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I pick up my new 8 week old puppy in two days!
I live in a very dog-friendly apartment complex.
I am TERRIFIED of parvo.

So my question is about potty training. I was planning to use a little lawn area right outside our apartment. It's not a high traffic patch of grass, but since it's public I can't expect that no other dogs have used it as a toilet in the last year. All of my neighbors have dogs, and the previous owner of my apartment had a dog. I want my dog to potty train outside, but not more than I want him to stay healthy.
Should I stick to my plan of letting him access the area of grass around my patio, or should I rethink and use puppy pads until he's fully vaccinated?
 

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I use puppy pads in a box on my balcony. It's sort of a compromise, I guess. Grass would be better, but this way at least he's learning not to go in the house. The other thing is that it's a lot easier to take him out on the balcony every hour than it is to take him all the way downstairs every hour. This could be an option for you, even a temporary one until he gets older :)
 

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It's a balancing act.

Let's touch on some Parvo vaccination basics.

Pups get parvo antibodies from Mom's milk. These antibodies kill both real parvo and the 'fake' parvo given during the vaccination process. Pups are given a series of shots from about 6-7 weeks to about 16 weeks, generally 3 weeks apart, because it is variable how long the antibodies from mom's milk stay in the system. In MOST cases the 2nd shot gives full immunity after about a week. The first and finals are just risk limiters.

Note this has more to do with the pup generally leaving mom at 8-9 weeks and the 2nd shot being administered a week or so later. It's that week or so break from mom's milk that is important, not that it is the 2nd shot.

Also note, it takes a good week, rarely two weeks, for the pup to build up a good supply of antibodies after the vaccination.

Next up, while any public grass could in theory be exposed to dogs, generally the idea is to avoid areas that are more likely to be used...dog parks and such, or even regular parks...unless you have good confidence that the dogs are vaccinated.

In your case I'd not worry about an outsider's dog. I'd ask current tenants who have dogs if they had their initial shots. Note, don't worry if they haven't kept up on their yearly boosters, those aren't necessary (just a way to make money), just the initial. If they don't know, ask where they got the dog. If it was from a breeder, the pound, or a rescue - it got it's shots. If it was from a craigslist ad, flea-market, 'new a family that had pups' and they don't remember, then they probably never got them. A great lead-in to this is to ask about their vet, as if you are looking for suggestions.

Once you have an idea of how likely that the dogs in your apartment are vaccinated, you can make an informed decision.

If MOST dogs are vaccinated (even if not all are, or there are some unknowns) I'd do it. (a term 'herd immunity' comes into play to help you out here). If roughly half are not, I'd get a pee pad for the pup to use for a while.
 
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