Socialising puppies and older dogs that missed out during lockdown
Like many people, did you try to socialise a puppy bought in lockdown and weren’t able to cover all aspects? We want you to know it’s never too late to socialise a puppy, or an older dog, and explain how below.
Puppy socialisation is an important part of early development and helps them grow into confident and well-mannered adults. After 6-8 weeks of ‘training’ with mum & siblings, it’s over to you. Ideally, socialising a puppy should be done by 16 weeks.
Socialising an older dog is still worth doing, just allow more time & patience. We have created this handy puppy socialisation checklist to help you:
Post-Lockdown Puppy Socialisation Checklist
Build up to collar wearing in the house and lead walking in the garden. Once fully vaccinated, do daily walks around your neighbourhood (start with 5 mins for each month of age twice a day). Get them used to being examined all over at home and bring them to see our team to get weighed regularly. Happy experiences will reinforce a positive association, before they need a veterinary procedure.
Check your puppy is relaxed and happy. Then let your puppy get used to seeing and hearing things like the washing machine, hoover, TV, hairdryer, doorbell/knocker, and post arriving through the letterbox. Toys can be used to introduce different movements and textures in a non-threatening way.
There’s lots for your puppy to get used to in the garden this time of year such as the lawnmower, kids playing, and the hosepipe. Your puppy can of course have fun outdoors, but what you don’t want is for them to be afraid or bark uncontrollably.
Your puppy may not have had much interaction with people outside your household yet. Now they can get used to friends, family, different age groups, and people wearing face masks, hats and glasses. Don’t forget postal workers and people in high-vis clothing.
Animals: Socialising your puppy with other dogs is very important
Stay close enough to remove your puppy from the situation if needed, but don’t overcrowd so they can build confidence. Most dogs will teach puppies what is/isn’t acceptable to them, and owners may ask you to leave their dog alone. When introducing cats, small furries, horses, sheep, and cows, go slowly and be careful. A calm puppy around squirrels & birds would be beneficial.
Out & about
Get your puppy used to traffic, busy high streets, pet-friendly shops, and the ice-cream van of course!
Use a dog crate or a harness and seatbelt. Build up to longer car rides now you can go further afield - remember water & toilet breaks. Ask us for help if this isn’t going well.
If you’ve spent a lot of time at home, your puppy could develop separation anxiety when you go out. Try crate training or dedicate a safe corner in a quiet room for your puppy’s bed. Leave them alone for a bit longer each time.
We recommend involving everyone in your household, including children. Plus, stay calm, be consistent, and keep sessions short & frequent. Try not to overload your puppy with new experiences all at once and always reward calm behaviour towards new things. Finally, stay strong and resist the urge to cuddle your puppy if they get wary.
For more helpful puppy socialisation advice, register your new puppy and book a chat with our nurses.