Puppy Vaccination & Socialization Recommendations

With my experience working with reactivity, and then directing my focus on puppies and prevention, I can personally attest to the importance of early positive exposure! Studies and research supports this info. Please read the following sources and take heed! Do your research, too and find training facilities and trainers that safely work on appropriate socialization for puppies. If you have questions, feel free to comment and contact me!

Dr. Meghan Herron DMV Puppy Culture

“Recently there was a study where they looked at over 1,000 puppies who attended a puppy
socialization class, and the minimum requirement being they started class 7 days after their
first set of vaccines. And wouldn’t you know, not a single one of them had a case of parvo?
Out of over 1,000 puppies. So really the risk of infectious disease, if you’re following that
minimum requirement of vaccinating that puppy 7 days before the start of class, is miniscule.
Yet the risk of their developing a behavior problem from a lack of socialization during that
very critical time is substantial.” Dr. Meghan Herron DVM – Director, Behavioral Medicine
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Puppy Culture. Madcap Productions, 2015.


“If you attend puppy training or socialization classes, be sure the instructor takes the following precautions:

  • The puppy school should require each puppy’s vaccine records, to make sure all the puppies are in the process of receiving veterinary care and proper protection from either catching or spreading disease.

  • A puppy with any signs of illness (such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or an increased temperature) should be disallowed from attending class.

  • There should be equipment on hand so that every “accident” that a puppy has in class can be quickly cleaned up with a proper antibacterial solution.”

~ Nancy Kerns.

“Puppy Vaccines: Why Your Puppy Needs So Many Shots.” Whole Dog Journal, October 2016 Issue.

Screenshot 2016-12-18 12.26.42

“In general, puppies can start puppy socialization classes as early as  7-8 weeks of age. Puppies should receive a minimum of one set of vaccines at least 7 days prior to the first class and a first deworming. They should be kept up-to-date on vaccines throughout the class.”

“…the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such* socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”

“*exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without causing overstimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior.”

– American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB).

Puppy Socialization Position Statement. 3 Oct 2014.

Manding Explained by Jane Killion from Puppy Culture

Confession: I love Puppy Culture! It is helpful for puppy parents, rescuers, breeders, trainers, even vets! The more we can help our young little babies, before they even enter our crazy world, the better. (Please visit puppyculture.com/buy to obtain your copy, and to study up today!)

So, aside from highlighting Jane Killion’s brilliant puppy rearing DVD chock full of training advice, development info, and health recommendations, I wanted to explain manding, a skill application trained by capturing and shaping methods, that’s used to help dogs communicate with us. I also select excerpts from Puppy Culture below in which Jane Killion defines manding.

The skill of manding is beyond helpful! With it, our puppies feel heard and people can see, and appreciate, appropriate behavior from their dogs. My favorite thing in puppy training has always been teaching automatically offered manners of sitting, relaxing in new environments, and offering focus – all without request! Who wouldn’t want a puppy who sits to say hi, who goes to new places and lies down, who sniffs and checks back in with their parent (on leash or off), and we needn’t say a word?!

But how do we get there? Capture, shape, reinforce, set up for success! Capture & shape those sits with a *click* or “yes!” and then reward with treats & praise. Do the same with any look aways from big distractions & with any check ins up toward you. This is why I love capturing and shaping… We capture and build a skill until it is fully formed and repeated for reps without a cue. We become familiar with the dog’s specific body language, and label the skill after successful reps, so we are sure the dog will perform the skill just after we say a funny little word like “down” or show a weird hand signal… and the behavior becomes default, and paired properly and accurately to a label!

To help them learn to settle, take puppies to new places & give them a chew to enjoy. (Make sure you exercised them a bit before you go to practice relaxing!) This application of  Classical Conditioning & enrichment (and, addressing a dog’s needs) is all training, believe it or not! It’s similar to taking kids to a restaurant and giving them a game on a tablet or a coloring menu… Eventually, we can fade the tools that help them learn how to act appropriately. Once there is maturity, successful practice, ability to reproduce the calm behavior in many places, the skill will be understood and more easily performed. These behaviors will take time in building, but can last a lifetime! (And we can, and should, still reinforce with a food reward here and there 😉 even after fading tools. When we work hard, we need paychecks and vacation as reinforcers!)

Breeders and rescuers, and those working with puppies within their first 12 weeks, can help puppies learn to communicate, relax, focus, before they enter their forever home. (Or if they arrive home at 8 weeks, start immediately!) If we can do this, then adopters and parents will be less frustrated in trying to prevent & train pups “not to” jump, get over-excited, or pull on leash/ignore people around distractions! Instead we can reinforce them what to do. And we can teach them they have a way of speaking to us. The sooner we can teach them the best voice to talk to us in, the less prevention trainers and parents would need to do – because the dog already knows how to ask for things! Educating adopters and parents on the methods, applications, and benefits of teaching puppies to mand, helps them appreciation and continue on the established work, which leads to an appropriately behaved dog.

I have trained pups not only the skills of sit, relaxation, and focus with capturing and shaping, but also stay, down, go to your bed (which also uses targeting), gentle mouthing, loose leash walking, and leave it. Here is a video of me dropping food while in the kitchen. You can see Lucy look at the food, then look at me. I don’t have to ask her to leave it! By capturing and shaping to train giving up desired items, the behavior becomes built in rather than something you need to request! She also mands by looking from the item then up to me. I respond with either tell her, “Good girl,” for checking in & I remove the item, or “Yes!” to mark looking at me and not grabbing the food then rewarding her, or letting her know “take it” for dropped items she can have!

Here is a blogpost by a breeder who worked on manding with her litter: dignblog.wordpress.com

My goodness! Why wouldn’t we work on manding?!

For a more complete definition on manding, please view Puppy Culture, and reference the quotes from Jane Killion below…


“Mand, which is a way of asking for things… [is] one of the most important skills for any social creature!”

“Dogs have needs and they communicate them through behaviors. The need to be heard is a deep, emotional need for all social animals. And we are saying to him, ‘You have voice. I’m gonna listen to you, but I’m going to show you how you can speak to me.’”

Jane Killion Puppy Culture

Jane Killion, Author of When Pigs Fly, Creator of Puppy Culture Program & DVDs, Trainer at When Pigs Fly Dog Training.

Quotes from Puppy Culture. Madcap Productions, 2015.

“Jumping is correct and appropriate puppy behavior. Jumping up says to adult dogs, ‘I’m small. I won’t hurt you. Please play with me, give me food, or pay attention to me?’”

“…If you chose to let this go, and then just correct the puppy – I mean, you know, not too harsh, but correct him, stop him… you would have shut down his voice. The dog no longer has a way to communicate his need to you.”

“I think that, most people through the absolute best intentions, and they love their dog, will suppress a dog or correct problem behaviors because they think that’s what they should do. Because that’s what they’ve been told a good dog is. But what I want you to understand is you need to stop thinking about it in terms of… stopping problem behaviors, and think about it in terms of teaching your dog how to talk to you.”

I so hope Puppy Culture’s methods catch on for many rearing puppies out there. I personally hope in the future to raise a rescue litter with Jane’s recommendations! I doubt that’s in the near future, due to living in a small space, but stay tuned cause I know it’ll happen sometime… and I will obviously keep you all posted when it does!