Puppy Socialization…Every ‘Thing’ Is New To A Puppy

I started writing this “things” post by making a list of things to expose Bozo to. It didn’t take me long to realize that the list is almost endless. Whatever you can dream up, is a ‘thing’ for Bozo. You just need to remember that absolutely everything is new to him. Then just stand in any room in your home and see, smell and hear the things in it as though you had never experienced them before. Standing in the kitchen, the sound of a mixer came immediately to mind. As you expose Bozo to these new things, be careful not to scare him. That’s why younger is better. Until they reach adolescence (5 – 6) months of age, they accept new experiences readily. Adolescence brings a wariness of things new.
Never force the puppy to investigate. This is an adventure, not boot camp!
Probably the first sound Bozo is likely to hear is the doorbell or knock on the door.
Training opportunity!
If he barks at the knock or the bell, you can say,” Thank you, Bozo” as you both head for the door. Before you open it, say,” Bozo, sit”. When he does, say, “Yes, treat.” (Remember to keep treats on your person at all times!) Depending on how bouncy, Bozo is, you may need to repeat this several times. I think the key here is to focus on Bozo’s sitting and not be impatient to open the door. Whoever is there will most probably wait and you don’t want to miss this training opportunity! After several attempts, if you get the ‘sit’ but not the ‘stay’, either pass Bozo off to another family member or simply scoop him up, saying nothing. He has done nothing wrong. He’s just learning.
It would be great if a visitor or a family member would help with this exercise by knocking or ringing to come in and then coming in and going out (maybe by another door) and repeating the knock, ring, bark, sit, open door. Part two of this one is to remind the visitor not to speak to Bozo until Bozo has ‘four on the floor’.
The door thing is such a big deal because it involves noise, people, barking & potential bolting (Bozo’s). DO take the time to make it look the way you want it to. Focusing on Bozo now for a few weeks will make a lifetime of difference.
In these early weeks, take Bozo to the mall. Carry him in your arms and do stop and chat with everyone you know and anyone else that wants to see your new family member. There will be a whole array of new sights, sounds, and smells for Bozo here.
Hats, head scarves, big purses, beards, sunglasses, umbrellas, skateboards, tricycles, strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and canes – all are things Bozo is likely to encounter. Why not make a list. Don’t be limited by my ideas. Tick it off as you set up situations to ensure he encounters the strange things.
Encourage, praise and reward the lad. Never push. Keep the time periods short.
Stop immediately if Bozo seems worried or stressed.
Enroll visiting friends and family by having them wear hats, beards, costumes and so on. A lot of thought on your part? You bet. Not only does it have the potential to be fun though, you are laying the foundation for a ‘bomb-proof’ dog in just a few short weeks.
Two helpful things to remember: If Bozo is apprehensive when you introduce him to new things a) keep his focus on you with positive vocal reinforcement and treats and b) position yourself between Bozo and the scary thing.


Not scary at all!

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  1. Jude…I appreciate your emails so much. I’ve been “doing dogs” for half a century and am in the biz, and I am learning from your writings…and they are FUN…me, I tend to be too serious. FUN always works better than serious. Keep it up…I think you’re going somewhere. Thanks. R.

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