Socializing Your Puppy

Socializing your puppy is a very important step in creating a well-adjusted and happy adult dog.  Puppies are at their most receptive and most sensitive during the 3-12 week range.  We need to use this time wisely so that our puppies become “the best dog they can be”.

There is so much to learn about raising a puppy during this stage of puppy development. I highly recommend the “Puppy Culture” DVD series.  I have purchased this series and have watched it several times and have taken many notes.  Jane Messineo Lindquist (the creator of the series) has observed and learned a lot about puppies and dogs and she has a wealth of information that is vital to how we look at and understand our puppies. I have implemented many of the techniques and have made every effort to utilize her suggestions during the weeks the puppies are in our care. The DVD series focuses on the first 3-12 weeks.  It can be found on the Puppy Culture website or by searching “Puppy Culture DVD” on Amazon.  If you are interested, I can also give you more details about what she shares regarding the 8-12 week range.

We also have tried to follow the “Rule of 7”, as researched by Pat Hastings, AKC judge and author of The Puppy Puzzle.  According to Pat, by the time a puppy is 7 weeks old it should have: Been on 7 different surfaces, such as: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips, newspaper, etc., Played with 7 different types of objects, such as: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy balls, squeaky toys, metal items, wooden items, paper/cardboard items, milk/soda jugs, etc., Been in 7 different locations, including: front yard, backyard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, crate, kennel, etc., Been exposed to 7 challenges, such as: climbed a box, climbed off a box, gone through a tunnel, climbed up steps, climbed down steps, climbed over obstacles, played hide and seek, gone in and out of a doorway with a step, etc., Eaten from 7 different containers: metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan, etc., Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, bedroom, x-pen, etc., and met and played with 7 new people, including children and the elderly. There is no guarantee that I was able to complete all of these tasks by the time you pick up your puppy, but every effort will have been made to hit most or all of them.

When you pick up your puppy, I will also give you a chart and checklist with suggested activities and exposures you may want to consider with your puppy to help acclimate them to a variety of objects and surroundings.  You don’t need to expose them to everything on the lists.  It is just to give you some ideas when socializing your puppy.

A word of warning – not all puppy classes are good!  There are many trainers out there doing a wonderful job but there are also quite a few who are ill informed or improperly trained.  Do not assume that someone who teaches a training course knows what is best for your puppy.  Never allow a trainer to use negative training reinforcement and never allow someone to strike, choke, or physically harm your dog.  Also be careful not to allow other large or dominant puppies to intimidate, bite, or scare your puppy.  A bad experience in puppy class has been known to stick with a puppy for a lifetime.

If you think a puppy class is in your future, ask your vet for highly reviewed suggestions in your area or search out positive reinforcement trainers.  If you want to train your dog on your own, I suggest using Zak George.  He has a YouTube channel with a lot of good advice.  He uses common sense approaches and positive reinforcement techniques that are proven to work while maintaining the bond and trust between you and your dog.  Visit: to learn more.

Here is a link to a great video with ideas for exposing your puppies to handling:


Already have a furry family member?  Put some preparation and thought into how you will introduce your new puppy.  Some good tip can be found here: