Corona Rules, Puppy Socialisation and Me!
So you’ve got your new puppy and you’ve read all the information and had the advise from your vets that you need to get pup socialised before 16 weeks to raise a stable puppy who’s confident and friendly, but how?
The coronavirus has changed the world and the government have told us we have to stay in, and stay away from everyone and everything. So how can we introduce our puppies to people of different ages, races, shapes and sizes. We now can’t organise puppy play dates and training classes to help with our puppy’s development, so what can we do!?!
Socialisation doesn’t just mean people and other dogs, it also means being socially aware. So as soon as your puppy has had their second set of injections and can go outside, get introducing them to all the sights, sounds and smells.
Make sure you take some treats with you and show your puppy the world around them. Get your pup used to different surfaces; road, grass, park, forrest and field. Take it slowly and allow pup to absorb and deal with the new sights and sounds. If your pup is nervous when a car goes by, don’t baby them, just stop and say good boy (or girl) and give them a few treats until they are more relaxed, bingo positive reaction, car goes by and nothing bad happens, they get praise and treats.
Go on a park walk so they can still see another dog. From your 'safe distance' you can briefly speak with people that you pass, say hello in a friendly voice, so that pup can hear positive interaction between you and other humans that they don't know. At a safe distance let pup experience; a bike going by, a jogger and children laughing and playing.
I repeat, at the recommended 'safe distance'.
Going out for a walk will tire your puppy out as well as mentally stimulate them as they problem solve and work on their brain and body development.
Bond with your puppy on the walk, practice your lead walking, walking them to a close or heel with treats and capturing their attention.
Nows a great time to install in your dog that walks are 'you and them as a team', not a tug of war.
Bond with you and your household.
Even before you are able to go outside with your puppy socialisation has begun. Your puppy has only just met you so you and your family/household are new to them. They need to learn to trust you so that they will be trusting of others.
Signing up for an online puppy course such as our 'Sapphire puppy course' will give you the tools you need to start training your puppy. You will bond through training and also you are developing all the basic skills that they need such as; ‘capturing attention’, ‘sit’, ‘down’, ’stay’ etc. Stimulating both mind and body whilst building a trust and respect with you and your family members. This is an invaluable time, don’t miss this opportunity, train for about 5-10 minutes every couple of hours, and play. Play scent training games, hide treats for your puppy to sniff out and find in your house and garden. Play hide and seek, its a great bonding game and will encourage your puppy to look for you so that when you are able to walk your dog off the lead they will keep checking where you are. Make an assort course in your home or garden to exercise and stimulate your puppy.
Teaching your puppy to play nicely.
Nice gentle play will build up their social awareness so that when they are able to play with other puppies they will understand boundaries and bite inhibition, in short they will have more self control.
Production for your puppy.
When the world was a normal place your puppy would have experienced people wearing hats, walking with umbrellas, loud bangs, flashing lights, police sirens. So why not introduce your puppy to these and other objects/sounds.
Walk into the room with a hat on, open an umbrella, make sounds with pots and pans.
Don’t scare your puppy but allow them to experience different sounds, and objects.
Put some sound effects on youtube so your pup can get used to different sounds and voices. Mix things up so that they don't have the same routine every day.
If a sound makes your puppy nervous take the volume down and have someone praise pup and feed treats until pup relaxes, then turn it up slightly and repeat until pup is no longer interested in the sound. Same with umbrellas or hats, get pup used to seeing them perhaps the umbrella closed and just sitting in the room, then slightly open etc each time praising pup and treating until they are comfortable with it in the room or you wearing the hat.
If you live with someone else ask them to go outside and ring the door bell, or knock at the door. I use a five bark rule, I tell pup thank you for telling me about the bell or knock. I allow for a maximum of five barks (they're still our security) and then I say thank you thats enough now call them over to me and ask for a 'sit' and I give them a treat for being calm. If pup is very nervous when the doorbell rings I will first take some treats and guide them to their bed and give them their treats before going to the door, saying a keyword such as 'go to bed', 'place', or simply 'calm' or 'relax'. If pup gets up all nervous to follow me to the door I would return them to their bed, the door can wait, by practicing this now you are preparing pup for any future visitors. If pup calmly follows you to the door, and you're ok about that, place their lead on and ask them to 'sit' behind you as you open the door showing them that you're in control and they don't have to be the protector.
Have some fun introducing your puppy to new things.
Get your dog used to being handled.
Without visits to the vets or dog groomers we need to desensitise our puppies to touch. Touch your pups ears looking inside. Touch between theirs toes and fiddle with their nails. Lift up their tail. Carefully take a look at their teeth. Stroke and caress your puppy to get them used to being touched, this will help them acclimatise to the real world when things go back to normal.
Still give your puppy some time and space.
We’re all cooped up together and so we need to help our dogs and prevent separation anxiety.
You won’t think about that now, but when the world turns again you will be going back to your normal life and job. There will, in most cases, be a period of time that your puppy will be alone. This is going to be alien to your puppy, so take control now and give your puppy their time alone.
If you’re still crating dedicate a time that you put pup away with a kong etc. Give them a keyword of your choosing, for example, ‘your time’, and have some space where you are in different rooms and they can’t see you. Again you can perform for them, leave through the back door, go around and in through your front door. Wait for a period of time, then return through the back door as if you have been to work or to take the kids to school, what ever your normal routine would be. In the beginning only do this for a few minutes at a time and build it up to about 20minutes. If pup is crying try not to go back until they stop and are calm. If it’s continuous then return but say nothing to your dog, potter around the room until they are quiet and then you can open the crate.
If you aren’t using a crate, choose a room and put pup there with a bed or blanket and again a chew or kong for entertainment. Do this now and you save yourself, a possible, huge headache later on.