At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, we are seeing more new puppies than ever! With social restrictions in place it seems like many have decided it’s a great time to grow their furry family.
While we couldn’t be happier for all the proud, new pet parents out there, raising a puppy during COVID-19 has its challenges. In particular, socialization suffers when your new pet can’t get out into the world and learn about different people, places, and things. That’s not to say it’s impossible, though. You can still do a good job with puppy socialization in a less than social time.
Puppy Socialization Basics
When you bring home a new puppy, it is important to get them off on the right paw. Dogs are able to be trained throughout their lifetime, but you have a short window of time in the first few months of life, called the socialization window, that are really important for a well adjusted pup.
The primary time for puppy socialization is in the first three months of life, and not doing a thorough job can result in problems such as fear, aggression, or avoidance behaviors. With a little work during this important time, though, you can raise a more confident, well-adjusted dog.
Puppy socialization should be a time where we help a dog learn to be part of the world we live in, including exposure to different environments, types of people, buildings, noises, smells, animals, and sights. It is important, too, that these interactions be positive with lots of praise and treats to help solidify a good association.
Socialization Tips During Distancing
When you are trying your best to stay home and avoid other people, your dog can get the short end of the stick. With a little creativity, though, you can still socialize your pet well.
Take some time each day to work on puppy socialization. You can try:
- Getting to know each member of the home
- Find some sounds on YouTube like thunder, a vacuum cleaner, other animals, or cars and play at varying volumes
- Find different surface textures like carpet, gravel, grass, and concrete and let your pup get used to different footing
- Find some different and potentially frightening items such as children’s toys, aluminium foil, and the vacuum cleaner to introduce to your pet
- Call us and arrange a time for your pet to come visit and learn about the veterinary hospital
- Take your pet to the pet store and allow them to meet other dogs on a 6 foot lead (ask the other owner’s permission first)
It is also important that your pup builds some confidence away from you. With many of us staying at home more, dogs are not getting used to being alone, setting them up for potential separation anxiety. Be sure to have your puppy spend some time in another room for a little while every day to practice being alone.
Animals are a great way to help us cope during these stressful times. It is important, though, that we are mindful not to accidentally deprive them of a good puppy socialization period. Well socialized dogs are less likely to have serious behavior problems that can impact the human-animal bond, and we are all for keeping that strong.