Socializing a puppy in the time of COVID-19

(Last part)

There are other forms of socialization that will help your pup become a well-adjusted dog.

These include introducing your pup to a range of different sights, objects, surfaces, sounds, experiences, and skills during their critical socialization period from  4 to 16 weeks of age.

This can be done even at home, while the family members are on quarantine due to covid 19.


Your puppy  will come across different objects and experiences, including people wearing different clothes and doing a lot of things.

“You can get your puppy used to these things just by showing them lots of objects and by playing dress ups! Remember, always pair the new sight/object with a positive reward,” RSPCA said.

Even siblings need  to get used to each other.  Their play and interaction will teach them to deal well with adult dogs later. In photo ar ePopoy (left) and Zinnia (right), saved from euthanasia (to be killed) in the pound five years ago by Save ALL.
Even siblings need  to get used to each other.  Their play and interaction will teach them to deal well with adult dogs later. In photo ar ePopoy (left) and Zinnia (right), saved from euthanasia (to be killed) in the pound five years ago by Save ALL. 
You and the members of the family can dress up in gears that your puppy will associate with different kinds of people like the vet, or the neighbor, or the newspaper man. This will be a lot of fun for the family and the pup.

“You can use fancy dress costumes, masks, beards, wigs, umbrellas, helmets – anything you have on hand – to familiarise your puppy to different outfits and objects they might see. You can play act and simulate different situations, like a delivery person bringing a big box, packages or bags to your door; someone riding a bicycle; a person using a walking frame or walking stick; or a traveller with a big backpack or rolling a suitcase. Always give your puppy a treat and praise when they behave calmly and investigate a new object or a ‘new’ (dressed up!) person,” RSPCA said.

Your dog will come across a range of surfaces like concrete, sidewalk curbs, metal (such as a manholes), grass, leaves, tiles, pavement, wood, ramps, and many more, when you start walking him to the park, or bringing him to pet restos or fun places.

“You can create an ‘experience walk’ at home to get your puppy used to as many of these things as possible. You can make this in your backyard with a little bit of creativity, using wood blocks, concrete, tiles, ramps, stairs, grass, carpet and even expand it with other experiences like flapping flags, plastic bottles or bags waving in the wind,” RSPCA said.


At the moment, it is probably quiet in the home and neighborhood as everyone is keeping themselves safe from covid 19.

It is important though to get your puppy used to different  sounds  as early as now such as the sound of a car horn, or  other sounds that he might hear when everything is back to “normal,” when people and  vehicles pass by more often.

RSPCA suggested that you play videos or sound tracks online  of everyday sounds.

It would  help your puppy  get used to the sound of appliances, cars, trains, whistles, barking dogs, motorbikes, a cat’s meow, birds, and many more sounds.

Keep the volume low at first so as not to startle your puppy. Reward him for his calm behavior while the sound is being played. He will associate the sound with something good.

When your puppy is calm and used to hearing new noises paired with positive experiences like treats or games, you can  start introducing potentially scary noises like thunder, fireworks, and vacuum cleaners to get them used to these sounds also.  Do this for a short period at a time, at low volume, and also reward him with treats and praises while playing the sounds.

It is important to socialize a pup with other pups starting at 4 weeks of age up to 16 weeks. In photo are rescued pups Rafa (middle), Sunshine (left) and Nica (right ) of Save ALL.
CIt is important to socialize a pup with other pups starting at 4 weeks of age up to 16 weeks. In photo are rescued pups Rafa (middle), Sunshine (left) and Nica (right ) of Save ALL.

1. Handling the pup  to prepare for vet visit and grooming

It will be helpful for the puppy and you as owner to  make him/her comfortable with  human touch.

Slowly, introduce him/her to regular gentle touching of the ears, feet, mouth, eye area, and  tail.

This is important so that you can touch your dog to check if he is okay (no lumps, no wounds) when he is an adult.  This will also allow the vet to check him and give vaccines  without putting a muzzle on him.

“You can also get your puppy used to grooming and having their nails clipped which will make everyone’s life easier in the long run. These sessions should be relaxed and always paired with a reward to keep the associations positive,” RSPCA said.

2. Getting use to a car ride

You do not have to go anywhere to get the puppy used to being in a car.

One day, you will have to bring the pup to the vet for his vaccines. Some dogs are afraid of car rides, and will pant too much that you will also panic.

“Teach your puppy to be comfortable getting in and out of the car, when you turn on the engine, and even do a few trips up and down your driveway to get them used to a bit of movement. One great way to help your puppy enjoy spending time in the car is to feed them their meals there for a few times in a row,” RSPCA suggested.

3. Toys will help the pup

RSPCA said “enrichment toys” will keep the pup entertained as well as keep him mentally and physically stimulated.

Examples of these toys are treat dispensing toys or games that “encourage a puppy to explore and be rewarded for self-initiated play,” RSPCA said.

Give the toys alternately to keep the pup from getting bored.

You can also make toys that will keep your pup busy and stimulated.

Teaching life skills which a pup needs when social distancing ends

The pandemic will end. Members of the family will eventually go out of the house and go to work or to school  after this crisis.

It is thus important to teach your puppy to be content and happy when he is alone. “This will help your puppy cope better when you all return to work or school and a more normal life,” RSPCA said.

“A good way to do this is to set your puppy up alone in a safe space with a delicious treat, something to chew, and an enrichment toy like a puzzle feeder. A puppy crate is an ideal secure place where your puppy can sleep safely and be left alone. You can then leave them alone for short periods of time, starting for a very short time like a minute and slowly building up to longer periods as your puppy gets used to this, “ RSPCA said.

You can also teach your puppy to be comfortable wearing a harness, then introduce the leash slowly.

“You can also use this time to build a strong relationship with your puppy and teach them basic skills like sit, stay, down, come, leave it, tug and give, prevention of resource guarding, etc.,” RSPCA said.

Topics: puppy , COVID-19 , Royal  Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals , RSPCA
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