Resocializing Dogs After Covid

Many people in 2020 got a dog for company in our bubbles. As the world starts to open up again people are dealing with how to re-socialize their furry little buddies into a world with less social distancing.

Dogs are very social creatures. Usually after they are old enough to have had all their shots, owners start taking their fur buddies out around people and exposing them to new situations and people. But last year has been far from normal. We have been isolated and our dogs have missed out in being exposed to people and new experiences.

Our fur babies are distrustful of new people and, in some cases, other dogs. Many dogs if they are fearful react by biting, which can lead to a very bad outcome.

Roxy the Dog
Willa’s well-socialized dog, Roxy.

As we start going around more people and experience new adventures it is time to do some remedial socializing with our pups.

Hopefully your fur buddy learned some basic manners from you during the last year. If not this is the first step – most dogs are food motivated. There are some basic videos on YouTube to teach a sit. You can use that sit to help your dog adjust to being in different situations. You want to be able to walk your fur baby without your dog barking or lunging at other dogs or people. When you run into situations that upsets your dog you can use bribery to help get them over their unease.

Stand in front of your dog, hold a treat and tell them to sit. Keep holding treats and feeding them until the distraction gets by you. By being in front of your dog you keep their attention on you rather than the person or dog that they want to react to. It may take a few times of doing this to help your dog adjust and go from fearful to accepting.

Another way to help your dog accept new people is to hand out treats to people to give your pup. They start to associate new people with something positive.

As the world opens up it might be a good idea to consider putting your fur buddy into an obedience class. The class is good for both you and your dog. It helps get your dog used to dealing with strange dogs and people. It teaches the owner new ways of dealing with their dog.

If your dog is anxious make sure you go for a long walk before going for your class. It will take the edge off and allow your pup to concentrate during the class. Now basic obedience training will not turn your dog into a genius but it will help you communicate better with your pet.

The other big bugaboo is leaving your dog alone when you start to work at the office instead of remotely working from home.

Leaving an animal alone doesn’t sound that hard but your pup is used to you being at home with them. Don’t expect your fur baby to handle you being gone for 8 plus hours. Start with leaving them alone for short periods of time. Do not make a big production when you head out. Walk out and when you come back don’t make a big deal. Make it just as something normal.

Next, how do you leave your pup? If you leave your dog with full run of the house, realize that you may have a serious mess to deal with when you get home. A crate is one alternative to leaving your pup loose. It keeps them safe until you return. Make sure your crate is large enough to let your dog lie down and turn around in. Start with short periods with your dog in the crate. You want the crate to be a safe space, not a punishment. Some people feed their dogs inside their crates to make it special. Increase the time remembering that a young dog should only be left in a crate for an hour per month. So if your dog is 6 months old then they can only handle 6 hours in a crate.

If you don’t want them crated, then consider leaving them in a small room. Leave a radio or the television on when you go out. It cuts the noises coming in from outside and helps them stay calm.

If your pup is unable to stay quiet another alternative is doggy daycare. If they are still stressed out from being separated from you, talk to your vet about what you can do to lower their stress and keep them happy.

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