Canine & Puppy Socialization During Covid
Updated: Oct 7, 2020
Congratulations! You’ve adopted a new puppy or dog!
But how can you give your new best friend the proper socialization they need during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Socialization is critical for dogs, especially puppies! If not properly done early in life, puppies can grow into fearful, anxious and even aggressive canines.
Socialization for dogs is more than meeting other people, dogs or pets. Socialization also involves introducing both puppies and older dogs to a variety of new places, objects, surfaces, sounds, situations, people and pets while making them feel completely safe. The better the overall exposure, the better your dog can deal with day-to-day life with confidence.
Common Canine Fears
Every dog is unique with their own likes, dislikes and potential fears. By properly socializing your new dog to all kinds of situations, you are helping teach your dog to stay balanced, stable, friendly and calm.
Below are the common fears dogs typically have; include them on your list of things for proper socialization!
· Fear of car rides
· Fear of the veterinarian
· Fear of meeting strangers
· Fear of bikes or wheelchairs
· Fear of loud noises like thunder, fireworks or the vacuum cleaner
· Fear of being left alone or separation anxiety
Proper Socialization Even During Coronavirus: 5 Tips
COVID-19 has turned our world upside down especially with day-to-day interactions. But even with social distancing, you can give your new dog the proper socialization they need with these five tips below.
1. Attend local classes that are adhering to social distancing and a reduced number of participants. (Wear a mask to protect yourself; your dog doesn’t need a mask.)
2. Walk new neighborhoods so your dog can explore the outdoors. Hike in the woods, go to the beach or even parks for exciting, new smells, sights and sounds! This helps your dog avoid an unhealthy strong attachment to just their home location. (Hire a dog walker too!)
3. Make sure to teach your new dog to be comfortable with being handled by you and others in the home. Grooming, nail-cutting and teeth-brushing are critical experiences to teach your dog to remain calm. (Your vet and groomer will thank you too!)
4. Keep challenging your new pup’s brain and body with fun games or puzzles at home like hide-and-go-seek, scent games or even an obstacle course in your backyard! Remember, socialization and training can – and should be – FUN!
5. Puppies and even older dogs may be afraid of strangers, so help your dog overcome his fear by playing Halloween dress-up at home! Use hats, coats, masks and even wigs, umbrellas, sunglasses and more to change the way you usually look. Do NOT scare your new puppy or dog! Calmly let them explore you while encouraging and praising him that it’s ok. (Change your smell as well with spraying yourself with a light scent.)
Fears & Anxieties: Prevention!
· Puppies: Begin socializing them as early as 3 weeks; weeks 3-16 are especially critical for a puppy’s development and socialization.
· Never use Force! Never force your dog to accept a frightening or unfamiliar experience; especially if they are showing discomfort, anxiety or fear.
· Keep Your Dog. Never give up your dog to avoid the creation of abandonment issues or fears.
Coronavirus does not mean you cannot properly socialize your dog.
Get creative and let your new dog or puppy explore as much as possible!
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Psychology Today: Puppy or Rescue Dog Socialization During COVID-19