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Socializing A Puppy In Large Crowds

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Last weekend we took a little outing to a small German restaurant in downtown LA for our friend Rachael’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Rachael!  While this may not sound like a big deal to you and I it can be quite the adventure for a puppy in training.

Lets sit back and think about this for a second.  How do many disabled people get around town?  Living in southern California we take hopping in the car and shooting off to our destination for granted.  Many people often have to take public transportation.  After all, a blind person can’t just hop in the car and drive off to…well, anywhere without assistance!  And, unfortunately guide dogs cannot yet drive cars.

One thing I often do is think about what my puppy’s life will be like when she becomes a working dog.  Public transportation is often times a must for our dogs, so I always make sure to expose my pup’s to different types of public transportations like trains, buses, trams, etc.

So that’s where today’s journey begins!

Puppies On A Train!

I bet you’d rather see Puppies On A Train rather then Snakes On A Plane…Me too!

Our first stop was the Orange Metrolink Train station.  This was actually our second trip on the Metrolink and I wasn’t too worried about Adelle however, this time was a little different then our first train trip…

  • We left the same time around 9:30am so no differences there.
  • As soon as the train reached our stop the loud speaker announced the train was full and it was standing room only.
  • We had to stand scrunched up for the entire hour+ train trip to Union Station!

Apparently everyone was heading to China Town in downtown LA for a Chinese New Years parade.  The good news: This was an opportunity to work with Adelle in a totally new situation.

PUPPY SOCIALIZATION TIP #1: Avoid the train station on Chinese New Year!  Actually check to see if anything big is going on the weekend you’re planning any puppy outing events.

Puppies In Large Crowds

Puppies On A Train
Good down stay Adelle!

Adelle had experienced a train ride a couple months earlier so this was a great opportunity to work on the train in a large crowd.  While I wasn’t totally prepared for this situation apparently she was: Adelle was a super star and stayed in a sit stay or down stay near my feet the entire ride.  She even got a little more comfortable once some of the people left our cabin. See below…

Good Down-Stay, Adelle!
Good Down-Stay, Adelle!

The crowd was just as crazy when we got to the Union Station, but we were able to make our way to the yellow line metro tram.  We hopped on and made our way towards Wurstkuche (don’t as me how to pronounce that).  Once again Adelle was a star staying close to me in a sit-stay.

We took a 15 minute walk from the Yellow Line to our final destination.  This gave Adelle a chance to get a little bit of energy out since she had mostly been in a sit-stay or down-stay on the tram or train for the last 2 hours.

It also gave us a chance to relieve Adelle and give her a little bit of water.  We gave Adelle the command “Better Go Now!” and she did her business on a small patch of dirt just off the side walk.

PUPPY SOCIALIZATION TIP #2 – Bring an outing pack with you including food, water, towels, toys, poop bags and any other essentials you need when out with your puppy.  You’ll notice in most pictures I’m wearing my backpack filled with puppy supplies.

Adelle Sit-Stay
Me: Wanna grab a beer?
Adelle: Sorry, I’m working!

We got the chance to relax with friends, enjoy the atmosphere, and have a few drinks (Adelle and I stuck to water).  The sausage at Wurstkuche was delish and they have quite a variety of mustards!

After some good food and good conversation we walked on over to Japanese Town for a few road snacks.  We took the Yellow Line back to Union Station and noticed it wasn’t quite as crowded…I think everyone was still in China Town for the parade.  Here’s a good shot of us back at Union Station:

Adelle At Union Station
Adelle At Union Station

Lucky for us there were plenty of seats on the train ride back to Orange.  Adelle got comfortable and took a nap on the way home!

Introducing Your Puppy To New Things

As a puppy raiser we work on three main areas when getting our pups ready for their advanced training:

  1. Obedience Training
  2. Good House Manners
  3. Socialization

Today was a great exercise in socialization because not only did Adelle have the opportunity to see new sights, sounds and smells, but she also had the chance to work in large crowds.

One last thing I’d like to mention…when I take Adelle out with me I always have her best interest in mind.  While we were out for someone’s birthday party I still keep my attention on Adelle and make sure she is not overly stressed in any situation.  If you introduce your puppy to a stressful situation too early you may cause more harm then good.

PUPPY SOCIALIZATION TIP #3 – Make sure any puppy outing is age appropriate for your puppy.

PUPPY SOCIALIZATION TIP #4 – Be prepared to leave any outing that might be to overwhelming for your puppy.

What about you?  What do you do to help socialize your puppy?  Do you have any puppy socialization tips?  Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  1. After training five puppies I’ve learned that each puppy is comfortable with new situations at different ages. Although we usually set age limits on our guide dog outings we always try to re-iterate that the age limits are guidelines and you should know your puppy better than anyone else. If an outing is too much for your puppy then be prepared to leave.

  2. I’m so glad she did so well! She doesn’t look stressed out at all. Obviously, you’ve done a really good job training and socializing her while going at the right pace. I think that’s one of the things that would be challenging to me, knowing just how far to push the dog in order to stretch her comfort level without freaking her out.

  3. We’ve been working with our guide and service dog puppies for 8 years now and do our best to prepare them for their careers as working dogs.

  4. It’s very important to socialize, but as we’ve learned over time every puppy is different and the amount of distraction they can handle will vary. We always keep a watchful eye on our pup’s when out and about to make sure they are not getting over-stimulated and are not stressing out. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Puppies are like kids, you need to be gentle with them but ensure they know who is the boss. We want not want to be confronted by large crowds and noise until we are used to them and nor does a small puppy. Thank you for this terrific article.

  6. Great experience for your dog to get out and meet new places and people. Lots of distractions and I bet if you did the same thing again it would be near perfect. We took our puppy PugZu to a car boot in the UK and there were about 200 people and we let a dozen or so pat her. Now we have a very social dog that is good with people and dogs.

  7. Thanks! We were lucky that at our first puppy kindergarten with Linus our trainer told us and gave us ideas on how to best socialize our puppies. Now that we’ve raised/trained 5 guide/service dogs we have a very good understanding of best practices when socializing your puppy. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Ruan,

    Yes, we start working with our puppies when they are about 7-8 weeks old. She’s been through several obedience classes and has been socialized her entire life (the school actually starts working with the pup’s from the day they are born). This was Adelle’s second train trip, but the first time around we didn’t have to deal with the large crowds so this was a new experience and she passed with flying colors!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This is a great post on puppy socialization. I wish more people would do it. However , there is a right way to do it & a wrong way. Obviously you don’t want to scare the puppy and you also want to be able to control the puppy. So many thing can happy so fast. Its best to be prepared in all situations. A lot of people don’t bring their dog out in public and it such a share. And the main reason is the dogs are a hassle to them. They can’t properly behave in public situations. But done right mans best friend can accompany you just about anywhere. As a
    pet sitter that specializes in pets with behavioral issues I have had very few dogs I have been able to bring with me out in public on a regular basis. Half the battle is the car, 90% of which don’t pass. Once they pass that test its their socialization skills, pulling, jumping, licking etc. In the 15 years I’ve only had 2 dogs that I could bring & take ANYWHERE! One one Stirling an Johnson American Bulldog (RIP 🙁 ). I’d take him to friends homes, car shows everywhere! People loved him & he was perfectly behaved. The other is Jobie a German Shepherd mix who rides perfectly in the car, and walks great on a leash & harness. When I was featured in a newspaper article with my affiliate who was a horse sitter I needed a dog I could bring with that could handle the situation – horses are big! Jobie was a rock star & behaved perfectly for the photo shoot! 🙂 Socialization & training are the key to a perfect dog! 🙂

  10. What a wonderful, fun article to read! Yeah, kudos to Adelle for behaving herself. She must have gone through a few sessions of obedience and early stages training as well or you might have had another outcome to your train trip at hand, right?

    LOVED the post! I will surely get to know you guys around here and come pop in more often… Fun fun fun indeed.

  11. Hi Carrie!

    Thanks! I think I’m finally going to have some extra time now to blog a little more. I picked up a second job about a little over a year ago and I think it’s going to start winding down.

    I have to get over to your blog and start catching up. I’m sure you’re doing great with Flattery in teaching her about the world. We’ve still got about 9 more months with Adelle before she has to start her advanced training. I can’t wait to see her start working!

    Take care,

  12. We had a great time! When Linus was a puppy he may have been a bit over exposed at too young an age. We took him on a trip to the beach and he was not too happy when the skateboarders and bikers road by. This is something that stuck with him for many years.

  13. What a great experience for Adelle!! Glad it wasn’t a stressful one for you! I’m sure the birthday girl loved having a four-legged friend to celebrate with! Great tips…I’ll have to relay this information onto my parents to help with their little Yorkie.

  14. It’s so good to see your posts again!

    Right now, we’re teaching our big puppy about the world. Flattery is still really young, and like a lot of Greyhounds, there are many things in the world she still hasn’t seen, but it’s a lot different than when we were teaching Küster about the world. lol It sounds like Adelle is going to go far in this world!

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