Have You Tried A “Puppy Adventure Trip?”

Posted on 05/01/15 46 Comments

Puppies on a Bench meme goodSocializing puppies should begin in the breeders home. Even before a puppy can hear or see, “puppy enrichment” can begin by focusing on the fully developed senses the puppy does have (those of touch and smell). For any of you who are members of my “Puppy Peaks” community I have a new area called “Puppy Enrichment” where I will be posting some of the things I did with my puppies from the time they were 3 days old right up until they left for their new homes at 8 weeks of age.

*Note: If you just missed out on our recent Puppy Peaks registration promotion but are interested in joining us in the future, just add your name to our waitlist using the form on the side of this blog or contact us at [email protected]

Puppy socializing really turns a corner once the puppies are between 9-16 weeks old. This is a critical period where confidence can grow or be crushed. Careful, strategic socialization is key in helping protect and develop your puppy’s confidence. The main areas of socialization & habituation that most experts agree to focus upon are people, places & things.

1. People: men, women, children of as many ethnicities, heights, sizes, voice ranges, physical challenges, activity levels and  or weird hats you can find. Behaviourist Ian Dunbar has a great suggestion to try and have your puppy meet 50 men, 50 women and 50 children a week during their critical socialization period.

2. Environments: Footing (as many surfaces as you can find…be sure to include polished surfaces where the puppy can see their reflection as they walk). I like to include elevators, escalators and of course stairs. The environment will also include various noises (from door bells to back fires) as well as sights from all directions including stimulation from above as in balloons or birds.

3. Things: This is a catch all…everything from bicycles to garbage bags sitting out on the street.

The Debate of Socialization vs Immunization

I don’t want this blog to turn into a heated debate about the controversial side of taking puppies this young out into the world prior to them being fully vaccinated. I will suggest you discuss that with your veterinarian. There are risks. When I contemplatedswag snoozing with lab litter socializing Swagger with a litter of Labrador puppies at only 3 1/2 weeks of age I discussed my plan with my veterinarian first. She agreed with me that that it was worth the risk.

The truth is, you can’t be certain your puppy is completely “safe” to socialize until the he has had 3 properly timed inoculations (usually 9,12 & 16 weeks).  There are so many contributing factors that go into a puppy “current immunity protection level.” Things such as the vaccination status of the puppy’s mother, how much colostrum your puppy would have received during its first 24 hours of life. How much stress this puppy has already been exposed to. It could very well be that exposing a puppy to a new environment prior to having any vaccines at 8 weeks of age is better than vaccinating them prior to exposing them. However that is an immunological discussion I am not going to get into. The point is, what I am about to describe is taking a health risk. However waiting until 16 weeks before you begin your puppy’s socializing means you are missing a critical  developmental window. You need to discuss the risks and benefits of such good socialization with your own veterinarian prior to taking any action.

For the rest of the blog I am only going to address the benefits of proper socializing and habituating to behavioural development of your puppy. In particular I am going to share with you an outing I had this week with four puppies from our most recent litter.

Because my puppies were born and raised on our property they were not exposed to a lot of “city noises” on a regular basis. Yes I did take them for car rides into the city and yes I did play loads of “sound effects” for them from the time they were 3 weeks old. The fact we are on a flight path to an airport which is only 15 minutes from us was also a great benefit to all of my puppies. However the truth is we live on 28 acres at the end of the road. We have no other house within a half a mile from us. Our closest neighbour is a 200 acre golf course. We love where we live…but there isn’t a lot of noise for growing puppies!

The Business of the “Puppy Adventures Trips”

My experience with raising Swagger as a “singleton” puppy gave me a brand new perspective on socialization. Remember I mentioned that the key in all socializing is confidence? Well raising a singleton I was able to see how fragile that confidence can be. When Swagger was about 5 weeks old we were outside, at the foot of the stairs when a flock of Canadian Geese flew squawking overhead. Swagger panicked. He bolted up the stairs and frantically clawed at the front door, crying for his mother and trying to get back inside. There was no littermate there to show him how to act appropriately. There was no brave sibling who would try to chase those birds. There was only one frightened puppy whose confidence was shattered. It took me literally months to help Swagger recover from that experience. And THAT is what gave me the idea of “Puppy Adventure Trips”

Typically when puppies are sent home to their new owners, it is up to that new owner to find a way to socialize their puppy. Of course their are “Puppy Classes” or “Puppy Parties” but playing with other puppies or learning to sit, although important, isn’t what I am talking about. Most of the time a new puppy is on their own learning to deal with new stimuli as a way of life. Sometimes it is a success and confidence grows, sometimes it is a disaster and confidence is crushed. Why leave this up to chance? Knowing that just the proximity of another puppy boosts a puppy’s confidence I now plan for confidence to grow in my puppy with our PATs.  You can see a  puppy who otherwise might be shy of a person in a wheelchair or a crying baby being pushed in a stroller or the rumbling of a big truck be transformed by the proximity of other puppies. Even if as a group the puppies start out as not 100% confidence, confidence grows within the group.

Our First Toronto “P.A.T”!

Earlier this week I got together with 3 other puppy owners for our first of many “P.A.Ts.” This one was in downtown Toronto…I mean the heart of the city. It was strategically planned and not even by me, but by one of my students who has one of my puppies. Canty lives in Toronto and was keen to participate!

Doing a P.A.T I would suggest you ebb and flow the exposure/stimulation for the puppies. This is how our day went.

Round One: Moderate Distraction, Brief Exposure and High Arousal

Our first “taste” of the city was carrying the puppies out of the underground parking, walking to street level and playing high arousal games of tug.

IMG_0454The tug helped the puppies to habituate to the traffic noise without ever having to really look at it or notice it. IMG_0460

Tug games start further away from the street (as close to the buildings as we can get) and move closer with confidence. Once all of the puppies have had the chance to play, observe and have a pee we “reduce the stress” and move inside the condo. Total time for round one was about 5 minutes.

Round Two: Chillin’

Fortunately for us, our friend Canty has a condo right in downtown Toronto. So we could take the puppies upstairs to for them to “return to normal” before we move on with our day. First adventure for the puppies on an elevator! We carried them for the first round and let them walk on while on leash for every trip afterwards.IMG_0465

Here all four littermate got re-aquainted playing in Wiggins’ condo within the condo. The pups have been separated from each other for about four days. “Chilling’ time was about 10 minutes.

Round Three: Moderate Distraction

Our next step was one I didn’t even think of! Rather than taking the puppies directly back into the hub bub of the big city, we let them have a group play on Canty’s roof top socializing area.

IMG_0476The sounds, smells and even sites of the city could be taken in by the puppies but all while a l-o-n-g distance away. IMG_0508Fun times were had by all.


We would break up the “puppy play” with some structure “training” just to bring the focus of the puppies back to the people.
IMG_0496Total time up on the “very secure” roof was about 20 minutes.

Round Four: Chillin’

Next we went downstairs, puppies went back into the condo to rest while we had tea. Total time was about 30 minutes.

Round Five: High Distraction

Next we jumped back into the elevator and walked to the first busy corner. Here we saw bicycles, street cars, watch a fire truck go by with its siren screaming…IMG_0449…we stayed here, tugging, (see the big truck in the pic below)…it was complete with the loud “beep beep.”  IMG_0515As you can imagine having 4 similar looking puppies in downtown Toronto caused a bit of a stir so the puppies met A LOT of people.IMG_0521Time spent here on the corner was about 10 minutes. All puppies happy to move forward to our next “Chill Station” which was a quiet enclosure of grass.

Round Five: Chillin’

Our goal was to walk about 3 blocks to a restaurant to have lunch with a stop at a park along the way. We spied a smaller patch of grass and spent a few moments allowing the puppies to relieve themselves before heading off two more blocks to the park.

all on leashSome of the time the puppies where carried, sometimes we did tug games and sometimes they just walked on leash taking it all in. IMG_0545

We had three “Chillin’ Stations” at various parks during the day.

IMG_0554These “Chillin’ Stations” are an obvious complete “stress” reliever for the puppies…although all of the four puppies we had out took all of their new lessons all in stride.

Alternating “Chillin’ & Distractions”:

The rest of the day was spent alternating between “Chillin'” and “Distractions”…here the four of us where invited into a store filled with “dog-crazy” people!


Actually a lot of Toronto was dog-crazy…hungry anyone?


Of course a trip to Toronto would not be complete without a stop at a pet store! We got to two of them (all on our short walk). The first one had “pet wear.” Moose…who will eventually be moving to the UK to live with her new family, is seeing how she looks dressed in a union jack 🙂 Moose uk bowtie

Our second pet store proved to be a great “chillin'” opportunity for the puppies.

pup stop pet store

Our meet & greets included a Canadian celebrity…here we bumped into “puppy crazy” George Strombolopolous. George is known as “Canada’s boyfriend” he is a national TV personality. It looks like here as if the female puppies in this picture (Momentum, Moose and Charm) are sitting in line waiting for a kiss from George while the only male puppy “Wiggins” is somewhat unimpressed.

We had planned the trip around one of my favourite vegan restaurants in Toronto “Fresh”. Here the tuckered puppies decide to catch a nap…well all except one :). Eventually Momentum DID lay down but it did take a while. IMG_0584We ordered and ate our  lunch, but not wanting to disturb the sleeping puppies we hung around for about an hour before heading home.  As you can image, four gorgeous sleeping puppies did draw a crowd…along with a few offers from those hoping we were selling ;).


Socializing puppies can take on many forms. I will still take Momentum up on her own but I have more “Puppy Adventure Trips” planned before that time just to hedge my bets that all of her “first time experiences” will be as amazing as this one has been.

If you are going to plan your own P.A.T.’s outings be sure you alternate the experiences between “stepped” distractions (varying from low to high level distractions) and intermingled with “Chillin'” time for puppies to recover.

Today I am grateful for how well all four puppies handled their first “off property” Puppy Adventure Trip!

I’m always interested in learning about unique approaches to dog training.  In the comments section below I would love for you to share what has been your Go-To Puppy Socializing Exercise.



  1. Diane says:
    Saturday, May 28, 2016 at 4:06pm

    I love this idea and am really appreciative of how you broke it down to demonstrate exactly how the adventure ‘went down’. We’re getting another pup this summer and I will be remembering and using this.


  2. Amelia says:
    Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 6:19pm

    Love this post. I’ll have to do that with some friends from puppy class. I just picked up my aussie puppy today and got on your site to join puppy peaks, and I see that it’s too late. Oh no.


  3. Jennifer says:
    Monday, May 4, 2015 at 3:03pm

    So nice to have such a descriptive template for starting puppies out well with confidence building! I did tons of sitting and watching skateboarders, bikes, stollers and runners at a distance with my puppy when she was young. For my next future puppy I’d definitely add tugging in there instead of food, plus all the fabulous stuff on the list.


  4. Wendy says:
    Monday, May 4, 2015 at 11:01am

    very timely blog post to read today! In a happy coincidence, several friends got puppies in a small timeframe. Yesterday, we got 4 puppies and owners together for what we called a puppy learning adventure 🙂 With 4 puppies who are already good friends varying in age from 1 year to 5 months, and with very different personalities, we took a stroll in a lovely waterfront park. It was the nicest day we’ve had after a terrible winter and spring, so there was a lot of activity. Bikes, strollers, Kids playing pick-up games of soccer, joggers, lots of other dogs being walked on leash, boardwalks, grass, and a salt water shore line were all things encountered by our pups. One little guy isn’t very confident, but with his friends, took cues and became inquisitive and bolder about things that would have been scary for him otherwise. Oh, and they learned about photo opps and putting their feet up on stuff 🙂 https:[email protected]/17182110529/

    It was a great adventure for all of us and we’re planning more! Maybe the much busier Halifax waterfront boardwalk will be up next 🙂


  5. Amy says:
    Monday, May 4, 2015 at 10:53am

    Hi Susan!
    A couple questions – do you find it beneficial to have puppy tug with other people/strangers while out on these outings? Also, I’ve heard so much about socializing pup with SO many different people – is it as better to expose them daily to a few people or can it be one or two big outings a week with lots of people to meet?


    • Susan says:
      Monday, May 4, 2015 at 11:56am

      Hi Amy, no I would not recommend have the puppy tug with strangers. Mostly because I would not trust them to know the best way to tug with a puppy. Visiting and getting treats is all I would suggest with puppies greeting new people. Ideally you will expose them to new people each day however realistically we all have a life and so whenever possible is the best any of us can do.


  6. Sol says:
    Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 10:57am

    Susan, you are my wanna be!!


  7. steph says:
    Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 6:49am

    Learn from my experience. I would say if you are just getting your first puppy learn about the subtle signals dogs give you that they are not comfortable with a situation as well as general dog language. I think it is worth mentioning because to experienced dog owners like Susan it is 2nd nature. It is easy to forget those owners starting out miss these. If you think that a fearful dog is the obvious one with a tail between its legs and ears pinned back like I did that is partly right but there are many other signs, my dog is fearful of many situations but she never puts her tail between her legs. I made the mistake of taking my puppy to lots of situations that on reflection were way too stimulating and she had no way of escaping them. I was not forceful, I never pushed her or pulled her anywhere so I thought I was doing it right. You get it drummed into you that you must socialise the pup as much as possible but not how. I like in this post how Susan tells you how long they spent in each situation and the importance of breaks. This is something I did not know and its an important lesson to take on board folks.


    • Megan says:
      Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 9:46pm

      I’m glad you make this point, Steph. I was so focused on socializing my border collie that I didn’t register her level of fear around traffic sounds until she’d gone way past her comfort threshold. E.g., at 9 weeks I saw she was startled by the garbage truck, and thought it would be helpful to let her meet the driver (who was really kind to her!). In retrospect, I realize I should have taken things much more slowly; but the puppy books refer so often to the “socialization window” that I focused on that rather than on my individual dog, who was scared. Now, at 19 weeks, I’m spending hours a day trying to help her desensitize to the sound of engines and roads. We’re making progress, but the idea of taking her to a mall or downtown is beyond us at the moment.


  8. SHelene says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 9:07pm

    We haul pups everywhere when they are young. We make special pup trips, but often they are just along for our errands and we make a few special stops for them to socialize, to try new things and meet new people.
    When we make our monthly or so pilgrimage up to the city, we haul at least one dog with us for the ride, if the weather cooperates. That entails not only the ride up and back a total of nearly 3 hours round trip, but the many stops while there. In and out of the vehicle, potty trips, treats(we all love to eat). They love their trips so much, that most complain highly when the one or two who get to go for the day are chosen and they are not. LOL


    • SHelene says:
      Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 9:08pm

      We often take an experienced older dog to show the young pupster how life is handled. It helps a lot.


  9. Yuko says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:39pm

    My favorite place to take my puppy was “Girls Scout Cookie Booth” – Those girls selling “Girls Scout Cookie” were very polite and pleasant and my puppy had really positive experience with them. I asked “Scout Leader” if I could bring my puppy to meet them and the leader was very pleased to have a puppy with them (puppy attract people to sell more cookies!). My puppy had pleasant experience surrounded by children and adult who wanted to say Hi to him. One booth was operated by the children with “down syndrome” and it was great experience for both sides (both the children and my dog). My dog now visits mentally challenged children/people as a therapy dog because his experience as a puppy with Down syndrome children made him very stable around them.


  10. Grace says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 12:24pm

    Hi Susan!–as I have a litter of 6 1/2 week old puppies (Labrador Retrievers–our fifth generation!:), I am thrilled that you are documenting your adventures with your “Momentous” litter!:)
    I give you tons of credit for last week’s post called Did I Pick the Right Puppy? with all those video bloopers! That’s Puppy Reality and I’m so glad that you showed it in all it’s glory!
    I am raising six puppies who are at the little Monster stage…lots of biting and jumping and scratching at each other and me. I raise them in our dining room and they are literally the center of attention in our household for eight weeks. So they are exposed to all sorts of sights and sounds and socializing with people and their Mom who loves the puppies. She is engaging them in appropriate play, and it is so much fun to watch those interactions. I have always provided lots of socializing opportunities for the pups and field trips to various places for new environments to explore. Because of the arrival of Canine Influenza Virus in our area, I have had to be cautious about interactions with other dogs, but that will happen along the way as well. My goal is to provide something new in their environment or experience every day. They are all confident and curious, and that’s what it’s all about!
    I am also–this time around– trying to be very conscious about the behaviors I am rewarding and those I want to extinguish (barking, whining, jumping up at mealtime). I stand with the flying saucer bowl suspended over their heads until all are quiet and sitting…at least for a brief moment! they all dive-bomb the dish, but that feels okay to me right now!:)
    I get in the puppy pen with them after mealtimes for lots of snuggling and crawling all over me. I tell them that they are the “Kings and Queens of Maine” (quoting from Cider House Rules). Its important to take these moments to enjoy the puppies while I have them…even though its a huge amount of work and can be very frustrating at times!
    I could go on and on, but I know that you know what’s going on in my house!
    I’m having a lot of “firsts” myself: first time raising a litter on a raw diet, first time using the litter box (so awesome!), first time under the care of an eastern medicine veterinarian, first time raising my own puppy right from day one for the sport of agility!
    It can’t get any better, can it? Thanks so much, and I’m so happy to be following your little ones through their developmental progressions!


  11. Elise says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 11:44am

    This is a fantastic idea. I kind of did this on accident as we would take the adult dog and the puppy places and the puppy would take queues from the adult dog and learned nothing was scary.


  12. Mel says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 10:33am

    First, this is amazing. My puppy had parvo and I missed that crucial 9-16 week period and I’m paying for it now. She is a doll baby and quick learner however she lacks confidence.

    Second, I am so happy to see Wiggins again. I have fallen in love with him and when he left for his new home I thought I’d never see him again 🙂 Thank for for sharing this with us.


  13. Sandra says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 9:40am

    I teach a puppy class and set up as many coincidences as possible – we bring in a lot of different surfaces and wobbling things, different people in all different attire, noises, little children (well behaved ones with parents), strollers, lawn mowers, visits to animals on the pasture, visits to nearby towns, train stations, bus stations, car parks of shopping centres.. we have helis fly over head a lot of times.. loved your outline for the adventure trip – I really like how you broke it up between calm times and the ‘new stuff’! thank you for sharing!!


  14. Greg Louganis says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 9:26am

    Great outing! Love to see this thanks for sharing! In the past I have had friends who had puppies at the same time, and we would have “outings” to socialize the pups and for ourselves. I also found tire shops with the sound sensitive pups to be a great place to introduce what could be “scary noises”, also a program search of sounds of thunder and fireworks I can play on my computer, I think I got the link from you or John Rogerson at a seminar. Thanks Susan, I am making my “to do list” for next puppy, and having fun following your adventures with this group of pups! Namaste, Greg Louganis


  15. Sam & Kim says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 9:06am

    Regarding tugging in high-distraction environments. Were there any DHDW moments with the pups? If so, how did you deal with it in the face of the distractions? Also, what is your thinking about using food for engagement games in high-distraction environments for socialization vs. using tugs, especially if the puppy is more food motivated than toy motivated? Thank you for an amazing post!


    • Susan says:
      Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 10:17am

      Hi Sam & Kim, if the response is from fear, it isn’t DWDH (don’t wanna-don’t hafta) because fear paralyzes the puppy’s ability to make choices…so in those cases I would try to remove the puppy further from what she is frightened of and keep trying to engage in a tug game. I prefer toys over food because food lowers a state of arousal and allows the dog to take in more stimuli. Whereas a toy increases the puppy’s state of arousal therefore their focus narrows so they notice nothing but their game with me. Obviously though if the puppy isn’t toy motivated this will not work. Which is one of the main reason I work so hard on having amazing tug in my games…and encourage my students to make that a focus of all of their training as well.


  16. stephanie Marder says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:15am

    please talk about secured heights. Dogs who haven’t been ‘socislized’ to heights have fallen from high places and have been injured… Windows, balconies, etc. They either can’t see or don’t understand that they are 3 stories up.


  17. Renee Jetter says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:13am

    Susan, my husband and I feel that socialization for puppies is SO important, just as you do. Which is why we designed a class called “Puppy Gym” which is all about socialization. We use fit paws, tarps, balloons, pools with fun balls, etc. to create different environmental stimuli. We have weekly themes such as motion, substrates, climbing, through, etc. so the puppies have many different positive experiences in a controlled setting. This class also allows us to educate pet owners about the importance of socialization!


  18. Jackie says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 7:50am

    Hi, May I ask who will be having Moose in UK? So exciting……!


    • Susan says:
      Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:31am

      Moose will be living with my dear friends, who are actually Feature’s breeders; David and Sharon Alderson.


  19. Sonja says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 7:11am

    Hurricane used to be very afraid as a pup. I used one of my adult dogs. Whichever was most confident for whatever environment. It worked like a charm and he is now a very confident young adult 🙂 I was lucky enough to have 3 very steady adult dogs around. The next pup might be a little more challenging…


  20. th says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 6:31am

    I also have a solid rock adult dog that went on a lot of my puppies socializing trips and I can see it made a huge difference. One thing I did frequently was to go to baseball or soccer fields for exposure to lots of kid noises. And of course, lots of kid attention!


  21. Christine UK says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 3:57am

    I took my young puppy to wait outside the local primary school (ages 5-11) so the puppy & children had an amazing experience. Also stood with her outside the local supermarket.
    I LOVE the PATs. Thank you.


  22. Mary Ellen says:
    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 2:38am

    My last litter arrived while I was up at our family cottage in Lions Head last August. Skye and I had made daily visits to my mother who at 100 had just moved to the local nursing home a few months earlier. It was a sterile environment in every sense of the word – more so as mom couldn’t get out of bed without help. So at just under 24 hrs, I packed the new pups into a canvas bag and made the 3 min. trip to town. I will never forget the loook on mom’s face as it changed from surprise to astonishment to wonder and finally joy as I reached in and placed not one, not two but all six puppies on her chest! Over the next 6-7 weeks she was visited daily by at least one puppy and their mother. As they aged they eventually met most of the residents and were greeted by the staff with enthusiasm. As you may imagine, this was all round socialization for everyone.


  23. Verla brykaliuk says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 9:51pm

    I am struggling with taking my 5 month old puppy on these types of outings as she really pulls and wants to rush at every dog she sees.


  24. Cheryl says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 8:55pm

    I don’t have that many free hours in a week. So I take my babies one at a time to work in of all places a low cost spay neuter clinic. All kinds of noise, all kinds of animals (including orphan foxes, bunnies, and raccoons ) as well as dogs and cats. And more than 20 people. Mini training sessions and rest periods.


  25. Jane G says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 8:08pm

    You’re awesome. Just sayin. Maybe I’ll retire in Ancaster.


    • Susan says:
      Friday, May 1, 2015 at 10:50pm

      We would love more dog lovers in Ancaster Jane!


  26. Paola says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:46pm

    I am always concerned when socializing a puppy about allowing behaviours that eventually I really don’t want, like pulling on the leash. Obviously the puppies don’t know anything about proper walking yet. What do you do when the puppy wants to drag you down the street? I am getting a puppy in a couple of months so the timing of this couldn’t be better. Love the idea of the P.A.T.s.


    • Susan says:
      Friday, May 1, 2015 at 10:50pm

      These puppies really didn’t have a lot of “pulling” on leash …I think the only real pulling was when I was trying to get a picture (next time we are going to try to get a photographer to come with us:)). I think the tug sessions and the other puppies near by really discouraged much actual pulling on leash. Of course these were 9 week old puppies.


  27. Judith Barlow says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 7:12pm

    Shopping Trip. Outside shopping centre, Toileted on decorative, small area of grass. Played tug there, while cars & trucks drove past. Back to car & crate for a sleep. I shopped. Take her back to grass, Toilet & Play, walk to closeby goods unloading dock. Truckies luv her. Cuddles and smoochies while trucks: beep, noisy braking, lurch. Large cargo emerges, some crashing noises. More tugging & attention. Back to car & crate for a sleep. Drive to next destination, repeat of above! No problem with car travel, happy to get in or out, bit cautious of loud unexpected noises so plan variations of that. Another useful destination: kids skatepark: lots of quick movements, weird talking, heads/bodies quickly appear on the ‘horizon’ and quickly disappear – she isn’t good with that! Now 8 months old and a very good traveller.


  28. Pam says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 6:21pm

    I tried to think of places that weren’t frequented by a lot of dogs for our early trips out (8-12wks) We went to my bank, I carried him down the sidewalk in a city to my hair dressers to make an appt, we went to a tractor supply store, and then I brought him skiing. Well, he hung in the car while I skied for an hour, then let him out to walk around the parking lot, I skied, then brought him to walk around the base of the ski area. He met people w/ helmets, carrying skis, kids, people wearing goggles and walking funny in ski boots, saw the chair lifts, heard snow mobiles, saw snowboarders and skiers glide by, and then got fed some chicken from a tailgate party and bbq. I got invited to speak at an elementary schools career day, and he got to meet 3 classes of 4th graders. He’s been awesome, taking it all in stride. Many of the trips I have my 9yr old Great Pyrenees, who is a big mellow marshmallow, or my 13 yr old Aussie. Both are calm, confident presences, but it is challenging to watch 1-2 dogs and the puppy by myself. Now at 17 wks we pretty much go everywhere and I don’t think about disease, but I have to remind myself that even though he has had a great foundation, we still need to get out to new places. He’s a dark red merle Aussie w/ a tail 🙂 and gets lots of comments and attention. Since he was born 1/1/15, his early experiences in Maine were 3 ft of snow! so I’m looking forward to bringing him swimming and boating next. He’s my first puppy in 13 yrs and he is SO fun! I was just thinking today that I have to build up the toy motivation with him… he’s very food motivated, but I need to get back to toys and tug with him, to balance it out. Thanks for the reminder!


  29. Olga says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5:52pm

    Thanks for sharing!


  30. Sharon says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5:36pm

    Hallelujah! Wonderful socialization for the pups and you had a great time in the city. I can’t explain to people how important the puppy time of exploring everything can really be in the life of the dog. It is lost in just a few weeks as you said.
    I really like reading your blog and learning a new way to explain or teach commands or techniques. Thank you!


  31. Wendy says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5:20pm

    Loved Wiggins in the bow tie :). What a great adventure for any puppy, Love it.


  32. Liz says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 5:06pm

    I love this! What a great experience for the puppies and how lucky they got to have this experience with their litter mates.
    I have developed a 6 week socialization & enrichment program for puppies, called Out & About with Puppy, that offers a similar experience to your P.A.T.
    Puppies are picked up and spend the day with experienced trainers, they get to interact with other puppies, and puppy appropriate older dogs. Each day includes “free play” (chillin), manners training & going out and experiencing the world.
    With socialization and enrichment, it’s important to remember that each puppy is an individual and what works well for one may be too much for another. I have also noticed breed differences in regards to socialization.
    I am excited to continue sharing Momentum’s growth and development!


  33. Sally says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 4:59pm

    Not a PAT as such but I got to see the importance of having a littermate to help overcome “uncertainty”. My recent puppy (now nearly 19 weeks) was flown down with her brother. When they arrived at the airport my girl was a little unsure about things but having her brother there and allowing a quick play before we each took them home from the airport (they were going to separate homes) allowed my girl to see that everything was fine.

    They have had a few catch up at various places since and both seem to have settled in well. My girl is super confident now and nothing bothers her including a visit to a busy pet expo and being mugged by crowds last weekend.

    Given my older girl can be a bit nervy I have certainly spent a lot of time with my puppy exposing her to various busy environments and in fact it was a priority. Even if she couldn’t do a million different behaviors by the time she was a few months old being time poor the focus was totally on exposure to environments. Training behaviors will can always come later.


  34. Blanche says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 4:25pm

    What a great adventure for all of you! Brilliant.


  35. Naomi says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 4:07pm

    What a great idea…how fun!!! This makes going to puppy classes seem boring haha! I love the idea of having preplanned “chilln” locations and alternating them with distractions. So what if a puppy shows a concern/fear or is startled? Would you simply add distance? Or if a bike or person comes up suddenly from behind.


  36. Pat says:
    Friday, May 1, 2015 at 3:48pm

    Susan, love the idea of well-planned P.A.T.s. Do you think it’s critical that it be a herd of pups? When I get my puppy I know I can’t plan on having other pups available for the outings. Would taking the trips with my adult dogs and the puppy be just as advantageous? Thanks. Pat PS I can’t believe how big they’re getting.


    • Susan says:
      Friday, May 1, 2015 at 4:10pm

      I think doing this with adult dogs would be fine but you need at least one handler per dog. You can’t do the puppy justice is you are wrangling more than one dog at a time.


      • Pat says:
        Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 6:30am

        Good point. Thanks

    • Cathy P says:
      Friday, May 1, 2015 at 9:00pm

      I have a very stable adult dog that went on adventures with my puppy. When we encountered a new experience, the puppy looked to the older dog and since he didn’t react, the puppy didn’t either. I think that it worked out very well as the puppy is now 10 months and very confident, not afraid of sounds or new things – even when he is alone.


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