Puppy Socialisation Whilst Social-Distancing
Socialisation in puppies is really important, but to mix with other puppies and dogs, then they need to be fully vaccinated.
However, there is lots more to puppy socialisation than just mixing with other dogs! Please read on!
We have to protect human health by adhering to social distancing;
and this will likely have to continue for many months, so here are lots of things that you can do at home...and the good thing is, that under continued lockdown or work-from-home conditions, many of us will actually have a lot more time to spend with our pets!
1. Carry your puppy when you go out. Your puppy will still be able to see and hear other people/dogs, but at a safe distance (remember to stay at least 2m away from anyone not living in your house). Change your route every so often, so your puppy can experience a variety of sights, sounds, and smells.
2. You can get your puppy used to the car in your driveway. Sit in the car with them and make it a fun experience! Offer them treats or a toy, then practise turning on the engine so they get used to the noise.
3. Use your garden or own outside space. Your puppy can hear and see cars, people and birds. Other dogs might walk past, and cats may roam around. Sit on your doorstep with your puppy on your knee, and let them experience the world from a safe distance. *
* Important: If you know that rats or foxes visit your garden frequently, please contact us to discuss this.
4. Make sure your puppy gets used to being left alone for periods of time. Even if you cannot leave the house, you can leave the room. Leave your puppy in their safe space or crate for short periods with a tasty treat. This will help them adapt when you leave the house for longer periods after lockdown ends and they are older.
5. Get your puppy used to new things in the home such as different textures (carpet, tiles, wooden floors) and sounds (the washing machine and doorbell).
6. Getting your puppy used to different noises is really important. This will help when we are all allowed back into the outside world. Thats why sitting on your doorstep and your puppy hearing cars, people, lawnmowers, people doing diy, etc, is really important. Download Sounds Sociable from the Dogs Trust website. Play these sounds at a very low volume whilst your puppy is doing something fun, and then slowly, increase the volume as long as your puppy stays happy and relaxed. It will also help prepare them for the loud bangs associated with fireworks night!
7. Everyone else is doing it, so why not try a video chat with other puppies and dogs! They can see and hear each other, and can watch each other playing with their toys. We've tried it, it works well and you get to chat with your friends too!
8. Get your puppy used to being handled. Start off with gentle stroking, then move onto using a soft brush. You can then introduce different brushes and combs.
9. Help stop a future fear of nail clipping by touching your puppy's feet and toes often, you can gently file the sharp tips of nails with an emery board, this will help them cope with nail clips when they get older.
10. House training: being at home means you have more time than ever to house train your puppy! Use newspaper or inco pads, place them near the back door, place your puppy on them regularly, praise them when they have a wee. When your puppy is heading towards the pad and weeing on it, that's a great time to start moving the pad to outside the door, on the doorstep. It won't take long for them to get the idea of seeing outside.
11. Adaptil pheromone spray/plug-in can be really beneficial to help puppies settle into their new home with you.
12. Tooth brushing is really beneficial, so you could get a finger toothbrush, and get your puppy used to it. IMPORTANT: human toothpaste is TOXIC to puppies and dogs, only use a dog toothpaste from a vet. Find out more about dental care
Don't forget to make these experiences a fun thing, by giving treats when you introduce your puppy, to them. If you do these things when they are little, then they will grow up to be much happier adult dogs.
So we hope you can see that there is a lot more to puppy socialisation than just meeting other dogs nose-to-nose!
For more advice about behaviour, then book an appointment with one of our vets!