K9 Confidence Building By Walking On Different Surfaces

Building Dog Confidence By Walking On Different Surfaces

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.

K9 Confidence Building By Walking On Different Surfaces


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.

Rollerblading with my dogs

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!

K9sOverCoffee.com | Hiking with Buzz and his dog backpack at Great Falls in Virginia


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.


Road Pavement

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.

Goodbye Summer, Welcome Fall!


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.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Buzz trying on Ruffwear's Grip Trex

Hardwood Floors

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!


Bottom Line

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 😉

What surface(s) is your pup comfortable and/or hesitant to walk on? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.






18 responses to “Building Dog Confidence By Walking On Different Surfaces”

  1. Emma Avatar

    Good ideas. We never thought about surfaces, but we are all over the place from when we are puppies on up, so we naturally experience most surfaces. Bailie did have a panic on linoleum a while back. I guess we don’t have any for her to try out and it scared her. I don’t like slippery, shiny surfaces like marble, but I walk…just a bit lower to the ground. Thanks for joining the hop!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Emma! We haven’t experienced marble yet ~ that’d be a slippery one for sure!

  2. Tenacious Little Terrier Avatar
    Tenacious Little Terrier

    Mr. N will walk on just about anything. He does not appreciate having to walk through water but he will.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Good job, Mr. N! Water wading is another (almost) inevitable part of hiking 🙂

  3. Kate Obrien Avatar
    Kate Obrien

    Really great ideas – people assume dogs will just walk on anything, but that’s not true. Exposing them to different surfaces is a smart thing.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Kate ~ the old saying “practice makes perfect” really applies here.

  4. 2 brown dawgs blog Avatar

    Great tips. It took Freighter forever to be OK with our bathroom tile…lol. I figured if he wanted to come in there, he would eventually get over it and he did. But for a long time he would walk in but back out rather than turn around. Not sure why.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you! Maybe Freighter felt like he didn’t have enough traction to comfortably turn around? Whatever his motivation was to finally turn around in it (was it you?!), made him come out (mentally) stronger!

  5. Elaine Avatar

    I’m so glad you wrote about this, since a lot of people don’t think about walking surfaces when they think about socializing puppies. There weren’t many of those crosswalks sections of sidewalks with the bumps sticking up when Haley was a puppy, but she hates walking on those now. Maybe it’s because they hurt her feet, but she always tries to avoid them. I guess I don’t like walking on them either though, haha.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you so much for the feedback, Elaine! Sounds like Haley is aware of the fact that you don’t like them 😉

  6. Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets Avatar
    Jan K, Wag N Woof Pets

    What great advice! It’s something I’d never thought of with puppies since our dogs have never had trouble with different surfaces. My sister did have a dog once who all of the sudden refused to walk on their hardwood floors though, she never was sure why (he probably slipped when running). We have a good variety of surfaces in our house…hardwood, tile, carpet, and a pretty good variety in the places we walk too….but it’s something I’ll be more aware of now too.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Jan! It’s great having a variety of surfaces at your own home for socialization purposes 🙂 It’s important for us humans to not make a big deal when our dogs slip on a surface, because they then tend to make a big deal out of it themselves, which can result in becoming scared of the particular surface. Always stay calm & positive, no matter what 🙂

  7. HuskyCrazed Avatar

    Fabulous advice!

    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, Husky Pack 🙂

  8. MyDogLikes Avatar

    We got our boys past the window of optimal socialization and its apparent. Charlie was afraid of everything. Now, he is growing to be a confident adolescent but still has some fears but can be cajoled with treats and conditioning. The biggest residual in both boys is that they are just less flexible with changes in their environments still so socialization continues to be important.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Sounds like you are doing a nice job at working on Charlie’s socialization skills! It’s never too late to work on it, it just may require a little more patience on our part 🙂 I’m a firm believer in ongoing socialization throughout a pup’s life!

  9. JoAnn Stancer Avatar
    JoAnn Stancer

    Great post, one thing also to do is go to the vet and go on the scale often and make it a fun experience, a lot of dogs hate going on it because it is raised off the ground.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thanks, JoAnn ~ I love your scale suggestion!! That’s a great idea, and one that can be practiced at those larger pet retail stores who have a vet in their building ~ we’ve practiced that with our pups by letting them hop on the scale, rewarding with a treat, then having them sit not he scale, and rewarding again!

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