During the past few weeks, we have been relegated to staying indoors and social distancing while we are out. This has been a huge adjustment for most humans, and also for our four-legged family members. To add to the mix, is your new puppy.
Your puppy needs essential training and socialization in order to grow up to be a well behaved, happy adult dog. But what do you do when you need to get your pet out there and can’t?
Puppy socialization during COVID-19 can be challenging, but not impossible. Kings Trail Animal Hospital has a few pointers up our sleeves to help you keep your pet on track with their social needs, while maintaining safety for everyone.
The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy
Your dog’s first few months are key to the health and happiness of their future adult self. Between 7 weeks and 3 months are integral times in your puppy’s development. This is why socialization and positive training methods are critical to raising the best dog for your family.
During the first 3 months, you pup is set to bond with you, other people, and animals. This allows them to stay safe and integrate well within your home and the world at large. Without socialization, many dogs develop fears, anxiety, phobias, and problem behaviors, including aggression, later in life.
Most veterinarians and dog trainers will recommend that your puppy be enrolled in a socialization class after they have received all of their vaccinations. Unfortunately, most group activities are not open during this time of social distancing. So, where does that leave you and your pet? Thankfully, there are some ways you can adjust to the situation while socializing your dog.
Tips for Puppy Socialization During COVID-19
While we may associate socialization with exposing your dog to other people and dogs, there are many things your dog will benefit from experiencing in early life. Here are a few suggestions for puppy socialization during COVID-19.
- Have your pet walk on new surfaces. Sand, grass, dirt, concrete, tile, etc. are all various forms of surfaces your pet can be exposed to. The sensation of walking in the rain is also another form of a new sensation that can help your pet get used to changes in their environment.
- New sounds can be a form of socialization. Play your pet some CDs of nature sounds, people singing, classical, and other forms of music. Open the window and allow them to hear birds, people walking by, cars driving, sirens blaring, and so on. Each new audible sound gets your pet used to the outside world. You can even make a special playlist for your pet. Sounds that can sometimes cause a pet to be afraid, like vacuum cleaners and thunderclaps can also be introduced to your pet early on, to acclimate them to these sounds.
- Other people and pets. As restrictions loosen, allow your puppy to interact with healthy family members and friends. You can even host a little get together in the backyard to keep social distancing in mind, while your pet gets snuggles from other people. Invite your friends to drop off their pet so your puppy can get adjusted to other dogs, as well as cats.
- Kids can be a great way to curb any fears of children. If you don’t have kids in the household, you can introduce your pet slowly to seeing children outside. As long as your puppy is vaccinated, you can go on a little walk or to a park where they can experience strangers, dogs, and of course kids. This early exposure goes a long way in deterring fear of children in your dog.
- Handle and snuggle your pet often. Dogs who are held and petted during their formative years grow up to be comfortable with handling. They bond more to humans and feel secure and safe at home. Plus, it is good for you, too.
More Questions About Socialization During COVID-19
It can be a challenging time for all, but there is no reason why you cannot make your puppy’s socialization during COVID-19 a success. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, please call us.