SOCIALIZATION AND BITE INHIBITION
What is the Socialization Period?
√ Between the age of 4-14 weeks your puppy is in her most important developmental stage.
√ Within this time, your puppy develops the seek-avoidance blueprint she will use for the rest
of her life when encountering novelty.
√ Your puppy’s personality will not only be determined by her breed characteristics and
parentage but almost equally by her socialization period.
√ The experiences your puppy has during this important window of development will directly
affect her personality as an adult.
How Do I Socialize My Puppy?
It is your responsibility to introduce your puppy to as many experiences as possible and to make each
experience pleasant. Your puppy runs the risk of being frightened or aggressive toward objects or
situations that she was not exposed to or had a scary encounter with during her socialization period.
Think of the socialization that you do now as “vaccinating your puppy against scary things”.
1. Your puppy’s thought process is pretty simple: food =good.
2. During your puppy’s socialization period never be without a food treat. Carry them in your
pockets, purse, car, baby stroller or backpack.
3. Allow your puppy to approach, investigate and observe new experiences at her own speed.
4. Talk confidently to your puppy when she encounters a new object (something as simple as a
leaf blowing across the sidewalk can be scary to a puppy!), person or event and give her one
of the many treats you have in your pocket.
What Should I Do If My Puppy is Fearful of Something?
If your puppy becomes fearful during an encounter be careful about what you may be communicating
to her when she is afraid.
1. Do not try to comfort her. This will only reward your puppy’s fearful behavior and
convince her that it is good to be afraid.
2. Instead, use a confident voice and coax your pup to approach whatever it is that is spooking
3. Reward any confident behavior with a treat.
4. A reliable sign that your puppy is very frightened or overwhelmed is if she will not take a
o If such a situation occurs get your puppy out of the situation and reduce the level of the
scary event and start again.
o Ask your puppy to “sit” and reward the behavior. You are substituting a behavior that
you can reward for her fearful response.
SOCIALIZATION AND BITE INHIBITION
Even the gentlest, most mild mannered dog has the potential to bite. Dogs get stepped on, or become
fearful and feel they have no other option but to bite. A dog that can inhibit her bite may some day
bite, but not leave a mark on the person bitten: this could very well save your dog’s life.
TEACHING YOUR PUPPY TO CONTROL H ER BITE
Puppy biting is a normal, natural and necessary puppy behavior. Puppies rarely bite with the goal of
hurting someone. When puppies mouth humans they are trying to play. Because puppies have sharp
teeth but little jaw strength, puppy-hood is the ideal time to teach bite control.
STEP ONE: HOW TO CONTROL HOW HARD PUPPIES BITE
pies learn how to control their bite strength from playing with other puppies and dogs. When a puppy plays and bites too hard, the
other puppy yelps. If the puppy bites too hard again, the other puppy ends the play. You are going to mimic this
1. Allow your puppy to mouth your hands. When she begins to bite to the point it is mildly
painful, say “ouch”. The volume on the “ouch” will depend on your puppy. Some puppies only
need a quiet tone; more robust pups will need a louder “ouch” to get their attention.
2. Allow your puppy to mouth your hands again. If your puppy bites too hard again, the game
ends. Completely ignore your puppy as if she were invisible, stand up and walk away. If at all
possible, close yourself in another room for 30-60 seconds. Wait at least 10 minutes before trying
the game again.
STEP T WO: HUMANS ARE BIG BABIES!
e your puppy is mouthing your hands with only gentle pressure – due to practicing Step One on a regular basis – it’s now time to
teach her how wimpy humans are. You want your puppy to think that human skin is the most fragile thing in the
world and that touching it with her teeth is not rewarding.
1. Allow your puppy to mouth your hands gently. When her teeth barely make contact
with your skin, yelp like she’s maimed you!
2. Allow your puppy to mouth your hands again. If her teeth make contact with your skin
again, the game ends. Completely ignore your puppy as if she were invisible, stand up and
walk away. If at all possible, close yourself in another room for 30-60 seconds. Wait at least
10 minutes before trying the game again.
SOCIALIZATION SCAVENGER HUNT
Week Socialization Experience Week
1 2 3 4 5 Environments 1 2 3 4 5 Men (cont.)
Go to a park Meet a man smoking a cigarette/cigar
Go to a shopping center Meet a man wearing a coat & tie
Go to a vet’s office Meet a bald man
Go to the downtown mall Meet a man with an accent
Go to a an office complex Meet a man with a piercing/tattoo
Go to a grocery store Meet a man wearing a heavy coat
Go to a gas station Meet a man with red hair and glasses
Go to a college campus Children
Go to a restaurant Meet baby in Mother's arms
Go to a lake Meet a toddler in snow suit
Go to a forest Meet a baby in stroller
Go to a friend’s house Meet a toddler wearing a hat
Go to an industrial park Meet a young boy with baseball cap
Go to a farm Meet a young girl pushing baby buggy
Go to a puppy socialization class Meet a kid on skateboard
Women Meet a kid pulling a wagon
Meet hiker wearing backpack Meet a kid chewing gum
Meet a woman pushing a shopping cart Meet a young girl wearing sunglasses
Meet a woman wearing a baseball hat Meet a kid wearing a rain coat
Meet a woman carrying an umbrella Meet a toddler wearing sneakers
Meet a woman wearing sunglasses Meet a young boy riding a scooter
Meet a woman pushing a stroller Meet a baby in a baby carrier/papoose
Meet a woman with a pony tail Meet a kid on bicycle
Meet a woman wearing a coat Objects
Meet a woman carrying bags A vacuum cleaner
Meet a woman on a bicycle A big-screen television
Meet a woman wearing a skirt A mirror
Meet a woman with boots on A large pasta/stock pot
Meet a woman with ponytail A large potted plant
Meet a woman in high heels A computer
Meet a woman with glasses on A garden sculpture
Men An outdoor grill
Meet a man with a beard A broom
Meet a man with an umbrella A fireplace
Meet a man wearing sunglasses A snow shovel
Meet a man with a ponytail A bicycle
Meet a man with a mustache A ladder/step stool
Meet a man wearing sneakers A running washer/dryer
Meet a man wearing cowboy boots A green car
Meet a man carrying bags Animals
Meet a man wearing sunglasses & a hat
SOCIALIZATION SCAVENGER HUNT
Meet a Poodle
Week Socialization Experience
1 2 3 4 5 Animals (cont.)
Meet a cat
Meet a Jack Russell Terrier
Meet a Black Lab
Meet a Golden Retriever
Meet a Bouvier Des Flanders
Meet a horse
Meet a cow
Meet a Great Dane
Meet a black & tan multigree
Meet a Cocker Spaniel
Meet a Boxer
Meet a Pug
Meet a Husky
Meet A German Shepherd