Over the last two years, many of us have taken the Covid Crisis head on and took it upon ourselves to do everything in our power to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. For all intents and purposes, those hard two years have paid off. However, there’s no denying that our collective sacrifice has had an effect on our pets. This is especially the case with new puppies who’ve been unable to socialise with their furry friends. With that in mind, we’ve prepared a guide on how you can easily socialise your puppy now that almost all restrictions have been lifted!
To Begin:While it’s rude to assume, we’ll take it that your new forever-friend has been vaccinated and is in the process of receiving their boosters. They must have these if you plan on bringing them anywhere outside the safety of your home. Young puppies are highly susceptible to diseases and viruses as their immune system can’t fire on all cylinders yet. As such, great care must be taken to ensure that your pup is more than able to fight these nasties off on their own. If you need any help with boosters and vaccines, you can always give us a shout anyway!
Baby Steps and Big Leaps:The first few months of your pup’s life are critical to begin socialising, but it’s not a disaster if your pup is now six months old and only starting their socialising journey now. You may be thinking that there’s a knack to it, or maybe something that you yourself must be doing to help aid this socialisation… There’s not; all you have to do is take your puppy out and about as much as possible as soon as they have settled into your home but do take care not to overwhelm them.
People:Most puppies enjoy meeting new people, and most people will enjoy meeting a puppy (practically everyone). However, with all these new experiences, it can be easy for your pup to become overwhelmed, so ask those you meet to crouch down to meet them. It’s much better for your puppy if they can approach a new person, rather than the other way around. Observe your puppy for signs of anxiety and, if things get too much, gently remove them from the situation. Remember, young puppies tire as easily as toddlers do, so keep encounters short with enough time in between for resting. During all encounters, protect your puppy from bad experiences. Young puppies have an innate ability to get themselves into trouble, so think ahead and try to prevent any unpleasant events from occurring. Remember: If their early life is pleasant and positive, your puppy will grow up feeling safe and confident to take on whatever else life may have in-store.
Useful Tips to Remember when Meeting People:• Never pick up your puppy and pass them to someone. Puppies should always be able to make an approach in their own time and retreat if they feel the need to.• An anxious puppy will try to look smaller, avoid eye contact, hold their tail low, put their ears back and keep away. Pay attention to these signs and act as soon as possible by taking your puppy away from whatever is causing their anxiety.• A happy, relaxed puppy will stand up straight with their tail (or whole body) wagging and be keen to investigate. • Avoid using food when introducing your puppy to strangers. This might teach them that all people carry food (if only that was the case). You’ll want your pup to approach people because they want to say hello, not to receive treats.
Other Dogs:Your puppy should be carefully introduced to a variety of dogs as well as other puppies. Firstly, ensure that these dogs are safe around puppies and have had their vaccinations too. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s important that your pup meets a good mix to ensure that they are not frightened of certain dogs when they’re older.Monitor your pup as they play with other dogs and think about how you’ll want them to behave with unfamiliar dogs that they’ll meet later in life, especially when they’re bigger. For example; dogs that play physical games when they’re young (either with another puppy or an adult dog) often learn to expect these sorts of games from all dogs which is likely to get them into trouble. If play does start to get a bit rough, crouch down to provide a haven for your pup and restrict the other dog’s access to them.
Environments and Places:Your pup will need to encounter a variety of different environments and situations in order to become fully socialised. This provides an opportunity to become familiar with a range of different scents, sights and sounds. If your dog is socialising well with humans, familiarisation with different environments should happen naturally. Try imagining how it feels to be that small, vulnerable and inexperienced… As an owner, you’re the boss and often you’ll find that your little friend will follow your lead (or the way you handle the world) when it comes to dealing with people, places and things that they’ve never met before.
Over and Out:You and your pup should be more than able to take on this brave new world and learn it inside out. But as Vets, we know accidents, injuries and illnesses can happen no matter how hard you try to avoid them. We’re always on hand at any time to help you through whatever life throws at your forever-friend. And, if you find yourself struggling with anything listed above, you can give us a visit.
ppIn the meantime, we wish you the best of luck in helping your four-legged friend discover the un-masked world!