PUPPY SOCIALIZATION

Starting one week after you get your puppy (age 8 or 9 weeks), bring him out once a week, and have him face a situation he has never experienced before. This takes some planning, but is worth the effort.

8-9 WEEKS: A walk (off leash) in a meadow or pasture with medium tall grass. Keep him with you by voice. Encourage him to climb over a little mound of dirt or a log. Praise his efforts to do something he has never done before. Walk just fast enough that he has to strain very slightly to keep up with you. At this age his desire to stay with you is very keen, so capitalize on it. The walk should take no more than 20 minutes.

9-10 WEEKS: Another walk this time in the woods among taller grass and weeds. He must occasionally climb over small logs (just big enough to be a challenge). He should go up and down a hill, over rocks, maybe down a small bank. The perfect setup is where he can go across a small creek, getting wet up to the chest. Also, he should be able to scramble up the bank to follow you, and go through a thick carpet of leaves that crunch when he walks. Encourage him all the way. Praise him for meeting the challenge. The walk should take about 20 minutes.

10-11 WEEKS: The same as age 9 weeks but a bit more difficult. Occasionally hide momentarily from him when he is distracted in the woods, and watch him. Does he notice you are missing? If he does, and starts to look for you, suddenly appear and praise him profusely. If he doesn't look for you, first toss a pebble to make him notice you are missing, and then call him from your hiding place. When he starts to look for you for several times, appear and show him you are watching where he is. This helps him to taking responsibility to stay with you. Play this game over and over through many weeks until you cannot hide from him because he is always watching. This only works when started young.

11-12 WEEKS: Take him swimming. You must hold him and wade out to knee deep water. Point him toward shore and gently let him go. Be sure he gets his head up and he heads for shore. Have someone on shore encouraging him in a positive way. Another way to approach this is to entice him into the water by going in yourself first calling him to follow you. Do not throw him in! When you are through, get him out, dry him off, and go home. Don't let him get chilled.

12-13 WEEKS: Take a trip to a farm. Let him see cows, horses, chickens, and whatever else you can find. This time you can keep him on a leash. Make sure he is safe from the animals and let him get close enough to sniff. This outing can take 20 or more minutes. You should keep a positive attitude toward this experience. Be nonchalant about it, as if this is what every 12 weeks old pup does.

13-14 WEEKS: Take him on leash to town. Walk him on a main street with medium to light foot traffic. He will see and hear cars, trucks, and heavy street traffic. He will pass by many people walking, bicycles, delivery men with hand trucks, etc. This should be a short outing, about 10 minutes. Praise him lavishly for positive behavior. Be nonchalant and very encouraging. When you get back to the car, praise him for his remarkable feet of courage.

14-15 WEEKS: Plan a trip to the beach or some other special place he has never been, perhaps a trip to the local grade school front lawn when all children are pouring out. Let the kids stop and pet him. Let him see and be in the crowd.

15-16 WEEKS: Another trip to town.

16 WEEKS: The major learning age of your pup's entire life is now over. Hopefully you have given him a very wide range of experiences. If you have done all this faithfully you will have taught him the most important thing of all, "to learn", and it will stay with him the rest of his life, enabling him to continue the learning process.