Puppy Socialisation + COVID-19 = Problems at a later date!

Socialisation is a misunderstood concept.  It doesn’t just mean a puppy or new (rescue) dog is mixed with many dogs, people and other things.  How this is done depends largely on the puppy’s or dog’s temperament.  Experiences should be safe, positive and interesting but not frightening.  If he/she shows anxiety or becomes tense, take them further away.  Follow the pup’s own level of comfort as a guideline.  Each encounter should include treats and lots of praise for non-reaction, i.e. lack of anxiety, or lack of chase etc.

By the time a puppy is about 4 months of age it should have had many varied experiences.  But all of these should be without the puppy (or dog) becoming either fearful, over-reactive or over excited.  

Lottie, an English Setter puppy

Examples include:

Different surfaces like wood, woodchips, carpet, tile, cement, linoleum, grass, wet grass, dirt, mud, puddles, deep pea gravel, grates, uneven surfaces, on a table, on a chair, etc

Varied locations: 

Your garden, other people’s homes.  Prior to vaccination and experience of lead walking, these visits can be enjoyed from sitting in your arms, the back of a car, etc.  Schools, car parks at supermarkets, sports grounds, woodland, traffic, dog class, vets, etc

Met and played with new people (outside the family): include children, adults (mostly men), elderly adults, people in wheelchairs, walkers, people with canes, crutches, hats, sunglasses, motorbike helmets, etc

Different noises:  

You can use CDs.  Start with low-level noise by keeping the volume at a distance, we are not trying to frighten the pup.  Garage door opening, doorbell, children playing, babies screaming, big trucks, motorcycles, skateboards, washing machine, shopping carts rolling, power boat, clapping, loud singing, pan dropping, horses neighing, vacuums, lawnmowers, birthday party, etc

Fast-moving objects (teach him/her not to chase): 

Football, skateboards, roller-skates, bicycles, motorcycles, cars, people running, cats running, scooters, vacuums, children running, children playing, squirrels, cats, horses running, cows running, etc

Play objects such as fuzzy toys, big and small balls, hard toys, funny-sounding toys, wooden items, paper or cardboard items, plastic milk bottles, metal items, car keys, etc.

Different challenges: 

Climb on, in, off, and around, a box, go through a cardboard tunnel, climb up and down steps, climb over obstacles, play hide & seek, go in and out of a doorway with a step up or down, exposed to an electric sliding door, umbrella, balloons, walk on a wobbly table (plank of wood with a small rock underneath), jump over a broom, climb over a log, bath

Handled by people hold under arm (like a football), hold to chest, hold on floor near owner, hold in between owner’s legs, hold head, look in ears, mouth, and between toes, hold like a baby, trim toenails, hold in lap.

Introduced to different dogs: 

Dogs of different coat, size, colour, enjoying different levels of activity. Initially just to view from safety, then screened introduction with safe adults, then other pups of similar age for appropriate play.  

Eaten from different containers:

Hands, wobbly bowl, metal, cardboard box, paper, coffee cup, china, pie plate, plastic, frying pan, Kong, Treat ball, spoon fed, paper bag, etc.

Played with people and dogs as much as possible: 

Nothing extreme and maintain a regime of interruption for treats. Tug games, retrieve, roll and wrestle, chase and catch.  End game for error bites on skin.

Left alone safely, away from family & other animals (5-45 minutes) twice a day.  Separation and learning to be alone.  Vary the times of day, sometimes in the dark, in the car, in the cage.

Sometimes the surrounding is quiet, sometimes noisy.  Being alone should not be so traumatic as to induce screaming, but the pup should begin in a crate in a room of company and become settled before the company leaves.  Ignore the pup completely twice a day for increasing periods when demanding attention.

If the pup wants something such as a fuss or attention, ask for self-control (such as a sit) before this reward.