Why they did it
The best time to begin socialization training in young dogs is between 4 and 16 weeks of age, yet sequestering puppies until their full course of vaccines is completed is often recommended. In this study, the authors sought to determine if puppies ≤ 16 weeks of age that attended puppy socialization classes were at increased risk of contracting canine parvovirus (CPV) infection compared with dogs that did not.
What they did
Researchers gathered data from 21 clinics in the United States, including clinics in both high- and low-income areas as well as from four cities with distinct seasonal patterns. Information was gathered on puppies examined between birth and 16 weeks of age with respect to signalment, CPV vaccination status, whether the puppy was suspected of or confirmed as having CPV infection, and whether the puppy had attended socialization classes.
In addition, dog trainers in the same four cities were contacted to participate if they taught puppy classes with enrollees that were predominantly < 20 weeks of age and that had at least one CPV vaccine before starting the first class. Information about these puppies included signalment, vaccine history, and whether the puppy was suspected by the trainer as having CPV infection before or while attending classes. These cases were followed up further with the owners to determine whether CPV infection had been diagnosed.
What they found
Information collected from participating clinics included data on 1,012 puppies, and of these 48 (4.7%) attended puppy socialization classes and 876 (86.6%) did not. Class history of the remaining 88 dogs was unknown. CPV infection was diagnosed in 14 dogs that did not attend socialization classes and was not diagnosed in any of the dogs that did.
In addition, information on 231 puppies from 24 dog trainers was evaluated. CPV infection was not suspected by the trainers in any of these dogs.
Puppies ≤ 16 weeks of age that attended socialization classes are at no greater risk of developing CPV infection than those that do not attend these classes. The authors caution, however, that this population was not a random sample and that these results are not generalizable to all geographic areas.
Stepita ME, Bain MJ, Kass PH. Frequency of CPV infection in vaccinated puppies that attended puppy socialization classes. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2013;49:95-100.
Link to abstract: http://www.jaaha.org/content/49/2/95.abstract