Scavenger Hunt for Puppy Socialization

Try to give your puppy as many new experiences as possible so that he'll be comfortable in many settings as he ages.  Use lots of treats to keep your puppy happy and secure, and be careful not to overwhelm your pup with too much, too soon.  Be sure that he meets at least 100 people by the time he's 16 weeks old, from babies to senior citizens.  This will help him to be friendly and social throughout his life.


An infant held by an adult

An infant in a car seat

A girl, between 2 & 6

A boy. between 2 & 6

A small group of kids between 2 & 6 (no more than 5)

A girl, 7 or older

A calm boy, 7 or older

A boisterous boy, 7 or older

A small group of kids 7 or older (no more than 5)

A small group of kids playing with a ball

A man with a beard or mustache

You in a hat

A friendly stranger in a hat

A friendly stranger in sunglasses

A person with a bike (who stops the bike and greets the dog)

A person on rollerblades or a skateboard (people moving 'abnormally' often worry dogs)

A person in a wheelchair

A person with an exaggerated gait

A person using crutches or a cane

A woman and a man whose skin color is radically different from yours

A person in uniform

A person driving a truck

A person carrying packages

A woman wearing a flowing skirt or dress

Sights, Sounds & Sensations

A stroller

A balloon

An umbrella

A camera (obscuring a person's face)

Musical instruments

An automatic door

A mirror

A bus (loading/unloading passengers)

An 18-wheeler (you can often find these parked behind grocery stores

A grocery cart moving past you and your dog

Walking between two parked cars

A vet's office (enter, give a treat & leave)

A cat with attitude

An older, well-socialized dog (meeting off leash in a neutral, safe environment)

A pet store

Lift the dog up onto a table-like surface

"Brush" the dog's gums with your thumb

Gently separate & hold each toe

Flapping movement, e.g., a flag or shaking out a towel

A sudden soft noise like a magazine dropping

A sudden scary noise, such as a pan dropping (use a helper so the dog doesn't associate this with you)

Dog in the bathtub

A lawn mower

A sprinkler

This information is provided by Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, author of Living with Kids and Dogs...Without Losing your Mind.