My Puppy Socialization Plan

Things have been a little crazy around here lately; work has gotten super busy the last month or so and is shaping up to be like last year; and Tess’s allergies have made a big reappearance lately. So I’m feeling a little behind on puppy things. While I should be running around getting all the last minute things for the pup I seem to be very preoccupied with trying different dog foods and researching different options. Not fun.

But puppy D-day is quickly sneaking up on me! They will be ready to leave for their new homes in less than 2 weeks now, which I just can’t believe! I’ve been doing some more of my puppy homework; reading and watching different training videos, and have a few more to get through in the next few weeks. However, I’ve started re-looking at the puppy socialization plan I put together last year (when I was hoping to get a puppy out of Reilly’s last litter). After going through some of the new material the urgency for some of the items have changed, and others will likely have to wait a little while longer. I was hoping to put together a bit of a journal to keep track of everything I was doing (and planning on doing) with the puppy to keep me on track, I still hope to pull that together, but in case that doesn’t happen I wanted to start to group together my top priority socialization and training efforts.

Priorities for the First Month


  • Meet 100 men & 100 children
  • Visit Groomer
  • Visit Doggie Swimming Pool (for dock diving later in life)
  • Meet horses
  • Visit Training Hall
  • Car Rides
  • Attend Agility trial or training class (to get used to benching, noise, and environment)
  • Visit Vet
  • Meet a few friendly adult dogs
  • Spending time in crate: initially I planned to start with Susan Garrett’s Crate Games right away, but I’ve realized that it just isn’t as much of a priority as some of these other items. I should have no trouble starting to teach them in month two or even three. There really isn’t a panic to start immediately (while it would be good, I’m just not sure I’ll have time). However, I do need to make sure that the puppy is comfortable spending time in his crate right away. So we will work on that, and likely start the early crate game exercises.


  • Sit*
  • Down
  • Loose Leash Walking*
  • Wait (at door)
  • Release
  • Stay
  • Attention*
  • Jazz Up & Settle Down
  • Leave It
  • Off


  • Look in both ears (daily)
  • Lift lips (daily)
  • Open Mouth (daily)
  • Pat on head (daily)
  • Hug (daily!)
  • Pick up all feet (daily)
  • Touch tail (daily)
  • Gotcha / Collar grab and treat (daily)

Right now I am thinking I might make all these daily handling items into a quick routine I can do first thing in the morning before feeding.

  • Brush Teeth (3x week)
  • Trim Nails (1 foot per day to start)
  • Poke with pen / “give vaccine” (1x week)
  • Clean ears (1x month, or more if necessary)

Feeding Bowl Games:

Each “game” to be played once during the first month

  • Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Delinquent Waiter Routine
  • Pet while eating
  • Quickly place extra yummy treats in food bowl while eating a meal
  • Trade high value treat (bone) for lower value treat

New Experiences:

In addition to the training and socialization work I have planned I want to introduce the puppy to all of these things at least once in the first month, some will be pretty easy to check off the list, others will take a little more effort.

  • Train running on tracks
  • Luggage pulled down the street
  • Someone pushing a shopping cart
  • Cars driving by (busy & quiet street)
  • Bus driving by
  • Train station
  • Ride in an elevator
  • Sliding glass door (Petsmart)
  • See someone pushing a stroller
  • Someone pulling a child’s wagon
  • Cross a wobbly bridge
  • Sit (or be held) on a swing
  • See someone walking with an umbrella
  • See people wearing different hats
  • See someone wearing a long rain coat
  • Meet someone wearing a hoodie/bunny hug
  • Meet someone wearing tall boots (rain boots, Ugg’s, work boots, etc)
  • Meet someone walking with a walking stick
  • Walk on a low ironing board
  • See someone using a broom
  • Investigate plastic bags
  • Meet someone in a wheelchair, using crutches, walker, cane, etc
  • See a moving golf cart / ATV
  • See someone blowing bubbles
  • See balloons, and hear them popping (from far away)
  • See kids roll down a hill, doing somersaults
  • Meet someone wearing sunglasses
  • Investigate a cardboard box
  • Meet someone wearing a mask
  • See someone skateboarding (Tess, like many dogs, is not a fan of skateboarders so I will probably work on this a little bit), rollerblading, on a tricycle, bicycle, scooter
  • Go swimming
  • Go for a boat ride in a canoe, kayak, or on a paddleboard
  • Go watch a sports game (kids soccer, baseball, or similar)
  • Go down (or be held while going down) a slide

If it was winter we would:

  • See people skating
  • Watch kids go tobogganing
  • See cross-country skiers
  • Go snowshoeing
  • Investigate outdoor Christmas decorations
  • Wear booties and a jacket


I’ve already got a list of parks I think we can train at, I need some quiet parks where we are unlikely to meet off-leash dogs, some close to roads, some with paved paths, some with gravel or dirt paths, with water the puppy can walk or swim in. Since I do not have any children I needed to brainstorm some good places where we can find kids to meet the puppy. Some places I’ve found that have worked for training Tess have been outdoor swimming pools (when I want them to be able to see the kids but don’t really want the kids running up and surprising us), the entrance to local theme parks, busy outdoor playgrounds and picnic areas, and schools. Some places where the puppy can meet people of different ethnicities, in our area the Walmart or Costco entrance can be a good spot, ethnic grocery stores, Chinatown, and many of the day use areas at popular hiking spots. To meet elderly or injured people we can walk by a local retirement home, and the hospital. (Story of my life!) I’m most concerned about finding places where we can meet enough men; so we will also likely visit a local oil change shop that is friendly to dogs, RV dealership that allows dogs to visit, outdoor stores (like Bass Pro Shop), downtown, mountain biking trail head, and some popular motorcycle meet up spots.

Novel Surfaces to walk on:

  • Metal (baking sheet / vet counter/ scale)
  • Grass
  • Concrete
  • Gravel
  • Bark Mulch
  • Dirt
  • Frost
  • Water
  • Foamy water
  • Metal storm grate
  • Man hole cover
  • Stairs (open back, metal, wood, carpet, narrow, wide)
  • Rubber
  • Linoleum
  • Hardwood
  • Carpet
  • Tile
  • Astroturf
  • Boat
  • Dock
  • Bridge
  • Log
  • Rocks / boulder
  • Sand
  • Ball pit
  • Bosu / Wobble Board

That’s sort of my running list of items to try to get through in the first month, but seeing how busy things have been lately I know the last thing I will want to do when I get home from work is try to decide what to do with the puppy that day. So while I’m sure I won’t stick to a set calendar I think I need to break these down into more manageable lists of socialization or training sessions that we can (1) do quickly on nights I have classes with Tess or other things going on, (2) weekend sessions (out of town visits, puppy play dates, visits to the groomer or swimming pool), and (3) normal sessions. I will probably have the weekends planned and booked for the first month before the puppy comes home; but for the others it’ll be nice to just be able to pick an idea off a cheat sheet without thinking about it too much.

I’ll try to post my journal tracking pages and full idea lists once they are completed on the chance anyone else might find them useful.


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