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How to Socialize your Puppy during the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 19, 2020
Puppy RunningAlmost all dog trainers tell us to raise stable puppies we need to socialize them especially before 16 weeks of age. From 3 weeks up to 16 weeks of age, puppies are very sensitive to social interaction with people, other pets and new situations. But the Coronavirus has changed our rules for engaging with other people. Although dogs don’t get ill from this version of the virus, we don’t know if they can transfer it between people. Many pet classes and training facilities are closed. And we are supposed to stay at least six feet away from people and not let them interact with our puppy. What is a new puppy owner to do?
  • Build trust in you and your family. It is very important for puppies to learn to trust people, especially their people. Build trust by teaching manners and tricks and practice these things in each room of your house and every part of your yard.
  • Change your looks. If your puppy can’t meet people who look different, then change the way you look! Use hats, umbrellas, coats, masks etc. Have your family play along. But be sure not to frighten your puppy by reassuring them it is still you.
  • Challenge your puppy. Young puppy brains and bodies need to be challenged during these early months. Create low obstacle courses in your house or yard. Play scent games by hiding treats for your pup to sniff out around the house or yard. Have your puppy solve puzzles like hide in seek or puzzles available for purchase
  • Explore the great outdoors. Engage in social distancing and head out for walks. Make an effort to take your puppy to the meadow, trails, parks, beach or woods. An added benefit is a tired puppy!
  • Introduce your puppy to as many safe people as possible. This may include family members or neighbors who are staying put at home. Let your pup interact with as many people as you safely can.
  • Let pups see things. Introduce your puppy to the world and its sounds even if you can’t introduce your puppy directly to new people. These indirect interactions, where puppies see and hear but don’t touch are very important for teaching proper manners. Look for noise, such as garbage trucks, traffic and sirens.
  • Leave home. Toward the end of the socialization, period puppies become strongly attached to their homes and yard. They need to be comfortable in many places, so get away from the house. Take them to places in your area at times when people will not be congregating. Store parking lots, parks, playgrounds, outdoor shopping malls. Let your pet walk on different surfaces, jump on park benches or investigate playground equipment.
  • Practice grooming and handling. Teach your puppy to accept touching, brushing and handling
Written by Becky N., CVA, CLT, CCMT, CCFT. Becky works closely with new puppies at Ingersoll Animal Hospital in Des Moines, IA and has written this article to help new puppy parents navigate life with a new puppy during the Coronavirus outbreak.

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