Now may seem like a great time to bring a new puppy into your home. Or maybe you’re fostering a dog from your local shelter. You’re at home more (or all day long) why not! But what about the importance of socializing your new pup? The Coronavirus will likely play a big role in puppy socialization. Puppy socialization is such a critical activity in a young pup’s life. Numerous studies show that exposing puppies to a variety of people, places, and things in the early stages of development help puppies develop into confident and well-adjusted dogs. The sweet spot for good puppy socialization is at its peak between two and four months of age and continues until the puppy is about six months of age.
Socializing your puppy is so important. Dogs do not generalize very well, meaning exposing your puppy to a handful of people is not enough. Think more along the lines of twenty-five new people a week. This is either going to be difficult or not an option when we all are supposed to be self-quarantining. Here are some suggestions to try during this time.
Please understand that the below suggestions may need to be edited depending on your location, the current state of the virus, and you and your puppy’s health.
Play dress up. We’re not dressing up your puppy, we’re dressing up your family members. No really, hear me out. Get the kids involved! Look around your closet for things like long coats, hats, boots, wigs, uniforms, umbrellas, etc. You want to expose your puppy in a slow manner and not scare him. If he seems stressed, back off. For example, if he’s scared of you wearing a hat, place the hat on the floor and allow him to investigate it at his own pace.
YouTube audio. YouTube is a great resource for finding sounds you can introduce to your puppy. A simple search of kids on the playground or large crowds is just a couple of suggestions. But don’t stop there, look for noises like thunderstorms, fireworks, and trucks backfiring. It won’t completely feel real for your puppy, but it’s a start.
Taking your puppy to a variety of new places is also important. Please follow whatever your local government suggests. Social distancing for your dog is just as important. I would avoid dog to dog or dog to person interaction at this time. However, setting up a walk where you and your friend and their dog walk six feet from you might be a good idea. Take a walk through the neighborhood. Maybe you’ll see some kids out on here bicycles. You’ll most definitely see some delivery trucks! Have tasty treats to help keep your puppy’s attention on you.
Find things around your house to introduce your puppy to. Bicycle, rollerblades, pots and pans, vacuum, outdoor yard equipment (safely!), etc. These are all things you can introduce to your puppy in a positive way. Pull out the vacuum, toss a few treats around it, and allow your puppy to eat up the treats. Maybe you take a handful of treats and toss them into a shiny saucepan, and your puppy sticks his head inside, sees his reflection, hears his collar clink on the pan, and is rewarded with goodies.
You can also focus on your puppy’s handling skills. This is where you teach him that being touched and groomed is a good thing. Practice touching their paws, cleaning ears and brushing
If you’re home, there’s no better time to work on your puppy’s training. Check our blog and Facebook page often for more tips and tricks!