Just what does "properly socialized" mean when referring to a puppy or an adult? I've asked dozens of pet owners and breeders and the answer generally comes down to "getting the puppy out" to a lot of places. Only, you can't safely get very young unprotected puppies "out" to a lot of places and it's important for those critters to have exposure to the new and different parts of the world in order for them to develop into well adjusted adults. So, what to do??? We have done part of the work before the pups leave but its up to you to finish the job after you adopt your pup!
We raise our pups based upon the Rules of 7:
By the time a puppy is seven weeks old he/she will have:
* Been on 7 different types of surfaces: carpet, concrete, wood, vinyl, grass, dirt, gravel, wood chips
* Played with 7 different types of objects: big balls, small balls, soft fabric toys, fuzzy toys, squeaky toys, paper of cardboard items, metal items, sticks or hose pieces
* Been in 7 different locations: front yard, back yard, basement, kitchen, car, garage, laundry room, bathroom etc
* Met and played with 7 new people: include children and older adults, someone walking with a cane or stick, someone in a wheelchair or walker
* Been exposed to 7 challenges: climb on a box, climb off a box, go through a tunnel, climb steps, go down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, run around a fence
* Eaten from 7 different containers; metal, plastic, cardboard, paper, china, pie plate, frying pan
* Eaten in 7 different locations: crate, yard, kitchen, basement, laundry room, living room, bathroom
At our house, as soon as puppies are whelped we handle them to be sure they are healthy and happy. We use Early Neurological Stimulation with them. We do daily weight checks and cuddle and kiss on them a little so that we are familiar to them when they open their eyes and ears and can finally connect those smells with a person. After the eyes and ears open, we increase the noise level and add new sounds to get them used to the loud world out there.
Depending on the litter (and some are ready earlier than others) we begin to take individual puppies out of the puppy room away from mom and litter mates for some one-on-one every day after the eyes and ears are open. (My family helps with this also and frequently we are all walking around with pups in our hands at the same time). It's very important for each puppy to have time away from their canine family to help them develop as individuals and not be co-dependent.
When the weather permits, our puppies go out in the grass at 4 - 5 weeks of age (a lot depends on the litter as to when they are ready). We sit on the ground with the puppies on our laps and let them leave when ready to explore. We create "problems" for the puppies to solve (climbing over a low box to get out of or into the whelping box - walking into a narrow box to get a toy or treat). We have a lot of challenges for the puppies and different things for them to experience.
Keep the challenges coming once they get to their new homes and when they have completed their inoculations and are "protected", step up the visits to new places and interactions with people. Trips to the park offer many new experiences (the gym equipment as well as the kids). Watch out for other dogs, though. You don't want all of your work to go down the tubes because one big dog frightened your puppy. Remember, Tired Puppies Sleep -- they aren't looking around for things to chew and they don't need to be entertained!