Author and animal behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar says you should aim
to socialize your pup to 100 people by the time he's three months old. "Don't think of this goal as a chore," Dunbar says,
"think of it as a chance to order in pizza for friends." Try this: one night invite your sports buddies or card playing cronies,
another day invite relatives, and a third day have an open-puppy house for neighbors. Before you know it, your pup will have
met 100 people. Dunbar even offers ideas on how to create puppy party invitations in his book AFTER You Get Your Puppy (James
& Kenneth Publishers).
It's important that guests at the puppy parties include men and
women, kids and seniors, even people who use wheelchairs or walkers to get around. Make sure you include people of various
racial and ethnic backgrounds, tall people and short people, loud people as well as people who speak in hushed tones. If you
don't have a wide circle of friends, have your friends invite their friends to the puppy soir‚es. Not only will your
puppy be socialized to new friends, you will be too.
Equally as important is exposing your puppy to other dogs. "We
all want our dogs to grow up to be good canine citizens and to enjoy other dogs and learn to play nice," says Arden Moore,
author of Dog Parties (BowTie Press). "Besides, what's wrong with having a party? Puppies love to have a good time, and a
party is certainly a better environment for learning than one where a drill sergeant is ordering a puppy to 'Sit and do it
The best place for these pooch parties is probably your own home.
You don't want the parties in a public park unless your dog is fully protected by the entire series of vaccines. Another concern
about a public place may be unwanted guests. "You want to expose your dog to other dogs you can depend on to be good with
your puppy," says Moore. "It's also fun to include a puppy who is about the same age as yours."
Moore even has ideas for party games. One game is called musical
hoops. It's like musical chairs, but with Hula Hoops. Music plays as the dogs walk in circles (learning to heel) around a
group of Hula Hoops lying on the floor. When the music stops, each dog must step inside a hoop and sit. Naturally, there's
one less hoop than the number of dogs, so the dog that doesn't get inside a hoop on time is out of the game.
The puppies can also bob for doggy hot dogs, or line up for a
competition of doggy push-ups-the dog that does the most consecutive down-sit-down-sit routines wins.
Of course, no party is complete without a cake. There are recipes
available to create cakes for dogs. And send all the guest doggies home with a doggy bag filled with biscuits, and perhaps
a tennis ball. "You can have a lot of fun with three or four dogs and not spend very much money," Moore says.
"Meeting and playing with their own kind is important," adds Dunbar.
"Puppies learn so much from other dogs."