Did your family get a lock-down puppy? Kathryn Sigvertsen
Having a new puppy is exciting, and if you are at home with kids right now the pup will no doubt be getting lots of quality attention. There are lots of fun tricks you can teach a new pup, and some important life skills too.
Think about your family’s normal routine (or perhaps your “new normal” after COVID restrictions end), do you always have someone home during the day? Or will the pup need to get used to some alone time? What sort of situations do you anticipate might happen, will you be travelling in a car on long trips or might you have lots of visitors? Early in life there is a critical socialisation period, during which it is much easier to introduce a pup to new situations and have them accept it as normal. After about 4 months old, they may tend to be a bit wary of new things.
Try some of these tips with your new pup without breaking your bubble:
- Pretend you are all leaving the house. Shoes on, car keys found, handbag grabbed. Put the pup into their designated safe place (crate, kennel, puppy-proof room etc) and go out for a few minutes. If you entertain them with a special treat or chew toy this works extra well. When you return, casually acknowledge the pup rather than making a big fuss.
- Have the kids dress up in different costumes, raincoats, beanies, sunglasses – anything you can find around the house that might make them look different, and play with pup like it’s totally normal.
- Practice lead training around the yard.
- Allow the pup some alone time, crates are really good for this but if you don’t have a crate you could barricade off the corner of a room. Use a treat or a special toy when putting pup into their space, to make it a positive experience rather than a punishment.
- Use this time to get a really good recall – have someone take the pup a short distance away then get someone else to call them, making a big fuss and use treats when they return. Gradually increase the distance and difficulty until they will come from further away. Next step is to add distractions!
Remember, your puppy is not considered immune until after completing the full course of vaccinations. There is still the risk of picking up diseases especially parvo from the footpath even if they are on a lead – talk with your vet about what they might need to keep them safe.