Mostly Mischief

Pet Salon & Miniature Poodles

Puppy's Rule of Twelve

  Socialization is a crucial part of a puppy's development and will give your puppy the best chance at being a confident, well-adjusted adult.  A puppy is most willing to try new things before twelve to sixteen weeks of age so it is important to get them out there right away to experience the world!

  This checklist shows twelve things (with twelve examples) that your puppy should experience before they are twelve weeks old.  Note that every situation must be a positive one!  If your puppy is not enjoying the experience never force it or it can be detrimental to their development.  Treats and reassurance can help if your puppy is frightened but if that isn't enough you can increase the distance between your puppy and the stimulus or remove them completely.

  Keep in mind that the examples listed are only suggestions!  Any new and different experiences your puppy can have in a positive way are good for them.

Before a Puppy is Twelve Weeks Old They Should Have...

Experienced Twelve Different Surfaces

  • Dirt
  • Asphalt 
  • Grass
  • Mud
  • Metal Grate
  • Tile
  •  Woodchips
  • Sand
  • Rocks
  • Elevated (table, counter, etc.)
  • Uneven ground
  • Underbrush

Experienced Twelve Different Locations

  • your yard
  • other people's homes
  • vet clinic (not for an appointment)
  • groomer (only to greet, not groomed)
  • lake / pond / river
  • elevator
  • car
  • stairs
  • dog-friendly store
  • pet store (after second set of shots)
  • boat
  • children's playground
Played With Twelve Different Objects

  • soft toys
  • hard toys
  • balls
  • noisy toys
  • tug toys
  • paper / cardboard
  • empty milk jug
  • chew toys (bully stick, pig ear, etc.)
  • rope toy
  • crinkle toy
  • treat dispensing toy
  • puzzle toys

Met Twelve Different People
(Outside Family)

  • children
  • babies
  • adult men
  • adult women
  • elderly people
  • people in wheelchairs
  • people with crutches / canes
  • people with beards
  • people with a hat / sunglasses
  • people in costume

Exposed to Twelve Different Noises

  • doorbell
  • siren
  • noisy children
  • baby crying
  • big truck / bus
  • motorcycle
  • washer / dryer
  • clapping / cheering
  • pots / pans clanging
  • vaccuum
  • car door slamming
  • banging

Exposed to Twelve Moving Objects
(No Chasing!)

  • bicycle
  • skateboard
  • car / truck
  • RC car
  • children running
  • cats running
  • roller skates
  • boat
  • horses
  • vaccuum
  • scooter
  • birds / critters

Handled by Family Twelve Times / Week


  • hold under arm
  • pick up
  • hold to chest
  • hold in between legs
  • look in ears
  • handle paws
  • hold like a baby
  • look in mouth
  • hold on floor
  • carry while walking
  • handle tail
  • trim nail (if comfortable)
Eaten from Twelve Different Containers

  • plastic bowl
  • metal bowl
  • coffee cup
  • KONG toy
  • uneven surface
  • puzzle toy
  • from a spoon
  • ceramic plate
  • pie plate
  • casserole dish
  • owner's hand
  • frying pan
Eaten in Twelve Different Locations

  • back yard
  • front yard
  • crate / kennel
  • basement
  • bedroom
  • laundry room
  • kitchen
  • friend's house
  • car
  • bathtub
  • under a chair
  • on a table / counter (supervised)
Played with As Many Puppies and Safe Dogs As Possible

  • vaccinated, behaved dogs of appropriate size and age
Left Safely Alone Twelve Times a Week for 5-45 Minutes

  • start small and gradually increase time alone
Experienced Wearing a Leash and Collar Twelve Different Times in Twelve Different Locations

  • remember to increase distance or remove from distractions / stimuli as necessary to ensure positive experiences only