Have you spotted our Groenendael puppy Dea on Instagram already? She’s the newest addition to the Disruptive Dog family ? Dea is quite the smart cookie, and we started training asap!

During our first weeks together we met a lot of different people, places, sounds and animals. This is called socialization. The goal is to create as many positive experiences as possible (and obviously no bad ones). This will make her adult life easier, as she already knows not to fear most things she will see on a daily basis. The younger she is when socializing, the more quickly she will gain confidence in these situations.

“Stop fear before it starts.”
– Dr. Sophia Yin

Dr. Sophia Yin has an awesome Puppy Socialization Checklist to remind us of all the things we have to expose Dea to – for example traffic, toddlers or wheel chairs. You can read all about socializing and puppy training in her book Perfect Puppy in 7 Days!

We used the list by Dr. Sophia Yin as a base for our training, but added things like agricultural machines or woods and rivers (as we live on the countryside). To fit our needs, I created our own version and I wanted to share the printable version with all of you! ❤️

Puppy Socialization Checklist by DisruptiveDog

Print your own Puppy Socialization Checklist

  1. Download our Puppy Socialization Checklist and print it with your ordinary office printer on A4 paper. If you have paper that’s a bit thicker than normal copy paper, use that!
  2. Cut the pages at the cut marks and glue them together back-to-back in pairs. Laminate the pairs and cut off the borders.
  3. Punch a hole through all the pages in the upper left corner.
  4. Tie them together with sisal cord or something similar and make a loop to hang it f.ex. on your fridge.
  5. Rate or check off the experiences on the list. If you use water-soluble marker, you can easily wipe away your rating and give a new one after another exposure.

General Tips for Socialization

  • Each socialization unit should be fun for your puppy. You should not force your pup to confront its fears. It should definitely be allowed to retreat if it doesn’t feel safe. Try not to be excited yourself and radiate calmness. Your puppy will learn that it can count on you to be its safe haven.
  • Give treats freely to create positive associations. Treats can help your puppy to refocus (and not be fixated on its fear). If your pup is too nervous to take any treats it’s a sign for you to back off a little and slow down.
  • Help your puppy to generalize: Exposing your puppy to children only at home is not a guarantee that it’s not afraid of children on a playground, or in the streets. Dogs are bad at generalization, so try to provide him with the most diverse experiences. Be sure to keep it positive and rather don’t risk a negative experience!
  • Go slowly: If your puppy goes nuts when seeing a brush, don’t try to brush him with it just yet. Let it get accustomed to the brush being in its vicinity and take it a step further when he’s relaxed around it.

How to rate your puppys reactions while socializing

If you ask yourself what’s a good or bad reaction of your puppy, you can use the rating scheme of Dr. Sophia Yin as your guideline. 1-3 means that you still need to work on socializing, 4-5 means it’s already going well!

  • 1 – Overarousal or try to get at: Growl, nip, bark, struggle (for handling), or lunge
  • 2 – Avoid: Struggle, hide, try to get away, won’t approach, or hesitant to approach
  • 3 – Freeze: Holds still (but not eating), non-exploratory, moving slowly or acting sleepy when they shouldn’t be tired
  • 4 – Calm, relaxed, focused on the food: Explores the object or environment, playful
  • 5 – Calm, relaxed even without food: Explores the object or environment, playful


Socialize your puppy early with a lot of different places, sounds, people and animals so it won’t be fearful in its adult years. Use our Puppy Socialization Checklist to plan your training!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *