Diamonds in the Ruff

Resources for New Puppy Owners

We understand how important it is to get your puppy off to a good start.  Here are some suggestions to help you bridge the gap between now and the first week of puppy class:

“The primary and most important time for puppy socialization is the first three months of life… For this reason, the AVSAB believes that it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated… While puppies’ immune systems are still developing during these early months… appropriate care makes the risk of infection relatively small compared to the chance of death from a behavior problem.” - The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior"

Everyone says my puppy needs lots of  "SOCIALIZATION"!   
What is "Socialization"?  It's way more than meeting other dogs!

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How do you socialize a puppy when the vet says to "keep them home until they've had all their shots?"

Socialization starts at the breeder's before you get your puppy, and continues the minute you walk out their door holding your new puppy.


Here are some resources to help you:  

How can I take them out safely?

You CAN take your pup out before they've had all their shots. 

Take them for a walk.  Just don't put them on the ground! 


A small pup can be tucked inside your jacket or a baby sling and a too-heavy-to-carry pup can be pushed in a stroller.  Introduce both modes of transportation at home where they feel safe before you set out for a walk around the neighborhood or a garden center or hardware store. 

Seek out positive experiences:

  • Seeing new things

  • Hearing new things

  • Smelling new things

  • Watching people and animals


Start slow.  Avoid overwhelming situations. 

If your puppy is cautious, choose quiet places.  If your puppy seems uncomfortable, increase your distance from scary things.  Take your time.  The goal of socialization is building confidence and resiliency.

Visit this page for a list of pet-friendly stores in Spokane

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Click HERE to download your
Puppy Socialization Check List!



The Pet Professional Guild
Puppy Educational Resources


How to Socialize a Puppy With Other Dogs, Humans, Sounds and Places

Invite calm, friendly friends to visit.  Your puppy needs to experience visitors to your home.  Winter puppies suffer most because the days are shorter and we don't have BBQ's with friends.  Take him out and sit on the porch to wait for the mail carrier or watch the kids walk home from school.


While we shouldn't be taking our puppies to a public park, it doesn't mean our puppies can't go safe places!  Aunt Martha is probably lonely and would love to puppy sit while you go shopping!  

The home and fenced backyard of someone with no pets or healthy, vaccinated, pets is safe.  Visits and sleep-overs are really about being in a new environment with all the new smells and sounds and becoming confident and relaxed wherever they go.  On new floors and stairs and meeting new people.  This will set them up for success when you leave them behind to go on vacation later in their life.


Play dates.  Do you have friends who have social and friendly dogs who are good with puppies?  There is nothing better than a good mentor.  Of course, you will choose your puppy's friends wisely and be sure that they are safe from bad experiences and bad examples!  The best play dates are hanging out together, sniffing around the yard, interspersed with fun romps, not constant revved up knock-down wrestling matches.  He's not there to play, he's there to feel safe, practice good manners, boundaries, and learn to share. 


Socialize your puppy through passive socialization rather than direct puppy-to-dog / puppy-to-human interaction. The ultimate goal of all socialization is that the puppies remain neutral, focused on their owner, not over-excited wanting to say hi to everyone and every thing.  Your puppy is learning to be calm instead of over-stimulated in new situations and around new people and animals.  There is a benefit to not allowing your puppy to rush up to every dog and human squealing, "can I pet your puppy?"  Of course, pups do need to see and sniff and say 'hello' to a wide variety of humans, big and small, but in a SAFE way, for both of you.

The best thing about passive interaction is the cautious puppy gets more time to observe and acclimate without being swarmed or overwhelmed.  He has the choice to say 'hello' or not, and leave when he's done.  Appropriate social distance is the length of his 6 foot leash (or a 4 foot leash, plus your extended arm.)   If he decides to venture to the end of his leash to go see someone six feet away, it preserves your safe social distance - and he's able to retreat back to his own comfort zone if and when he needs to without being followed.  Is yours an excitable puppy?   Simply shorten that distance to keep him from jumping all over the person and allow him more time to acclimate and his emotions to settle down.  You can take this time to explain how you would like them to greet your pup so he will be more successful when you do let him say 'hello' to that person in the park.  Keep meetings short, at a polite distance, and move on.  

Out for a walk - start by not going anywhere. 

Once the vet says it's safe to go to the park, drive there and just get out and sit on a park bench and let him take it all in, from your lap if that's where he feels safest.  If he seems curious, set him down, keep your leash slack, and just let him explore as much as he wants, or not.  If he needs to sit between your feet, fine. 


Remember, he can't explore or play if he doesn't feel safe.  Praise him for bravery.  If he wants to follow the scents, cool.   If he wants to pick up a stick and drag it around and chase leaves, even better.  These are signs that he feels safe enough to have a good time.  This is your goal!  Tomorrow, go find a new park.  Stick to quiet places at first and gradually work up to places where there are people and traffic.  


At this point in his life, it's less about how well he walks on leash, but how comfortable and safe he feels. It's not about how far you go, but how often he simply gets out of the house to sniff around new environments.  Leaving the safety of home is hard.  If he needs to stop and take it all in to be sure it's safe or decides it's just too much and he'd like to head back the way he came, that's fine, too.  Keep the leash slack - it should only become taught if you need to use it as a brake pedal to keep him safe or stop him from going where he doesn't belong, like into the street.  Don't let him rush into the space of another dog - even if the owner says it's friendly.  You don't know if that dog is healthy or safe.

One of our favorite dog trainers, Emily Larlham, has an amazing video channel.  SO MUCH GREAT INFORMATION here!  

PRIVATE LESSONS for your family & your puppy:

My veterinarian can't sign my permission slip yet   -or-

I just need a little one-on-one help with my tiny alligator before class begins!  


Contact Travis Byrnes for private lessons in your home or at the studio

509-710-7697 or email to schedule a one-on-one in-home consult.

What concerns do you have?

  • mouthing and biting

  • building a good relationship with the kids

  • house training

  • crate training

  • learning to be alone

  • games and toys and healthy play

  • helping your current pets and new puppy establish a healthy relationship

  • basic skills to get you started before your group puppy class begins

Travis will answer all your new puppy questions and help you get off to a good start!

Article:   "What "Socialization Is, and is Not"




Great books for parents:

Visit DOGWISE publishing for an amazing collection of books on everything dog related! 

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FREE downloads: Ian Dunbar's books:"Before You Get Your Puppy" & "After You Get Your Puppy"