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Puppy parties are group meet-ups for puppy owners and puppies. These can be a great learning experience for your puppy and yourself. It is a chance to learn, develop and adapt in a small, controlled environment prior to being exposed to the big, wide world!
So, what actually happens at a puppy party?
Puppy parties are commonly led by veterinary nurses. They involve a group of people and their puppies, of varying ages and breeds, getting together to socialise and learn. Puppy parties will commonly have a theme each week. This allows the education aspect to become more focused and is more aimed at the owners. Discussion topics may include: flea and wormers, microchips, vaccination programmes, insurance policies, diet, husbandry, neutering, plus the veterinary professionals will do their utmost to answer any specific questions you may have. The puppies will watch each other move and discover new games. They will become familiarised with being in group situations; as well as being surrounded by lots of dogs, all in a safe environment. We commonly see puppies starting off rather shy but gradually building up their confidence, helping to prevent aggression or protective behaviours in the future.
Why are they important?
There are lots of reasons!
Socialisation is key for puppies aged between 4 and 12 weeks of age.
They must learn how to interact with humans, of course. But also how to read the body language and engage safely with other dogs. Puppy parties are a great place to start because all puppies will be on the same starting page. You must find out what the age range for your puppy party is prior to attending. This is to make sure your puppy’s age falls within the limits. If owners are keen to attend puppy parties, the likelihood of the puppies being vaccinated is higher due to the owners being keen to ensure their puppies get the best upbringing possible.
Puppy parties are a great way to meet people local to you, who are going through the same exciting life changes!
For the owners, you can discuss where you plan on walking your dog. Sharing ideas and locations can help maximise the fulfilment of both yours and your new puppy’s adventures. Additionally, you can share ideas on groomers, day care, pet food, pet insurance etc, etc… There will be many, many things you will want to discuss. Should your puppies become good friends, you may even be able to puppy share; looking after each other’s pups giving you both more freedom, and your dogs a playmate. Because of the wide variety of breeds present at puppy parties, there may be opportunity to swap some items if other puppies have outgrown things! These could include, harnesses, collars, carriers or even tips and tricks or foods!
Puppy parties can be a brilliant location to perform growth checks
You can weigh your pet on the calibrated veterinary scales, helping you to keep regular record of their growth. This is interesting as we want to ensure the growth rate is adequate but also useful for your flea and worming protocols as you will need regular weight check-ins for those preventative medications.
If puppy parties are held at a veterinary practice, it can be a brilliant way to familiarise your dog with the vets prior to them needing to come when they feel ill
This will help to prevent negative associations between the location and feeling poorly, helping to improve their demeanour when they visit. The more relaxed your dog feels when they attend the vets, the more accurate our clinical examination and pain scoring will be, as we will be able to be much more thorough. Equally, if the veterinary professionals are familiar with your puppy, they will be able to notice slight behaviour changes which could be the start of a disease process. This could help us to find disease or discomfort earlier.
Are there any risks?
Because the puppies will try to play and socialise, you will usually need to sign a health and safety record. This is because many of the dogs will be too young to be fully covered for full efficacy of their vaccinations. In addition, you should ensure the building premises and professional running the party holds the correct insurance. This is vital as nowadays many people are starting their own independent pet businesses. You want to ensure you are covered should your pet become injured at the party, or if injury occurs following poor advice given at the party. By attending puppy parties hosted by veterinary nurses with recognised qualifications, you are at a much lower risk of a negative experience.
Do I have to go to a practice that offers puppy parties?
Puppy parties are important and useful. But you do not need to choose your veterinary practice based on whether or not they host puppy parties. Your veterinary practice should be close to your home so you can attend in an emergency situation. You should trust them and the medical advice they provide; and you should be willing to pay their consult fee and for medication from them. Hosting puppy parties is an added bonus! In most cases, you can attend puppy parties at a veterinary practice you are not registered to.