HOW TO SAFELY SOCIALIZE YOUR PUPPY *Especially during a pandemic*
We've established that your puppy doesn't have sufficient immunity against parvovirus and other life threatening illnesses until 16 weeks. So what can you do before then?
There's lots of ways to safely socialize your puppy before 16 weeks and it's SUPER IMPORTANT that you do! Puppies will go through a "fear period" around 12-13 weeks. So you want to make sure to give them lots of positive experiences and interactions before then, so they go into this stage with a good foundation of confidence
It's recommended you try and have your puppy meet 100 new people before they're 12-13 weeks. But, in a world where were encouraged to social distance, this isn't so easy to achieve. If you need to be careful about social distancing, take advantage of outdoor spaces! Have friends, family members and neighbors come for a visit in your backyard. Ask if you can come to your neighbours backyard for a visit. Backyards are a great way to get together! Any home that has a back yard without another dog that lives there is a great safe space. See if friends and family are willing to meet for an outdoor BBQ. Grab some lawn chairs and sit in your driveway with a friend Go for car rides and park by a soccer game, or pass by a school when kids are walking home. Have friends and family go for walks with you (even if it's just up and down the sidewalk) Have a friend hold your puppy for a short car ride! Meet up in a parking lot with your lawn chairs for a visit See if you have friends or family who would be willing to "puppy sit" and come watch or have puppy over to their place for a little while. Chem and see if there's any dog friendly restaurants near you. Sitting out on a restaurant patio is a great way to be around people
Pet stores also allow you to bring your puppy in (usually the rule is they can come in but will need carried if they're not done their shots) So take your puppy in to say hello to the cashiers and staff and other customers
Take your puppy to the vet's office! Again, you'll want to carry them to keep them safe. Let them say hi to the staff and vets. It's great practice for getting them used to the vet office, and can make it a positive experience before they go for a real appointment. Bring some treats, and have a seat in a chair with puppy on your lap and people watch.
Grab a park bench, and have your puppy practice calm while people watching
Also check your local areas to see what other stores allow pets inside! You might be surprised at how many you find! (For example, Cabela's, Bass Pro, Home Depot, Home sense, and many others!) Stores are still following social distancing protocols, so this is a great way to be in public and around people while staying safe
You'll also want to walk your puppy before 16 weeks, but stay away from dog parks, or areas that have high dog populations. Stick to sidewalks and paved paths, and don't let your puppy say hi to other dogs yet. You can carry treats and have strangers toss some to your puppy
*You can start having playdates after their second set of shots* which is usually around 12 weeks. BUT, make sure you know the dog you will be introducing your puppy to. You'll want to know their health and vaccinations history. Also, control the settings, so have the playdate in your own backyard it might sound funny, but ask your friend if they're willing to wash their dogs paws before they come over. A healthy dog can still be carrying harmful bacteria on their paws that won't bother them because they're immune, but could make your puppy sick. Just like a little kid would wash their hands before meeting a new baby
There's also so many free resources, and online classes you can do to start building your dogs confidence right from your very own home
Just because your puppy isn't fully vaccinated yet, doesn't mean you want to keep them locked away from the world. Be safe and smart about where you take them and you'll keep your puppy safe and healthy and set them up for success!