Socialization Tricks for Your Puppy

The Dog Trainer's tips on socializing your puppy so he is comfortable with your friends.

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
April 6, 2012

"I’ve been trying to socialize my puppy with my friends, but he’s too shy and doesn’t like interacting with them. Any tips or tricks I can try so he doesn’t run away from them?"

Answer: Take a deep breath, relax, and let your puppy retreat. Ask a friend to sit down and ignore the puppy. Let your pup approach at his own pace, while your friend pays him no mind. Praise your puppy softly and warmly when he explores. Avoid luring him forward with food – it’s important that he stay within his comfort zone. If he relaxes completely near your friend, she can offer him a treat; if that goes well, a scratch comes next. If your puppy remains a bit skittish, don’t push—just repeat the meeting later or another day.

Follow the same pattern for anything or anyone your puppy doesn’t take in stride: let him retreat to a distance where he feels safe, then venture forward in his own good time. Praise his bravery but do not lure.

If you find that your puppy is easily spooked in many circumstances or by many kinds of people, speak with a behavior specialist right away. Early behavior is often highly malleable and the quicker you intervene in any potential problems, the higher your odds of fixing them.


Want to raise a happy dog who loves to play and cuddle -- but still comes when called and doesn't chew up your favorite shoes?

Then check out The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet!