A dog and human enjoying the outdoors while wearing masks

Raising a happy and healthy dog comes with a certain set of requirements: a nutritious diet, regular wellness care, vaccinations and parasite prevention, daily exercise, and lots of love (of course). Few people think of socialization as an important aspect of pet care, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Dog and puppy socialization is the backbone of your pet’s emotional health and physical safety. In this age of social distancing, however, people are finding it difficult to make sure their new pets get plenty of exposure to the great big world. The Pet Experts want you to know that it is possible to socialize your pet while social distancing, and maybe even have a little bit of fun in the process.

Don’t Wait ‘Till It’s Too Late!

Socialization is the process by which your dog learns to live happily and comfortably in human society. Helping your pet become familiar with aspects of daily life that they are likely to encounter is achieved by exposing them to different people, animals, places, smells, and sounds – ideally between the ages of 7-16 weeks. 

A well socialized pet knows how to respond appropriately to stimuli, is easier to control, and poses less risk to themselves and others. Properly socialized dogs are happier, confident, and are able to enjoy a wider range of experiences and deeper connections to their human family members.

Dog And Puppy Socialization At a Distance

Those puppy kindergarten classes and visits with friends and family are on hold for the moment, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t expose your pet to plenty of valuable stimuli. 

Get outside – Drive to different places for your pup’s daily walk. Practice walking on busy streets, quiet neighborhoods, and past people on bicycles, skateboards, or roller blades whenever possible.

Practice handling – Continue to take your puppy to the vet and the groomer. Have their nails trimmed, and be sure everyone in the house handles your puppy’s feet and legs on a regular basis to get them used to it.

Play dress up – Put on a hat and sunglasses, wear your rain boots and open an umbrella, use a cane or walker, carry a big suitcase or a bunch of filled grocery bags into the house, pretend you’re a delivery person and come up to the door with a box and ring the doorbell. 

Tactile experiences – Expose your puppy to as many surfaces as possible, such as sand, gravel, mulch, concrete, the empty bathtub, a flat baking sheet to walk on, or empty plastic water bottles to play with. The options for experimentation are endless!

Remember, socialization isn’t just about other dogs and people. Have fun, be creative, and don’t hesitate to contact The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center with your questions and concerns.