I have been inundated by calls and emails from new puppy owners worrying about not being able to socialise their puppy during lockdown and there are no opportunities for them to meet people and play with other dogs.
Let me say, if done correctly I think lockdown is a blessing for puppies and will produce some much nicer behaved and balanced pups.
One of the biggest problems I see daily whether at work or out with my own dogs is inappropriate socialisation.
It may look and sound like a great idea to have your pup off lead running and playing with adult dogs out on a walk, but what happens if the puppy gets bowled over and injured? Or all the twisting and turning causes ligament or joint damage? or the puppy learns that barking and growling is the way to play? And that every dog is to play with? And one day you come across a grumpy dog on a lead and the pup runs over and gets attacked?
Socialisation Is NOT all about playing with other dogs, as this will result in your puppy just wanting to play 24/7 for the rest of its life.
Socialisation is learning to be comfortable and confident in our world whilst becoming a socially acceptable part of our society. This requires learning lots of different social skills, for numerous situations.
Puppies need to learn how to interact with people and other dogs appropriately, whilst adapting and coping with different situations. The biggest thing to teach your puppy is that not everyone and every dog is to be greeted. Learning this important skill will protect your puppy from having a bad experience, getting injured or into trouble.
Here are my top 5 skills I teach puppies from day one:
- Meet and greet when I say so, in a polite manner.
- Ignore and come away from distractions.
- To settle in as many places as possible, park benches, cafes, home while other things are happening.
- Self-control – to wait for food or treats.
- Barking will not get you attention.