Early Learning Focus
Early Learning Program Highlights
SURFice Dog Initiative
Service Dog Training
Pet Dog Training
How to Help
Cuddle (p)up & socialize!
Puppy cuddlers are
people who enjoy puppies. They like the smell of puppy breath... they get
a kick out of watching the silly things puppies do... they find pleasure in
cooing to canine babies... they have a fondness for feeling soft baby fur
beneath their fingers. But, most importantly, they understand the
importance of socialization and want to be instrumental in this process.
The developmental period between three to 12 weeks of age is
called the socialization period. It is the most influential nine weeks of
a puppy's life. This period is associated with the
development of many social behavior patterns and a great deal of learning about
the environment. Much of what is learned during this early period is
permanent and provides a foundation for adult behavior patterns.
To decrease the possibility of fearful
responses as a puppy develops, it is essential to expose them to many people,
places and things during the socialization period when they can most effectively
socialize, localize and habituate to these stimuli.
Although socialization is an
ongoing process which continues for his entire life, this period is a critical
one because it's the time in which initiating social relationships is the most
effective. So, this is where puppy cuddlers come in... helping
puppies form social relationships! This program allows the puppies to meet
and interact with many different types of people in their own familiar
What do puppy cuddlers do?
Cuddle puppies! Puppy cuddlers interact with the puppy...
touch him, pet him, coo to her, play with her. They let the puppy smell
their breath, lick their face, fall asleep in their arms. Puppies don't
generalize that all people are the same... a man with a beard is different than
a woman in a ponytail. So, we want the puppy to meet all kinds of people,
from different backgrounds and lifestyles.
What types of people can be a puppy cuddler?
Any type... every type! The more different types of people the
puppies meet, the better. Do you have a mustache? Work at a
construction site? Bake cookies? Wear a uniform? Play a
musical instrument? Walk with a cane? Use crutches? Carry an
umbrella? Wear a big hat? Have a loud laugh? These are the
types of people you want to expose the puppy to during this socialization period
(and throughout his life).
What do puppy cuddlers do to prepare for their session?
If people are coming from work... encourage them to wear their
uniform. Especially if they're a mail carrier, UPS or Fed Ex driver!
You want your puppies to be comfortable around anyone in a uniform including a
nurse, firefighter, construction worker, policeman, Hazmat worker, etc.
The pups also imprint the smells associated with these various "careers" which
assists in their socialization.
Also ask people to pull out their halloween costumes and get
creative! Bring a purple wig, groucho marx glasses, a clown nose. Teach puppy cuddlers how to systematically introduce these additional
stimuli, and always monitor the interaction. But, the creative ideas cuddlers come up with makes for good socialization!
What are the benefits of being a puppy cuddler?
Research has shown that there are emotional and physical benefits to
touching and interacting with animals. It can help lower blood pressure
and provide stress relief. People who interact with animals have a longer
life span and suffer from less depression. It can enhance the human-animal
bond, and can also provide a distraction from pain and illness.
What are the puppy cuddler guidelines?
You have to be extremely careful that your puppies don't contract
or other diseases, so hands must be washed with dis-infectant soap prior to
Upon entering property, please spray soles of shoes with
dis-infectant spray (available at entrance).
Shoes must be removed, or shoe covers must be worn (available at
Upon entering house, hands must be washed with anti-bacterial
You should wear freshly laundered clothes during your visit... or
bring them with to change into once here.
You should not visit a dog park or other places frequented by
dogs the day of your cuddling.
You should not visit a kennel the day of your cuddling.
You should not visit with other young puppies the day of your
Puppies need to remain on your lap while cuddling.
Puppies must be held with two hands at all times.
Children must be accompanied by an adult, and supervised at all
Children must sit on the floor when cuddling.
No other dogs are allowed on site so as not to stress the mama
Puppies are to remain in the puppy pen, or play yard at all
Games that encourage puppies to bite or mouth you are not
Absolutely, never, EVER pick puppies up from the pen or puppy
yard if they are jumping up. They must have "four on the floor" before
picking them up. This helps them learn NOT to jump on people. You
will help solidify their default sit if you make sure they're sitting before
picking them up.
Never pet a puppy that is jumping up, same as above... they must
have "four on the floor". A jumping puppy should be ignored as
any interaction will be reinforcing to the puppy and result in continued
What do you recommend I wear for my visit?
It would be best if you wear shoes that do not have shoe laces, as puppies
tend to want to play with them, and you'll have puppies attached to your feet,
and chewing in-appropriately. So, we recommend closed shoes with no laces.
It would also be beneficial not to wear jewelry, especially
dangling earrings as puppy nails can get caught and cause harm to both you and
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