Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Many families across the nation are determining that this unprecedented time of social distancing and quarantine equates to the perfect time to add a new doodle puppy to the family.
Whether it’s because family members are home more often than normal and there are more hands on-deck to care for the family dog or perhaps the kids’ boredom has reached new heights, many homes across the country are welcoming a new doodle this spring.
If your family has recently adopted a doodle, the good news is this time of covid-19 quarantine can be super helpful for house-training and bonding, but it can be a little trickier when it comes to typical socialization training.
Although the quarantine season denies our little doodles the usual opportunities for socialization outside of the home, the good news is that if you have adopted a pup from Jenna Lee Designer Doodles, your little guy has a HUGE head start in socialization thanks to our enrichment / puppy training program (Puppy Culture).
So, while our pups have already been exposed to a variety of different people, canines, strange sights and sounds, the 8-11 week period is still one of the most critical time stages (sometimes known as the fear period) in your pup’s social development. It’s imperative that socialization is continued in order for your pup to continue growing into a well-rounded, confident adult.
In light of this and out of respect for the stay-at-home movement, we’ve put together some creative ideas for socializing your puppy while maintaining coronavirus social distancing…
1. Grab Some Fast Food w/ the Windows Down!
Driving to your favorite fast food establishment and ordering via the drive-thru is a simple way to introduce some level of interaction with a new person while allowing your little guy to get used to the car (this is critical for your pup to start an early age).
As an added bonus, if you’re getting Chick-Fil-A waffles fries, it’s a great opportunity for your pup to practice self-control around mouth-watering food within their reach….that is until you give him the okay for that last french fry!
2. Introducing Some Artificial Noise Helps With Puppy Socialization
Anyone with a wi-fi signal and a browser has access to all the weird animal sounds you could ever imagine via YouTube. This training is introduced in our puppy culture training program, but continuing at home is a great form of socialization for your doodle pup.
Playing animal sounds from cats, to barking dogs, to horses galloping, to birds chirping is a great way to help your pup learn to not be startled by unusual or new sounds. While you’re at it, get creative and introduce some other sounds that might be unfamiliar to your pup: Power tools, banging pots and pans, ringing bells and simulating other sounds around the house are a great idea too!
3. Simulate Interaction with Children
Even if you don’t have kids, it’s still extremely important for your dog to be exposed to children at an early age so that he/she feels safe around them and can interact well with them. Normally we would suggest taking your pup to kid-frequented areas like playgrounds, but in this current season, you can very easily simulate typical kid activity to help socialize your pup.
What makes some dogs nervous around children is the tendency for children to be more sudden in their movements and sounds than adults. So, don’t be afraid to act super silly around your new pup at times—jumping, dancing, loud laughing, shrieking and clumsy petting are all great ways to get them accustomed to smaller humans. So, channel your inner child and get giddy! 4. Mix It Up!
While your pup may not be able to interact with a large variety of humans during quarantine, you can help prepare him/her for this experience by altering your appearance and gait (skipping, walking more heavy-footed, limping, etc.) from time-to-time.
Wearing a large coat, hat, scarf, sunglasses or using a cane are all things that will help your pup adjust to different appearances that he/she may see once you are able to interact with other humans again!
5. Simulate grooming
This is something we always recommend during your pup’s first few weeks, not just during COVID-19, but it is especially important now since it may be a while before you are able to get your pup professionally groomed for the first time. We recommend brushing your pup a couple times a week. Keep brushing sessions short for young pups and lengthen them as they get more accustomed to it.
Tickle your pup’s paws (we recommend handling their paws often and even gently spreading apart the toes and touching the claws to simulate getting their nails trimmed). You may also find you actually want to trim their nails - some owners do this on their own, others prefer to leave it to the professionals - but either way this frequent paw handling at a young age should make the task much easier.
We also recommend exposing your pup to a blow dryer. Again, at JLDD, the pups have been exposed to this type of ‘grooming socialization’ from a young age, but it’s important for you to keep it up as the owner. Blow dryers are often the scariest thing for dogs at the groomers, so just having it around and practicing with it from time to time will help your pup become accustomed!
Socializing Your Puppy Properly May Have Some Speed Bumps
Is your pup reacting anxiously to any of the above activities? Slow down, take a break and try again later when your little guy is more at ease...and add treats! For example, introduce activities such as the hair dryer gradually.
Each pup is unique and if your pup seems anxious, take it step by step. For example, let him/her sniff the hair dryer before turning it on. Now offer a treat. Then turn on the hair dryer and place a treat nearby. Gradually building confidence will help give your pup the courage to try new experiences.
In review, every cloud has a silver lining and the COVID-19 quarantine is no exception! Get creative and let us know what types of socialization activities you are experimenting with your puppy! Visit our forum here, login and share. - Jenna and the JLDD Team