I want to discuss socialization of your puppy. I am in charge
of all of the Puppy Raisers for Fidos For Freedom. One of the aspects
of puppy training that we focus on quite a bit is that word everyone
hears when they get their new pup: Socialization. I think that many
people misunderstand what we are talking about when we bring up this
term, so I want to break it down, as I see it...especially in talking
about puppies in the Service and Hearing training.
foremost...we want these puppies out and about experiencing as much as
possible. Eventually these pups will grow to be a dog that goes out
with a client to many places...restaurants, shopping malls, subway
trains, zoos, etc. We want the puppy accustomed to as many things as we
Of course this means that they have to meet new people. We
want puppies to meet people of different shapes, sizes, races, genders,
ages, and abilities. When I have a new baby (8-9 weeks) puppy in
training, I shove him/her into the arms of anyone who dares "Awwww"
over the pup. I was at Fidos last night with the newest pup, Bryce, who
is living here for a few weeks. He saw little kids, teenagers, adults,
people in wheelchairs, people in walkers, people with and without their
own dogs on leash. Many people held him and everyone petted him. He was
wiped out when he got home. He will continue to meet new people as he
stays here...I'll take him out to meet the mail carrier, and the UPS
driver. He's met the neighbors all around, kids and adults. He'll go to
the vet and have happy visits with everyone there.
like a lot of time, and it can be. But we don't stop there.
Socialization is not just about meeting humans. The puppy needs to meet
other dogs (adult and puppy), and as many other types of animals as
possible. Bryce has met the two cats (one fluffy adult, one
short-haired kitten), he's met the guinea pigs and rabbits. He lives of
course with Sawyer and the others, and meets other friendly adult dogs.
Bryce and the neighbor pup, Cocoa (6 mo. shih tzu) had a playdate
yesterday in the yard. We'll have a bird boarding with us over
Thanksgiving, so he'll get to meet a bird in a cage. I make sure that
all of these experiences are positive for him. We were at Fidos last
night, and there were many dogs out and about in the building. Some
dogs strained at their leashes to meet him...and I made sure to protect
Bryce from those dogs. Whether friendly or not, they were being pushy,
and I didn't want him scared. He met adult dogs that were easy-going
and friendly to him. First and foremost, protect your puppy! Meeting
adult dogs that don't like puppies, for instance, is not going to help
in the long-run. Heading out to the dog park with the puppy...not a
good idea. Set up play-dates with other puppy owners, find a good puppy
class, meet up with friends who have puppy-safe adult dogs...these are
what you should do instead!
In addition to meeting all these new
friends, we still have more socialization to do! It doesn't end with
humans and "other" animals. ;-) Another aspect of the socialization
includes the environment the puppy is in. This means the puppy should
experience more than just your house and yard. Of course young pups
aren't completely vaccinated, so you want to be careful about where you
go. The training center is a good place to go, so puppies come along to
classes with me during the week (more people and dogs to meet too!).
want the puppy to experience different surfaces under their
feet...slippery floors, mulch, carpet, uneven surfaces, rough surfaces.
I want the puppy to eat in different places...in their crate, in the
car, in the living room, in the kitchen, up on a taller surface (on a
table, couch, etc), in the grass, etc. I want them to play with
different items...stuffed toys, hard toys, water bottles, metal keys on
a ring, soda cans, the list is endless. Eating out of different
containers...ceramic, metal, plastic bowls, frisbee, etc. This is all
part of the socialization. It's not just meeting people!
The last thing I want to mention is that I always stress quality rather than quantity.
It always makes me think of the line, "First, do no harm". It is up to
you, as the puppy parent to make sure that all these experiences are
positive and fun for the puppy. If the puppy is worried, scared,
unsure, do not push it. Protect the puppy from potential harm: a big
dog rolling the puppy, a surface that the puppy is scared of, whatever
it might be...you are the one in charge, the puppy relies on you.
-Written by Erin Saywell
of the guidelines I follow, and recommend to my puppy raisers is the
"Puppy's Rule of Twelve" by Margaret Hughes. I print off a copy for
each of my puppies, and I circle each thing that they do or experience.
sure all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy. Each
encounter should include treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add
distance if your puppy is scared!
By the time a puppy is 12 weeks old, it should have: (If over 12 wks start right away)
different surface: wood, woodchips, carpet tile, cement, linoleum,
grass, wet grass, dirt, mud, puddles grates, uneven surfaces, on a
table, on a chair, etc...
12 different objects: fuzzy toys, big & small balls, hard toys,
funny sounding toys, wooden items, paper or cartboard items, milk jugs,
metal items, etc...
different locations: front yard (daily), other people's homes, school
yard, lake, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car,
garage, laundry room, kennel, vet hospital (just to say hi and visit,
lots of cookies, vaccinations) grooming salon (just to say hi) etc...
Met and played
with 12 new people: (outside of family) include children, adults (male
and female) elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers people with
canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, etc...
12 different noises: (ALWAYS keep positive and watch puppy's comfort
level-we don't want the puppy scared) garage door opening, doorbell,
children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, Harley motorcycles,
skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts, power bost, clapping, pan
dropping, vacuums, lawnmowers, etc...
12 fast moving objects: (Don't allow to chase) skateboards,
roller-blades, bikes, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running,
scooters, children running, squirrels, horses running, etc...
Puppy's Rule of Twelve" is something that I am very proud of, and would
like to keep ownership of. Please give me full credit when using this
on your website or any other form.