Updated: Feb 12
If you got a puppy or dog during COVID you may be wondering how to help socialize them. During the pandemic it is even more important to make the extra effort to socialize your dog for social distancing and not going about life as usual will hinder your dog’s ability to be exposed to new things that they may have ready been around in the past.
It is important to realize that socialization does NOT mean play with everything. It is the opposite. We want your dog to learn to be neutral with new things, new people, and new surroundings. This neutral posture is what enables your dog to contain their excitement for not everything is new and exciting any longer. You accomplish this by exposing them to new things OFTEN.
A rule of thumb we like to say here at K9 Culture Dog Training is 180 in 180. This means take them and expose them to 180 different places and experiences in 180 days.
Socializing is really teaching them how to act appropriately in society and around other dogs, it is not about playing with other dogs. Learning to interact with other dogs is only one small piece of puppy socialization.
Your goal is to have the novelty and newness of all the new stuff and the crazy energy that comes with it, wear off. The more you do with your dog, the more places your dog goes, the less exciting and stimulating things will be to them. They will become used to them and then able to manage their energy better.
I want my dogs to be happy and excited when they go places with me. I just want to help them not have an overwhelming need to engage with everything. We do a lot of off leash hiking in the forests and other hikers and bikers do NOT want a strange dog running up on them, therefore my dogs must know that is not hiking etiquette and that when they see other hikers or bikers coming towards us they need to return to our side, not bum rush them for petting.
Teaching and showing your dog how to be around other people, dogs, and bikers and even squirrels and show good manners is a great skill. It is OK for your dog to say hi but should only be when you give permission because some people are terrified of dogs.
One of the untended benefits of COVID is people are more apt to keep a bit of a social distance instead of engaging with your dog which helps your dog learn not everyone wants their affection. You can still go out and about and you SHOULD. If you quarantine your dog away from everyone and everything you will have a tough row to hoe showing your dog skills, they missed out on during that time.
If you plan on including your dog in your life and taking them places it is crucial you take your dog into stores and the community or they cannot learn how to do that. If this is too much for you and your dog to do together then find a good dog trainer that incorporates community skills as part of their training.
It is also important to have a trainer that will have your dog work on, around and with uneven surfaces, unstable surfaces and different textures so they can learn to not have a negative reaction to these types of stimulation. We work with dogs during training on all types of surfaces and objects to help them develop confidence.
Do not let a pandemic get in the way of socializing and training your dog, if anything, it is even more important because of COVID.
Remember: Have Fun With Your Dog!
K-9 Culture Dog Training
A Dog That Is A JOY To Live With!