How can I socialise my dog during lockdown?
Updated: Nov 23
As we find ourselves back in lockdown it looks like our opportunities for being able to gather together in groups of more than 6 is looking unlikely until 2021.
One benefit of this situation is that more people are working from home and therefore able to bring a dog into their lives.
We are currently meeting a lot of puppies on our daily walks and we are often asked:
"How come your 10 year-old dog is so good with pups?"
I would like to start out by saying I am not a qualified dog trainer but I have been a dog owner for 30 years and I have worked with many dogs over the last 12 years in my capacity as a dog walker, boarder and groomer.
I strongly believe that Archie's high tolerance level is due to good socialisation from an early age. With so many lockdown pups around, I am concerned that many of them won't get the opportunity to socialise as much as they should.
So what exactly do we mean by socialising? Well, we don't simply mean your pup needs to meet loads of dogs whilst out on a walk.
When we chose our pup, nearly eleven years ago we knew that we wanted our dog to fit in with our lives. We like to eat out, we like to go on regular holidays and we like to explore all that our wonderful city has to offer and we wanted Archie to come with us as much as possible.
We got Archie out and about from the first day he came home so by the end of his first week he had been on a bus, had heard traffic and other city noises, had been to a pub and had caught the train to work.
Archie was very lucky because he would accompany me to my dog spa and boutique every day for his first 5 years and this gave him the chance to meet lots of dogs but also humans of all ages. We realised not all dogs had the same opportunity and that's one of the reasons we started our Four Legged Socials. Our events allowed dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages to meet in a controlled and safe environment but as most dog events have been cancelled this year and pubs and restaurants closed for a third of it, what can you do to socialise your dog during a pandemic?
Get them out and about ASAP!
Many new dog owners are under the misconception that their pup has to stay at home until they have had all their vaccinations and whilst it is VERY important to keep them away from areas where other dogs have been, they can leave the house. We carried Archie around in a dog carry bag but you can also get a pet stroller or just carry them in your arms if they're small. So even during lockdown you can get your pup used to the sights, sounds and smells of their new environment without exposing them to any danger.
Our friend Toffee is out here with his mum getting used to the sights and sounds of the city.
"Constantly reinforcing positive experiences is important for behavioural development as your pup continues to adulthood."
Kim - City, Sit, Stay
Send them to day care* or a dogwalker
Even if it's for just one day a week, this will not only allow them to meet other dogs but they will also get to know and trust other humans. Another option is to let your dog have playdates with other dogs. You may not be able to go and have lunch at your friend's house at the moment but your dogs can still meet up.
Archie has 4 key friends that he visits regularly and they are the people he will also stay with on the rare occasions we go somewhere without him.
Don't get caught out by thinking you will never need this because you're working from home and not going on holidays because if 2020 has taught us anything, it's that you never know what might happen!
*All day care providers in UK must be licensed and registered with their local authority. Please check before you place your dog in someone else's care. Use a website like Find Pet Boarding to find your nearest licensed day care centre.
"Try to make sure each new experience is safe, positive and confidence-building"
Ella - Kirby Dog Services
Let them be dogs
As much as possible and as long as you are comfortable, allow your dog some freedom. Dogs need to explore and learn as they do so and this won't happen if they are always on the lead or being picked up at the slightest sign of a problem.
If you are nervous, your dog will be too.
There are many resources to help you with your confidence as a dog owner and how to train your dog recall amongst other things.
Most dog trainers are currently offering classes and advice online.
Most dog trainers are currently offering classes and advice online. We recommend:
You may also find this app useful.