What can COVID 19 teach us about puppy socialization?

April 15, 2021

The first few months of a puppies life are an important time for socialization or having them get accustomed to life with you. Unfortunately this is the time when they are most vulnerable to infection. The traditional advice was to keep them inside until they have had all their shots while the counter argument is to get them out and socialized.

So what can we do? While we want to recognize the seriousness of the COVD-19 pandemic and its impacts there are some lessons we can apply to our dogs.

Finding  a play mate for your pup is good if you can limit any risk by:

  • Selecting a playdate with a puppy friend who has not been to high risk places for over two weeks e.g. a shelter
  • Has had their vaccinations and has no symptoms of illness
  • Making sure the puppy is owned by somebody that understands exposures
  • Avoiding potential high exposure places
  • Asking questions about where contacts have been and when

If your only option is to start your socialization at home then make it fun, go at your pups speed without overwhelming them.

Here are some tips:

Vacuum cleaner and power tools – have someone switch them on in another room while you play with your pup and offer small treats while the sound is on. If the dog cannot play when the noise is heard then increase distance or decrease the intensity of the noise or thing.

Cars, bikes, buses, scooters, strollers, if you live near a road or can see a road then have your dog on leash and play or offer treats as traffic goes by

Surfaces – make a game of the different types of surface your dog can walk over, bubble wrap, paper, wood, cushions, foam mat etc,

Get them used to seeing people in hats, coats, tall people, short people, different races, genders etc.

To recap, we started talking about socializing your dog before they are fully vaccinated. The rules are simple. If you don’t know, the answers is No. Avoid unknown dogs and the places they go – no dog parks or pet stores. If you don’t know that where your puppy will sit, lie or walk is safe for them then the answer is No, don’t risk it. Use your home environment to begin teaching your puppy.