A common question puppy owners ask is when can they start going to the dog park with their new puppy. This is an excellent and important question.

The answer is – it depends. Here is the issue.With appropriate vaccinations, a puppy is not considered to have protective immunity against diseases such as parvovirus until they are nearly 20 weeks old. 

So when is it safe to go to the dog park? In a puppy that has had all his vaccines, dewormings, and is on heartworm as well as flea and tick prevention, the correct time is after about 20 weeks of age.

HOWEVER (big sigh), this is also the period of time of socialization that is critical building good social and emotional relationships. Social relationships between dogs and with people also occur around this same time. Without this socialization, some dogs can develop anxiety, fears, and aggression related issues.  It is critical for dogs to interact with all kinds of people of different sizes, different races, and even different dress styles. I’ve seen with fears of men in cowboy hats. Exposing your puppy to lots of different types of people and dogs can help them be a well-adjusted happy dog.

So what is the right answer? If you ask behaviorists, probably the risk of behavioral issues is far greater than the risk of disease.

What do we recommend?  

  1. Ensure your puppy has all recommended vaccines until they are 20 weeks old. Many people are mistaken than one puppy show or two puppy shots are enough. When dogs are young, they need a series of vaccines to be protected.
  2. Administer all deworming medications and give flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medications as prescribed by your vet.
  3. Invite a variety of friends over to your home to help socialize your puppy.
  4. Consider puppy and dog play dates with friends that have dogs that are well vaccinated.