• Caryl Wolff

Puppy Training and Socialization

Updated: Feb 15


several puppies sleeping
Socializing puppies is so important.

Puppy Training and Socialization

When you get a new puppy, there are sooo many supplies to get and soooo many things to do that you may feel overwhelmed. Puppies are a lot of work! But they are also a lot of fun — and way too cute. Their biggest problem is that they stay puppies for such a short period of time!


This is the most important time of their lives because it’s the time when puppy personalities are forming and what happens to them now has an impact throughout the rest of their lives. And what *you* do or don’t do now also has lasting effects.


Speaking frankly, what difference does it make if your dog is perfectly obedience trained in your house but when you take him outside, he is either so fearful or aggressive that he can't - not "won't" but "can't" listen to you because he is literally so consumed with emotion that he can't think straight? Human equivalent = where would your attention be focused if there was a rattlesnake at your feet and I was trying to teach you something?


You are most concerned right now about your puppy's Front End and Back End — biting and chewing and also peeing and pooping. Whatever goes in must come out. But I’m concerned with the future — what happens if certain events do or don’t take place during critical developmental periods. It’s preventative behavioral medicine, and you play a big part.


And speaking of medicine, veterinarians and trainers are looking out for your puppy in different ways. Your vet is concerned with him medically, and trainers — including myself — are concerned with him behaviorally. Unfortunately, your vet may advise you to wait until your puppy has completed his shots before taking him to the outside world. But by the time he finishes his puppy shots, the critical periods are over because the critical period for socialization and habituation generally ends at 16 weeks at the latest. Fortunately, many vet schools are changing their policies because they, too, realize the importance of these critical developmental periods.


The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has realized the importance of early socialization and issued a new position statement, “The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life. During this time puppies should be exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be achieved safely and without causing overstimulation manifested as excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior. For this reason, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.” (emphasis added). Your veterinarian may not be aware of this change, so please let him know.


No one gets a puppy intending that he will be turned in to a shelter because of behavior problems, but that’s exactly what happens to 50% of the dogs born each year in the US. They are dead by their second birthday because of behavior problems (so sad, but true), many of which can be prevented. The fact that you are reading this shows that you care enough for your puppy that that won’t happen, so give yourself a pat on the back!


We talk about how to minimize your puppy’s biting and chewing so you don’t become a human pincushion and so your furniture doesn’t look like termites have attacked it by showing you some simple strategies to accomplish this.


And we also talk about prevention of problems. Did you know that most dogs who have aggression issues don’t like to be touched — or only like to be touched when and where THEY want it? I demonstrate how to touch your dog so he loves it, and then you practice it.


The other important issue for your new puppy is socializing — and socializing means much more than getting him used to other dogs. It’s acclimating him to the sounds, smells, places, people, and things that he will encounter during his lifetime in a positive manner. We talk about how to do that in a safe way. There are many articles on puppy socialization, but I wrote the first book on Puppy Socialization in conjunction with Professor Emeritus Ed Bailey of Animal Behavior of Guelph University. It gives you literally hundreds of ways to stimulate your puppy's senses. The more he learns as a puppy, the more experiences he can draw from when he encounters new situations in later life.


These are the areas we concentrate on with puppies:

  • Potty training

  • Chewing and biting

  • Socialization and handling

  • Puppy obedience (Sit and Come being most important)

When you train with Doggie Manners, you receive applicable books and handouts FREE:

  • Puppy Potty Training book

  • Puppy Socialization book

  • Written instructions on what we discussed

  • Puppy handouts for reference (soon to become a book!)

  • Recommended new puppy supplies list

In fact, if you would like my FREE handouts NOW on supplies, potty training, and socialization, please email me.


Since a lot of puppy training is owner training - which means training you(!) - we can do this virtually via Zoom. If you're in the Los Angeles area, we do offer private training. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to caryl@DoggieManners.com . We look forward to working with you.


Please read my other articles on puppy socialization and training.


What is Puppy Socialization

Begin Puppy Socialization as soon as You Can

History of Puppy Socialization

Importance of puppy socialization, habituation, and enrichment

Puppy Enrichment

Puppy Socialization and Immunization

New Puppy Training

New Puppy Checklist

Precursor to Puppy Socialization - One Hour in the Lives of my Dogs

My book on puppy socialization


Thanks for visiting Puppy Training. I make a small commission on any products or books I recommend.


Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.


If you need help with puppy or dog training, we do both private in-person and virtual lessons via Zoom. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to caryl@DoggieManners.com . We look forward to working with you.