Puppy socialisation during Coronavirus

puppy socialisation

With recent restrictions, attendance of puppy classes may not be possible but it’s still vital your pup learns the socialisation skills they’ll need as adults.

Here are some top tips to help them get used to all things new.

Let your puppy observe things from a safe distance

Carry them in your arms on walks, let them sit by an open window or gate to familiarise them with the outside world.

Practice handling and examination

Calmly touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws, nose and around the eyes and immediately reward them with a treat, building up positive association to these actions – it will make necessary veterinary examinations (and home checks) easier in future.

Introduce different noises to your puppy

By introducing your puppy to a variety of sounds (starting at low volume initially), whilst carrying on with normal behaviour, your puppy learns that strange noises are not necessarily things to be afraid of. Washing machines, gaming noise, electrical tools, hairdryers and food mixers for example.

Look out for a sound effects CD or playlist too, it would be a great time to expose them to the sounds of fireworks or other strange noises, ahead of the main fireworks period.

Introduce your puppy to different objects

Think of all the things a dog might encounter during their life and start by leaving objects around the house. Ironing boards, sunglasses, hats, walking sticks, bicycles – there is a long list. Just get them used to seeing objects first, and then work towards them being used or worn.

Other sensory experiences

Try to enable your pup to experience a range of textures under their feet, tiles, prickly doormats, gravel, even water or sand if you’re lucky enough to get to the coast.

Gradually introduce the car

Start with the engine off. Introduce your puppy to the car, and then decide how they will travel safely, will you be using a seatbelt harness or dog crate in the boot? Move towards feeding your pup in the car, and once they’re comfortable getting into the car, try it with the engine running.

Ensure their first trip is a short one (ideally not to the vets) to ensure they associate their trip with a positive experience.

Prevent guarding of valuable items

Now is a great time to teach your puppy that someone approaching them when they have something of value (whether it’s their food, a chew or stolen item) leads to something nice happening rather than having something removed from them.

Start by approaching your pup, dropping food beside them and retreat. Repeat this process until they look up and seem happy that you’re approaching. If you need to remove an item, always do a swap. This should prevent future problems of them running off with the item they are guarding.

Time alone

Your pup has to experience being alone, hard to do during times when you’re not going out as much.

Use a baby gate so that your puppy can’t always follow you. Ensure they have a cosy area, consider offering them food-dispensing toys. When they’re sleeping and content, stay away on the other side of the barrier. When they’re concerned, return. Gradually build up the time they are left alone.

Help your puppy during what can be stressful times for them with a range of toys and calming supplements, (based on natural proteins or pheromones) collars or home diffusers (all of which can be used together) and spend time getting them ready for the bigger, wider world.

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