The streets have been fairly empty, traffic has been quieter, parks have been closed up until very recently. It’s safe to say our bustling human lives are quieter since COVID-19, which for our dogs, is pretty different.
This is even more true for puppies and dogs who are new to this world or new to your environment. They are about to go from a fairly isolated life, with just their family, to a big world filled with dog parks, more people out and about, hiking trails and traffic.
Is your dog ready to re-enter our fast pace, bustling world?
5 tips to re-socializing your dog after COVID-19
Skip the Dog Park
Having your dog visit a dog park after months of not interacting with dogs will be too much for them. They may feel overwhelmed or over aroused. Overexcited dogs can irritate other dogs who might be shaky getting back into the groove of playing in a group. If your dog has never socialized with other dogs they could pick up bad social habits from poorly socialized dogs that then become a part of their normal social behavior.
Have one-on-one social playdates
Have a friend or family member with a dog? Invite them and their dog (or just their dog) over for a playdate. These smaller one-on-one interactions can help your dog re-learn appropriate social behavior without feeling overwhelmed or over aroused.
Skip on-leash greetings
Dogs on leash tend behave very differently than they would off leash. The leash by nature inhibits a dogs natural ability to communicate with one another physically. The leash also adds another level of excitement. While re-socializing your dog after COVID-19, keep practicing your social distancing on-leash. Allowing your dog to have mini parties on the end of their leash will encourage naughty leash behavior. It will also inadvertently reward behaviors such as: jumping up, pulling, barking at other dogs, etc.
Help your dog get accustomed to seeing humans wearing masks
For our dogs who have been with us for a couple of years, the people of our world look pretty different now. Keeping in mind that dogs are visual communicators, they read our faces to understand our body language. Now that everyone’s face is covered up can be terrifying to a dog who can no longer get a read on any of these creatures now inhabiting their world. Try this exercise at least once a day.
- Take your dog out in front of your home or building, get them into a sit.
- As people in masks pass by, softly praise your dog and offer them a high value reward.
- As your dog’s handler, it’s YOUR responsibility to teach what is good or bad in our world.
- Do not reward if your dog barks or lunges, only if they can remain calmly seated
Or, watch this video for more tips on how to get your dog accustomed to masks.
Get them involved in activities with other dogs
If your dog gets an opportunity to be around other dogs while completing tasks, they get to have a positive experience being around other dogs without necessarily having to interact with them. This gives them a chance to practice effective behaviors like ignoring dogs in their surroundings versus constantly needing to interact, move towards or meet passing dogs.
If you are unsure how your dog is going to react with other dogs again but you want to get them back to a new normal, we can help. Our daycare is unlike any in the city. With mandatory naps and enrichment activities available everyday, your dog gets stimulated without getting over aroused. We do an assessment before they can stay and our trained staff of handlers keep yards peaceful by giving timeouts, rotating dogs to create healthy playgroups and providing attentive care to each dog to help them feel safe. Book your assessment today. We also have pack hikes, beach excursions, swimming lessons and more to help your dog be around other dogs while having fun completing an activity that stimulates their mind.
If your dog is completely new to socialization, or this world for that matter, our puppy preschool is the best option. Designed for young puppies 8 weeks to 5 months of age, preschool offers early start healthy socialization. Our trainers work with young puppies on developing appropriate play skills, sound desensitization, plus socialization to different types of people and experiences.
The most important thing to remember is that even though you might feel ready and think your dog should be ready, doesn’t mean they are. Move at your dog’s pace, keep it pawsitive and let us help you build a healthy, happy social life for your dog, post COVID-19.