Puppy Socialization Diaries: Days 1, 2, and 3

The last few days were an absolute whirlwind with a trip across a continent to bring home our newest family member, Cuba!

I am enjoying my time off work with him, and wanted to share with you his socialization checklist for the last three days…

Day 1:

Meet mom

Meet friends Chris and Melanie Waggoner

Visit vets’ office – meet new vet (with facial hair), two techs, approximately 6 visitors during appointment.  Very nicely behaved, tolerant of all examination procedures

Bath! – doesn’t like this so much

Wearing a harness – could care less, he hardly noticed it was on

Day 2:

Wearing a leash – a little awkward, tripped over his leash a lot.  Decided a leather leash makes a fine chew toy.

Soft-sided crate – he was an absolute angel in his crate!  On our long flight (5+ hours), he only barked twice, one time he barked two times, the other time he barked five times and then was quiet.

Riding in an airplane (in a crate) – again, fantastic.  Quiet and relaxed the entire trip.

New foods – baby food (beef and beef broth), low sodium-turkey (hey, I was desperate.  The airlines are unfortunately not cool about you bringing raw on the plane, ice cubes

City traffic (‘Frisco and Phillie) – he ignored this like it wasn’t even happening

Long car ride home – slept most of the way.  Two potty stops on the trip home.  Three successful, reinforced potty trips between when my flight arrived and when we arrived home.

100+ people in the airports, including many children, many pilots, flight attendants, and TSA staff in uniform, a few people in wheelchairs, men with facial hair, people of various ethnicities, people wearing sunglasses and funny hats, etc.  He was happy and confident meeting all of these people and enjoyed his rock star status at SFO especially.

1 small, friendly, vaccinated small dog – was more focused on the children present, friendly with the new dog

1 slightly peeved Chow mix (Her Royal Chowness is warming up to him nicely now, thank goodness!) – they sniffed each other, then Mokie chose to ignore him.

Dad! – Cuba wanted to ride on dad’s lap the whole way home but couldn’t for safety reasons while Jim was driving.  Snuggled for a bit before going to bed in his crate.

Ahab the three-legged cat – he likes barking at the car.  Ahab is not impressed.

Sleeping in crate by himself – slightly vocal at first, calmed and went to sleep after approximately 15 minutes)

Kong – got some of the canned food out, gave up quickly.  Mokie finished the Kong.

Day 3

Bath (he got messy after his Tuesday bath playing in his food with his remaining littermates!) – not a huge fan, must do lots of desensitization while he’s young (and relatively small).  Vocal and trying to get out of the tub at first, calmed nicely and was quiet by the time we finished his bath.

Children – 1 girl (age 6), 2 boys (age 4), 1 boy (age 2), 1 boy (age 4.5 months)  He was great with all the kids today.  He had just woken up from a nap when my infant nephew arrived and was a bit crazy, so I tethered him.

Riding in grocery cart at pet store – we didn’t want him on the floor at the pet store because he is not fully immunized.  He rode nicely in the cart, was very mellow and enthusiastically greeted friendly fellow shoppers!

Approximately 10 new people at pet store

5 new women (“aunties”) – they all loved him.  The feeling was mutual, obviously.

1 medium-sized, well socialized friendly adult dog – he did well with Leila.  They sniffed each other, but did not play.  He did watch Mokie and Leila play for a while, but was not ready to participate.  Leila did growl when he approached her while she was chewing a bone (in dog land, possession is 10/10ths of the law), and he backed away nicely, which I reinforced.

Bully sticks – he loved his!  As much fun to roll on as they are to chew, says Cuba!

Pots jangling in the pot rack

Kids splashing in the pool (not splashing the puppy)


Rock and Roll music

Neighborhood dogs barking

Male neighbor (large, gruff voice, wearing a hat) visiting with wife, treats, and 8 week old JRT puppy at the fence

Marrow bone – another big hit.  I think the fact that they were frozen soothed his gums.

Woolly tug toy – he goes bonkers for a wool bone-shaped tug that’s nearly his size

Large nylabone – ignored initially.  I put a little ground meat around it and froze it, now he thinks its a great toy!

Hurley dog toy – he likes barking at this and rolling around with it in his mouth

Kiddie pool – he loves this!

Stairs – is confident, but wobbly.  Needs support and careful supervision so he doesn’t fall down!

Clicker – not yet making the connection

new treats – canned dog food (95% venison Instinct), Red Barn food roll, 1/5 hot dog cut into 30 treats (used five), small cubes of cheese, licks of yogurt, Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried raw (duck duck goose formula), bit of TikiCat canned foot that he went nutso over – very tiny bits of treats – maybe 8% of his total caloric consumption today, all was human grade and all was relatively healthy (except for the little bits of hot dog which he only gets for outside potties), did use raw dinner for training treats as well

Dinner – Nature’s Variety lamb patties (raw)

Handling – head to toe – teeth, gums, roof of mouth, ears, eye examination, belly scratch, butt scratch, “manly bits,” tail, all paws lifted, held, lightly squeezed, each nail examined, introduce brushing

Practiced trade ups, resource guarding prevention exercises, hand feeding, tethering, “Be a Tree” to address nipping/ankle biting

Practiced very brief controlled separation – leaving the room with and without Mokie while he is tethered (approximately 30 seconds).  If he vocalizes, wait for quiet before returning.  Also practiced leaving Mokie for brief intervals while I took the puppy out.  Distress vocalization minimal, only heard once for three barks, returned after ten seconds of quiet, rewarded with woolly bone toy.

Puppy bonus: Prezzies from Aunt Donna DeVoist of http://www.wyldepups.com/ (Wylde Pups Lure Coursing and Gentle Dog Training) Loves his new puppy Kong and Wellness Turkey Jerky treats!

Day 3 clickable behaviors



Lay on bed

Eye contact

Picking up toys in his mouth

Carrying me his leash in his mouth

Stillness for handling

Backing off when another dog tells you to

Play bowing


Lay down on mat

Let new person touch you

Let other dog sniff you

Going up one stair

Going down one stair

Tugging on a toy

Chewing on appropriate items


Voluntary “check ins”

Walking near me

Four on the floor when greeting


Soft mouth

Letting other dogs or cat sniff him

No. sits offered – approximately 4 dozen

No. downs offered – approximately 3 dozen

No. voluntary settles on mat – approximately 1 dozen

Percentage of these three behaviors reinforced – 95%

Ratio food:life reinforcers – 2:1

Common Puppy Problems Observed – Solutions and Responses

Mouthiness – he likes to bite skirts and gnaw on ankles or fingers.  Has redirected nicely to appropriate chew objects without complaint.  Once he did nip my skin hard when we were playing tug, which immediately ended the tug game and all interaction temporarily.  Biting a human during play is a deal breaker!  Clicked for kisses or soft mouth.

Barking at the cat – Redirect to play with toy or call puppy to me for play and treats

Barking at Mokie – I’m fairly laissez-faire about this.  Mokie’s got it under control, and will either walk away from him or give him the “if you stop now, I won’t have to make you stop” look, which was all that he needed!  She is fair in her corrections of puppies, which are always of the lowest intensity needed to get her point across.  Generally, a look is all she needs.

Approaching other dogs when they are chewing a valuable object – very mild correction from Leila (low growl) was perfectly timed and of perfect intensity, he backed off and sat immediately.  I’m also pretty laissez-faire here.  If Leila was actually aggressing unfairly or with more force than was necessary to create the distance she needed, I would intervene, separate and feed both dogs for classical conditioning, adding gates, increasing distance, or using other management tools and protocols to prevent recurrence.

Late night crazy/chasey/biteyness – tether for time out (and my sanity) with a marrow bone

Favorite toy so far? Cuba says leather leashes are the best for chewing!  He’s also rather fond of paper bags.

Notes to self:

No long, fluttery skirts until puppy has some impulse control

Seems to have tactile preference for natural chews and toys – bully sticks, marrow bones, leather or wool toys.  Unfortunately, his love of leather extends to our couch and loveseat.  Need leather or suede toys for this boy!

Nice play drive.  Loves tug and to pick things up in his mouth and chase you with it.  Should be easy to install both of these as potent life rewards and build a nice retrieve.