How to Socialize a Puppy Before Vaccinations

There’s a big misconception about socialization for puppies and in this video,

I’m going to debunk those myths and share my top 6 tips to socialize your puppy even

if they don’t have all their vaccinations!

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Michele here with How To Train a Dream Dog and the creator of 30 days to Puppy Perfection,

The online puppy training program where you can train your puppy from the comfort of home.

Now, you’ve heard from practically everyone including your best friend’s mother that

socializing your puppy is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy,

and that you should start right away!

So far that’s all true…

What most people really don’t know enough about is that socialization is bigger than

just exposing your dog to other dogs in the hopes they have a positive association,

and love all dogs for the rest of their lives!

I mean that would be awesome, wouldn’t it?

But let’s be real for a sec. …

just because your dog is exposed to tons of dogs right away does not guarantee they will

love every dog they meet.

Do you love every single person you’ve ever met?

You might not hate them but I bet you wouldn’t want to hang out at their house for an evening,

am I right?

Now, don’t get me wrong, socialization is crucial for puppy development but it goes

beyond just exposing your dog to other dogs.

The most beneficial time to socialize a puppy is between 8-12 weeks,

now if you get your puppy a little later than this, no worries, just start socialization

as soon as possible to have the most impact on your pup.

It can be beneficial for you to enroll your pup into a puppy socialization class but…

Make sure the person running it has a vast knowledge of canine body language, runs the

playgroups very strategically and goes beyond just letting dogs play together.

They should pair certain temperaments of dogs up together,

class sizes should be small,

and instructors should be teaching you all about proper socialization techniques and


Let me explain…

When we talk about puppy socialization, we need to go beyond playgroups.

After all, socialization is all about having fun with your dog exploring the world in a

positive way!

Take your dog to see, hear and smell new people and places to improve their puppy socialization


Let them explore by climbing in, on and around different things like fallen trees and playground


Take your dog to meet and greet all kinds of people!

Socialization is not just about letting your pup play with other pups, although that is

a great start!

In this video, I promised you tips to socialize your puppy before they’ve had all 3 rounds

of vaccinations, prescribed by most veterinarians so without further ado….

Socialization tip #1 Start with the familiar….

Hide and seek at home

You’ll want to teach your pup how to not only chase and find you (never the other way

around) but find toys you’ve hidden around the house too.

The object of this game is to acclimate your pup to different rooms around your home, different

floors like carpet, linoleum, tile, and wood.

Each room will have a different feel.

Many dogs have difficulty walking on slippery flooring.

Teach them that slippery floors aren’t so scary by laying a trail of treats throughout

the room and encourage them to explore.

See, socialization is about exposure to all things an adult dog may encounter in their

life but all while they are a puppy and all while they are still moldable and impressionable.

I’ve seen so many dogs afraid of car rides, the groomers, other dogs, playground equipment

because they never were exposed to these things until they were much older in life.

By this point, it’s too late… well, I shouldn’t say too late, just much harder

to work on or through with your dog.

Starting while your pup is young is most beneficial!

Tips #2 Field trip to a friend’s house Traveling in the car with your dog can be

scary sometimes.

Take them on short car rides to places close by to meet family and friends.

They’ll start to make a positive association with car rides and get the chance to socialize

off their home turf with a variety of people.

Remember with all socialization, never force a pup to experience something they are super

nervous or anxious about.

You can not reason with a pup like you would a child so saying things like “its ok, it

won’t hurt you, you’re going to be fine” all while petting your pup.

This will actually do the opposite of what you want since petting and soft verbal cues

are actual ways we reward a pup.

You don’t want to reward your pup for being afraid of something.

If your pup has a reservation about something scary, you want to be upbeat, positive and

reward them for any movement in the right direction.

Bring their favorite toy and treats on any socialization field trips.

You can use these things to help create a positive experience with the whole process!

Ok tip #3 Puppy play dates Instead of taking your dog to a dog park,

where it can be overwhelming and sometimes dangerous for a young dog to get exposure

to other dogs,

especially when you don’t know who’s up to date on all their vaccinations and

especially for your pup who isn’t up to date on all vaccines…

set up a play date with one or two dogs around your dog’s age and size that you know are

current on vaccinations and are well-tempered.

Ask your friends and family if they have a well-behaved, friendly dog that can play with

your dog either at their home or yours.

Now your pup should have had at least 2 rounds of vaccines to participate in playdates with

those you know.

All 3 rounds are needed before your pup should be out in public among dogs you’re unfamiliar


If you don’t know anyone with a dog that meets these criteria, ask your vet!

They have a record of who’s about the same age as your pup and size!

See if they will help facilitate a meetup.

Tip #4 Check out your local hardware store or other local stores that allow dogs but

aren’t visited by many dogs on a regular basis like the pet stores.

We want to save pet store visits for fully vaccinated dogs and dogs that have had some

training so they can handle all the distractions in those environments.

I usually visit my local Home Dept store and walk around the different departments.

I allow the dogs I’m working with to check out the different smells, sounds, and people

in the store.

Everyone knows we are in training mode when we are there so we aren’t causing a ruckus

with an unruly or untrained dog.

Even if your pup isn’t great at walking on a leash, a shopping cart ride is also a

great socialization experience.

I do this with the really young dogs and then we go back when our leash skills improve.

Then we can walk around the store and work on “leave it” sit n stays and so on…

Tip #5 Treat Tasting Taste is the most important of the 5 senses;

at least your dog thinks so!

As long as your dog doesn’t have food allergies give them different foods with different textures.

You can use puzzle toys to really make them work for those treats.

Try, mashed banana, crunchy carrots, apples and cucumber, sticky peanut butter and dehydrated

sweet potato crisps.

Before I share my last tip, if you haven’t subscribed already go ahead and do so now

so you can get notified when next week’s training video comes out!

Tip #6 Sound Exposure How many times have you heard of a dog being

afraid of a vacuum cleaner, fireworks, loud trucks passing by?

Maybe you once had a dog that feared these things?

It’s an important part of the socialization process to expose our dogs to sounds that

may be scary.

But the key is to make sure they learn early on those sounds actually mean good things

not bad!

For example, when you first bring your pup home, set up the vacuum in the other room

and your pup in another room.

Grab some tasty treats and tell a friend or partner to turn the vacuum on for just a moment

and turn it right back off.

As soon as you hear the vacuum start to run… pop some high value treats in your pup’s


Repeat this several times until your pup realizes that the vacuum running means good things

are coming.

Eventually, the vacuum gets closer and closer to the pup.

As training sessions progress.

I see all too often dogs afraid of these things because they were never properly exposed to


or someone tried to be funny and play they I’m gonna getcha game as they chased the

pup around till their pup was growling barking and biting at the vacuum.

This same rule applies to thunder.

Make a game out of hearing the noise instead of reinforcing fear like I mentioned early.

Remember socialization is about creating a fun, positive experience while working on

exploring the 5 senses.

Get your dog out and about not only to work on manners and training but to expose them

to people, places, and adventures.

Keep your dog on a leash in case they are afraid.

A dog’s natural response to fear is to run away.

You don’t want to drag your dog closer to things they are uncomfortable with and you

don’t want them to run away.

Make each session as positive as possible and remember just because you like something

doesn’t mean your dog has to!

In the comments below tell me how you’re going to be working on your pups socialization

skills now that you’ve watched this video!