How to Socialize Your Puppy in the Age of Social Distancing
Beginning with March’s COVID-19 restrictions, most of us have spent a lot of our time at home with our families. While this time can be spent bonding with our loved ones (and furry loved ones, too), it can be hard when you want to socialize a puppy.
Proper training and socialization of puppies requires interaction with strangers, dogs and other animals, and all other wonderful things the world has to offer. So, how can you do it in the age of social distancing?
The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center understand how difficult it can be to socialize your pet during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are here to provide some tips and recommendations to encourage better skills for your sweet puppy.
Don’t Delay the Play!
From the time you get your puppy, get to work on their training and socialization. Puppies who are held, cuddled, and interacted with more during their formative years become well adjusted adults later in life. Early socialization discourages later behavioral problems and separation anxiety that are common among under-socialized dogs.
The period between 7 weeks to 16 weeks is one of the most important times of your puppy’s development. You can help imprint positive behavior and raise a happy, well behaved dog if you focus on your pet’s socialization needs.
Tips for Socializing Your Puppy During COVID-19
It can be hard to do, but it is possible to get your pet the social training they need to grow up to be a great canine. Where we once relied on group training classes, dog parks, and other public places, we now must remain steadfast in practicing social distancing (at least, for the foreseeable future).
But other people and pets aren’t the only social cues for your pet. Your dog will benefit from being introduced to new experiences, noises, places, smells, etc. Anything that is new can be a form of socialization for your puppy.
- Expose them to different tactile objects – Your puppy will benefit from introducing tactile stimuli like getting them to walk on a variety of surfaces. Tile, grass, sand, linoleum, etc. can offer something new to get used to. Exposing your puppy to the sun, rain, wind, and the rest of the elements can be a great way to get them used to the feel of different seasons. Other tactile things you can do is giving them a bath, having them play in a box filled with balls, offering a piece of ice to lick, and so on.
- Introduce new smells and sounds – Your puppy will be fascinated by smells and sounds in their environment. Play a collection of various nature sounds on a CD or playlist, open the window so they can hear outdoor noise, like passing sirens, traffic, people talking, and birds chirping. Let your pet smell as many things as possible, like scents from the home, garden, lawn, and more.
- Give them lots of new toys, clothing, and games – Puppies thrive with a variety of enrichment toys to games, like hide-and-seek. Dressing your pet up in different costumes and clothes make for a good lesson in getting used to being touched and it is an awesome way to get better Instagram shots of your sweetie. Look for age appropriate toys and a wide array of stuffed animals for them to investigate and play with.
- Go on nature outings – Once your pet is fully vaccinated, you can take them out to parks, neighborhoods, and other places to walk and see people. As long as you maintain social distancing standards, your puppy will gain a better level of comfort by seeing other animals and people along the way. Sit on a blanket and have a little picnic with your pet while watching people go by on bikes and skateboards, as well as those playing frisbee or running with their dogs.
- Provide plenty of interaction at home – From the time you bring home your little one, begin getting them used to being touched and held. Gently stroke your puppy and pick them up often. Invite others in the home to handle your puppy, too, so they can get comfortable with others in a safe and supervised way.
More Recommendations for Puppy Socialization
Hopefully, we will soon be able to resume our classes for puppy training and socialization, which can be immeasurably helpful in raising a perfect pup. In the meantime, continue socializing your puppy using the tips outlined above.
If you should have any questions or concerns, please contact our team. We look forward to meeting your new puppy!