How can we work on ‘socialisation’ with our pups when we are not able to interact, meet or greet others?
We have been told by many that when you get a puppy, you need to meet hundreds of dogs, people, children, animals, bikes, pushchairs, men with beards, visit hundreds of different new environments……..the list goes on and on!
However, this is not only overwhelming for you as an owner but also for your puppy!
It can cause more harm than good, in some cases your pup will end up being nervous of these things, and in other cases they can become extremely frustrated if suddenly they are not allowed to go up to them.
We are now faced with the other extreme, in this current climate we are not able to interact with others as we normally would giving us no choice but to adapt our way of socialising our pups.
What Can We Do?
Do not panic, a big part of socialisation is to get our pups and dogs comfortable around novelty, new experiences and anything life might present to them.
You can grow your puppy’s confidence so they are cool, calm and collected in the face of novelty and new situations. We can never prepare them for every single encounter they may face in their lives but we can shape their brains to make great choices in the face of novelty and distractions.
There’s a game for that – Cardboard Chaos!
Get hold of all your clean recycling and create a fun obstacle course with it. Let you pup explore by scattering some of their daily food around it to encourage your pup to go in, over, under and round all the cardboard. As they do this the cardboard will be moving and making noises all around them!
There are plenty of things in the home that is novel to your pup, so get creative and dig out that umbrella, raid your cupboards and shed for buckets, crinkly ikea bags and anything safe you can find. Scatter some of their daily food around it. As your pup explores and goes in, under and around the objects things will move and make noises around them. Your dog has the choice to carry on exploring as they overcome barriers and novelty in search for their food.
If your dog seems too worried by these things, take the difficulty level down a notch and start with some simple items such as a single cardboard box and work from there.
Out & About – Positive Pairing
Use your daily walk as an opportunity to get your puppy familiarised with the outside world. You can carry them until they are fully vaccinated. They can see, hear and smell many new things. While you are out and about every time you see something novel, pair it with a treat. Below is a list of things your puppy is likely to find novel, as the whole world is new to them.
- Cars and traffic
- People walking
- Kids on scooters
- Other dogs
- Kids playing in the park
- Dogs chasing balls
- The wind rustling
- Dustbin truck
- And so so much more….
In this video, when cars / traffic goes past, we treat and show him it’s all ok.
Play Dress Up
Another fun and easy game is to play dress up in front of your puppy. Raid the dressing up box for those big wizard hats, jingly Xmas jumpers, crazy wigs and then play some of the training games such as Middle with you puppy. Be mindful not to scare you puppy, if they back away, bark or show any change in behaviour, take it down a notch.
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