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When is this therefore advisable to start the upbringing, while respecting the principles of preventive vaccination? The answer to this question may be crucial to the entire process of bringing up a puppy. The knowledge of the various phases of life should be eminently helpful. Knowledge of the various stages of life of an animal, combined with an early vaccination program, allows for a correct exposure and safe introduction of the puppies to the new environment.
The socialization period of puppies compared to vaccination, based on early vaccination programme recommended by the behaviourists as best tailored to suit the most important stages of a dog's life.
In the following example, we compare early vaccination with Nobivac (a 3-stage programme) compared with different stages of dog development:
1. 6-7 weeks Nobivac Puppy DP
2. 9 weeks Nobivac DHP
3. 12 weeks Nobivac DHPPi+L

Stages of dog development::
0. Prenatal period ( - 63- 0 days)
1. Neonatal period ( 0-14 days)
2. Transistional period ( 2-3 weeks
3. Socialization period ( 3- approx. 16 weeks)
4. Adolescent period - maturation (16 weeks - until sexual maturity is reached)
5. Social maturity (12-18 months after reaching sexual maturity)

Socialization period is the most important stage of development, during which the animals learn how to function and live in an environment. In the natural environment, the animal will most likely live surrounded only by its own species, but in case of domestic animals it will have to coexist with man or other animals, cars and cyclists, and also listen to the sounds of the city and travel by car, bus or tram. Obviously it is not possible to familiarize the puppy with every situation, event or place, but if the puppy is properly introduced and adapted to a new environment, it is willing to explore a world that, although new, remains secure, and is more confident and it is easier for it to evaluate the real threat and not to react with fear to new situations. Unfortunately, there is no universal solution for every problem of every animal.

Each species and each individual shows a different mental structure and motivation to learning. It is therefore advisable to get to know the dog prior to training.

Both socialization and accustoming should take place as early as possible, thus avoiding the emergence of behavioural problems later in life.

Vaccinations and socialization

Young animals are more susceptible to infections because their immune system is not yet fully developed. Shortly after birth, the puppies receive maternal antibodies that protect them early in life. Their levels become reduced after some time. The period of passive immunity ends and is followed by active immunization period. Therefore, we stimulate their immune system by vaccination. Some vaccines, such as Nobivac, because of their immunogenicity against maternally derived antibodies (MDA) allow for the introduction of a vaccination programme as early as in the sixth week of life with a very good effect for this age, and in the case of more "problematic" puppies, i.e. those with very high levels of MDA, the vaccines allow for the termination of the vaccination programme as early as in the 12th weeks of life, which is particularly noteworthy, because even these "problematic" patients receive a chance to socialize properly, i.e. to have full contact with a potentially infectious environment (see: stages of dog mental development), not worrying the owner about the health of the puppy, while allowing for early socialization. When preparing a vaccination programme one has to consider the extent to which we are able to distinguish whether a puppy is an "easy" case, i.e. one having a low level of MDA, which is a success with first vaccination with not necessarily high immunogenicity or with a "difficult" case, where the puppy will have to receive the vaccine with increased immunogenicity (of the Nobivac type) to be immune at 12th week of life or after 16-20 weeks in case of a less immunogenic vaccine. It seems logical that without proper diagnostic knowledge (in this case, knowledge of the level of MDA) the vaccination programme should be based on more immunogenic vaccine, thus giving a statistical puppy a significant and important advance in the formation of immunity.

Isolating a puppy until when its immune system is fully developed, or waiting until it is 16-20 weeks old and its MDA level ceases to interfere with the formation of an active immune response can completely disrupt the normal development of the dog's psyche, which will find reflection in its behaviour later in life.

Therefore, the owner needs to find a compromise between securing the puppy from the infectious diseases and enabling its proper mental development…

Authors: Agnieszka Janeczek veterinarian. Bogusław Zakrzewski veterinarian