How to Socialize Your Puppy During Quarantine

At Our Dogs World 101 we are very lucky to have guest blogger Kelly who is an authority in all things pets.

Kelly has been kind enough to give us some time here today to write about how to socialize your puppy during quarantine.

Kelly has an awesome website full of everything pets, and like us all is a lover of all pets!

So if you are looking for some really great information regarding your pet I would definitely check out her site Keeping Your Pets Spirit Alive, It really makes for some great reading!

Covid-19 Small brown puppy

COVID-19 has brought a lot of fear, depression, and frustration to the world; however, there is a bright spot in all the darkness. Many people decided to adopt a puppy or puppies during this time of quarantine. One of the biggest questions when bringing a puppy into the home is “how do you socialize your puppy during quarantine?”?

What does it mean to socialize your puppy? First, let me tell you what it isn’t. It is not putting your puppy in new situations and hoping for the best. According to Paul Owens, the author of The Dog Whisperer, “Socialization means introducing new situations and making them safe, positive, confidence-building experiences.” So, Let’s discuss the importance of socialization, when and how to socialize, and how you can make this a fun time for both you and your puppy.

Why is it Important to Socialize Your Puppy?

Puppies have a fairly short window for optimal socialization. There are a few different thoughts on this; however, the rule of thumb is around 5 – 16 weeks. If you adopt from a shelter or purchase from a reputable breeder, you will not have your furry companion until they are at least 8 weeks old. This may give you a shorter time to work with your puppy; however, it is crucial you find the time for socialization.

The first reason socialization is important is due to the puppy’s development. A puppy who is enriched or exposed to complex stimuli will generally seek out complex situations and have more confidence. They will be more accepting of new situations and different people.

The second reason socialization is important is because a dog who was not properly socialized may develop behavior issues stemming from fear and lack of confidence. These behaviors may show as reactivity, fear based aggression and even anxiety. They may also become self-destructive by chewing or licking.

The third reason for socialization is to build that bond between your puppy and you. The more you work with your puppy, the stronger your relationship can become. Your puppy will grow to trust you and know that you will not put them in harm’s way.

Stages of Development

Puppies are cute and adorable and so snuggly soft, but did you know there are specific stages the puppies experience during their socialization period? Here is a timeline and how you can optimize your puppy’s socialization:

5 – 7 Weeks: This is considered the curiosity period. Your puppy will want to crawl, climb, jump, run and experience things on their own. Now would be a good time to experience new challenges such as a bath or trips outside as they will be able to bounce back quickly from fear.

7 – 9 Weeks: Puppies learn behavioral refinement at this stage. Training and boundaries should be taught starting now. Your puppy will need to learn good habits in a stable, individualized learning environment.

8 – 11 Weeks: Yes, the fear impact stage…puppies tend to become more cautious of their surroundings and may exhibit fear of loud noises or sudden movements, strange people, or even discipline from other dogs and humans. It may take a few weeks to recover from this period. A socialized puppy will have an easier time recovering; however, an unsocialized puppy can carry that fearful stimuli into adulthood.

9 – 12 Weeks: Puppies are now moving into the environmental awareness stage where they are learning certain behaviors for certain situations. Their motor skills are improving and they are more interested in their human’s attention.

13 – 16 Weeks: The seniority class begins at this level. Puppies are finding where they rank in the family and are testing leadership and dominance. It is extremely important for puppies to learn not to bite, chew, or have poor leash manners at this stage. Obedience classes are a great opportunity to help refine the good behaviors you want to see from your puppy.

What to Expose Your Puppy To?

When people hear the word socialization, many think a puppy should be introduced to other dogs. That is true; however, socialization also includes many other situations such as different surfaces, people, animals, and textures.

Even during quarantine, you have the opportunity to introduce your pet to different opportunities that doesn’t include other people (just yet).

Textures/Surfaces: When you are taking your puppy for a walk or working on basic obedience training, work with them on grass (wet and dry), concrete, tile, wood, carpet, even pebbles/rocks. Ramp it up by exposing them to dirt/sand, grates, bridges, or anything you have around you.

Household: Have you seen the dogs on YouTube or TikTok that bark, attack, or even run away from household items? It’s funny; however, it may mean they were not exposed to them during socialization. So…expose your puppy to the vacuum, dishwasher, lawn mower, hairdryers. You may also want to consider exposing them to moving furniture or the power washer.

Vehicles: With so many vehicles on the roads today, this should be fairly easy to work. Your puppy can be socialized with cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, garbage/recycling trucks, as well as skateboards, grocery carts, and scooters.

Sounds: I think this may be the most difficult because some sounds only come around 1x a year. Try to socialize your puppy with the sounds of fireworks, drilling, loud music, thunder, and even screaming and crying babies / children.

Dishware: Another opportunity is with socializing your puppy with different types of dishes. You can expose them to glass, plastic, paper, ceramic, etc…

People: This is one of the most important areas to socialize your puppy. It may be a little different during quarantine, but if you have family in the home, you can still work with it (or even by watching TV). Introduce your puppy to different ethnicities, men and women, elderly and children. Utilize different outfits like wearing different hats, different jackets or shoes. You can also move / walk differently. Think of some different options and go with it while working with your dog during quarantine.

Animals: Puppies should be exposed to cats, other safe dogs, horses…whatever type animals you have near you. If you are considering (or already have) different types of pets, it would be great to introduce your puppy to them.

Handling: This is the other extremely important socialization activity that needs to be done…especially during the time you have in quarantine. Your puppy needs to get comfortable with you touching ears, toes, and mouth. They need to be OK with you clipping their nails or cleaning the goop out of their eyes; more importantly pulling something out of their mouths (like birds, a whole loaf of bread, or your sock!)

Experiences: Take your new puppy on car rides, on elevators / escalators, even to different places like the vet, the groomers, or a pet store. The places you go can be great socialization opportunities for your pet.

Puppy Play Dates Are Still Possible

There are a lot of opportunities to expose your puppy to new things, but what about socializing them with other puppies / dogs? Is this still possible during quarantine?

The answer is YES!

Many people are concerned about COVID-19 and if their puppies can contract it or transmit it. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), based on the current evidence, dogs cannot transmit COVID-19 to humans. There is a type of Dog Coronavirus which is considered a respiratory coronavirus, but the novelcoronavirus (COVID-19) is not believed to be a threat to our dogs.

Depending on what country you live in, puppy play dates may have fewer restrictions than other countries. For example, the USA does not have any mask mandates or quarantines at this time. This means it is up to the puppy’s human companion to determine if it is safe to have a play date. Here are some things to consider:

Friends/Relatives: Do you have friends or relatives with other dogs that are willing to be honest about their COVID-19 exposures or if they are experiencing symptoms?

Social Distancing: When you are socializing your puppy while on a walk or play date, be sure to maintain 6ft distance between you and the other person(s).

Sanitization: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after each encounter. Use hand sanitizer if needed.

It is also important to consider your puppy’s needs. If you see signs of fear, anxiousness, or avoidance, it may be time to leave the play date. Your puppy may get overwhelmed depending on the personalities of the other dogs, or may just not be interested in playing with them.

Puppy play dates can be exhausting, so crate training can be helpful in creating a safe environment where your puppy can decompress. You can train your puppy to have a schedule and that when they are in their crate, it is for nap time or alone time. This will help with reducing the likelihood for separation anxiety as they grow up and you go back to the office.

Conclusion

COVID-19 quarantines may make some aspects of the puppy socialization difficult as you won’t be able to utilize different areas or people. Don’t give up…get creative.

If you are stuck at home, use everything and everyone in your home. Dress up as different characters, put down different textured material on the floor to help your dog get used to these experiences. Take your puppy with you when you can go out. Just remember you have a short time frame to work with, so do everything you can to help your puppy become a well-adjusted, friendly, family member.

Did you find this article useful? Feel free to share your thoughts. We would be happy to hear from you!

Stay tuned for more posts on dog care and much more!

“May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”

Sources Used: AKC.org, thebark.com, petmd.com,

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Mark

Founder of Our Dogs World 101

8 thoughts on “How to Socialize Your Puppy During Quarantine”

  1. Wow, what an informative look at how to socialize a puppy during times of quarantine. Most puppy owners are eager to get their cute little bundle of fluff out into the world to play with other dogs and burn off some of that “puppy energy” that they are famous for. Thanks for the actionable tips to help people who may not know other dog owners or have open dog parks during quarantines.

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  2. This was a very informative article by Kelly. I always thought socialization was just about introducing your puppy to other people and dogs. So, I was so happy to make a list of the other items to get my puppy used to sounds, surfaces, and household items. 

    I actually have a rescue dog and I was able to pinpoint the age he escaped from his previous owner by the details of each stage of learning. I had thought he was about 4 months old and that tallies with his response to other people and vehicles. He must have been so scared lost in the city. At least now I know that it is unlikely that I can undo the emotional scarring he has but by watching over him I can make him feel safe in his new life. He is 13 years old now and going strong.

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  3. Coming up with creative ways to stimulate the healthy development of a pup sounds like it could be a lot of fun for all involved. It can make the owner look at mundane everyday things in new ways – simply finding/listening to ambient sounds with your dog, a subtle change of environment, even looking out for new textures to expose your dog to! This proves yet another way that owning a dog can enhance a person’s life.

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  4. It is indeed important for puppies to socialize and be introduced to different things. I never realized that there were specific stages in the first 16 weeks of a puppy’s development, so this was very useful to learn. It is more difficult with restrictions and social distancing that has been imposed on many of us, but there are still opportunities to take a puppy out and about and let them socialize. Thanks for sharing. 

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