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A young puppy and Corona

20/03/2020 - Training

A young puppy and Corona…..
A new puppy is a super exciting time for you and your family. Normal advice is to get your puppy outside as soon as you can and ensure they have lots of good experiences…. it’s no wonder puppy owners are a little worried with the current everchanging situation, self-isolating and possible lockdown and how that may affect their puppy.
Socialisation is a buzz word in dog training, a term that is used so frequently but many people do not fully understand what it means. Socialisation is not about puppies meeting and interacting with as many people as possible. It is the process that puppies go through to learn how to appropriately interact with people, dogs and other animals, these interactions should be positive and enjoyable in the eyes of the puppy. Good socialisation is dogs learning to politely greet other dogs, not jump at people and generally show good manners.
Habituation is a term that is not so common but it is in many opinions more important than socialisation. Habituation is where dogs learn to ignore common occurrences that have no consequence to them. Every day events such as passing cars, birds flying overhead, children riding bikes, hearing strange noises, hoovering, all of these things are nothing to be concerned about.
Positive experiences as a puppy can help you set your puppy up for a successful future. A lot of pressure is put on owners to get this stage right, yes it’s important and yes there can be consequences if you get it wrong but we can only do the best we can with the knowledge, experience and opportunities we have.
Here’s a few things we can do to maximise the opportunities we give our puppies and help give them the best possible start in life, despite Corona virus…

1. Get in touch with your local modern dog trainer to find out how they can help you. Availability at puppy classes may be limited at the moment, as many classes will be cancelled either due to venue restrictions or trainer’s health. However, there are also many classes still running in accordance with current government social distancing regulations.
Even if there are no classes available or you are self-isolating a modern trainer will be able to provide remote training and plenty of advice either via phone, video calling or other platforms.
2. Try to attend classes as soon as you can, even if that’s in a few weeks’ time after self-isolation. If you’ve missed the advertised start of a class, whilst things are so unpredictable, still contact a trainer to see if you can join a class mid-way through to ensure your puppy gets social experiences as soon as possible.
3. Get outside with your puppy as much as you can. If your puppy hasn’t had their vaccinations yet, you can still go out but limit their interaction – carry them in your arms and don’t let them come into contact with any surfaces or dogs with unknown vaccination status.

4. Social Distancing is actually one of the best things to help your puppy. Good habituation is created by watching and experiencing new and unusual things at a safe distance. In fact, when I have a new puppy I choose to socially distance myself and puppy. Watching from a safe distance and learning not to interact with every dog and person will help set your dog up for the future.
Why not head out and sit quietly on a bench in a corner of the park, or drive to new locations such as a shop car park, town centre, train station, sit in the boot together and watch the world go by.

5. If you are self-isolating or in lockdown – you can still give your dog some new experiences by watching the world out of an open window – they will still see cars, lorries, people and hear sounds. You can also use a great app ‘Sound Proof Puppy’ to get them used to hearing a variety of sounds.

6. You can begin to help your puppy gain self-confidence at home. Introduce them to as many new and unusual items and textures as you can – hoover, lawn mower, squishy sponges, prickly brooms, hairdryers, things that wobble or makes noises. Try creating an obstacle course of things for them to climb over, sprinkle some treats/their food around the obstacles to encourage them to explore.

7. In these uncertain times, we can only do what we can, when we can with the limitation we are faced with. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself but do ensure you maximise the opportunities you have available.
At Potter Paws we are currently still offering our outdoor training classes and 121s, however we also offering a variety of new virtual training and class options.
As a new puppy owner, we’d like to offer you a FREE 30minute virtual consultation to discuss common puppy problems you may be experiencing. Please email Debbie to see how we can help you.