Many people got a puppy for companionship during quarantine. As we see the world change and society starts to open back up publicly, these quarantine puppies may have difficulties interacting with humans and other animals.
They have had little or none of the following socialization opportunities:
- Exposure to high stress, people-heavy environments
- Other dogs
- People wanting to interact with them
Many breeds, like Australian Shepherds and Vizslas, are innately anxious breeds that require extra training and attention regardless of the pandemic. It is important to be calm, research their stressors, and develop tactics/plans to introduce them into a social society.
We want to keep in mind that:
- Public spaces
- Lack of training/experiences
Can all effect how your pet reacts to new environments.
We can use techniques such as:
- Rewarding good behavior with small treats. Stick with one specific type of treat and only use that treat for training. When around people, judge your pet’s comfort level and work up to more challenging situations. If you are finished with the socialization session, slow down treating by treating less in easy situations compared to more challenging situations.
- Clicker training first requires that you learn the proper technique, so you can train your pup. Learn more here.
- Using the clicker sound as confirmation of a job well done becomes it’s own “reward” (after it has been trained), it is similar to the treat method, as your pet will receive positive reinforcement.
- There are many different types of harnesses, from no pull, slip, back/front clip, and head halters. Evaluate what your dog does well and what it reacts to when in public. Base the type of harness you buy on the aspect of training that the harness relates to best.
Places of socialization/exposure based on activity and stress level:
- Neighborhood walk – Low
- Car – Low
- Friends House – Low/Medium
- Street Shops Walk – Medium (Depending on Time of Day)
- Non-Dog Park – Medium
- Dog Park – High
- Animal Clinic – High
- Restaurant/Bar/Store – High
The best way to introduce your puppy into the world is to be on the lookout for your pet’s anxiety and stress levels when venturing into unknown territory. Being aware will allow you to socialize your pup the right way and get them ready for a post-quarantine world!
Written by: Tyler Gonzalez, Oncology Department Liaison