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It’s challenging enough raising a new puppy. Now, with a global pandemic changing our everyday lives, it can make raising a puppy a bit more interesting. It’s important for puppies to begin socialization as soon as possible to help them grow into confident and well-rounded pups. Even with restrictions and keeping in mind the importance of social distancing, we’d like to share a few suggestions to continue helping with socializing your newest furry family member during challenging times.

 

Create Experiences

Pre-Covid, socializing your puppy would be going out to interact in the world with no limitations, trying new experiences, meeting people, playdates, pet-friendly events, enjoying the outdoors with social gatherings. The good news is you still have opportunities to see and experience as much as you safely can with your puppy. Think of all the things in the real world that your puppy may come across when out and about and recreate those sounds…this is a chance to think outside the box! For example, use your computer, tv or phone to play certain sounds: police sirens, motorcycles, fireworks, thunderstorms, vacuum cleaner, traffic and road sounds, children playing, people talking/laughing, etc. This can help your puppy to prevent developing fears and desensitizing them from various sounds.  Another example is to wear sunglasses, hats, masks, gloves or other clothing when interacting with your puppy. Yes, there are puppies that can develop a fear of people wearing hats and other ‘strange’ clothing if they haven’t been exposed enough. Anything your furry family member hasn’t been exposed to or come into contact with would be a great way to create new experiences.

 

Hands, Hands and More Hands

As our veterinary offices and clinics are beginning to slowly open up, it’s still imperative to introduce your puppy to being handled. Handle their ears, paws, tail and mouth to get them use to having specific areas touched. Gently use tissues or cotton swabs around your puppy’s eyes, nose and mouth. Handle your puppy’s paws and pretend to clip their nails, look into their eyes and ears, all while praising your puppy to reassure them it’s safe and a positive experience. This is also a great way to help your little one when they are introduced to a groomer and gain confidence in being handled with someone new. Handling your dog with your hands, creating new experiences, will make for a more pleasurable and less scary experience.

 

Take a Walk

Something as simple as taking a walk is still a great way to learn to socialize and interact with the world around them. Taking a walk can be safe, interactive, stimulating and fun. Whether it’s in your own neighborhood or a forest trail, there’s plenty of room to roam and practice social distancing. Try taking your dog for a walk in the early morning hours or later in the evening, find a time to reduce the chances of bumping into people. Create an experience to explore with your puppy and expose them to new sights, sounds and smells.

 

Car Rides

Taking a car ride can stimulate your puppy’s curiosity and allow them to discover new sights, smells and sounds – all from the comfort of your car! Drive through the neighborhood, past a park, through town all while having the windows down. Stop and park your car in a new environment that your puppy may not be used to and enjoy the time together. This a wonderful way to teach your new little furry family member car rides can be fun, exciting and a positive experience.

 

Safe Puppy Playdates

We firmly believe the importance of puppies learning to interact with other dogs so they can learn appropriate play and learn key social interactions. Set up a puppy playdate with someone you trust and practices social distancing. Be sure it’s outside with ample space for your pups to run around and let them play until their little hearts are content.

At Bark Avenue we offer a free puppy playtime on Sunday’s from 12:00-1:00pm for puppies under six months. We require masks and emphasize the importance of social distancing for our safety as well as yours, all while our puppies are socializing and playing.