We have noticed a ton of families deciding to get a new puppy during the COVID-19 quarantine. With everyone being home, it is actually the perfect time to add a new pup to the family! With much of the country under shelter in place orders, parents are now working from home and children are adjusting to e-learning. This means the most difficult part of getting a puppy, potty training and having to be away from them is no longer an issue. While there are many positives to adding a new furry member to the family during this time there also many precautions you should be taking to ensure that your puppy still gets well trained, socialized, and acclimated to different environments, noises, people, and dogs.
If you bring a puppy home during this time, one of the most important things to do is not lose sight of your typical routine when the shelter in place order is lifted. Just because you are home quite often now, does not mean that you should disregard crate training during the day when you would be working. Say for example you typically are in the office from 9am-5pm and come home on lunch. You should be thinking of working on crate training during that time. It does not have to be the entire time, however we still want the puppy to be comfortable in the crate to avoid potential separation anxiety when our lives return to normal. This also is important for families who already have a dog in the house that is typically crated during the day, and is no longer needing to be. Setting up a daily routine is great since dogs and humans do great with routines!
Another important factor that comes into play with getting a new puppy is socialization. Even though we are following proper social distancing, that does not mean that you cannot socialize your puppy! There are many safe and effective ways to go about socialization with dogs and people. From the time you bring your puppy home until around 16 weeks of age, socialization is absolutely crucial. After 16 weeks of age, the socialization window closes, and socialization with people and dogs can become more difficult.
Here are some ways to socialize your puppy with dogs:
-Go on a walk! I am sure you have noticed many dogs on walks now with the current situation. Definitely take advantage of this! Passing dogs while properly social distancing is a great way for your pup to see a wide variety of dogs. Forest preserves are a great go-to if they are still open in your area!
-Have a longer leash (6-8ft) and have your dog meet friendly, vaccinated dogs while following proper social distancing rules. You don’t want the first time your dog actually meets a dog face to face to be after 16 weeks of age.
-Have a playdate in a friend, neighbor, or family members yard. You can both easily stay at a safe distance while your dogs romp around and play. This also helps with your puppy getting out some of that crazy energy!
Here are some ways to socialize your puppy with people:
-Walk on a trail or around the neighborhood. So many people are now outside walking, running, or doing other activities. Passing people is a great way to socialize too!
-Have your puppy meet someone while you stand at the end of the leash (6ft away). If someone is interested in saying hi, you absolutely can have your puppy meet them. Neighbors are a good go-to for this!
-If you need to run to the store for dog food, bring your pup for a trip! Getting your puppy in a different environment will be great for your dog and there are often many employees that are more than happy to say hello.
Lastly, do not disregard exposing your puppy to different environments and noises. For example, with different environments come different sounds. At Home Depot, there are carts and loud machinery at times. If you don’t want to go in public, you can walk on busier roads where there is more street traffic, past train stations, or even past landscapers. You want to ensure that your puppy has been exposed to as many different noises as possible at a young age.
Overall, getting a puppy during this time can be a wonderful idea. Everyone in the family is home and can be involved and helpful in the puppy’s upbringing. Don’t lose sight of socialization, crate training, and exposure to different environments and noises to ensure a well-adjusted dog later on. Additionally, getting a trainer during this time can be extremely beneficial as we would be able to help you with getting a routine set, socialization, and manners and obedience in and out of the house.
by: Holly Wengerski