Unfortunately it seems like many of us will be in lockdown for a while yet so it’s important to keep up with your dog’s training in the best way you can.
The fall out from lockdown 1 was huge and there are now lots of under socialised dogs as well as dogs with major separation anxiety (This will be the subject of my blog in March). It is a common myth that the only way to socialise your dog is to get it around other dogs as much as possible. Obviously this is part of socialisation BUT a very small part.
Due to Covid restrictions we can’t meet in groups, travel without reason or visit other people’s homes (excluding exceptions) but there are still ways you can help you dog.
I talk about socialisation alot in my 1-2-1 puppy course and some people don’t realise that even if your dog hasn’t had it’s second vaccination you can still take it out aslong as you carry it. You can purchase a pet carrier or simpy carry your dog so it is still experiencing the big wide world. A good breeder will have started to socialise your dog before it even leaves it’s mum. They will introduce it to different noises, smells, and even different weather conditions! I always think it’s such a shame when the puppy is then kept inside until it has it’s second vaccine. They are at such a vulnerable age that it’s important to keep all this up in a safe a way as possible.
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated it’s all systems go, even in lockdown. Something as simple as varying your walks will be subjecting your puppy to new experiences. One day you could go to the woods, then a beach, then a field, a residential street, past some shops…….people look at me as if I’m crazy when I suggest an industrial estate! Just think of all the new smells, workmen and different vehicles your dog will see. Obviously don’t do this in rush hour the first few times as it will be too much for your dog but you can gradually build that up.
Something else people don’t class as socialisation are vet and groomer visits. Currently as I write this groomers can only operate if it’s a welfare issue and vets have restricted appointments but you can still walk past with your dog so it gets used to the building. In my 1-2-1 puppy course I talk you through how to conduct a head to tail examination on your dog. Not only does this help you check your dog but it also means your dog will be more comfortable being handled by the vet or groomer. Some breeds need to visit the groomer regularly and if they have an aversion it can be extremely traumatising for them.
Noises are something else you can help your dog with even if they can’t go far. Lots of dogs are afraid of fireworks, babies crying, motorbikes etc and it’s either because they have had a bed experience or they weren’t subjected to them in a positive way when they were young. The following link https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-oTwuFvwH33-BIEjpZdXrslu3J6KxjFH will take you to a YouTube channel with lots of different noises you can play at home. Start with the volume down low and if your dog isn’t reacting to it you can slowly increase it.
If you’re really worried about your dog not being with other dogs why not consider a dog walker that does group walks? Your dog walker will be limited as to how far they can take your dog while it is still growing but even if it’s just once a week for a short walk it will help.
It’s not just other dogs that your puppy needs to get used to, it is also children, elderly, people with walking sticks/zimmer frames, people in wheelchairs, people with prams, other animals such as cats, horses, sheep etc. Depending on where you live you can slowly introduce these things to your puppy in a positive way.
Some things you can do really easily such as walking your dog on different surfaces including pavements, grass, sand, pebbles, carpet etc. You can take them out in various weather conditions (be careful in extreme weather such as hot temperatures), walk them round a pet shop or even sit on a bench and watch the world go by.
If your dog shows any signs of being uncomfortable such as pulling away, cowering, barking etc remove your dog from the situation.
You are your dog’s safe place…..listen to it’s cues!
It’s also worth remembering that your dog doesn’t have to meet every person and dog it comes across. In fact getting your dog used to just walking past them will help with loose lead walking and impulse control.
In a way lockdown can help your puppy as nowhere should be busy. This means you can gradually build up the exposure your dog has to all of these situations and by the time we are back to ‘normal’ you will have a happy, healthy puppy that is ready to take on the world.
For more information on my 1-2-1 puppy course email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01473 932221.