During this unprecedented time of crisis, we can take heart in the stories of people reaching out to help in their communities. One such a way has been for many families to adopt or foster puppies to help alleviate the strain on local shelters.
Socialization is an incredibly important part of raising a friendly, well-adjusted pooch. With social distancing still mandatory, you may wonder how can one expose a pup to new faces and places? Rest assured that it is still possible to help a puppy become used to people and adaptable to new situations even with limited opportunities to encounter both. Bear these tips in mind with your new friend.
It's ok to be afraid.
It's important to let the puppy lead! All dogs will go through periods of nervousness, whether it's from getting in the car or meeting someone new. Never force them to do anything, especially when they seem fearful. Lots of praise and encouragement will help them gradually overcome fears. An example may be a young pup who is scared of the vaccuum cleaner. If you notice him or her going near the vaccuum or giving it a quick sniff, tell them how proud you are that they were so brave!
The power of positivity
The quality of experiences matter. Introducing many new people and places can overwhelm your friend and increase anxiety. The goal should always be for a puppy to have new experiences, but positive ones! Ease them into noises and exposure to other family pets. Should you begin to suspect he or she is getting stressed or not adapting to changes as well as you'd hope, give them a lot of praise and take a few steps back. Call the Brook Farm team and let us know how we can help.
Being proactive to reactive animals
Is there a neighbor's dog who barks at the sight of anyone and everyone? Is there a house on your walking route that has dogs in the yard? It's best not to take a young dog around another animal who barks or lunges or chases at strangers. Puppies at this age are still learning social cues from humans and other canines; a raucous dog can make a puppy very scared even if the dog is just excited to see them. Avoid going past any such house; if you encounter such a dog, back up and quickly get the puppy away.
Prepare for post-pandemic routine
Right now, most of us are home more than we've been in quite awhile. A young dog may get used to a house full of people and become stressed out when family routines resume and they're spending time alone. Get them in the habit of crating for short periods of time now, if they will be crated when you're at work. Step out to get the mail or take a short walk yourself while your pup stays home by themselves. Gradually start with short periods of time away from you, maybe in another room, and build on that to help them understand that you'll come back and it's ok to be alone.
Use this time wisely
Puppies are fun, no doubt. But remember, your job is raise a happy, healthy dog. Incorporate basic obedience training into play time; things like learning to stay off furniture, learning basic commands - these are all skills that will benefit a dog long beyond puppy-hood.
Healthy habits now
One area you do not want to give a puppy as many new experiences as possible is food. It can be difficult to say no to those eyes, but skipping table scraps for well-balanced puppy chow will pay off in good health for the rest of his or her life. Ask Dr. Kanouse if you have questions about what food is best for your pup.
Our deepest thanks to the wonderful Brook Farm families opening their homes to shelter animals during a time of crisis. Please know our team is here to support you in any way we can.