Puppies have a short time window for optimal socialization, and that requires exposure to multiple different surfaces, people of all backgrounds, and various new situations. But what about the puppies who happen to be within that window now, during this time of necessary social distancing due to COVID-19? How can they be socialized so they can grow to be confident and happy dogs for the rest of their lives?
The Goals of Socialization
First, it’s important to keep in mind the goals of puppy socialization. Paul Owens, professional dog trainer and bestselling author of The Dog Whisperer books, points out that “socialization does not mean putting a dog in a new situation and seeing what happens. Socialization means introducing new situations and making them safe, positive, confidence-building experiences.”
Certified dog trainer and CGC evaluator Jacqui Foster, CPDT-KA, agrees: “As one of my mentors says, ‘Absence of one bad experience far outweighs 100 good experiences!'” She adds that each puppy learns differently, so “work with the dog in front of you … I tend to lean more towards developing self-confidence in the puppy, rather than flooding the dog with loads of people, noises, and experiences.”
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