assessment session with the trainer who runs the class, as well as a puppy "play date" she booked and supervised for us, with puppies hand-picked to match Peggy's size, energy, and needs.

That trainer has set a very high bar for what I'd now expect! She's been great not just for Peggy, but for us. She's really boosted our confidence as we navigate life with a big, boisterous, sometimes utterly mysterious spoo.

Honestly, I'm glad I ignored our vet's advice to enroll Peggy at Petco, but glad I took her advice to socialize! socialize! socialize! Some vets are much more conservative in this regard, but ours has seen firsthand the importance of getting puppies out into the world after their second round of shots (which she gave Peggy at 10 weeks).
 
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