I can’t stress the importance of ongoing socialization enough! A well socialized dog will be a confident canine citizen who is not easily thrown off by new surroundings, and who is outgoing and curious about new things in general.
Puppies are most impressionable within the first 4 months of their lives, so we socialized the heck out of them! The pups got introduced and used to different sounds occurring in day to day life, a myriad of people of different age, gender, and ethnicity, and any objects we could possibly think of!
This also included different surfaces the pups would walk on ~ to this day, we like to incorporate a variety of different surfaces in the pups’ lives, as it contributes to their overall socialization, thus making them more confident!
You’re quite likely to encounter rocks of different shapes & sizes on walks & certainly on hikes.
Use your best judgement before rock climbing with your pups, and always put safety first!
You might want to invest in a high-quality pair of dog shoes or boots if encountering rocks on a regular basis.
Boardwalks not only feel different from many other surfaces, they also might make a sound or two & creak!
Watch out for nails poking out of the planks, as they pose a potential risk of injury.
Metal surfaces absorb heat very quickly, so always make sure to test how hot a particular metal surface is during the warmer months before allowing your pup to walk on it (simply place your hand on it ~ if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pup’s paws).
Dog shoes and/or boots will protect your pooch’s sensitive pawpads from burns as well.
We probably don’t think of grass as a unique surface for dogs, but it is quite the change for young puppies who begin exploring the outdoors!
The same applies to all dogs rescued from puppy mills or labs, who spent the majority of their lives in cages prior to being freed.
Pine Needles, Mulch, Tree Roots
Above mentioned surfaces all occur frequently when out & about, so the earlier you introduce your pup to them, the better!
Sand can be a very enticing surface for pups of all ages ~ after all, digging in it can be sooo much fun! Dug up sand makes for a great cool spot in the heat, but watch out for fire ants ~ they might live a few inches under the dug up ground & not be too happy about the disturbance…
We had some construction going on in the vicinity of our first apartment complex we lived at with the young puppies, so we encountered gravel on a daily basis. Watch out for smaller pieces of gravel getting stuck in between pawpads.
We also experienced gravel at a dog park once, which, quite frankly, I don’t consider a dog-park friendly surface to use. Grass or mulch are much more gentle on the sensitive pawpads.
The most common road surface is probably asphalt, but we have also encountered a variety of pavers, particularly in larger cities.
Just like metal, asphalt also retains heat very easily, so the same hands-on heat-test as mentioned above should be performed before walking your pups on it during the warmer months.
Linoleum can be a tricky surface to walk on as it can be quite slippery. Remember to stay calm even if your pup slips & slides on linoleum ~ always make each & every experience a positive one.
Offer a treat or other pup-specific motivator to get back on all 4 paws and keep walking.
Hardwood floors can also be more slippery than other surfaces..our pups learned very quickly not to try and run on them!
If you’re concerned about potential scratches on your hardwood floors, keep your pup’s nails trimmed!
Our pups very quickly came to appreciate the cooling effect of our kitchen tile in the very first apartment they lived at with us!
It was their go-to area to lie down and cool off on in the heat of the summer 🙂 The pups also learned not to run on tile, as their paws didn’t exactly have the greatest traction on it.
High quality carpet & rugs can make for wonderful doggie beds if they’re nice & fluffy. Carpet is probably the easiest surface for dogs to walk on.
Another slippery surface candidate, acrylic & fiberglass are the most common materials bathtubs are made out of. We introduced bathtubs super early on, and both pups are comfortable sitting & standing in them.
They’re even able to jump in & out of them ~ we’ve incorporated them a lot in games of hide & seek!
Whatever surface you’re introducing your pup to, make sure to keep the experience a fun & positive one! Food & toy rewards can entice a hesitant pup to take a walk on the wild(er) side 😉