Pat Hastings, AKC judge and author of The Puppy Puzzle offers these hints for socializing very young puppies.
By the time a puppy is 7 weeks old it should have:
Been on 7 different surfaces, such as: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips, newspaper, etc.
Played with 7 different types of objects, such as: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy balls, squeaky toys, metal items, wooden items, paper/cardboard items, milk/soda jugs, etc.
Been in 7 different locations, including: front yard, backyard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom, crate, kennel, etc.
Been exposed to 7 challenges, such as: climbed a box, climbed off a box, gone through a tunnel, climbed up steps, climbed down steps, climbed over obstacles, played hide and seek, gone in and out of a doorway with a step, etc.
Eaten from 7 different containers: metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan, etc.
Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, bedroom, x-pen, etc.
Met and played with 7 new people, including children and the elderly.
Now, common sense dictates that you shouldn't make your five-week old puppy eat alone in the back yard if it's January and you live in Maine. And I don't know about you, but I'm not sure I'll let my next litter learn about "real food" from dining on my best china. However, Hastings' point is that early socialization is important. Many larger breeds leave for their new homes at about eight weeks of age, while those of us with Norfolks tend to place our puppies several weeks later. In any case, early socialization, which includes stimulation from a variety of sources, can go a long way toward producing an outgoing, confident adult.
ANTIC, March 2002
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