Puppy and Dog Socialization Tips During the Coronavirus 2020
The COVID-19 or Coronavirus isn’t just affecting people, but it will likely play a big role in puppy socialization. Puppy socialization is such a critical activity in a young dog’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.
I worry that these puppies who are at home quarantined because of the Coronavirus will miss this critical window and develop anxieties as they age. The COVID-19 is still in overdrive and changing our daily lives as I write this. 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.
Socializing your puppy with people is so important. Dogs do not generalize very well, meaning exposing your puppy to a handful of novel people is not enough. Think more along the lines of twenty-five new people a week. This is either going to be tricky or not an option when we all are supposed to be self-quarantining. Here are my suggestions.
Play dress up. No, not dressing your puppy, but your family members. 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. This may or may not be an option for you and your puppy during this time. If you are able to go outside, I would recommend your puppy wearing dog boots or possibly even taking a ride in a dog stroller. 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 great idea. Have tasty treats to help keep your puppy’s attention on you.
If you are able to take your dog to various parks for a walk, do it. He will at least get to learn about life outside of your home such as blowing trees, cars, bikes, etc. When your adventure is over, wipe him down with a non-toxic pet wipe and/or a dog shampoo and water mix like this one. I would even consider giving him a bath with 4-Legger since it is truly gentle and safe for puppies and he can have daily baths if needed.
Next, look for things around your house to introduce your puppy to. Bicycle, rollerblades, pots and pans, vacuum, floor fan, etc. These are all novel 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 gobble up the goodies. 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, looked at, and groomed is a good thing. Click through to read more.
Tricks, games, and training. If you’re home, there’s no better time to bump up your puppy’s training. Believe me, you will be happy that your puppy knows how to sit, down, stay, and come.
The point of continuing with your puppy’s socialization at home is to teach him that life is good. There are lots of things in this thing called life, but they are not scary and most of the time lead to good things and even snacks. Hopefully, you and your puppy won’t have to stay isolated for long, and when that time comes, work on your puppy’s socialization pronto.
Your questions or comments are welcome below.
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4 thoughts on “Puppy Socialization Tips During the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)”
We have a litter of puppies right now. They will be 3 weeks old tomorrow. We have several sound cds we play for them and introduce them to as much as we can in the house. We normally have people over to help socialize them, but are avoiding that for now. I am very concerned about them not meeting people other than us.
It’s definitely a scary time. If you have friends or family that you know are self-isolating, those would be the people I call upon. Studies have also shown that just seeing people from a distance helps socialization. So, maybe they could be outside your home and you holding puppies 6′ away.
We have a lab puppy that just turned 4 months. I’m concerned that she’s not been able to play with other dogs. Several weeks ago we brought her to play with my sisters 6 year old lab and I think it helped her a tiny bit with bite inhibition but for weeks now she hasn’t been with any other dogs. My family members that have dogs have all traveled recently so it’s not an option now to arrange something with any of them. We also have an active 6 year old daughter so it’s tricky because my daughter often excites the puppy unintentionally which is maybe reinforcing her jumping and biting. I think there’s a lot of value in older dogs helping to show the puppies what’s acceptable and what’s not. So I’m not sure how to replace that during this time. As far as socialization with new people, places, etc, I think dress up is a great idea! When I pulled out my flip flops for the first time a couple weeks ago, she went a little crazy trying to bite them! Now I understand it’s just a new thing she’s never seen me wear! So I’ll try to think of what other different items I might wear in different circumstances to try to acclimate her to those items being normal.
Thanks so much for the ideas!
Hi, Kira. So glad to help. It really is a scary time right now. Best of luck to you and your new lab puppy!
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