Socializing Tips for New Puppy Parents During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Socializing your puppy is very important. Socializing means giving them new experiences and social interaction in an effort to ensure they are well-behaved around new humans or animals. Socialization can assist your puppy with quickly becoming comfortable in new or unusual environments while allowing them to maintain their confidence. There are many different types of socialization. You can teach your puppy at home, in classes, or on puppy playdates! It’s important to remember that socializing your puppy isn’t just about meeting strangers or new dogs. You need to expose your puppy to new sights, textures, and sounds. Having numerous people play and interact with your puppy (including children) will have a positive impact on your puppy down the line.
…But My Puppy Hasn’t Been Vaccinated!
Recommendations of when you should socialize your puppy vary, depending on who you ask. However, most recommendations encourage puppy socialization once they are 8 weeks old. Of course, your puppy will not have received all of its vaccinations by this point and will not be fully protected. You must still take the initiative to socialize them safely before their full vaccination. If you wait until they have had all of their shots, you will be missing out on the most important time to encourage them to feel comfortable in unknown situations. We do recommend avoiding dog and neighbourhood parks until your pup is fully vaccinated as a precaution.
The first three months of your puppy’s life play a crucial role in their development. They will be more inclined to feel social and naturally curious rather than feeling fearful. In the middle of a pandemic, the socializing required in the first few months can prove to be more challenging. Of course, you can go places where your puppy can interact with another dog or two while you maintain your distance from other people. This is an obvious first step, but we have some advice for the new puppy parents out there!
Focus on New Things – Not Just New People!
New things don’t have to be far away! Use things you may have laying around your garage or shed like shovels, rakes, bikes, and even skateboards. The main objective is to expose your pup to different textures. Treats make the perfect incentive for your puppy to enjoy time around new objects. Don’t forget about everyday household objects either! Get creative! Encourage your puppy to walk under, over, or around different things. Exposing them to these kinds of things now can prevent anxiety down the line. Have your puppy walk across or over a baking sheet, pillows, etc. to have them learn to overcome obstacles and build their confidence.
Don’t forget about sound! Play a new album, or find a soundtrack of sounds your pup has never heard before! Think of all the sounds available around your home. Include hair dryers, phone ringtones, and even the scariest object of all – the vacuum cleaner! You could even look up recordings of thunderstorms, dogs barking, and cats meowing! Continue to use treats and positive reinforcement to encourage positive association for your puppy when hearing these sounds. Keep an eye out for any signs your puppy is in distress.
Travel…close to Home 🙂
You don’t need to go far to give your puppy a brand new experience! Take your puppy for a drive. You can even go to a grocery store and just sit in the parking lot, giving treats as your puppy watches people walk around outside.
Don’t forget about Crate Training
You may be working from home temporarily during the pandemic. You don’t want your puppy to become used to an unstructured schedule. In order to reduce stress on your puppy (and yourself when you eventually go back to work) consider crate training. Crate training is a necessary tool to prepare your puppy to be away from you. You only need to have your puppy in the crate during feeding times, or a few minutes (5 to 10) every few hours to make a big impact. Please also consider contacting a professional trainer to assist with the social development and behaviour of your new puppy. Sessions can be done safely and virtually and can be a big help to new puppy parents!
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If you have any questions relating to care for your pet or our pet grooming services please contact us by filling out the form below or calling us at 416-253-9494 We are located at 1181 The Queensway #3 Etobicoke, ON M8Z 0C5. We look forward to hearing from you!