7 Tips to Get Your Puppy Used to Human Touch

7 Tips to Get Your Puppy Used to Human Touch

One of the first and most crucial steps you’ll have to take when you bring a new puppy into your home is socialization—a process that shapes how your puppy perceives and interacts with the world around them. More than just exposing them to new sights and sounds, socialization includes teaching your puppy to be comfortable being handled by humans. This will go a long way toward making quality time with you more enjoyable for your puppy, as well as preparing them for life's many touchpoints (such as grooming and medical care).

There are plenty of good reasons to get your puppy used to being handled early on. Many routine tasks that you’ll have to do with them throughout their lifetime, from putting on gear like Martingale collars and harnesses to going to the vet for a checkup, will necessitate touch in some form. Make handling a regular part of your pup’s routine, and you’ll set the stage for smoother, more enjoyable experiences for both of you.

Follow these expert tips from PrideBites to make handling a positive aspect of your puppy's life and help them grow into a well-adjusted and happy dog:

1) Start Early

You'll see the best results if you start socializing your puppy as early as possible. Puppies are most receptive to new experiences between three and fourteen weeks old. During this window, many of them are like sponges, eager to soak up every interaction and learn from it.

Take advantage of this critical period by introducing your puppy to gentle handling. Touch their paws, ears, and tail with care, and make every touch a positive experience. This early investment in your puppy's socialization pays substantial dividends, as they’ll gradually learn not just to tolerate handling but to actively welcome it.

2) Be Gentle

Every interaction teaches your puppy something about the world and their place in it. Use gentle, calm movements when you're handling your puppy to encourage their trust and help them feel safe and secure in your hands.

A soft stroke, a gentle lift, or a careful examination of their paws can be extremely soothing to them and get them quickly accustomed to your touch. If you're calm and light-handed, your puppy will learn to associate your touch—and eventually, touch in general—with safety and comfort.

3) Use Positive Reinforcement

Many dogs love and are motivated by praise, and your puppy may be no different. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in your socialization toolkit for them. Whenever you're handling your puppy—whether it's for grooming, putting on their collar, or just a general check-up—make it a more pleasant experience with a kind word, a gentle pat, or a tasty treat. These positive associations will make handling easier and teach your puppy to welcome these moments.

It's a simple formula: good experiences with handling equal a puppy that's more relaxed and comfortable being touched.

4) Introduce a Variety of Humans into Their Lives at Their Early Stages

Your puppy’s socialization process doesn’t end with you. They need to learn to be comfortable around other people as well. This means that you’ll have to introduce them to individuals of different ages, appearances, and behaviors in a controlled, positive manner.

Friends, family members, and even friendly strangers can play a role in broadening your puppy's social horizons. The more varied your puppy’s contact with humans is early on, the better equipped they'll be to handle new social situations. Just remember to supervise these interactions closely to ensure that they remain positive experiences for your puppy.

5) Practice Handling for Veterinary Care

Visits to the vet can be stressful for any pet, but you can make these experiences much smoother by preparing your puppy in advance. Practice mock veterinary exams at home by gently examining your puppy's ears, opening their mouth, and touching their paws and belly. Pair these actions with lots of praise and treats.

Simulating these vet-like experiences in a no-pressure home environment will help your puppy become more comfortable with the physical examinations and procedures they'll encounter throughout their lives.

6) Consider Socialization Classes

Puppy socialization classes offer a structured environment in which your puppy can learn about interacting with others. These classes will give them the chance to socialize with other dogs and get used to being handled by strangers in a safe, controlled setting.

Trainers can offer hands-on guidance and introduce your puppy to various handling exercises for a well-rounded socialization experience. Plus, these classes provide a great opportunity for you to learn alongside your puppy and pick up tips for effective handling and training that you can continue to use at home.

7) Respect Their Limits

While it's important to push your puppy's boundaries gently to encourage growth, you also need to recognize and respect their limits. Not every puppy will be comfortable with the same level of handling at first, and that's okay. Pay attention to your puppy's body language and signals of discomfort, such as pulling away or whining, and take a step back when needed.

Forcing interactions can lead to negative associations that will only undo your hard work. Instead, progress at a pace that your puppy is comfortable with, and gradually increase their exposure to handling as they become more confident. Patience and understanding are key to building a trusting and positive relationship with your puppy.


Again, remember that every gentle touch, every new introduction, and every positive experience paves the way for a lifetime of trust and companionship with your puppy. Taking these steps to get your puppy used to being handled will both prepare them for the practical aspects of life and deepen the bond between you.