Thanks for your question.
It would be impossible for me to determine the exact risk of exposure to Parvovirus in the training class but I can give you some idea of how to assess and prevent the risk.
Here is what I would recommend:
- Speak to the trainer or coordinator of the class and ask what the vaccine requirements are for the puppies that register. These programs frequently have age and vaccine requirements to participate, such as after having the first or second stage of the primary vaccine series. The more stringent their requirements, the safer your puppy will be.
- Keep in mind that Parvo stays in the environment and on surfaces for months. This means that any dog that has visited the facility with Parvovirus could have contaminated the area with it. Parvovirus can actually live on surfaces out of direct sunlight for months or years. You could inquire about the level of environmental sterilization they perform. To eliminate Parvovirus, its ideal to use diluted bleach (1 part bleach:30 part water) and leave the solution on the surfaces for 10 minutes before removing.
- You could consider delaying your puppy’s participation in the program until at least the 2nd round of initial puppy vaccines have been administered. Participation after 12 weeks of age (which is the time for the 2nd round of vaccinations) would allow for greater protection and should not risk the positive impact of training and social interaction that the class would provide.
- I recommend you speak to your veterinarian and inquire about any recent cases of Parvovirus in the area that they have treated or seen. This could be asked at the local emergency clinic as well and it may indicate if there has been a patient that could have contaminated the community areas recently.
Keep in mind that we cannot completely protect our pets from disease. You will never eliminate every risk but I do think it is a great thing that you are considering this. Parvovirus is well controlled in most areas from good vaccination programs at local clinics so your risk should be generally low.
All the best,
Dr Clayton Greenway