How to socialise your puppy while social distancing
If you've recently got a puppy, you might find the guidance you've seen around socialisation difficult to follow during the coronavirus outbreak. Help with dog training, via video call, in person or through online courses, embraces the wide variety of ways in which you can learn to teach your canine friend, and aims to help to prevent behavioural problems arising.
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In their first few months puppies are wired to try new things. In normal circumstances it's the ideal time to introduce them to lots of people, other animals, different places and things they're likely to encounter in daily life. And, importantly, to make those introductions happy and fun. But clearly, there are things that in the old-normal you would have done that you can’t do now, when social distancing is the priority.
Luckily, there is still a lot you can still do. Focus on building your relationship with your puppy, their trust in you and their confidence in meeting things that are new and different. A confident, happy puppy will be far better prepared for the changes to come when life goes back to normal.
If they're nervous, a mix of games and treats combined with your praise and attention around potentially scary objects will help them. Let them get comfortable at their own pace.
Here are some top tips for socialising your puppy
1. Bring the sounds of the outside world inside
You can find plenty of videos and apps with the sounds of everything from babies crying to aeroplanes or Guy Fawkes night. Start by introducing these sounds quietly, and gradually build them up so your pup can carry on eating, playing or sleeping and happily ignore them.
2. Different surfaces
Get them used to walking on different surfaces. Encourage your puppy to walk and play on whatever suitable surfaces you have available, such as wooden floors, slippery floors, carpets or grass.
3. Different places
If you can go for a walk, try to visit as many different places as possible to expose your puppy to a wide variety of smells and environments. Having to keep a physical distance from other people when you're outside can be good practice for teaching your dog to not seek attention from every passer-by!
4. Throw a pretend fancy dress party
Dress up in strange outfits using glasses, hats, beards, wigs and anything you can think of (masks of course!!). This will help your puppy become confident around people, whatever they look like.
5. Practice using a lead.
Teach your pet to settle down calmly on a lead while you're chatting and having a drink. This will be good practice for when you do venture outside to see friends at cafes, pubs and restaurants. Make use of the space you have and try this in the front room, the kitchen, the garden etc.
Don't worry about what you can’t do, give your puppy the variety of experiences that are possible and focus on having fun while building your puppy's trust in you and confidence in meeting the world around them
Vicky Carne, The Dog Coach, explains more about how to socialise your puppy in her video.
Could training help your dog or do you want to know more?
This article was written by Vicky Carne, founder of The Dog Coach. Contact Vicky via the website link above for more information or to book an appointment.
Following a career in publishing and technology, Vicky’s lifelong interest in animal behaviour led her to the study of modern dog training methods, and she has now spent over a decade as a dog trainer. She has run puppy classes, had many puppies to stay for board and training, and worked one-to-one with hundreds of dogs and their owners. Her focus has always been on helping owners quickly learn what they need to know when they bring a new puppy or older dog into their home.
With that in mind, a couple of years ago, she published her first online courses for new puppy owners. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the greater need for online training, she is now also publishing courses by other leading dog trainers, supported by her through online groups. Her mission is to help busy families become trained, happy owners enjoying life with their happy, trained dogs.
Please follow the link to book a puppy or dog training video appointment with The Dog Coach.
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