Zuzu is 12 weeks old now. At some moments (like when she’s sleeping peacefully), it seems as if this past six weeks has flown by and she won’t be a puppy for long. At other moments (like when Zuzu is attacking my pants leg because she’s tired and cranky and needs a nap) it seems like time drags on and she might never grow up!

This stage of development does fly by when it comes to socializing her and getting new experiences. Depending upon who you listen to, that critical exposure period ends somewhere between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Up to that point, the goal is to get our puppies out and meeting as many people, friendly dogs, and other friendly animals as we can. It also means getting out and exposing our puppies to new places, sights, sounds and smells as we can. All of this needs to be done in safe and positive ways, of course. If puppies have traumatic experiences during this time, it can cause serious problems to overcome. However, if they get none of this exposure, we run the same risk – our puppies might end up being afraid of everything new and different.

Let me give you an idea of a few of the things I have done with Zuzu so far:

  • I had a few Puppy Parties at our house when she was too young to be getting out and about. At this stage, it was people and kids only at our parties.
  • I took her to visit a couple of friends with cats, horses, goats and chickens. All were met safely so no one was in any danger.
  • I met up with a friend who has an adult Greyhound for a walk together. We met at Aspen Grove Shopping Center (which is dog-friendly) so we could meet new people and see some new sights as well. We went into the Hallmark store to get cookies from the wonderful ladies who work there.
  • I took her to the Castle Rock Outlet Mall (also dog-friendly for more opportunities to meet people, especially lots of parents with their young children. We also met a Goldendoodle puppy who was the same age as Zuzu and they had a blast playing (on leash, of course). The Pepsi truck scared the heck out of Zuzu when it pulled up and stopped making some very loud noises. We got out lots of treats and when ready, were able to approach the truck (when it was no longer making scary sounds.)

These are some of the things I’ve been doing to help her feel secure and confident in her big new world. While building her own confidence in handling all of these encounters, she is also learning to trust me. When in doubt, she comes to me to protect her.

Are you getting your puppy out and about enough? How many new places has she been so far? How many new people (and make sure it’s a variety!) has she met? How many dogs and others animals has she had safe and pleasant encounters with?