The Puppies Rule of 12

Puppy Socializations – The Puppy’s Rule of 12 – Margaret Hughes—Positive Paws Dog Training, 2002

Margaret Hughes, at Positive Dog Training has developed an excellent list of things every young puppy should be familiar with.  The Puppy’s Rule of 12.

Train your dog to greet new people and places with happy anticipation. With a new puppy socialization is crucial. All new puppies need to explore the world and have GOOD experiences.

By the time your puppy is 20 weeks old, it should have: 

(If your puppy is older than 20 weeks, start immediately with this guideline)

  • Experienced 12 different surfaces: wood, woodchips, carpet, tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet grass, dirt, mud puddles, pea gravel, grates, a table (vet visits), etc.
  • Been introduced to 12 different objects: toys, balls (big and small), funny sounding toys, metal items, statues, balloons, etc.
  • Experienced 12 different locations: front yard, other people’s homes, school yard, lake, river, basement, elevator, car, moving car, laundry room, kennel, etc.
  • Met and played with 12 new people (outside the family): children, adults, elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes, crutches, hats, uniforms, etc.
  • Exposed to 12 different noises (ALWAYS keep things fun and watch the puppy’s comfort level- we don’t want the puppy scared): garage door opening, doorbell, phone ringing, children playing, crying baby, big trucks, motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, clapping, lawnmowers, etc.
  • Exposed to 12 fast-moving objects (don’t allow them to chase!): skateboards, roller-skates, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, running people, running cats, running squirrels,  running horses, running cows, etc.
  • Experienced 12 different challenges: climb on/in/off/around a box, go through a
    cardboard tunnel, climb up and down steps, go in and out a doorway with a step,
    go through an electric sliding door, climb over a log, go into a bathtub (and bath),
    get in and out of a car, etc.
  • Handled 12 different ways each week for 12 weeks: held under someone’s arm (football hold), hold on floor, held between owner’s legs, handle head, look in ears, look in mouth, look between toes, take temperature, held like a baby, trim toenails, etc.
  • Been left alone safely (in crate) away from family and other animals (5-45 minutes) 12 times a week
  • Eaten from 12 different shaped containers: wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, paper, coffee cup, china, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, Kong, Treatball, Bustercube, spoon fed, paper bag, etc……
  • Eaten in 12 different locations: back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen, basement, laundry room, bathroom, friend’s house, car, school yard, bathtub, up high (on work bench), under umbrella, etc….
  • Played with 12 different puppies (or safe adult dogs) as much as possible.
  • Experienced a leash and collar 12 different times in 12 different locations.
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