Socialising & habituating your puppy and keeping adult dogs entertained during Covid_19 outbreak
During these difficult times we need to get a bit ingenious with how we occupy, train, socialise and habituate our puppies \ dogs.
Enrichment at home
We can't take our dogs for nice long exploratory walks currently, so we need to make their life at home that bit more interesting!
Firstly, if you are on Facebook, apply to join the Canine Enrichment Group, it's a fantastic group with loads of ideas on how to enrich our dog's life.
Invest in suitable toys such as strong chews, nylabones, or kong toys.
Invest in (or you can make) a snuffle matt to hide food \ treats in.
Invest in puzzle feeders.
Consider scatter feeding (chuck dry food out onto the grass!) rather than feeding from a bowl - when weather allows.
Make use of your recycling; egg boxes and empty cardboard boxes can be filled with dry food, or mixed with scrunched up paper and food scattered within them.
All of the above should be done under supervision, especially with young animals.
When you do take your dog for their short, once per day walk from home; give them time to stop and sniff! It shouldn't be a frog march around the block, let them explore and where safe and possible, let them choose the route you take.
Socialisation & Habituation of your puppy
Socialisation is the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society, usually we do this by exposure over a period of weeks to lots of new living things (People & Animals.)
Habituation is the process of exposing your pup to new inanimate objects (cars, buses, vacuum cleaners etc.)
Puppies have a socialisation window of up to about 18 weeks of age, so we need to get these guys exposed even though we are in a socially isolated society currently. Both of these practices are rather difficult at the moment, so we can use technology to help us with this!
Get friends and family (especially those who you will want your puppy to be friends with long term) to send you recorded messages via “WhatsAp” or similar.
Set up a play area for pup, with toys and treats to make it a fun and safe environment.
Set the recording playing quietly in the background and then introduce your puppy to the environment.
If & when puppy is calm – watch them closely for stress signals and cease if getting worried – you can slowly increase the duration and the volume over a period of time.
Keep these session short and sweet (5-10 minutes maximum initially).
Other Noises to expose them to:
Other animals; cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, horses etc...
Also consider playing “dress up” at home to expose your pup to lots of different looking people, examples include:
Bike helmet \ motorcycle gear
Heavy boots \ wellington boots.
Use a similar procedure but go out and record sounds out and about or download from the internet. Sounds Sociable is a downloadable recording of real life sounds that a pup needs to get used to. It can be downloaded for free from the Dogs Trust website - https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets Think about what your pup is likely to be exposed to and make sure you concentrate on these things initially.
Noises to expose them to:
Buses \ Truck (air brakes)
Rain \ thunder
Also expose pup to different textures \ surfaces under their feet:
Shallow bowl of water
Remember your pup can go outside, in your secure garden to explore, so you can use some of the enrichment ideas (listed above) to help them get used to the big wide world.
If your pup is small enough you can carry them with you, on your daily short walk from home (accurate as per government regulation set out on 23\03\20) each day to explore the local environment, but don't put them down until they are fully vaccinated.
Please monitor government updates and our website \ FaceBook pages for updates on our ability to vaccinate your puppies, we want to get them out and about ASAP too!