I have been reading a lot about puppies not going out until 16 weeks old because they are not fully up to date on vaccinations yet. Yet, the training/socialization window for puppies and kittens usually is 8 weeks to 13 weeks, I believe. I take my puppies and kittens out at 12 weeks and socialize them. I'm careful (no dog parks) but my dogs do meet other dogs and get to see the world. (They go to stores, the vet, drive throughs, every place I can.) The cats train the puppies how to respect them and I also let them meet my horse and other animals. Do others take their young ones out during this window?
personally, i don't take them out to places where other dogs have been; parks, petsmart, etc. i do take them in the car and to people's houses, the carwash, drive throughs like you said, and have people come to my house. you just don't know if others have vaccinated their dog or not. i do puppy kindergarten in a place that has everyone spray the bottoms of their feet and their dogs paws with a bleach solution before they enter. i just try to do whatever i can without taking the puppy to places with other dogs and puppies. there is another socialization period around 7 months? or is it 9 months? for dogs, that is.
the 8 to 13 week old stage in dogs is when they learn things that are permanently ingrained. So yes, it is important to expose them to people, that's also why it's the best time for a puppy to be taken into a new home. This is also the time period in which there's the first parts of the 'fear reactions' setting in. Puppies can be timid, snappy, yappy, and shy, and catering to these behaviors is a bad thing because it's lasting behavior that is extremely hard to break. The whole 8 week to 6 month old stage, it is important to make sure your puppy is well socialized wtih both humans and dogs, and trained to pay attention to you so that there are fewer problems. But your'e right, I only took my dogs out around other dogs after they'd had all their boosters, so at around 3 or 4 months of age. The risk of encountering people who are not careful about vaccinationing their own dogs, and the debilitating diseases puppies can get from adult dogs make this a necessary evil. From 6 months to 12 months, I've heard that dogs go through a 2nd fear stage, in addition to getting to the 'independent' age where they suddenly forget that 'come' command.