The Socializing Game

Everyone in the family that is responsible and old enough (over 16) to take the puppy out on their own should get involved in the socializing game. Include younger children with the supervision of an adult. Some families can divide themselves into teams to play this game. Kids love it! If you are single or a couple, think about involving some of your friends. The goal of the game is to expose your puppy to as many different people, places, safe surfaces, sounds, and experiences as possible — in a safe and successful manner. It is a fun challenge among family members. Use the ideas that we offer and make up some of your own.

How the Socializing Game Works

The person responsible for initiating the game must ensure that there is a suitable reward for the person or team that wins: ice-cream cones all around, dinner out, something good.

Pick a section in the Social Schedule. For our example, we will use all of the sections that involve people.

The object of the game is to introduce the puppy to as many of the different kinds of folks on the list as each player can in the span of a week.

This means that for every person your puppy sees, they get a treat. If your pup is interested and happy to meet the person, that person could offer a treat. It is very important that you don’t force your puppy to interact with anyone they are not comfortable with or interested in meeting. This is not what your socialization is about and it can backfire on you, causing your puppy to be uncomfortable with people now and in the future. 

Each family member keeps a log of all of the people they see or meet. At the end of the week, the person who has introduced the puppy to the widest variety of people (i.e. different ethnic groups, a person on crutches, someone in costume, a person on rollerblades, etc.) wins the game.

Another Variation

Decide on a time span, for our example, we will use one week. Over the course of the week, each member of the family is on the hunt for the strangest things possible to introduce or expose the puppy to. A ride in a hot air balloon, flying saucers, a ferryboat, the sky is the limit.

After the allotted time, get together and unveil the weirdest things that you were able to hunt down and introduce your puppy to. You may have to vote to decide who wins.

The Benefits
  • There are countless benefits of a well-socialized dog and the life he will lead compared to that of the dog who misses this chance. In some cases, it could mean the difference between the life and death of a dog.
  • Dogs that cannot cope in certain situations may end up not having the same opportunities as a well-socialized dog and will require special attention in order to keep them and others safe.
  • Socializing your puppy gives him the skills to navigate all that modern life has to offer.
  • By introducing your puppy to the world (pairing this with food and fun) you are building your dog’s confidence to deal with life as it comes. You raise a resilient dog.
  • Dogs that live in isolation do not respond well to new experiences. Can you guarantee that your dog will never meet a clown, a cyclist, or a small unruly child? The list goes on and on. It is unrealistic to assume that your dog will not encounter some odd sights during his life. Odd from the dog’s perspective, not yours.
  • Listen up all you single people! Socializing your puppy is a great way to meet and make new friends! Everyone loves a puppy.
  • The friendly challenge of playing this game is a great way to ensure that the puppy gets the best possible early social education.
  • It encourages all members responsible and old enough (over 16) to get involved in the puppy’s education.
The Rules
  • Always remember to have yummy treats with you when you are out and about with your puppy. This could help to turn a strange encounter into something pleasant for the pup.
  • Do not overwhelm your puppy.
  • If the pup appears uncomfortable with a situation or person, move away and jolly him up. You can try from a distance further away or try on another day.
  • Do not avoid things that the pup is timid or uncertain about. Instead, work from a distance where the pup feels comfortable.
  • Avoid doing too much in one day, like walking too far for a young puppy, or overwhelming him with too much new or unfamiliar stuff. Be reasonable during your outings. Take into consideration the weather, hot or cold. Take into consideration noise pollution.
  • If you are going to be out for a while in warm or hot weather take some water and a portable bowl and avoid letting the puppy drink from communal water bowls that many businesses provide. Although it is a nice gesture, it is a potential health hazard.
  • Have fun!