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Puppy socialization – the rule of 12

  • March 2, 2017
  • By MaggieLovesOrbit
Puppy socialization – the rule of 12

Puppy Orbit comes home to join our pack

Orbit came home to us at 14 weeks.  This was a new concept for me to wait that long.  There were several reasons.  I had to wait for her to get all her shots and tests.  Also her breeder wanted to make sure Orbit was well socialized before she came over to me.  Most breeders do not let their puppies go until they are 12 weeks old.  And lastly – there was a dog show I was going to meet her at to pick up Orbit and that date added an extra 2 weeks to her 12 weeks of age.

And we were lucky that Orbit was extremely well socialized.  Her litter mates (3 of them) and her parents and their pack (total 4 adults dogs) provided a solid foundation for her manners.

I’ve shared this story with others and also found an online resource checklist if you will of what your puppy should know:

This guideline was written by Margaret Hughes in her book positive puppy training.   The guideline states that a puppy by 12 weeks of age should have:

The Puppy Rule of 12

  1. Experienced 12 different surfaces:

    Walked on wood, wood chips, carpet tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet grass, dirt, mud, puddles grates, uneven surfaces, on a table, on a chair, etc.

  2. Played with 12 different objects:

    Fuzzy toys, big & small balls, hard toys, funny sounding toys, wooden items, paper or cardboard items, milk jugs, metal items, etc.

  3. Experienced 12 different locations:

    Front yard (daily), other people’s homes, school yard, lake, pond, river, boat, basement, elevator, car, moving car, garage, laundry room, kennel, vet hospital (just to say hi and visit, lots of cookies, vaccinations) grooming salon (just to say hi) etc..

  4. Met and played with 12 new people:

    (outside of family) include children, adults (male and female) elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers people with canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, etc.

  5. Exposed to 12 different noises:

    (ALWAYS keep positive and watch puppy’s comfort level-we don’t want the puppy scared) garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, Harley motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts, power bost, clapping, pan dropping, vacuums, lawnmowers, etc.

  6. Exposed to 12 fast moving objects:

    Don’t allow to chase) skateboards, roller-blades, bikes, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, children running, squirrels, horses running, etc.

  7. Experienced 12 different challenges: 

    Climb on, climb off, climb in, climb around a box, go through a tunnel, climb up and down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide and seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, exposed to an electric sliding door, umbrella, balloons, walk on a wobbly table, (plank of wood with a small rock underneath), jump over a broom, climb over a log, bathtub (and bath) etc.

  8. Handled by owners and family 12 times a week:

    Hold under arm like a football, hold to chest, hold on a floor near owner, hold in-between owner’s legs, hold head, look in ears, mouth, in-between toes, hold and take temperature (ask a veterinarian), hold like a baby, trim toe nails, hold in lap etc.

  9. Eaten from 12 different shaped containers:

    Wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, paper, coffee cup, china, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, Kong, Treatball, Bustercube, spoonfed, paperbag etc.

  10. Eaten in 12 different locations:

    Back yard, front yard, crate, kitchen, basement, laundry room, bathroom, friend’s house, car, school yard, bathtub, up high (on a workbench), under umbrella etc.

  11. Played with 12 different puppies

    (or safe adults) as much as possible, left along safely, away from family and other pets for 5 to 45 minutes, 12 times a week.

  12. Experienced a leash and collar:

    12 different times in 12 different locations.

Source “The Puppy’s Rule of Twelve” is from Positive Paws Dog Training ©2002 – Margaret Hughes

Puppy socialization - the rule of 12Puppy socialization - the rule of 12


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Puppy Snuggle Toy:

And for those first few weeks that your puppy is adjusting to life with you instead of her pack, you can get her the following snuggle toy.  It has a heart beat and a heat pack to mimic what it would be like for her to cuddle with a littermate or another puppy.


When I went to pick up Orbit she was 15 weeks old.  I met her breeder in Utah.  She was in town for a dog show.

In my bag I had some


Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello my name is Hannah and I dance with my dogs.  A self proclaimed Boston Terrier addict, (aka breed advocate) I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is my sensitive flower.  Blow on her skin wrong (ok I might be exaggerating) and she breaks out in a rash.

You won’t read about cats here… but you will get a fairly large dosage of articles dedicated to the Boston Terrier.    Read more about us. 

By MaggieLovesOrbit, March 2, 2017
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