When Can My Puppy Meet Other Dogs? When Is It Safe?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
You just got a puppy, but you are not sure if you should let him meet other dogs now? Are you familiar with 'the socialization window' term? Read on and discover when it's ok to let your dog meet other dogs.

Early socialization is a crucial step when it comes to having a well-behaved dog.

No dog owner ever got a disciplined and well-behaved dog without any effort.

Dogs are how we made them, how much we train them, and how much we invest in them. To have a well-behaved puppy you should have experience as a dog owner, or have help.

A professional dog trainer can help you enormously when it comes to training your dog.

Everyone knows that there are certain rules when it comes to getting a dog, and some of them are:

  • Do research on the breed before you get a dog
  • Make sure that you get dog’s toys, bed, leash, and bowl before your dog arrives home
  • Have a calendar of mandatory vaccines and parasite control
  • Plan first veterinarian visit
  • Learn where are near by dog parks based
  • Know what are your obligations as a dog owner, and why microchipping is important

These are basics that every dog owner needs to go through, next to proper training, early socialization, and grooming needs.

Before you invest your time in these steps you need to go through the puppy phase properly.

Puppyhood is an exciting period of dog ownership. This is the period where your dog gets to explore the world, shows an enormous amount of energy, and generally bites everything. This is also a period when proper training and early socialization are crucial.

This is the period when your dog is also extremely sensitive – they are prone to dangerous illnesses like parvovirus, distemper, and even leptospirosis.

This is exactly where vaccination steps in. Before you let your dog meets the other dogs and go to experience the world, you need to protect him first.

Did you know that dogs can get various diseases from contact with other dogs? Or that feces left on the ground by other dogs can be infectious as well? This is why puppies are so sensitive and prone to many health-related hazards.

This may sound scary and you may want to lock your dog indoors, however… This just means that you should be extra careful during this period.

At least, you have to keep your dog isolated until he had all his shots. Below is more on vaccinations and proper socialization, but let’s first screen vaccination needs.


Just like human babies, puppies need proper care in their puppyhood. They are just entering the world and they are excited to get familiar with everything. Every corner of the street is like a new dimension for them.

They are more than excited to go around the corner and explore the backyard equally as they would love to smell the trash garbage in front of their homes.

This is why vaccination is important – it serves to protect your puppy and help him reach his senior years.

During this period puppy should be more isolated and home-based. During this period puppy will be without other furry friends, which might affect the dog’s personality.

If you manage to provide enough indoor time and spend enough time with your puppy this period shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Still, providing enough care, love, and support in terms of playtime and mastering basic commands is a must.

Did you know that behavioral issues are the number one cause of death for dogs under three years old?

With this in mind, veterinarians strongly recommend safely introducing your puppy to other dogs only if you know their health and vaccination history.

You should also know if they were exposed to other dogs and if they are vaccinated.

If you are not sure that other dogs are unvaccinated you might want to skip that play date.

Also, if you notice that the dog park or any other area is heavily covered with feces of other animals, you might want to skip that corner on your walks.

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

Know in-depth details just how puppy vaccination works by clicking here.

Otherwise here is a shortlist of mandatory vaccines in puppies:

  • Vaccination starts from eight weeks
  • There should always be a period of minimum of four weeks between injections
  • Once your puppy turns eleven weeks, he will be ready for second vaccination
  • Once your Fido is six months old, he will receive third vaccination

Now, you may ask – what about kennel cough vaccination? This specific vaccination should be given only when and if going into kennels.

Puppy isn’t fully protected until 2 weeks after the second dose, here is what he can still do:

  • Spend time inside the garden
  • Be carried outside, no matter the time of the day
  • Meet any vaccinated dog
  • Meet people

These small steps are crucial when it comes to proper socialization. Many behavioral issues in dogs start in their puppyhood.

In fact, these issues occur when the puppy isn’t socialized the proper way.

This may be a bit confusing, leading to questioning if you should socialize your puppy or not, and here is the answer – controlled early socialization should be planned, well-conducted, and a big part of your routine.

When Is It Safe To Expose A Puppy To Other Dogs?

Dog owners are often worried about not exposing their puppy too soon to other dogs. This makes sense since this is a delicate issue. However, waiting too long can lead to different outcomes and create additional problems.

Some veterinarians will tell you that you should wait until complete vaccination is done – which is something that can last up to found months.

This is a very long period for a puppy to be without proper socialization or socialization at all. As you probably know already, months act as years in a dog’s life.

Make Sure Other Dogs Around Your Puppy are Vaccinated

To have your dog outside, and busy playing and enabling proper socialization, you will have to let him go outside.

The best way to meet dog friends is to actually meet them, right?

Letting your puppy play with other dogs is fine, as long as they are vaccinated. Puppies need socialization and without proper steps on it, they will suffer and miss on a good portion of social skills.

This is why playtime with other vaccinated dogs can be so fruitful before the full-time socialization might begin.

If your home is a multi-dog household, make sure that those dogs are up to date on their vaccinations. This way your new puppy can have perfect new furry companions.

If your dog is the only house dog, let him meet vaccinated dogs of your friends, family, and neighbors. Make sure that you are interacting with dogs that are 100% vaccinated and are known as dog lovers.

If any of the dogs have any aggressive issues, do not force interaction. Puppies don’t know how to defend themselves, and meeting a larger and aggressive dog could leave some consequences on their further development.

Don’t forget that dogs tend to be territorial and when having dog friends over, you should be careful. Make sure that everyone is familiar with house dog rules.

Puppies should learn about pack rules, but extra care can not harm. You might have to save your little one.

Your puppy may roll on his back to let the other dog know he means nothing but respect.

Introducing a New Puppy to Your Own Dogs

If your home is a multidog home you need to have a strictly defined strategy of introduction. If you are bringing a puppy home, and you know for sure that he hasn’t been exposed to unvaccinated dogs.

It’s important to think about the personality and temperament of your first dog.

Be honest and answer the question – is there any potential for aggression? If there is any potential for aggression, you need to be well-prepared. You might want to plan the introduction well.

Make sure to introduce them during their first couple of days home. If you are terrified of this, ask someone with more dog experience to help you around.

Furthermore, if you are ready to take this task on your own, use baby gates and exercise pens to protect your puppy and create a space for him to move if tension raises.

Once the atmosphere is warmer and you can spot the friendly curiosity between dogs, you can allow them access without the pens.

What if your older dog doesn’t accept the new puppy? If this happens you will have to keep them separated.

First impressions matter even in the canine world. This is especially the key when you are introducing a puppy to new situations.

You don’t want your puppy to be too scared of new interactions. For example, if your puppy has any kind of negative interaction with a strange dog he could end up having a lifelong fear of other dogs.

This is why proper introduction between dogs is so important. If the introduction seems to be too much for you to handle, think about hiring a professional trainer.

Keep That Leash On

Training your puppy to walk on a leash is a big part of dog training.

Puppies and adult dogs must know how to behave when the leash is on. However, it’s important to know when your leash training should begin. As a general rule, you can put a collar on a puppy as soon as he turns one month of age.

Make sure that you introduce the leash to him in a calm manner. The leash is fine while your dog is a puppy, plus it’s a great way to train your dog to follow you.

Later on, you can think about using a harness – this item can be especially handy if you’re an outdoorsy person, and plan to take your dog with you on hikes.

As for the leash… Present it to your pup, and let him sniff it. He will find this item interesting and will eventually develop a connection with it.

Once he is comfortable with the leash around, you can attach a leash and him around. It’s always better to start indoors, and then move to outdoor space.

Indoors your dog is less likely to have a distraction. It’s crucial to keep your puppy on a leash when he meets other dogs, even indoors.

Your puppy needs to understand that leash is a form of safety device. Another important thing leash-related is that your dog needs to understand that you are the one controlling the leash.

When outdoors, always keep the leash on, especially if he is still being trained and not finished with his vaccines.

Why Is Puppy Socialization Important?

The first year of a dog’s life is crucial when it comes to shaping a well-behaved and happy dog. During their first year of life, puppies learn.

They are discovering the world the most during their first year of life. They are engaging with other people, dogs, and animals.

Puppies are also going through a wide variety of different situations. Since they are extremely young, they will find many things scary. What you may take for granted, your puppy could easily be scared of. These things can be enough to scare your puppy for long period, if not forever.

Just think about fireworks and how it affects older dogs. Now, imagine how hearing that sharp and loud sound can affect your dog.

An anxious dog or frightened dog is more likely to develop behavior problems later on.

On the other hand, if a puppy had a positive and overall happy puppyhood, he should have peaceful and calm adulthood. Moreover, you will have a well-behaved dog who will thrive on positive training methods.

Are There Any Factors That Can Affect Socialization?

Before you start training and socializing with your dog, you should know that not everything is up to you.

Certain factors can affect socialization and you won’t be able to do a thing about it. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up.

No, it merely means that you need to adjust your tactics and try different methods. Just like humans, dogs are individual begins. Therefore, different dogs have different needs, fears, and sensitivity levels.

That being said, some dogs are easier to socialize with than others. This doesn’t mean that some dogs are capable of being trained.

No, it just means that certain dogs will demand more effort during the socialization period.

Important:Socialiazation space is between three to twelve weeks.

Here are the most common effects that can make the socialization period more challenging:

  • Genetics. What the puppy gets from his parents is important. If one of the parents is naturally nervous, the chances are that your puppy will get some of that genetics.
  • Breed. Puppies of certain breeds are more prone to fearfulness. They often need earlier socialization. This is often the case in herding breeds.
  • Missed experiences. If you are getting an older puppy, you will have to invest more time in socialization.

The Bottom Line

Socialization is a long process, that will help you have a well-behaved dog.

A couple of weeks of proper socialization will take years to come more peaceful. This is why you should start socialization at an early age.

Invest enough time to create encounters that matter. It’s up to you to do so much that your puppy can easily and stress-free meet other dogs.

Your puppy must feel safe and encouraged when you are nearby. This is the best way to raise your puppy in a manner that will help him get the most out of life.