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San Diego Humane Society

Puppy Socialization Checklist

The first three months of your puppy’s life is the most important time for exposing them to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as possible so they can learn to behave and interact successfully with the world around them. Early socialization and programs of positive training can go a long way to creating a lifelong bond between you and your dog.

This is where your Puppy Socialization Checklist comes into play. It is divided into two parts of activities for you and your puppy to experience together. The first part contains a priority checklist of activities you should try to expose your puppy to before they are 12 weeks old. The second part offers more ideas for activities that will continue helping their development. Ideally, they should experience all of these items before they are 18 weeks of age.

PEOPLE

  1. Adults
  2. Babies
  3. Toddlers
  4. Children
  5. Teenagers
  6. Seniors
  7. Different ethnicities

PEOPLE USING

  1. Canes
  2. Crutches
  3. Metal walkers
  4. Wheelchairs
  5. Baby strollers
  6. Backpacks
  7. Luggage

PEOPLE IN UNIFORM

  1. Police officers
  2. Postal workers
  3. Vet clinic staff

PEOPLE WITH

  1. Umbrellas
  2. Baseball caps
  3. Helmets
  4. Mustaches
  5. Beards
  6. Glasses

ATHLETIC FOLK

  1. Joggers
  2. Skateboarders
  3. Cyclists
  4. Rollerbladers
  5. Roller skaters
  6. Soccer players

INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE

  1. Holding puppy
  2. Touching paws
  3. Touching muzzle
  4. Touching ears
  5. Touching collar
  6. Checking teeth
  7. Clipping nails
  8. Brushing teeth
  9. Checking between pads
  10. Cleaning ears
  11. Touching rear legs
  12. Brushing/grooming

PEOPLE SOUNDS

  1. Talking loudly
  2. Laughing
  3. Crying
  4. Shouting
  5. Arguing
  6. Newborn crying
  7. Newborn laughing
  8. Infant crying
  9. Infant laughing
  10. Children playing
  11. Children laughing
  12. Children crying
  13. Children shouting

DIFFERENT SETTINGS

  1. Rides in vehicles (other than to vet)
  2. Socialization classes
  3. Vet clinics
  4. Groomers
  5. Elevators
  6. Automatic doors
  7. School grounds
  8. Car washes
  9. Walks after dark
  10. Busy intersections
  11. Crowds of people
  12. Your family’s homes
  13. Sleepover visits
  14. Department stores

HOME ENVIRONMENT

  1. Phone ringing
  2. Doorbell
  3. Knocking at the door
  4. Hair dryer
  5. Vacuum cleaner
  6. Dishwasher
  7. Electrical appliances (i.e. blender, can opener, mixer)
  8. Sweeping
  9. Mopping
  10. Guests
  11. Gatherings in home
  12. Repair people
  13. Delivery people
  14. Gardeners
  15. Dropping a hair brush
  16. Washing a load of laundry

OUTDOOR EVENTS

  1. Parade
  2. Live music band
  3. People dancing

CONSTRUCTION SITES/ GARDENING

  1. Jackhammers
  2. Cranes
  3. Front-end loaders
  4. Bulldozers
  5. Sledgehammers
  6. Power tools
  7. Forklifts
  8. Carrying shovels
  9. Wheelbarrows
  10. Lawn mowers
  11. Weed wackers

MOTORIZED VEHICLES

  1. Cars
  2. Motorcycles
  3. Screeching brakes
  4. Cars backfiring
  5. Street cleaners
  6. Garbage trucks
  7. City buses
  8. Electric wheelchairs
  9. Firetrucks
  10. Police cars
  11. Mail trucks
  12. UPS/delivery truck

ANIMALS

  1. Friendly, healthy dogs
  2. Puppies
  3. Cats

DIFFERENT SURFACES

  1. Going up stairs
  2. Going down stairs
  3. Ceramic tiles
  4. Carpet
  5. Slippery surfaces
  6. Manholes
  7. Grates
  8. Grass
  9. Gravel
  10. Children’s playground equipment

STRANGE SIGHTS

  1. Scooters
  2. Tricycles
  3. Hula hoops
  4. Remote-control toys
  5. Flags/banners
  6. Statues of people
  7. Statues of animals

SOUNDS

  1. Sirens on police vehicles
  2. Sirens on ambulances
  3. Sirens on firetrucks
  4. Thunder sounds
  5. Fireworks
  6. Construction site noises
  7. People yelling
  8. Trucks backing up with alarm sound

CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT CHECKLIST

ANIMALS

  1. Small pets (hamster)
  2. Large birds (geese)
  3. Horses
  4. Goats
  5. Pigs
  6. Chickens
  7. Ducks

PEOPLE WITH

  1. Leg in a cast
  2. Leg scooter
  3. Baby carriers
  4. Wagons
  5. Shopping carts
  6. Holding balloons
  7. Rain coats
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Cowboy hats
  10. Visors
  11. Costumes
  12. Masks
  13. Beanies
  14. Punk haircuts
  15. Shaved heads

PEOPLE IN UNIFORM

  1. Firefighter
  2. Vet tech
  3. Veterinarian
  4. Ambulance attendant
  5. Crossing guard
  6. Meter reader
  7. Telephone worker
  8. Courier

ATHLETIC FOLK

  1. Cross-county skiiers
  2. Sledders
  3. Snowboarders
  4. Surfers
  5. Windsurfers
  6. Speedwalkers
  7. Spectators at 10K
  8. Paddlers (kayaks, canoes)
  9. Hang gliders
  10. Swimmers
  11. Water-skiers
  12. Martial artists
  13. Bike couriers
  14. Dodgeball players

MOTOR VEHICLES

  1. Water scooters
  2. Airplanes
  3. Helicopters
  4. Snowplows
  5. Trolleys
  6. Segways
  7. Hoverboards

DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS

  1. Boarding kennel
  2. Bank
  3. Gas station
  4. Toll booth
  5. Friend’s home
  6. Public transit
  7. Country vs. city
  8. Escalator
  9. Pet supply store
  10. Downtown
  11. Boat ride
  12. Petting zoo
  13. Tunnel
  14. Bridge
  15. Outside day care
  16. Active railway
  17. Crowd of people clapping
  18. Crowd of people cheering
  19. Drive-thru
  20. Sporting facility
  21. Beach
  22. Hiking trail
  23. Office
  24. Park
  25. Boardwalk
  26. Public event
  27. Mall
  28. Plaza
  29. Coffee shop
  30. Brewery
  31. Restaurant downtown
  32. Restaurant by the water
  33. Fast-food restaurant
  34. Tourist spot
  35. Movie in a park
  36. Pool
  37. Lake
  38. Inflatable pool
  39. Home environment
  40. Phone announces calls
  41. Loud TV
  42. Loud music
  43. Kettle
  44. Dog in bath/shower
  45. Home office
  46. House party
  47. Maintenance people
  48. Dropping a plastic container
  49. Dropping a pot/pan
  50. Popcorn popping
  51. Fire alarm
  52. Drying a load of laundry

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS & NOISE

  1. Snowblowers
  2. Snow
  3. Rain
  4. Wind
  5. Airport
  6. Loud speakers
  7. Building demolition
  8. Sand
  9. Wood
  10. Tile
  11. Marble
  12. Watery or wet
  13. Cement
  14. Asphalt
  15. Swinging bridge
  16. Wooden dock
  17. Tarmac (not on a hot day)
  18. Artificial grass
  19. Mud
  20. Ice

OUTDOOR EVENTS

  1. Hot air balloon
  2. People singing
  3. Farmers market
  4. Beach party
  5. Bonfire
  6. Santa Claus
  7. Easter Bunny
  8. Mascot
  9. Rodeo
  10. Fair
  11. Sporting event
  12. Clown
  13. Mime
  14. Rush hour
  15. A rally/protest
  16. Street vendor
  17. Food truck

CONSTRUCTION SITES & GARDNERS

  1. Ride-on mower
  2. Leaf blower
  3. Electric hedge shears
  4. Garden hose
  5. Sprinkler system

STRANGE SIGHTS & SMELLS

  1. Drunk people
  2. Ice cream trucks
  3. Strong perfumes
  4. Strong cooking smells
  5. Hammocks
  6. Playground swings
  7. Playground tunnels
  8. Kites
  9. Model airplanes
  10. Low-flying airplanes
  11. Air-filled decorations
  12. Pinwheels
  13. Loud kids’ toys
  14. Children in high chairs
  15. Children in walkers
  16. Children in swings outside
  17. Children in swinging chair inside

MAKE IT POSITIVE

When introducing your puppy to all of these new experiences, reward with treats and praise so he creates a positive association with the new activity. Observe your puppy’s behavior to see if he is enjoying the experience; is he eating treats? Does he seem relaxed and comfortable? If not, take a break from the activity.

TAKE IT SLOW

Doing too much too fast can lead to overstimulation, which can result in fear or anxiety. Start with small experiences like the feeling of grass, walking on tile or meeting one new person. Don’t force your puppy to interact with his new environment or a new object; instead back away a bit until the puppy relaxes. Then use a silly voice, treats and praise to help him feel more confident in approaching the scary item or sound. As the puppy becomes more relaxed, gradually he will get closer to the stimuli, pairing praise and treats with the experience.

WATCH OUT FOR

Please consult a professional trainer/behaviorist to assist you in your socialization process for fearful puppies who display extreme behavioral responses such as shaking uncontrollably, urinating/defecating, growling, snapping or biting.

For more info on early puppy socialization, visit the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior’s position statement on early socialization.


Behavior Helpline: Contact our Behavior Team


Behavior Helpline

For behavior questions, please contact our Behavior Helpline either by calling 619-299-7012, ext. 2244, emailing behavior@sdhumane.org or filling out our Ask a Trainer form

Questions About Public Classes

San Diego Humane Society offers training classes and resources to address a variety of needs for companion animals.

Our training philosophy is based on the behavioral science concepts of positive reinforcement. Training your pet using these concepts will not only help them learn new behaviors more quickly, it will also strengthen the bond you share.

Our website includes a current schedule of training classes or call 619-299-7012, ext. 2398. 

View Training Classes

Resource Center San Diego Humane Society Programs Educational Resources

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