A Puppy Checklist For The Social Distancing Age

puppy socialisation coronavirus

Coronavirus COVID-19 has caused so much hardship to so many people that it might seem a bit trivial to talk about what it’s doing to puppies. But I’m a puppy vet and so it matters to me.

I’m afraid that the puppies of the next few months won’t grow up the same. I fear that this virus will change how they enjoy the rest of their lives. But I also think you can do something about it.

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How To Find A Good Dog Training Class

Everyone has an opinion about what makes a great obedience class. I’ve got a lot to say on the subject, but I’ll start here: obedience has nothing to do with it!

The evidence is clear and consistent. When measured by results, reward-based training outperforms more ‘traditional’ methods. It’s also much less likely to cause pain or anxiety.

That’s why this article is going to help you tell the difference. By the end, you should be able to choose the right class for your dog. I will go through some clues you can use, and then use an example of two very real classes.

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Puppy Preschool: The Evidence

puppy class walkerville

This lovely photo by Julie Wilson shows Jack, one of our Puppy Preschool graduates. It’s the way we like to see them: making the most out of life.

Did his puppy classes help him become the dog he is now? To answer that we need to know not what puppy classes promise, but what they actually do.

You have a right to be shown the evidence behind any veterinary recommendation. Here’s what we know.

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Help! My Dog Is Terrible To Walk On Leash

leash reactive dog

‘At A Glance (Much More Below)’ What To Do

How To Reduce Leash Reactivity

A good start is to accept it for what it is: common and no cause for shame

  • Get help: it’s going to be much easier with expert guidance
  • Discover tricks to keep your dog focused or distracted
  • Avoid interactions with other dogs when on leash or near fences

Now dive deeper…

Do you have a dog who is hard to walk on a lead, but almost never a problem when off it? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve come to realise from my daily conversations with dog owners that we may actually be in the majority. It’s time we stopped feeling embarrassed and started to look into why our dogs behave the way they do on a leash and what we can do about it.

Here is a typical story. I was walking my Loki to school the other day and met another dog walker going the same way. Her dog immediately started barking and yelping in response. Before too long the behaviour turned to lunging and snapping.

She said (a little embarrassed) “he’s not aggressive”. My kids said (in disbelief) “he’s out-Loki’d Loki”. And it was true. The pipsqueak who has made leash reactivity his signature move was completely overwhelmed and confused.

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Help! My Puppy Keeps Peeing In The House

puppy peeing on floor

25 years ago, in my very first week as a vet, a lovely bouncy Cocker Spaniel puppy taught me a hard lesson. Innocently enough, I asked his owner “so, how’s everything going?”

Right in front of me, without another word, his owner burst into tears. Back then I really didn’t know what was going on. I sure do now.

Toilet training, house training or potty training. Call it what you will, but it’s the greatest challenge most puppy owners will face. As vets, we might consider ourselves masters of keeping puppies healthy, but we often look on helplessly at training problems.

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Good And Bad Puppy Training

dog jumping

True or false: early social exposure in a puppy reduces aggression to other dogs later in life. Easy, right?

After all, that’s why vets (like us) push early finish vaccination programs and puppy preschool classes. Get that puppy out socialising in the ‘sensitive period’ before 16 weeks and they’ll get to enjoy the company of other dogs FOR LIFE.

Well not so fast. A recent Australian study has shown the exact opposite. I’m not even that surprised; I’ve been warning puppy owners about this for years.

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