Socializing Your Older Rescue Puppy: Barli’s Checklist

Since Bärli’s adoption on March 13, we’ve been busy socializing him, exposing him to experiences that he might come across on future outings or in our daily life. Bärli, now five (and possibly six) months old, had been at the shelter for three months when we adopted him so, while he had experienced handling by the professionals at the shelter, he hadn’t had many experiences out in the world.

We’ve been busy trying to expose him to as many experiences as possible, even though he is beyond the 18 weeks when socialization become more difficult, just as learning a new language for a teen is more difficult than it is for a toddler. Every day, we’re getting out and exposing him to new situations, rewarding him with tasty treats and having a good time as we explore.

Our list, of course, is specific to our own life (in the country) and travels (to the lake and beach, into the city, visiting relatives at the nursing home, and enjoying car travel). Your list will reflect the activities you plan to experience with your dog. Our list continues to grow as we think of more and more situations that Bärli might experience!

People

  • adults of different ages
  • adults of different races
  • adults of different sizes
  • infants
  • toddlers and young children
  • teenagers
  • a person in a wheelchair
  • a person with a walker
  • a person with a cane
  • a child in a stroller
  • a man in a hat
  • a person carrying a backpack

Sounds

We’re all set for coyotes and turkeys (and thunder thanks to today’s storm) but we’re still working on some of the city sounds. I took Barli and Tiki to my parents’ house and sat out in the yard with them; soon a fire truck went by. For other sounds, I’ve been playing sound effects on YouTube (you’ll find both long and short videos with great sound effects!)

  • thunder
  • fireworks
  • door bell
  • emergency vehicle siren
  • city sounds
  • honking car horns
  • motorcycles
  • loud trucks
  • delivery vehicles
  • crying baby
  • coyotes howling
  • wild turkeys calling
  • vacuum cleaner

Textures

  • walking on a sidewalk
  • walking on pavement
  • walking on a grate
  • walking on sand
  • walking on a marble floor
  • walking on a tile floor

Experiences

  • visiting the vet
  • taking a bath
  • visiting a pet supply store
  • sitting at a coffee shop or restaurant patio
  • sitting quietly when a restaurant server comes to the table
  • riding an elevator
  • staying at a hotel
  • walking across a footbridge
  • watching children play at a playground
  • sitting beside me on a walk while I talk to a person in an idling car
  • sitting in the car while one of us fills the gas tank
  • greeting an unknown dog
  • watching a person cast a fishing line
  • seeing a person on a bicycle
  • seeing a cow
  • seeing a horse
  • walking through an automatic door
  • standing beside a vending machine
  • walking in an enclosed stairwell like a hotel emergency stairwell