Social distancing and socializing your pup

We’re living in a really different time in history where we can’t do our normal socializing with friends and family, eating out, shopping and everyday activities. So how do we socialize a new puppy?

Socializing your puppy is so important and gives it the foundation for a confident, happy life.

The socialization period starts when a puppy is about three weeks old and ends when the puppy is twelve to fourteen weeks of age (Different breeds develop at different rates. Typically, a large breed will hit certain periods sooner than the smaller breeds when it comes to socializing. Although a larger breed will ultimately mature physically slower.)

So you can see that the socialization period starts at an early age when your puppy is still at his first home with the mother dog and your breeder. And why it’s important to start early with socializing and finding a breeder that provides early handling, socializing and enrichment before you even get your puppy.

We usually think of socializing as meeting lots of people. But there’s much more too it. Socializing also includes seeing different sights, hearing diverse sounds,  feeling various textures, encountering other animals, and fun experiences along with meeting different people. But how can we do that during a time of “social distancing” at home?

Well, I’ve picked my brain and searched the internet to give you some ideas on how you can socialize your puppy during this social distancing time. I do understand that not each thing will apply to each person’s situation, depending on where you live and what the extent of your “shelter in place” orders are for your specific area. It also will depend if you’re a single person home alone with your pup or a family with several children. Pick and choose what will work for you and your puppy.

  • First off please invest in the Baxter and Bella at-home training program! They offer so many great things; easy-to-use, fun training curriculum, how-to videos, fun games and tricks to teach your puppy, resource library, video archives, live chat with a trainer and much more. The cost is about what an eight week course at a national pet store chain would cost (which you can’t attend right now anyway) and this is a lifetime membership! Check out their website  And please feel free to use our discount code when  your check out to save some money “PINEWOOD”
  • Go for walks in your neighborhood, around the park, out in the country, the beach or in the mountains.  Please get a backpack or stroller for you puppy until he is fully vaccinated from parvo and distemper (16 weeks will be the end of his puppy series of vaccinations). You don’t want him to walk where a sick dog could have left germs behind. A backpack or stroller will give him the chance to see, smell and hear things along the way without being put in danger. (Take your litter box for potty breaks in your car). Obviously, if you are out in the country or in the mountains it may be safe to let your puppy walk part of the way.
  • If you can go out for take-out food or a cup of coffee at your local drive-through make sure puppy gets to go too. I would transport him in a crate or car seat, but just before you go through the drive-through stop and let him sit on your lap as you go by the window so he can see some new faces.
  • And even if you are not going out for anything in particular, load puppy up and go for little car rides. There are lots of nice booster seats where puppy can be safely harnessed in inside your car. Boost it high enough that he can enjoy the sights as your cruise around.
  • Get the “Sound Proof Puppy Training” app for your phone and use it to get puppy use to all kinds of different sounds.
  • If you don’t have kids for puppy to get learn about, turn on the t.v or your computer and play some silly children’s programs so they can hear the children’s chatter and watch their quick movements.
  • Invest in some interactive toys and puzzles for you dog to play with and get his treats or even meals from. There are several great brands you look into. Check Amazon for “interactive dog toys” or “dog food puzzles”. There is a great group on Facebook called “Canine Enrichment” that will give you lots of enrichment ideas and games to keep your puppy busy, learning and having fun.
  • If you have a yard for puppy to play try some games outside. Make a trail of kibble through the grass for puppy to use his nose and follow along being rewarded as he goes. Or get a kiddie wadding pool and fill it with sand or dirt for puppy to dig in. Try burying his toys in the dirt for him to dig up and find.
  • Introduce puppy to different surfaces if you don’t have a variety in your home; brick pavers, carpet, linoleum, plastic bath mat, crinkly plastic bags, etc.
  • If you have them or can get you hands on things like grandma’s walker, some crutches, a wheelchair, a scooter, skateboard, bicycle, a standard vacuum cleaner or Roomba, or a rolling suitcase.
  • How about playing “dress up” with your dog? No, don’t dress up the dog! Dig through your closet or another family member’s and find some odd clothes that puppy wouldn’t normally see everyday. How about a motorcycle helmet, a bike helmet, ski goggles, a floppy hat, a fake beard, a wig, big sunglasses or maybe even an old Halloween costume.

Please remember when you are trying any of these activities that you are aiming for good experiences and offer treats when they experience something new. Don’t ever force your pup towards something that he’s unsure of. If he’s afraid of something you can reassure him but don’t coddle him. Make sure you keep calm also and don’t overreact as your puppy will sense if you’re nervous for him. Use a happy, upbeat voice and demeanor to help your puppy through each new experience. If you have to, remove yourself slowly from whatever is frightening your puppy just don’t run from it. Let puppy observe whatever he’s nervous about from a distance and reward him when you see positive behavior.

Use your imagination, stay safe and have a fun time with your puppy as you train him through this socialization period.

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2 Responses to Social distancing and socializing your pup

  1. bonniecampbellavery says:

    Thanks for all of the great info! I trained all 4 of my dogs and you’ve added dimensions I have never thought of. Thank you.

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