Creating Positive Associations with Novel Items

First, be sure to regularly review the lesson on “How to socialise” so that you are armed with the right ammunition for the job. 

At home or outside the home, actively create a positive association with novel items; anything new or potentially scary. That could be anything from an umbrella, a skateboard, a scooter, a hair dryer, a traffic cone, garbage bins, etc…

Every time your dog notices one of these, start the happy-talk and treat-party so that they start to make a positive association with these objects and the people who may be using them. Novel item predicts happy-talk and delicious food, therefore novel item is safe and exciting! 

The order of events is paramount here! The dog must notice the stimulus first, THEN the happy-talk starts and meatballs rain from the sky. 

Allow your dog to investigate at their pace, while the item is not moving. Never lure your dog closer to the item – simply loosen the leash and (with permission) allow them to move at their pace. Happy-talk and feed any observation of, or interaction with the items. You may choose to gradually increase the difficulty so that the items are moving / making noise but take care not to move too fast and spook your dog. It is much harder to come back from a scare than it is to simply create a great association in the first place. 

We want the dog looking to us with happy anticipation when they spot a novel item, and then investigating with confident curiosity. 


Sports gear

woman holding multiple coloured shopping bags

Multiple bags

A woman in a red sweater wearing a large bag

Large bag



Blue, red and green garbage bins leaning against a wall outside

Garbage bins

A business man rolling a luggage on the street


A woman in a grey coat holding an umbrella on the street


A basketball going into a hoop

Bouncing ball

A little boy wearing a helmet using a scooter


Low section of man cleaning hardwood floor with vacuum cleaner


A wooden broom leaning against a wall on the street


Orange laundry machines

Laundry machines

Shopping cart in the middle of a parking lot

Shopping cart