Dachshund puppies in black and white

How to socialize a puppy

Socialization refers to the process of introducing your puppy to new sights, sounds, and experiences. It's all about helping them to get used to the world, and teaching them to be confident in new situations.

How socialization can help?

Effective socialization is vital for you and your puppy's life together, as it can have a huge impact on a puppy's long-term physical and mental well-being. While it only takes a few weeks to socialize your puppy, the lessons they learn in the first months of their life can guide them for a lifetime.

Labrador puppy standing black and white

1: Time is of the essence

The sooner you start socialization, the simpler and more rewarding it will be for you and your puppy.

2: Socialization is a process

Take things one step at a time. Don’t overload your puppy with stimulation.

3: Go at your puppy’s pace

Every puppy’s pace of development is different, so never force your puppy to try something they are not comfortable with. If they are scared, take a step back and try another day. If your puppy appears intimidated, rethink how you can introduce them to the situation in a different way.

4: Positive reinforcement

While exposing your puppy to new experiences is vital. Those experiences must be backed up with rewards (play, food, or affection) to reinforce desired behaviors.

What should you introduce to your puppy?

The suggestions below are the type of settings, situations, and experiences that will help socialize your puppy:


The world is full of strange sounds which can be intimidating to your puppy at first. The sound of trains, hairdryers, washing machines, cell phones, TVs, music, and car alarms are all worth exploring and introducing to your puppy at a young age.

Beagle puppy lying down on a rug next to a vacuum
American Cocker Spaniel puppy walking indoors behind owner


Puppies are often excited to explore new places, so taking them to people’s houses, schools, parks, elevators and stairs, buses and trains, markets, and intersections are all interesting environments for your puppy to carefully discover as they grow.


Meeting a variety of people is good for your puppy’s development and socialization. Consider putting them in new, social situations that bring them into contact with new people in a positive, calm way. These can include vets, people in uniform, cyclists, and others they may not see often.

Welsh Pembroke Corgi puppy being carried by owner
Australian Shepherd puppies running outside on a beach


Different surfaces inside and outside of the house can seem daunting to puppies at first. The city, the countryside, and the beach are all good places to start. It’s also useful to expose your puppy to different heights, gradients, and textures, such as sand, wood, and tiled surfaces, so they're not daunted by these changes once they've developed into an adult.


Things that we take for granted, like the rain, wind, or snow can all be unusual experiences for a puppy. Try taking them for walks in different weather conditions to help them get used to changes in weather, climate, and temperature. Some breeds may require protective clothing to keep them warm and dry.

Puppy walking outside in the snow

Wherever you go with your puppy, it’s important to stay calm and make them feel that these new experiences are normal.

Your puppy’s socialization timeline

In their first months, your puppy is very receptive to new experiences and learning. This timeline gives an idea of the most important stages of socialization and the tasks that should be undertaken during those stages.

Birth to two months

These first two months with their mother and littermates are vital for the effective socialization of the puppy. The behaviors learned, experiences faced, and interactions they have with humans, as well as their mother’s health and temperament, all have a huge part to play in their behavioral development. As a prospective owner, you should take the time to visit potential breeders and check on:

Find out about the conditions in which they live with their breeder

The temperament and behavior of the mother and littermates to be sure they aren't fearful

The level of attention and affection given to the mother and littermates by the breeder

Check whether the breeder is willing to share regular updates of your puppy’s development before adoption

Check if the puppies have been vaccinated and dewormed

If you have cats or children, it is worth choosing a breeder who introduces their puppies to cats or children carefully during this stage

Two to three months

From the moment your puppy arrives in their new home, gradually start the socialization process, create learning experiences, and reward good behavior. Even though your puppy is yet to be fully vaccinated, that shouldn’t stop you from taking them outside letting them meet people or play in your the yard. Just ensure that your puppy only meets dogs who have been fully vaccinated.

Key tasks

Get your puppy used to walking on a leash

Sign them up for puppy school when they are fully vaccinated

Begin to set some rules, like not jumping up at strangers

Carefully introduce your puppy to your neighbors and other, friendly dogs

Gradually introduce them to the sounds of the street

Let your puppy explore the ‘safe' area/yard outside your home

Three to four months

Once all vaccinations are complete, you and your puppy can confidently start to explore. This is a key period of learning for the puppy, so the more time you spend together and the more effort you put into socialization, the better. All that hard work will pay off!

Key tasks

Start to introduce your puppy to more people and colleagues

Take them out to explore the local area near your home

Take regular walks to new places with new experiences: the beach, the park, the town center

Meet up regularly with friends with dogs who are fully vaccinated – this a great way for dogs to socialize together

Take them for regular walks on the leash

Teach your puppy how to greet people politely and start teaching them verbal cues

Introduce your puppy to busy areas and loud public places

Carefully, and at your puppy's pace, allow them explore crowds on a leash

Explore stores, cafés, and public transport

Take your puppy to different places

Your puppy’s brain is continually developing and that makes them an incredibly fast learner. During this ‘socialization window’ your puppy is far more accepting of new situations and encounters. So opening them up to new experiences during this period can have a huge and positive impact on their future wellbeing.

It’s a commonly held misconception that puppies should be kept inside until they have had their 12-week booster shot. While puppies are more susceptible to a range of diseases at this time that doesn’t means they can’t go out at all. If you’re careful, and only take your puppy to places where the risk of infection is low, you can begin to take your puppy outside after eight weeks.

Fear can be manifested in a number of behaviors such as whimpering, going stiff, putting its tail between its legs, and also snapping or barking. If you think your puppy has been scared by a person, situation, noise, or anything else, walk calmly away from that trigger until your puppy is calmer and will take food again. If you feel your puppy is comfortable, reintroduce them to the trigger gradually and reward positive behaviors. If your puppy is still scared, remove them from the situation. Speak to a professional trainer or your vet if you are ever uncertain about your puppy's responses.

Start early in your puppy’s life when they are most receptive to new experiences

Introduce your puppy to new things gradually and regularly

Expose your puppy to as many positive experiences as possible

If your puppy reacts strangely, or with uncertainty, to a new situation – distract them. Stay cheerful and offer a treat or reward

Observation before participation

You should always allow your puppy to calmly observe any new environment or experience, before they get involved too deeply. Forcing your puppy to confront new situations, people, or places without giving them a little time to acclimate and make sense of it can lead to negative memories and behaviors. Here are three simple tips to aid that process:

Training my puppy

Training is an important part in socializing your puppy. The better trained your puppy is, the healthier and happier it will be.

Training your puppy
Dachshund puppies in black and white