A Big Miss on Every Puppy Socialization Checklist

You could socialize your pup to everything under the sun and still miss out – if you skip the dark.

Don’t Be in the Dark On This

There is nothing like the pure joy of knowing you are going to bring a new puppy into your life. And then there are the technical details.

Ever the eager trainer, I printed out puppy socialization checklists from three different leading organizations. I consolidated them all into one list to make sure I was covering everything possible. Within a couple of days of working with my 8-week old pup, I realized there was a critical element missing from all the lists!

At night.

In the dark.

You could add these phrases to many items on the checklist – and you better. Here are just a few examples that show the difference.

  • My pup was okay seeing deer come tramping out of the woods and into our yard throughout the day. But he became very alert and concerned when he heard the sound of deer rustling in the woods in the dark.
  • He was fine with typical sidewalk stuff like garbage cans and passing cars.  But he was sure worried about passing car headlights intermittently shining on garbage cans in the dark.
  • He wagged with friendly anticipation when seeing strange people walk toward him on the sidewalk during the day.  At night on the same street, he was worried about that big thing moving towards him (just another friendly person in a hooded coat it turns out).

A typical walk down the street is a completely different experience at night.

The list can go on. Nighttime diminishes vision and accentuates other senses. It brings all manner of lights, reflections, flickers and flashes.

Sundown turns the same setting into something different. It’s as simple as that. Nighttime needs to be added to every socialization checklist. Your pup should get an opportunity to have positive experiences with all the same things he sees during the day – at night, too.


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One Response to A Big Miss on Every Puppy Socialization Checklist

  1. Lesley Ward says:

    Thanks for the very timely article about adding night and dark to socialization checklists; I’m updating my checklist right now. I’m starting a group class next week and am working with a litter of six 8-week old Chihuahua mix puppies that were recently surrendered to the shelter where I volunteer. All my clients get a socialization checklist on the first day. Thank you!

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