To socialize our puppies we focus on Touch, Sights, Sounds, Smells, Environment, Positive Reinforcement, and Stimulation. Training starts from the moment they are born until the moment that they leave us and go to their new homes, from there it is up to their new family to continue the training process.
Touch: This is the very first form of socialization that the puppies will get from us. When their mom goes into labor we are there from the minute her water breaks until the minute the last puppy is born. When the puppy is born they are in our hands and immediately introduced to being handled and loved by humans. Our puppies are handled and loved on every single day under our care. Belly rubs are a daily routine, I often have one on my lap while I'm answering emails or talking on the phone. I carry them around while doing daily activities, and when old enough they spend time crawling around on our laps cuddling and playing with toys. I clip their nails a couple of times before they go home, this may not seem like a big deal but it gets them used to having their paws handled which is good for future grooming and nail trims.
Sounds: Puppies don't fully open their eyes until they are about 2.5-3 weeks old so during the period when they can't see, sound and touch are our main focus. The minute the puppies are born they are held and spoken to so they very quickly get used to the feel of our hands and the sounds of our voices. It's very common for me to have complete conversations with our pets, I have found them to be great listeners :)
To mix it up some days I will play episodes of Chicago P.D. so the puppies hear city noises like trains, sirens, and traffic, other days I will play nature shows so the puppies will hear birds and animals. I also like to play different types of music so we go from The Doors, to U2, to Christmas Classics, to Country Western, etc.
I vacuum every day and purposely do it right next to the exercise pen so that the puppies both see and hear it. We have ceiling fans that I will turn on so that they will see the blades moving, hear the sound of the fan, and feel the air moving around them.
We have both a landline and cell phones, all with different ring tones.
The microwave, blender, furnace, lawn mower, tractor, and other every day household sounds are all part of their lives from day one.
I often buy toys that make different noises, some play music, some have loud squeaks, etc. as just another way for them to get used to new sounds.
All of these introductions to sound are always followed by positive reinforcement so that they learn to get used to them and not be scared.
Sights: Puppies don't fully open their eyes until they are about 2.5-3 weeks old so when they can finally see it's important to introduce them to as many things as possible. For the first few weeks of their lives w/out vision they have gotten used to hearing our voices and feeling our hands so it's exciting to finally introduce ourselves visually. Some days I will wear my hair up, other days I will leave it down, puppies love to chew on long hair. Some days my husband will wear a hat, or go without shaving and grow some stubble on his face, when the puppies go to lick his cheek it will feel and look different. During good weather I take the puppies outside for a change in environment and to see all of the new sights and sounds that they do not experience while indoors. Toys and treats are a big part of the puppy world and I feel it's best to mix them up and change them out so that they don't get bored having the same things all of the time. Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, treat puzzles, balls with squeakers, stuffed animals, bully sticks, roasted pig ears are all things that I like to introduce them to. Our other animals also play a big visual role, we have several kitties and the puppies are very used to seeing them on a regular basis. When outside they see the horses and cows walk by, all which help them get used to seeing new things and being used to new animals.
All of these introductions are done slowly so to avoid overloading them and they are always followed by positive reinforcement so that they get used to new things and learn not to be scared.
Environment: Along with introducing the puppies to new things to see I feel it's important to expose them to different environments. If it's nice outside I set up exercise pens in the yard so they can play in the grass, smell the fresh air, feel the warm sun, chew on fresh sticks, play in the leaves and take in the outdoor environment. During Winter if it's warm enough I take them outside to play in the snow, they love to climb the snow banks, cover their faces in fresh snow beards, and tackle each other while rolling down the snow piles. When outside they also get to observe our chickens, cats, horses, and cows. They hear and see the cars going by, hear the planes up above, hear the wind rustling through the leaves, all this is quite different from being indoors and gets them used to things they'll experience in every day life.
I only have the puppies for a very small moment of time in their lives and I feel that it's my job to start them off right by getting them used to different things but it's also vital that their new families continue to expose, train, and mold them into the dogs that they want them to be. Puppies are innocent sponges that will soak up all the knowledge that you are willing to give them, if you don't work with and train them then don't expect a perfect dog. If you are a new puppy owner I highly suggest puppy classes and doggy day care a couple of times a week, both will make a world of difference!