top of page

Puppy Rules Of '12' Twelve

 Because many of my puppies go to Service Dog Organizations or become Therapy Dogs I begin to introduce my puppies to as many age appropriate objects, sounds and experiences as possible before they go to their forever homes. You should keep introducing your puppy to the listed objects. Along with basic obedience and lots of praise you will begin to mold your puppy into a wonderful companion.

The puppy rules of twelve is a handy guideline for puppy owners of a selection of stimulus that puppies should have been exposed to by the time they reach around twelve weeks old. It was first conceived of by a professional dog trainer and behaviorist Margaret Hughes, as a range of twelve different types of stimulus from different categories that the twelve week old puppy should get used to. Make sure all experiences are safe and positive for the puppy. Each encounter should include treats and lots of praise. Slow down and add distance if your puppy is scared!

Different walking surfaces

By the time your puppy is twelve weeks old, they should have experienced walking on twelve different types of surfaces. Try to find a range of different textures and walking surfaces for your puppy to get to grips with, including: Carpet



Dry grass/Wet grass



Unevenly textured surfaces



Toys and Play

Ensure that your puppy is given a wide range of different objects, games, puzzles toys and textures to play with, including:

Toys that make a noise

Hard balls/Soft balls

Plastic toys

Soft toys

Wooden toys

Paper and cardboard

Interactive toys

Toys that move

Chew toys

Fabric toys such as ropes and pull toys

Hide strips

Experience of new places

Until your dog has received all of their vaccinations and gets the okay from your vet to go out into the world where they will be exposed to the presence of other dogs, you may be rather limited as to what kind of stimulus you can expose your puppy to. However, when your puppy is twelve weeks old or soon after, they should have experienced a range of different environments and places, such as:

Your garden or yard

Your home

Other peoples homes

Outside of a school or playground

A car

A lift


The veterinarians office

A crate

A training group

A park

Water, such as a beach, pond or river

People and Play

It is important to get your puppy used to the presence of other people, of all different varieties and walks of life, as your puppy will almost certainly come across many of them over the course of their life! Yourself and members of your family will be your puppy's pack, and so you cannot be counted in their twelve different experiences of people! Try to introduce your puppy to all sorts of people and situations, including:

Adult males/females



A person in a wheelchair/with a cane

People in hat/sunglasses

People of a variety of races

People with special needs

Exposure to Sound

The world is a very noisy place, particularly for the growing puppy who is new to everything. It is vital to get your puppy used to a wide range of sounds, both common sounds that they will hear often, and more unusual noises that might catch them unaware. Make sure that no sudden or particularly loud noises shock or scare your puppy, as this can be counter-productive. Some suggestions to include are:

The doorbell

Noisy baby or child


Washing machine/vacuum cleaner



Scooters or skateboards

An alarm, such as a car alarm or smoke alarm

Clattering sounds such as dropped keys or pans

Exposure to fast movement

A person or object suddenly zooming past you can be unnerving even for people, and even more so for puppies. Exposing your puppy to fast-moving things safely is important for a range of reasons; so that your puppy does not fear it, so that they learn not to chase things if they are so prone to, and so that they learn to stay out of the way and not walk into the path of something fast moving.

Try to expose your puppy to a selection of speedy things such as the following list:

Car or motorcycle passing them

Person running/jogging

Children running around

Skateboards and scooters

People on roller blades

Larger or older dogs

Remote control toys Push chairs designed for sport and jogging

Different Challenges

Exposure to different challenges is also nessesary.

Have them try:

Climb on, in, off and around a box

Go through a toy or cardboard tunnel

Climb up and down steps

Climb over obstacles

Play hide & seek

Go in and out a doorway with a step up or down

Expose to an electric sliding door



Walk on a wobbly table (plank of wood with a small rock underneath)

Jump or step over a broom

Climb over a log

Bathtub and baths

Handled by family

Being handled can mean many things. Your puppy should be okay with being held, restrained and groomed for their future so when they go to the groomers, Veterinarian, or just in a group of people.

Get them used to:

Being held under your arm (like a football)

Hold to chest

Hold on the floor near owner

Hold between the owners legs

Hold their head

Checking ears, mouth, in-between toes and nails

Hold like a baby

Trim toe nails

Eat in different locations

Have them able and comfortable to eat in many situations. This helps if they might be traveling, being boarded, at the veterinarian, etc...

Back yard/Front yard


Kitchen/Basement/Laundry room

Friend's house


School yard

Off the ground (bench, table, picnic table)

Under umbrella

bottom of page