The pandemic has affected us all in so many ways, and puppies are no exception. Puppies raised during the pandemic are often missing out on normal socialization, and as a result, may become standoffish, shy, wary, fearful, reactive, and possibly aggressive towards strangers, especially men and children. The effects of insufficient, early socialization may not be apparent during puppyhood, when puppies appear to be friendly and confident, and instead, usually emerge and intensify during adolescence and adulthood.
Because puppy owners cannot safely invite numerous people to their homes, they will need to be creative about providing adequate environmental enrichment and socialization at home. For example, you can role-play a variety of different characters by dressing and behaving differently. You can also use ZOOM or FaceTime as a method to introduce the voices of people who will be in the dog’s life.
Once the puppy has had their vaccines, you can organize socially-distanced greetings with people that will be in the dog’s life as an adult. Invite friends and neighbors to space out and walk around the block in a clockwise direction, while you walk the pup in a counter-clockwise direction. People get to say a safe hello, and the puppy gets to practice mannerly greetings. After several laps, the ‘strangers’ are less exciting to the puppy, resulting in an easier mastering of behaviors like sitting to greet someone.
For more practical tips on safely socializing your puppy during the pandemic, check out this free webinar put together by SIRIUS Puppy Training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZArhRrgvcY&kc=.
There are additional webinars on puppy training, including pandemic-specific tips, in the Webinars section at DunbarAcademy.com.
They are also offering ZOOM Puppy Kindergarten and Puppy Training classes at SIRIUSpup.com. And while an in-person puppy class would be ideal, online classes do allow the trainer to see the puppy and family in the home, where training is most important. (And an online puppy class is better than no puppy class!)
We encourage our clients with new puppies to take advantage of the creative ideas and online options that will allow those cute puppies to develop into happy, well-behaved, well-adjusted, (and still cute) dogs.
(Thank you to SIRIUS Puppy Training for providing information and online resources for us to share with our clients.)