EDDC Q&A: Puppy Socialisation Worries
Dogs are naturally social animals, but with the lockdown and on going social distancing, a lot of owners are feeling worried they are unable to do this.
For successful socialisation, dogs and in particular puppies, need to be exposed to lots of different experiences. It is essential that these experiences are done in a safe and positive way. Socialisation plays a huge part in helping prevent behavioural problems in their later life. Whilst the Covid-19 outbreak has made it very difficult to achieve the levels of socialisation we would hope for, there are still plenty of ways we can introduce your puppy to new experiences & development during this period.
One thing to always remember, is to take things gradually. At Eddies, we have a designated puppy area in which puppies are slowly introduced to new experiences. Some puppies are very confident whilst others might need to take things slightly slower, understanding your puppy is crucial. At Eddies we always pair a new experience with something positive, this might be a treat or a big WELL DONE. We call this positive associations. If they seem slightly concerned of the experience or scared, it is important to acknowledge these cues and to calmly take them away from the situation.
PUPPY SOCIALISATION POINTS:
Cute puppies and cuddles go hand in hand... especially when it comes to the team at Eddies. Pups should get used to knowing that it is OK to be touched. Gently touching your pup in areas like their ears, nose and mouth (sensitive areas) reinforces that this is normal and natural... I'm sure your vets will also appreciate this further down the line when it comes to visits for teeth checks etc. Always start gently, and reward with a treat, if the pup is comfortable with this, then move to the rest of the body, slowly and gradually. do this is short sessions in order to keep them engaged and interested.
2. THE SOCIAL DISTANCING RULE
whilst out and about on your walks, use the 2 meter rule as a tool for your pups development. If you come across another dog on lead, allow them to say 'hello', this controlled meet and greet will allow the pup to build confidence. Saying Hello on a lead will also control urge of jumping and climbing on other pups/dogs, therefore managing their behaviour.
3. THAT LOVELY FEELING...
It is important that your pup gets used to different surfaces and textures. its all about confidence building at the early stages in a gradual manner. Use this time to allow your pup to explore the lovely feeling of grass, harder surfaces like concrete, mud, mats & wobbly surfaces. Some owners put flattened cardboard boxes on the floor to enable the pup develop its sense of touch. At daycare we have different surfaces for dogs and pups to explore for this very reason... Grass, bark, astro turf, water and certainly some mud in the winter are just a few of the surfaces and textures we have.
Im sure you often hear people say ' my dog hates fireworks, or, is scared at the sound of the hoover'.... At the early stage of puppy development it is key to get them used to many different noises & most importantly learn that these noises don't need to be scary. Start by playing some sounds at low volumes and reward them when calm. When there is no reaction to the low level sound, gradually increase the volume, again rewarding throughout. This should be done slowly, whilst always monitoring your pups behaviour, if they get scared or hide, be sure to go back to beginning and start with lower volumes than before.
Closely linked to sounds is Transportation. We always recommend that when you are travelling in the car, bring your pup with you. Getting your dog used to short trips, to the supermarket are great in the long run. Make sure they are safe and secure, give them a focus item such as a kong to entertain themselves and before long you will get them reinforced to the motion of the vehicle. A great idea is to walk the dog to the car on your drive and practice lifting in and out of the car, always positively reinforce with a treat.
6. SOME ALONE TIME
This might be difficult and you may feel guilty, however, it really will be beneficial for both you and your dog in the future. Your pup needs to learn to to have some time alone. This has become a very common question asked during Lockdown as both pups & dogs are becoming so used to humans at home all day. This is obviously not natural as we need to work, therefore concerns over separation anxiety are very high. With regards to pups, make sure they have time out, on their own, whether this be in their crate or a room in the house. Do this for short periods of time leaving them with a toy or chew to focus their attention on.
These are just a few tips to help you during these challenging times.. Most importantly use this time to enjoy your new addition to your household. We will be back and trust us, we are extremely experienced and ready to make sure your dogs and pups catch up on their socialisation skills. We are all aware of the concerns and issues you have and will be structuring our daycare days accordingly to ensure your dogs and pups have the best experiences.