We dog trainers worry about a generation of corona puppies. In these times of social distancing, how on earth do you socialise your puppy?
When it comes to socialisating your puppy, you only have a limited time window (roughly 7 weeks to 3 months old). You could do it later, but it is much more laborious and, depending on your pup’s temperament, downright impossible. This leads to a pup who is scared of everything he is not familiar with: that is a lot when your pup was cooped up for weeks.
Why is this period ideal? Because, during that period:
The goal of socialisation is to teach the pup who is a social partner (e.g. children, cats, and strangers, and not just those in your immediate family) and how to behave (and feel!) in the presence of these social partners:
Ideally, you do it:
and (and here’s the rub in corona times)…
The dogs can’t be infected but their fur can temporarily be contaminated by physical contact by a person carrying the virus. As these people can already pass the virus without showing symptoms, it’s not like you have a big red flag over the head of potential at-risk people. For all you know, you are a carrier and you are touching your dog all day long.
And what happens when someone outside of your immediate quarantine circle touches your dog? The same as what would happen if they touched a surface you’re just touched. It is unclear how long the virus could survive in a dog’s fur in sufficient quantities to infect someone on contact. It could be five minutes or considerably longer. This is what we know so far:
This means that these interactions aren’t a such great plan at the moment:
Like everything during the corona crisis, the logistics have become considerably harder, but perhaps not impossible. You would need:
You might be wondering whether your pup wouldn’t then exclusively trust people with gloves, and still need to be socialised to people without gloves. The chance is unlikely, as he has plenty of positive experiences with gloveless hands in your home (from his human family). If you want to play it safe, then try to have as many petting encounters without gloves (where you can ascertain that the person has thoroughly washed their hands beforehand and immediately does so afterwards).
Yes, you will feel like a crazy maniac standing handing gloves to people on the street, or insisting they wash their hands, but it’s worth it.
And remember! Socialisation is meant to be positive, so only let your dog be petted by someone if your pup wants to be petted and enjoys the encounter.
As socialisation encounters have to happen with as many people and as many dogs as possible (not just a couple) to be effective, you’ll have your hands full getting this organised. But hey, it is worth it so you do not end up with a corona pup. And, think about it: have you ever had so much time?
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