A dog with their companion outside in the yard

Bringing a new pet into your home during social distancing can be good for your stress and anxiety. It can also be helpful when it comes to training due to the increased amount of time spent at home. Proper puppy socialization, on the another hand, can be particularly challenging. 

All About Puppy Socialization

When you welcome a new furry family member into your home, of course you want to get them started right. Teaching your pooch the rules and norms of living in your house is important. For younger dogs, taking advantage of the developmental socialization window is critical as well. 

Puppies learn best about the world around them during the socialization period, between three weeks and three months of age. If a pet is not properly exposed to a variety of sounds, sights, and situations during this short window, problems including fear, anxiety, and aggression can develop. 

Older dogs can also be socialized, however it is much more difficult outside of the socialization period. Putting the work in no matter your pup’s age is important to create a confident, happy dog. 

Puppies and dogs should have exposure to:

  • People of all ages
  • People who look differently (facial hair, clothing, skin tones)
  • Different floor surfaces 
  • Sounds such as the vacuum, thunder, and cars
  • Animals of other species
  • Different building features like stairs and elevators

Building positive experiences with many different sights, sounds, and smells can set your new dog up for success. 

Don’t Let Social Distancing Stop Socialization

During social distancing, proper puppy socialization isn’t as simple as bringing your pooch to the block party or hopping in the car for a day at Lake Michigan. It’s going to take a little more effort on your end, but with some creativity you can definitely still socialize your new pet successfully. 

Think of different ways to accomplish exposing your pet to different environmental factors without sacrificing safety. Consider the following:

  • Spend time getting to know each family member.
  • Take your pet for a drive when you go to pick up curbside orders.
  • Find recorded sounds on YouTube and play them at different volumes – don’t forget other animal sounds and common fear inducing sounds like traffic and fireworks.
  • Set up an obstacle course for your pet with varying surfaces – include grass, concrete, gravel, sand, and even shallow water.
  • Show your pet a few items that might be intimidating such as tin foil, mirrors, ceiling fans, and children’s toys (especially those that make noise).
  • Introduce your pet to other animals within the family or consider taking to the pet store to meet other dogs on a long leash with the other owner’s permission.
  • Give us a call to arrange a time to bring your pet in to learn about the sights and sounds of the veterinary hospital.
  • Help your pup build some confidence away from you by encouraging them to spend time in another room for a few minutes a day.

The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital know that social distancing is making a lot of things more difficult, but we are also confident that we can help you to raise happy, well-adjusted dogs in this time of uncertainty.  Now more than ever we are depending on pets to support our mental health. We owe it to them to get them started off on the right paw!