It's A Dog's World.   Dog Training & Agility Center.   16024 60th St E  Sumner, WA 98390   253.863.8387

It's A Dog's World Training

Social Needs

Social Needs

Dogs need opportunities for adequate social contact, mental challenges, exercise and interactive play.  Providing opportunities for these activities will help prevent attention-seeking behaviors and problems related to boredom and frustration (e.g., destruction, excessive barking and hyperactivity).  Puppy Preschool is an excellent way to prevent behavior problems.


Puppies go through a critical developmental stage between the ages of 3 to 13 weeks, during which they become socialized with people, animals and their environment. Their experiences during this period are crucial to their healthy behavioral development. Animals who have been isolated during their socialization period are likely to be shy or skittish, reacting to new experiences (e.g., car rides, strangers, veterinary exams, groomers, bicycles) with exaggerated fear or even aggression.  Remember, your attitude and reactions affect your dog. Before introducing your pup to a new experience, imagine the difficulties he might encounter and plan in advance how you should react.

In general:

  • Remain calm and patient; act like the situation is no big deal
  • Speak in a happy voice
  • Touch the objects around him/her
  • Pair all new people/places/things with something good! Such as food


  • Startling him
  • Forcing him to go somewhere or touch something he is avoiding
  • Speaking to him in a harsh tone
  • Losing patience or showing nervousness

Here are some more tips to help you properly socialize your puppy:

1. Attending a professionally supervised puppy class is the most valuable thing you can do to help your puppy grow up to be a happy, obedient, well-adjusted dog. Please visit It’s a Dog’s World, across from SVH, with your puppy to enroll in an upcoming Puppy Preschool class.

  • Puppy Preschool addresses development of the 8 – 13 week old pup.

2. Pups should experience frequent pleasant trips in a car. Secure your pup in a crate or with a doggie safety belt. Pets that are loose in the car can:

  • Cause accidents by being a distraction.
  • Be injured in an accident, especially by airbags or after running away.
  • Get hurt by sliding around the car.

3.  Socialize your dog with as many different types of people as possible. Consider gender, age, ethnic background, physical features such as beards, unusual gait or mannerism.

4. Puppies should also receive early  positive exposure to a variety of objects that are frequently seen on walks, such as roller skates, skate boards, umbrellas, wheelchairs etc.

  • Invite family and friends to your home. Encourage positive interaction between your guests and your dog (e.g., treats, petting, playing with toys).
  • When you and your dog are walking in the neighborhood, carry yummy treats to give to people you meet. Ask them to feed and/or pet your dog.
  • If you leave your pup alone during the day, keep a television tuned to PBS so he hears the sounds children make when playing (e.g., Sesame Street).
  • Walk at a college campus (e.g., UPS, UW) when school is in session.
  • Visit a local shopping district or walk along the waterfront on a weekend.
  • Walk through a busy park such as Wright Park in Tacoma or Point Defiance Park (the 5-Mile-Drive section is closed to traffic on Saturday mornings).
  • Hang out near a grade school or junior high at the end of a day. If your dog is still uncomfortable around children, visit a playground and allow your dog to watch the kids. Remember, children move differently than adults.
  • Attend a local parade (e.g., the Daffodil Parade in Tacoma’s Proctor District)

5. Your dog should be comfortable around other dogs. Though our area doesn’t yet have any off-leash dog parks, here are some alternatives. Remember – the dogs you meet at these locations might not be “socially sophisticated.”

  • Invite an already well-socialized dog to your backyard to play.
  • Enroll your dog in daycare at Sumner Veterinary Hospital once or twice a week.
  • Visit a nearby beach (e.g., Owens, Narrows, Titlow) during low tide.
  • Take your dog shopping at a pet store where you can bring your pet inside.
  • Take a trip to an off-leash dog park like Luther Burbank on Mercer Island or Marymoor Park in Redmond.

Our grooming department at SVH has a special “first-time puppy visit” that includes food treats and playtime. We want to do everything possible to make your puppy’s initial experience a positive one! We recommend introducing baths and grooming to your puppy before he is 3 months old. Grooming can be a scary experience for a dog if his first exposure is delayed until he’s older than 6 months.

Avoid scaring your puppy, forcing him to approach feared objects or allowing people to tease him. Traumatic, anxiety-producing incidents may produce a long-lasting phobia in similar situations throughout your pet’s life.

Continue socializing your dog throughout life. Repeated positive exposure to people, animals and places will help prevent the development of fears acquired through isolation.Some signals that a dog’s socialization skills may need polishing include:

  • Wariness near unfamiliar people or novel objects
  • Avoidance of physical contact (like hugging)
  • Over-protectiveness of a person, toy, or food
  • Excessive barking or interest in other animals
  • Territorial aggression (barking at people outside the fence)

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, please consult with a trainer or behaviorist! 


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Dog Training
Sumner, Washington

Located in Sumner, Washington, It's a Dog's World is part of Sumner Veterinary Hospital's three-acre dynamic complex. This 18,000 square foot training center teaches dog owners the most current, science-based dog training techniques and offers classes that include Pet Dog Classes, Obedience Classes, K9 Nose Work® Classes, Agility Classes, and Fun & Fit Classes.

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