Socialising your puppy during lockdown and times of national restrictions has presented many challenges for dog owners. With puppy socialisation classes currently a thing of the past, many people are understandably concerned as to how to continue or begin socialising new puppies through this period of nationwide restrictions.
Well, don’t despair just yet. We have some fantastic tips and ideas to help you get the best out of your puppy during this time. Firstly, lets take a look at what socialisation is and why it is so important for your puppy!
Here are our top tips for socialising your puppy during locksdown.
Socialisation is the single most important thing that you can do for your puppy to ensure they grow up to be a happy, confident and relaxed family dog. The period of time up to 12 weeks of age is known as the socialisation period, where the puppy’s brain is like a sponge soaking up every new experience. The puppy’s brain develops at such a fast rate it is vital during this time to expose your puppy to and form positive associations with as many every day things as possible that you want your dog to be relaxed and confident with when they are an adult dog.
Exposure to things such as traffic, children, trains, farm animals, different sounds and loud noises in a positive way are fundamental in setting your new puppy up for success and will ensure your puppy grows up to be confident, bold and relaxed in all situations. These are however going to prove to be challenging for many of you at this time unless you live on a farm! We want to give you some alternatives to ensure your puppy is as well socialised as possible during this time.
The Impact of Covid-19
With social distancing rules and full lockdown for many, socialising a puppy is going to be challenging but by no means impossible. We want to walk you through some of the fantastic ways you can ensure you make the best of this situation and expose your puppy to as much as possible during this time.
7 Important Ways to Socialise your Puppy During Lockdown:
- Daily handling: getting them used to being gently touched all over, wiping their paws when they come in from the garden and regularly examining their paws, eyes, ears and mouth examined will all help prepare them well for their first visit to the vets.
- Introduction to the collar and lead: associating the collar and lead to a positive experience is really important as early as possible, although you can’t get out for walks just yet you can teach them to walk to heel in and around your home and garden and have lots of fun in the process. Never just put a collar and lead on your puppy and expect them to walk or not chew the lead, it is quite a scary thing for them so keep them focused with treats to make it a positive experience.
- Daily Walks around the Neighbourhood: we are all able to do this abiding by the social distancing rules so pick the time when the most traffic is likely to be passing. If your puppy is not vaccinated carry them or put them in a doggy pram if they are too heavy to carry. This is so important and will expose them to the sounds of traffic and maybe a jogger or cyclist going past. Always take a bag of high value treats with you and reward them for calm reactions to every new thing.
- Garden sounds desensitisation: you should find an abundance of noises in the garden at this time with many people out in the garden, lawn mowers, strimmers, power tools, children shouting and playing and you may even be able to hear traffic from your garden. Remember everyone of these is new to your puppy and be sure to reward them with yummy treats when they exhibit calm behaviour to strange sounds, try not to cuddle them and scoop them up when they are startled as this will reinforce their negative responses.
- Sounds inside the home: there are lots of sounds in the home to get them used to including appliances, boiling kettle, music, hoover, crying baby if you have one, the clatter of pots being emptied from the dishwasher. Remember ignore scared behaviour reward calm behaviour to new sounds. You can also take a look at Sarah Heaths Sound Therapy Training by downloading her firework and weathers sounds and following the guidance in her program. Click here to find out more about sound therapy . . . Also, use the TV to your advantage and play programs that have other dogs and animals on as this may b the closest your puppy will get to other animals for the time being.
- Preventing Separation Anxiety: teaching your puppy how to be happy in their own company is so important during this Covid lockdown. Many households are out of their normal routine and consequently owners are at home 247 causing the puppy to have constant interaction and no alone time. This could potentially be a big problem when every one does go back to work if all your puppy has known is to have you around the house all the time. This could lead to separation anxiety which is very difficult to undo once they have started with it. It is therefore really important that for parts of each day, the puppy is left in the crate on their own or in a separate room. They will then realise whilst their brain is soft that being alone is OK and there is nothing to be scared of and it is a normal part of the day being on their own without you. Remember never to let your puppy out of the crate or open the door to the room if the puppy is whining as you are reinforcing the behaviour. You can find out more on how to teach your puppy to be happy in there own company in our FREE Settle Your Puppy in 24 Hours Lesson.
- Mentally Stimulating your Puppy. Keeping your puppy mentally occupied during lockdown is going to be so important due to the limit on physical activity they are able to get outside the home. There are lots of things you can do though to keep your puppy stimulated. Games like puppy ping pong, a simple recall game between two people calling the puppy to and from between each other are fantastic as it will provide lots of fun for your puppy, it can be made trickier as your puppy gets the hang of it by increasing distances and calling in and out of different rooms in the house and outside. A bombproof recall is one of the most important things you will teach your puppy and all the practice now will make for successful off lead recall when they are finally able to come off lead. There are lots of important every day commands to teach your puppy including stay, wait, leave, drop it, the emergency stop, heel and you can add in a repertoire or fun tricks such as paw, twizzle and twirl, fetch etc. The more tricks and commands in your repertoire the more fun and variety it will provide for your puppy. For lots of ideas and things to teach check out our Welcome Home Puppy Course which is packed full of fun and exciting tutorials for you both to learn from and shows you how to involve the children too.
Positive Association is the Key
Positive association to all new experiences is VITAL to your puppy’s growing confidence so have a tasty bag of yummy treats with you at all times such as chicken, cheese, hotdogs all chopped up and mixed in with some of their daily kibble.
It is a difficult time to socialise your puppy. Do the 7 things listed above and you will have made the best out of the current situation and be well on the way to helping your puppy to grow into a confident and relaxed adult dog happy to be introduced to new situations.
Do you want to learn more about positive training?
We have lots of amazing content ready to share with you to help further your puppy’s education during this time of isolation. To find out lots of ways to keep your puppy mentally stimulated during lockdown and how to teach them all the essential every day commands then please find out more below. To learn about the ins and outs of successful toilet training, mouthing, chewing, walking on a loose lead, a bombproof off lead recall and much more. We even show you how to involve your children too, keeping them occupied whilst educating them too on all aspects of puppy training.
Being in lock down is the perfect time to invest time in your puppy and their education and we can’t wait to help you along the way. We want to help you get the absolute best out of your puppy so you can settle them in to your home with huge success.
Finally don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Settle Your Puppy in 24 Hours Lesson to have your puppy settled and relaxed is his own company in the first 24 hours with you and your family! This is also extremely useful if you have had your puppy a while and struggling in a few areas!