HOUSTON – Many puppies joined families during the COVID-19 pandemic, but as more people return to work and venture outside this summer, some dogs are struggling with socialization issues.
That’s why the puppy expert, Stephanie Bennett, owner of Believe in Dog Training, joined Houston Life with her tips to help our furry friends.
“The two most prominent issues we’re seeing after the pandemic revolves around separation anxiety and fears due to inadequate socialization. It is crucial that owners be extremely proactive,” said Bennett, who recommends that you make sure all new experiences for your dog are positive.
“When taking your dog out into the world and introducing him to new places, people, and things, go at your puppy’s speed and never force him to do anything. The best and fastest way to make sure your puppy has great experiences is to include things he loves, like food or toys. Be careful not to overwhelm your dog,” she said.
“If he seems worried, or stops taking treats, you need to increase the distance from the stimuli and/or decrease the intensity of the stimulus. We want to help him learn that the world may be loud or unpredictable, but it’s always safe and can be super fun,” said Bennett, who is Tex’s trainer.
According to Bennett, these are some simple ways you can socialize your pup.
1. Introduce your dog to everyday items like balloons, umbrellas, toys that move and make sounds, things with wheels, baby pool, etc.
2. Sit out in the front of your house when it’s busy on your street and help the puppy enjoy passing trucks, bikes, strollers, children, or other dogs by offering tiny bits of chicken or cheese each time.
3. Go to a park and observe friendly strangers from afar. If your dog is nervous around new people, do not let them pet him because interacting with people must be your dog’s choice. Do not force or rush him.
4. Observe a construction site and a noisy playground from across the street. You can let the puppy experience unfamiliar situations but from a safe distance.
5. Take a dog obedience class or seek out appropriate, one-on-one playdates with other vaccinated dogs.
To connect with Bennett, visit her website.
To see Bennett’s complete interview and tips, watch the video above.